Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Words Matter - #SOL Sept. 22

Thanks to all the wonderfully smart women at Two Writing Teachers who host this gathering each week. It is a lovely place to capture and share those small moments in life.

Recently, I was sitting on my screened porch, doing some writing. While the screened porch is one of my favorite places to be, this particular writing activity had been weighing heavily on me for awhile and I was dreading it. I was writing the thank you notes for all the kindnesses shown to our family when my dad died this summer.

I think I put it off for so long because, after Mom died in December, and then Dad died a scant seven months later, writing these thank you notes meant there would be some closure around my parents' deaths and I wasn't quite ready for that.

But, through the days I procrastinated on this activity, I started to think about all the words that had meant so much to us as a family this past year:

  • The kind words on each sympathy card that made its way to our mailbox.
  • The words people used during calling hours to talk about what a positive impact my parents had on their lives.
  • The words my brother gathered and arranged into eulogies for our parents - words that captured the special and unique qualities of both of them.
  • The words the granddaughters used when sharing their favorite memories about their grandparents.
  • At the memorial service for Dad, the words that a variety of people chose to share with the entire group.
  • The comforting words on the cards accompanying the flower arrangements that added such a lovely touch to each service.
  • The letters received from cousins recalling memories of their times with my parents and how much those experiences had meant to them.
  • The online words: emails, text messages, Facebook messages, Voxes - these were words of comfort.
And then, one day, I had a big "aha" moment about my grief and moving through it - WORDS MATTERED. 

Words mattered during my grief, and the least I could do was to share my words of appreciation for the gifts of concern and kindnesses we had received as a family. So, while those thank you notes were not my favorite task to do on the screened porch, I could only hope that my words of appreciation mattered to the recipient of each thank you. I know your words most definitely mattered to me!

Monday, September 21, 2015

#IMWAYR - September 21

A huge thank you to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for cohosting the kidlit version of It's Monday, What Are You Reading? I love it personally to find out what others are reading, and, as a coach, I love to share it with teachers to help them find new titles to share with their own students.

I haven't contributed for awhile, but in the last week, I've read some books that are definitely worth sharing.

I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien caught my attention because of the front cover. As there is a  call for more diversity in books and the need for all children to see themselves in a book, this is a picture book that would do just that. The story focuses on 3 children that are new to a school in America. Each student spends a great deal of time thinking about the talents they had in their former homes; now, the language, the words, the writing, their contributions in class are difficult for them, and leads to sadness and confusion. There is a nice shift within the story that allows each child to feel some success with his/her classmates by the end of the book, but I wonder if that is a simplification of  the actuality. Regardless, the story would lead to great conversations within classroom communities.

See You Next Year by  Andrew Larsen and Todd Stewart was another lovely story about a family that returns to the same beach each year. This would be a great book to use with students in a narrative writing unit. I especially like the narrator's story about the Sunday at the beach, beginning with watching the tractor on the beach as it rakes the beach, and ending with the people leaving the beach in the evening and the gulls returning. Not all children will have the background knowledge or experience to relate to this story, so finding multiple books about experiences children might have would be good.

Leo: A Ghost Story written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson is a testament to children's imagination and the value of friendship. Leo is a ghost who is not appreciated by the new family who moved into his house, leading him to leave that home and search for something better. I love the words and illustrations that occur when Leo encounters Jane, who has decorated the sidewalk with imaginative drawings and asks him if he wants to play Knights of the Round Table with her. I love the nods to creativity and friendship.

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson was a fun frolic. I looked forward to this book because it was by Jeff, and I so enjoyed the story - quirky characters whose storylines come together in humorous, and sometimes empathetic ways. This is a slice of middle school that Jeff writes very well.

I hope you all have a great week of reading!