Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lily of the Valley

Each Tuesday I write a slice of life story and join my writing friends and my writing community created by Two Writing Teachers.


When I chose joy for my one little word for 2017, I promised to write a slice a month about my word. I didn't expect it would be easy to stick with this goal but I knew that making this promise I would more readily see the joy that is in my life. I know joy is all around me, I just need to slow down and look a little closer to see it.  I didn't however expect to find it in a small vase of flowers.
The other day as I was walking into the house my eye caught a small patch of lily of the valley flowers in a side garden. They had just bloomed so I went over to take in their aroma. Instant joy filled my nose and travelled right to my memory bank with thoughts of my grandmother. I could picture that yard so vividly, with her in the gazebo surrounded by the little pips of lily of the valley flowers filling the air with their sweet scent.
I walked over to my patch and pulled out a few stems to place in a small vase for my coffee table. I chose an old bottle and filled it with water in preparation of holding the flowers. I sat and watched the tiny bubbles on the inside edge of the glass. The air bubbles caught the sunlight streaming in the windows and shone like diamonds in the bottle. 
I sat back and smiled a joy-filled smile at the sight and aroma that filled my senses. It was a joy that traveled right to the depths of my soul.  A sweet and pure joy. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Vision

It's Slice of Life Tuesday!  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for providing a forum and a community for writers!




This weekend I finally found the dedicated time to work in my garden. I had waited an entire year to get accustomed to my yard and finally I was ready to dig in and make the changes to create the yard of my dreams. The first area I wanted to make over was my pathway to my neighbor's house. My vision for this area was clear: add shade plants such as hostas and ferns to surround and soften the old pink wrought-iron chair that graced the garden walkway. I grabbed my tools and gloves and started separating the hostas in the yard. I added a few daylilies to the mix and  voila, instant garden path with a pizazz. I stepped back after a few hours of hard work to admire my handiwork. I realized then and there that having a clear vision and the available resources to accomplish that vision made everything happen.

I think that is true for many areas of life - vision and resources make most things a reality!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cooking Lessons

I hosted 12 guests for a Mother's Day brunch this past weekend.  I chose making brunch because the menu can be so varied with sweet french toasts, to savory quiches, to just right eggs, all delectable choices to cook.  The down side is the lack of oven space usually keeps me from going too wild with new dishes.  That is why I chose to use the crock pot to cook an overnight bread pudding on Saturday night. I have made these easy bread puddings before so it's simple to be creative by changing out the flavors and literally dumping new combinations of seasonings and fruits in at whim.  For this weekend's brunch I thought I'd try a bread pudding of raspberries and cream cheese. I was dreaming of the flavors as I quickly added the ingredients rather willy nilly into the pot.  I hit the "cook on low" button and went to bed, knowing that sometime in the early morning hours I would awake to the smell of sweet goodness! 

Six-thirty in the morning and I awake to smell something cooking, but not the usual sweet smell. I made my way downstairs and opened the lid to find a brown ugly mess with a smell to match.  The raspberries looked pale and mushy, the cream cheese was curdled and the bread looked overcooked with burned edges.  I unplugged the unit, tucked it aside and turned to plan B, oven french toast with some Irish soda bread I had stashed away in the freezer. This time I chose to follow a recipe. 

I felt fortunate that I had other ingredients available to save the day.  Just like in my classroom, I had to make due with what I had to make the best of the situation.  I am happy to say everything turned out fine thanks in part to being open and to being flexible!


Thank you to the authors of the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Tuesday Slice of Life. I love this community of writers that can freely write and grow together.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Writing Engagement and Book Spine Poetry

I discovered book spine poetry during the March Slice of Life Challenge and immediately fell in love with the simplicity and whimsical nature of this format.  As I described in my slice, I shared my stack with a colleague and she wanted to have a go at this poetry writing format with her class, but she wanted to wait until later in the year.
  
Yesterday was the "later in the year" date. The classroom teacher had told me the students had earned a reward and they wanted to write all day long, so she thought this was a perfect time to break from their realistic fiction series books for a day and dive in with poetry.  
I introduced the lesson by asking students to turn and talk, sharing what they recall about writing poetry.  I leaned in so I could judge what I needed to reinforce before letting them compose their own poems. Today I reminded students that poems do not have to rhyme and that poems can be silly or serious.  After clarifying these basic concepts we explored a few of the books pine poems that I found searching through google images. The students were hooked!  I placed a tall stack of hard cover books (easier to see the spine) on each of the tables and said our celebratory "Off you go!"  

The buzz in the room was exciting as they walked back to their tables to work with their new writing partner. Some students quickly stacked the books and made a poem.  Others read over each title with care.  I was very aware of how each student's personality rose quickly to the top for this project, with some children creating wildly and others being very strategic and concrete. Many of the children approached this writing activity by simply stacking books and thinking they were done. When asked what they thought the poem was about, they eagerly went back to work arranging and rearranging.  Others pushed themselves to think about creating a poem that made some sort of sense. 

Once their poems were built, students were instructed to either take a photo or video of their stack to upload into their class SeeSaw account.  Many of the students chose to record themselves reading their poem.  They were so delighted that when it came time to stop to go to music class, they moaned, signaling their high level of engagement.  

Book spine poetry was a great break for this group of students and charged them up to continue writing in new and fun formats.

How do you foster writing engagement?