Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Book Life

Book Club time is here! During the fifth month of her pregnancy of her first child Natalie Taylor is devastated by the sudden death of her husband. Her journey with grief is chronicled in the memoir Signs of Life. Join From Left to Write on March 29 as we discuss Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

This book was heartbreaking...really...pregnancy was such a joyful time for me, can't imagine looking forward to the birth of my first child and dealing with the death of my beloved husband.

Natalie is a high school English teacher who used her love of literature to help her get through the worst of times. I absolutely loved when she talked about her books and related them to her lives. I am a sucker for any book compilations of relating novels to our current lives (see my goodreads list). I , too, am a teacher, and see so much value in showing children how powerful books can be. All my life I was the kid walking around with a book in my hand, bringing paper bags to the library so I could carry home lots of books, and even in college (can't believe I am saying this) reading a little ahead in my new textbooks because I was so excited to get brand new books! (I remember my roommate Michelle teasing me one spring break...)
I don't teach high school like Natalie, but in elementary school, I try to introduce great fiction to my kids and get them to dig deep. If you are interested in questioning strategies to use with your children, I teach my kiddos "thick" and "thin" questions. "Thin" questions are the ones that can be answered with a few words-who the character is, the setting, the problem (sometimes). You use many words to answer "thick" questions, and not everyone necessarily gets the same answer. That's OK-as long as you can back up your answer. I love those thick questions! That's how I introduce literature circles, and they can be used with all kinds of stories! I teach the kids some question starters and include the great "I wonder", and then they write their own "thick" questions. Kids come up with some wonderful ideas! I love it when they can make me rethink my ideas about characters and situations in stories. Of course, they love it when I tell them that, too!
Getting off track there...but really, just like Natalie used her novels to deal with her grief, I do think teachers should use great literature to help children make sense of their lives. Ask a librarian for suggestions. Ask other teachers. Kids feeling lonely? Try Because of Winn-Dixie. Got bullying problems? Try Maniac Magee! Need some compassion from your kiddos? Shiloh can help!I think maybe I could sift through my upper elementary grade fiction and make a separate post of suggestions.
I think all of you From Left to Write members, being book lovers, know how incredible children's lit is-if not, try it-you will be surprised!

Friday, March 23, 2012

March(ing) on...

Well...we have been busy...this is a great time of year! I love all the holidays and how magical they can be for kids! Making Valentines...we all made our own this year! Thanks to some ideas scouted out on pinterest...We had a little Valentine's party with friends. I tried to make oreo pops-failed...oh well! Then we had St. Patrick's Day-love it! We made traps in my classroom, had shamrock shakes, and yes, the leprechauns visited us!!!! The kids were so excited...but made for a long Monday in the classroom! The leprechauns also got us at home! They got into our milk, our toilets (Kendall was afraid to sit on the toilet for days afterwards) and made footprints everywhere. The boys even woke up with footprints on their face and arms! Joe and I decided to make corned beef and cabbage for the first time and invited our parents over. It was yummy-and made for even better sandwiches the next day.
I really truly e in a enjoying all the magic of childhood! I hope my children believe in Santa for a long time! Life is hectic and crazy as an adult, and we don't get to believe in magic much anymore. I want my kids to look back at their childhood with fondness and joy! Why not carry out the legend of Santa and the tooth fairy as long as you can?
Speaking of magical childhoods...we have added onto our family-Lucy! Lucy is a 3 year old basset hound, very loving, very fun! The kids LOVE having a dog-our first family pet! Spencer is responsible for feeding her. She is a great dog, potty trained already-thank you! We look forward to bringing her to the beach with us and all the memories to come. Luckily she gets along with Bubba, Grammy and Grampy's dog.
Sorry for the lack of pictures. My iphone camera is about all I have been using bad! I even won a spot in Becca Hamilton's photography class and learned lots of great tips, so I need to dust off the camera and get shooting. I do have a new model to take pictures of, after all! I am thinking I am attempt a photo a day project in April. Maybe this will make up for the lack of pics I have taken so far this year!