by Kelly Virgin
This week my students and I are celebrating National Poetry Month by reading poetry the way I believe it is meant to be read – out loud. Using the Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for inspiration, we are enjoying our own poetry reading competition (I removed the added pressure of memorizing the poems).
Our week started by finding inspiration in poetry recitations. We spent a class period watching, noticing, and discussing past Poetry Out Loud winners and finalists. Presenters such as John Uzodinma and Cennemi Diaz showed us how to alter our voices, change our expressions, and use our gestures to communicate the deep and varied emotions found in poems such as “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Cartoon Physics, part 1” by Nick Flynn.
Next, we spent time sifting through some of the resources available on the Poetry Out Loud website. After investigating in pairs, students reported out on the resources they found most helpful: the online anthlogy of poems, the tips on physical presence, voice, and articulation, and the collection of recordings of actors and poets discussing and reading poetry were mentioned several times. Read more
By Lynne R. Dorfman
There are lots of things that are right about education today. Teachers and students are reading more and interacting more with parents, students and fellow teachers. One way to interact with colleagues in your own school and with colleagues from across the country is to participate in professional development opportunities such as ILA and NCTE. A few years ago, Stacey Shubitz, Rose Cappelli, and I attended a workshop offered by Highlights Foundation. Highlights offers workshops for writers year round. But there are many stellar conferences in our own backyards. For me, PCTELA and KSRA in October and our PAWLPday in March promise to offer incredible venues that cannot be overlooked or dismissed. On May 12th, the Philadelphia Reading Council of KSRA and the Alpha Upsilon Alpha Chapter of Saint Joseph’s University offer their spring literacy conference: And Joy for All: Using Poetry to Bring Happiness to Your Daily Teaching. Janet Wong is the keynote speaker. I will make time to attend all these events. Last week, I facilitated two sessions at a Best Practice Summit in Boyertown Area School District. So many Boyertown teachers K-12 were facilitating sessions, and there was an air of excitement and commitment throughout the day. Good things are happening. Read more
by Elizabeth Hale
Ever since I can remember, teachers have lamented about their students’ use of periods, or rather, the lack thereof, especially teachers beyond the primary grades. After all, their students have been hearing about using periods for almost half their life! These teachers certainly talked about periods and taught lessons about them, but the reminders of “Don’t forget to end your sentences with periods!” just never seemed to stick.
One reason is that we were all giving the same advice we got in elementary school of why we should use periods: “The reader needs to know when to stop and take a breath.” But this advice is from the reader’s perspective, not the writer’s. And the truth is, unless someone is reading writing out loud, “the reader” doesn’t need to take a breath! When I put myself in the shoes of a fourth or fifth grader, I saw this generations old advice was just not that convincing.
So how do periods benefit the writer? Once I slowed down the thought process of constructing a sentence—raising my pencil or finger on a keyboard to make a little dot—it came to me: periods help writers take a pause before writing their next sentence. This pause is a gift because it can be a vehicle for attending to the writerly advice teachers give all the time, “Don’t forget to add details and description!” With Memoir, students already have rich details of sound, color, shape, and texture in their minds: it’s just a matter of taking the time to pause and “see” them again in their mind so they can put them in their writing. So rather than just remind students to add details, we can show them the thought process, guided by those periods, of bringing details into writing.
By Rita Sorrentino
I always enjoy the transition from one month to another. I delight in turning the pages on my wall calendar with a feeling of newness, encouragement and opportunity. Even now, while I do value the convenience of managing time and productivity with digital devices and tools, I still hang on to a yearly calendar. Its lovely colorful images beautify the wall space and my preference to keep it unmarked reminds me to take a long view of what matters.
When March arrived a few days ago I remembered a verse from a poem I learned in my elementary school days, “March brings breezes, loud and shrill, to stir the dancing daffodil” (The Garden Year by Sara Coleridge). It’s similar to the familiar “lion and lamb” predictions for unpredictable March. Both shed light on our yearning for longer warmer days and colorful surroundings.
My gran Read more
Review by Lynne Dorfman
Frank Murphy’s latest Step Into Reading biography is a cradle to grave story about Clara Barton. Frank, a sixth grade teacher in Council Rock School District in Bucks , Pennsylvania, loves the research behind a good story. Frank tells us of Clara’s shyness on the very first page, in part, because she spoke with a lisp. He shows us how all her family members taught her something different and important.
Clara became a teacher of a one-room schoolhouse in New Jersey. The school grew to be big, and Clara wanted to become principal, but the position was given to a man instead. When the Civil War began, Clara helped injured soldiers on the battlefield, even though many men felt women had no place there.
By Janice Ewing
Like many others, my husband and I lost power in the storm on Friday night, March 2nd. Like some others, we are still without power, as the next storm blows in. In fact, our neighborhood sustained more damage last Friday than I can ever remember, with downed trees and power lines, electrical fires, broken backyard sheds, and damaged cars. Fortunately, no one was injured in our area.
On Saturday morning, after surveying the situation at our house and in our immediate neighborhood, we went to a local Panera to decide what to do. It was crowded for the early hour, and everyone was set on charging their various devices as they fueled themselves with coffee. A seat next to an outlet was like a center orchestra seat for Hamilton.
“No power…” new arrivals would simply say, as they contorted their bodies to reach the outlets at a nearby table. The response was always empathetic. Once settled in, we listed what we would have to do without: heat, light, hot water, TV, and other things we take for granted but don’t absolutely need, like toast. We did have an intact house. PECO estimated restoration of power at 11:59 on Tuesday, which sounded a lot like Wednesday, which turned out to be when the next storm was coming. (It also turned out to be overly optimistic.) We considered the options of staying with relatives or friends, or possibly booking a hotel room, but agreed that, if possible, our first choice was to stay put with our two cats, both of whom are terrible travelers and even worse at adjusting to a new environment. The highest priority was a safe and practical source of heat, and after some internet research and a phone consult with a helpful brother-in-law, we decided on a kerosene heater.