Saturday, May 21, 2016

Why "Teachers Write" Is So Important To Me

Every year since it began, I've joined Kate Messner for Teachers Write.  I do this for several reasons. First, I have the opportunity to write for me. Second, I have the opportunity to be led and guided my many of my favorite authors. Each of them have so many different styles and things to teach us. Most importantly for me, is that I learn so much to take back to the classroom to teach and encourage my own students on their writing journey. I have always hoped I was getting through.

Yesterday, ended my school year for me. I am having double knee surgery on Monday. This meant turning my classroom over to a sub for the last three and a half weeks of school. I've been trying to prepare my students, and myself, for the last month. I cry every year when they leave my classroom for the last time. Friday was an emotional roller coaster as I had former students coming and going as well as my sixth graders all day. But I have one student who is very quiet and has always had a beautiful writing style. She above all my students touched my heart in a way no other student every has. Below is her gift to me.  This is why I will always participate and encourage other to join Teachers Write.

A Poem for Mrs. Stiles
One day I walked
into a room
labeled Language Arts
where I could learn
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white,
so my messy scrawl
could burn through
the snow-colored shield.
The little candle
in my pencil
could melt through the paper.
And the worlds I’ve gone to
through thin black crevices
in the pages of books
are extraordinary.
And I loved Language Arts
through the first school.
Elementary school.
And it was almost as great
as the library
where I could travel through
little black lines
in otherwise blank walls,
into worlds of magic.
For those years
my candle burned
in the same little room

in the same little school.
A new, bigger school
where I could see the sky
through patches of blue
in the hallway.
In middle school 
where I headed
to Language Arts
my heart in my throat
because my teacher would be
an author,
who had wildfires in her pencil,
and knew how to
burn through the paper
and create portals
to other worlds,
where anything was possible.
And I only had my candle.
She welcomed us
I liked her
in moments.
I was glad
she was the one chose
to show us how to burn through
with flaming pencils.
Mrs. Stiles
I look forward all day
to Language Arts
where anything
is possible.
And we can write

About spinning torrents of wind
and flames unquenchable.
Neat, orderly writing
Or wild, imagined tall tales.
with rhyming sequences
and corresponding syllables.
Or free
like an eagle
flying into the flaming sunset.
You helped my candle
grow into a flame
dancing on a torch.
You’ve been a great teacher,
Thank you for showing me
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white.
Now my messy scrawl
can burn through
the snow-colored shield.
Thank you.
I’ll see you next year.
and good luck.

Madison B.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Laura Sullivan: The Modern Romantic New Relaxing Classical Piano Music

Winds of Magic and Timeless were probably my favorites on this CD.  It is tough to choose as they are all so beautiful. I took this to school with me after I got it. My students know me well. When I am stressed I play music with no words. This year I’ve had to be very selective with what I usually play. I have a student on the Autism Spectrum with sensitivity issues. He sits right in front of my desk, so playing music can be very disrupting to him. I noticed something with this CD. I told him if it bothered him to let me know and I would move it, turn it down, or turn it off. He has a lot of tics when his senses are over stimulated. This is something he is working on. He was not having the best day with his tics. I noticed when I put the CD on they did not increase. When we came to the song Come Home his shoulders actually relaxed and the tics subsided for a while. I told his mom about this and the CD. They and his therapists are trying different things. If this will help him then I will provide them with a copy, just not this one. I am having surgery in a couple of days. This will accompany me to rehab as I know I will need the relaxation. I was trying to pick the best music to take and this is it. I grew up in a musical family. My father played 11 instruments and had a gospel quartet. From the time I was little until two days beforeh he entered the hospital and then passed away I sat with him as he played the piano for me. For this reason I have an affinity to music that has piano in it. I can say without a doubt that my father would have loved Laura Sullivan’s compositions. I look forward to more of her music in the future.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

Genre: Adult, suspense
Source: I purchased a copy.

This is the third book in the American Journey series. This time the author takes us to the Roaring Twenties. You don’t have to read the first two books to read and enjoy this one. They read just like stand-alone books. In this book we are presented with a problem that any time traveler fears. What happens if something can and should be prevented in the past and you know it will change the future if you do anything to change it? This is this situation that faces our main character. Cameron Coelho is completing his dissertation on life and the social implications during the 1920s. He buys the journals of Candice Bell who is a reporter and is murdered. He gets to meet Candice and sparks begin to fly. But what happens when you fall in love with someone and you know the date and manner in which they will die?  Do you stop it knowing the possible consequences? 

In this book we not only get to relish the entire time travel experience, but we get to live vicariously through the author in the time of the 1920s.  I love that the author always spends so much time in research s that the reader feels they are a part of the time period. This one is a little different and has some wonderful twists. I highly recommend it and the rest of the series.