Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Haiku

After reading yesterday's slices from all the folks that were having a snow day, I began to think about how lucky I am to live where the flowers and birds are out already and the days are not too chilly any more. I would also like to thank Christy Rush-Levine for the inspiration she gave with her haiku featuring her sweet puppies playing in the snow yesterday. These thoughts inspired the two haiku that follow.

Lemony yellows
Slightly nodding in the breeze
Bowing to their friends



Genial sign of spring
Symbol of new life to come
Usher in the warmth


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Memories of Mom

As I pulled in the driveway tonight when I got home from work, I stopped to check the mail box.  I grabbed the mail and set it on the seat beside me.  I had a lot to do when I got in--put the groceries away, feed the dog, start the laundry, get supper cooked.  I had a long day at school today and a technology workshop afterward til 5:45 p.m. and I was tired.

I sat down a few minutes ago to look through the mail.  Among the ads and junk mail, I saw the familiar logo of my endoscopy center.  I opened the letter with a little uneasiness.  It can't be time for another colonoscopy already!  Of course, it's been five years since my last procedure.

My birthday was this past Friday on March 1st.  I'm now 48 years old.  My mom had been diagnosed with colon cancer at age 47.  I have been going through colonoscopies since I was 36.  My doctor has told me that it takes ten to twelve years for polyps in the colon to become cancerous.  Each time I undergo the procedure, I think of my mom.  She suffered a great deal in her two year fight against the disease.  When her cancer was detected she was already in the latter stages.  The doctors knew it was just a matter of time. She was given two months to live at the time of  her diagnosis. She decided to let the doctors at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland try some experimental treatments to try to help others with cancer.

My lived for over two years after the cancer was found.  She passed away at the age of 50.  She instilled in my brothers and me the importance of taking care of each other.  She taught us there is no greater calling than service to others.  She was not able to meet my children, but I think she would be proud of them.  I have tried to share with my kids the core values that she taught us.

As I look at some of the home situations of my students, I realize what a wonderful gift she gave her family.  She shaped the lives of each of us--my three brothers and me--and countless others because of all the people the four of us touch every day.  If my sons look back at me with as much thankfulness as I do my mom, I will feel like I have made her proud.

Tomorrow I will call to set my appointment time for my colonoscopy.  I hope to be around to see my own children's babies grow up.  I only wish my mom could have been here to see mine.  I think she would have been very proud of them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snowflake the Writer

With the 1:1 laptop initiative our school system started last year, our middle school has been working to incorporate the new technology into our classrooms in meaningful ways.  I started using Google Docs last year as a place for my students to write about their reading and for me to comment on and ask questions about what they were reading.  It has been a wonderful experience for the kids and for me and serves as a great launching pad for conferring.

The teachers at my school have adopted taking a "baby step" approach to using our laptops.   The students and I are comfortable with using Google Docs now so it was time to move forward digitally.  We chose to explore the world of writing through blogging!

Since my students have had no experience with blogging and we live in such a small rural part of our county, I knew their parents might be hesitant to allow their children to blog publicly.  To ease my students and parents into the blogging world, I choose to go with Kidblog because we can blog privately between my classes first to get use to the format and then open our blogs to the public as parents and students become more comfortable.  We are learning about what makes good posts and what constructive feedback looks like.  We are learning about how important language is. We are trying to make sure our conventions make our writing clear and meaningful to our readers.

At a time of year where the weeks seem to creep by, starting our blog writing has come to the rescue.  Students have written with more excitement than I have seen in a long time.  Sharing their words with an authentic audience has made such a difference in motivation and in the care they put into their work.  The writers in my classroom have started to awaken again!

Today, I talked to this student.  I talked to her about how proud I was of her and her growth as a writer.  Two months ago, she didn't worry about the impact of her writing or the "flow" of her words.  I listened to her talk about the meaning she wanted her readers to get from her poem.  We talked about how as writers we are always looking for ways to make our writing better and how to use word choice and punctuation purposefully.  We looked at the comments that other students have made in response and celebrated her success.

The significance of audience has helped her see herself as a writer--the writer that I knew was there waiting to spread her wings and fly!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mother's Two

Two eagles
the elder,
Confident, ready to fly from the start

The other,
more  h  e  s  i  t  a  n  t
developing slowly,
struggling to fly

the younger,
once committed
built bridges for others
helping them cross the path

Two eagles together
Mother's Joy
Each in his own way

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Can't Rush This

Never having been much of a baker, I have had to go out on a limb to learn something new.  I have starting making my own bread.  At first I learned to bake bread because I was facing some financial issues after paying my son's tuition.  Money was extremely tight for a while.  Now that has been taken care of, but I still find myself baking a loaf or two each Saturday.  I have come to enjoy the whole process.

Each time I get ready to bake, I have to prepare the yeast base first.  Since I make a honey wheat bread, I must add the honey to the yeast and warm water.  This mixture needs to sit for at least ten minutes to let the yeast get foamy and ready to do its thing.  Meanwhile, I measure out the olive oil and salt to be added to the yeast when it's ready.  I also get the flours, whole wheat and bread flour, set up to be added.  The next step is putting the wheat flour in the yeast-oil mixture.  Then I begin to add the bread flour a half cup at a time.  Once I can no longer stir the dough with my wooden spoon, I turn it out on the floured counter and begin to knead it, adding bread flour a sprinkling at a time.  At first, the dough is sticky and hard to work with, but with each additional bit of flour and kneading effort,  the dough becomes softer and more elastic.  It takes time to develop into a dough that will make a wonderful, light loaf of bread.

This honey wheat bread has two rising times.  After the dough is kneaded and ready, it is covered lightly with a clean cloth and sits for an hour to rise.  I always coat the ball of dough with a light spray of olive oil to keep it from drying out as it sits.  I can't rush the rising process.  It must sit.  I must wait.  It is a process that forces me to slow down.  I can do laundry, clean the house, read, work on school work, but I can't make the bread rise any faster no matter how much I wish to sometimes.  It does so in its own time and in its own way.

Once the hour has passed, the dough must be shaped into a log and placed in a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. It must be allowed to rise a second time.  I must wait another hour before I can put the bread in the oven.   Again, I cannot hurry the process.  It will be ready when it is ready.  After my loaf has risen for the hour, I am finally ready to put it in the oven.  It will bake for thirty minutes.  I am rewarded with a golden loaf of bread ready to be slathered with butter!

I think about my students and their writing now in terms of making bread.  I must be prepared for this process.  I need to slow down.  I may need to wait and let ideas sit for a while to develop and do their thing in their brains.  There must be a catalyst added to the proper ingredients for my students to grow.  Some of the ingredients come from them and some are added by me.   Depending on the conditions and the individual students, more of one ingredient or more time may be what they need to rise to their full potential.  I cannot rush the process.  It takes time for them to develop.  I must be patient with them.  Sometimes I want to hurry the work so I can get to the final product.  However, I must let time have its way and their need to think and work in their own way must be honored or the final product will not be what it could be.   This process takes awareness, patience, and effort for us to both be rewarded with something we can enjoy sharing, feel proud of, and appreciate after all this important work comes to a close.

I need to look at a few essays now so I think I'll have a slice of bread as I read along!