Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Writing Out of Wonder

In 2017, I shared the book Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth with illustrations by Ekua Holmes. You can read all about it here

I LOVE mentor texts! I started this blog because I love them so much and I see the power in how to use them. At any moment in time, writers always have mentors, people who have come before us, people who have led the way, people who guide us. But we have to know how to call on them. 
Out of Wonder is an awesome place to start with mentor texts because it's literally a book of poems inspired by poets. The authors chose twenty poets to learn from and wrote poems in honor of them and their style. 

In the Preface, Kwame writes, "I believe that by reading other poets we can discover our own wonder." This reminds me of a quote from Mary Lou Kownacki, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story."

When we share mentor texts with students and invite them into life of a writer. We say, welcome to the party! See all these other awesome people? They write just like you. We give them role models to look up to. 

This is why it's so important to read widely and select texts that represent a variety of lived experiences. In this way we show our students that we value diversity and that we celebrate being in community with those who might look like us and those who might not. 

I suggested in my original post about this book that you can invite students to choose a poet from Out of Wonder, read the poem that was written in honor of them, and then go research them and their poetry. I decided to try this myself with Kwame's work. In my notebook I made a list of his work that stands out to me. 


Depending on your students, you can decide if you do this together or if they do it on their own. You can decide if you give them links to an author and their work or if you let them research on their own. With my middle schoolers, I know they have music they love and I think it would be super interesting to let them try this with bands or singers that they listen to. 

I started by making a "What I Notice" list. Kwame's writing has rhythm and is fun. He pays attention to word choice and word length and sometimes he plays with how the words are arranged on the page. And then I had to go and listen to the The OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO for Kwame Alexander's THE PLAYBOOK (with Music by Randy Preston)


Kwame reminds me to have fun! 

But he also reminds me to take a stance in Take a Knee.

I decided to try this myself and here's what I came up with. 



Live Big

One
life to live
Many 
dreams to pursue

One
soul in one body
Many 
hugs to give

One 
step to take
Many 
miles to walk

One 
turn to take
Many 
shots to make

One 
breathe to take 
Many 
sighs to exhale

One 
heart to beat
Many
people to meet

One
life to live
So many chances
to live big

Which poet are you interested in celebrating? I'd love to hear your favorite poets or your students favorite poets. If you love this and want slides so you can use this as a mini lesson in your anti-racist writer's workshop, join the Story Exploratory Patreon community here

Monday, January 11, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 01/11/2021

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Adventures:
I've been listening to Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. 

This Week's Adventures:

My students are starting book clubs this week so I'll be reading The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater and revisiting Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowlingand Internment by Samira Ahmed. And I'll be listening to more of Of Curses and Kisses.  

Over the weekend, I shared an exciting new Story Exploratory experience called For Teachers: The Year of You. I love being a teacher. It's important work. It's hard work, now more than ever. When this school year started, I told a friend I needed a support group...and then I decided to create my own. A place where I can hold space for teachers so you can feel held and free and SHINE as the brilliant soul that you are. I hope you join me. You deserve it. And I bet you can think of five teacher friends who deserve some love headed their way right now too. I'd love if you would send this on to them so they can join in too. 

More information and sign up HERE.

Goodness Coming Your Way This Week!



What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Magic of Brussels Sprouts

I called a friend on Saturday.

"Do you have a few minutes?" I asked. 

She did.

"I found my way back to writing," I gushed, feeling all the way through my body that it was true and letting it settle into my muscles. 

My writer's heart was broken in July 2018 and I've been limping along, wiping tears and more tears, not giving up since then. I finally feel excited to write again so I'm joining Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog and offering up some words to the world, celebrating the magic of living the life of a writer.

This week I'm sharing The Magic of Brussels sprouts. Thanks for reading. :)

*****

Missing being able to gather with friends and family in 2020 had me thinking about ways to still show people I care about them. I used to love sending handmade holiday cards but that was back when I used to scrapbook and the kids were little and that was how I wanted to spend my time. This year I decided I could use my digital scrapbooking skills to make a card in Canva without paying for all the supplies, making a mess, or taking up too much time. And then I also decided we could put together ingredients for North Pole S'mores to deliver. Porch drop offs and front yard visits would get us up and out of the house but also connect us to friends and family while still keeping everyone safe. 


On Christmas Eve, I told Jordan he had to go with me to drop off North Pole S'mores to two friends of his and one family friend. He was reluctant (apparently teenagers love to hate anything parents force them to do) but came with me. He didn’t say much to his friends as we dropped off the bags but I could tell he felt some energy in getting out of the house and seeing them in real life if even for just a few minutes. 


I dropped Jordan off at home and went in to round Danny up and tell him it was his turn. We mapped out our dropoff plan, listing his four friends based on where they lived and deciding our route. Third on the list was one of his friends who used to live in our neighborhood but now lives one block from town. Danny hopped out of our van with the bag of goodies to ring the doorbell and wait for his friend to come. 


As I backed out of the driveway, I glanced over at their neighbors’ house. During the pandemic, I added a lot of plants to our house, mostly indoor plants but some outdoors too. When I dropped Danny off to play football with Will over the summer, I saw plants and plants and plants all over the neighbor’s yard. Now it was mostly empty except for a two-foot tall mini-tree looking plant with long leaves that looked like Eeyore’s ears drooping down to the ground. 


“I’ve never seen that plant before,” I said to Danny, pointing out the window.


“His neighbor is a plant expert,” he explained. “Will told me before.”


I didn’t think much of it until about a week later when I went for a walk with my friend Meg in her neighborhood that she describes as “crunchy”. It’s a conservation community where people do lots of earthy good things. As we walked, she pointed out interesting stuff along the way. When we came to the community garden, I saw bare patches of land except for a plot with six green stalks growing, similar to the ones I had seen when we were out delivering North Pole S'mores. 


“What are those?” I asked her. “I saw something like it the other day.”


“I don’t know,” she said. “But now we have to check them out.”


I carefully followed into the gardens and we marveled at these plants that were still standing at the end of December, covered in frost.


When I lifted the leaves growing from the top, it revealed little sprouts underneath, up and down the stalk. 


Under the surface, there was so much more to them! Not to mention it was winter in the Chicagoland area and they seemed happy, as if they were meant to be there. 


The next day I texted Meg that I was now watching YouTube videos about Brussels sprouts. I had so many questions! How did they grow? Were they meant to be growing in winter? Was the gardener going to come back and pick them? When are Brussels sprouts typically harvested? When do you plant Brussels sprouts? Why did I not know this before?


I mean, it makes sense that I didn’t know this before. Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, right? My kids will eat broccoli but Brussels sprouts? No way. 


Turns out Brussels sprouts are a common winter meal and they’re actually sweeter after a frost. 


I had no idea. I did know they grew on stalks, having discovered a bin of them at Trader Joe’s a few years ago. Of course, I bought one to show my family. What a surprise! Somehow this made them more fun, adventurous even. And now the more I get to know Brussels sprouts, the more fascinated I am.


I started to think of friends I’ve made along the way who remind me of badass Brussels sprouts. These friends are quiet powerhouses, women I’m so glad to know because I paid attention, I was curious about their stories, I spent time getting to know them, and they trusted me. Nancy, Joy, Alex, Donna, Wendy are some of these friends who come to mind and I’m so glad to know them. 


When I set off to share North Pole S’mores this year, I was missing being able to gather with friends and family in 2020. None of these women were on our list to deliver North Pole S’mores to. Either we’ve lost touch or they’re too far away. But I appreciate the reminder to pay attention, be curious, make time, and really appreciate all the gifts in my life. 


Even Brussels sprouts.


Monday, January 4, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 01/04/2021

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Best wishes for a happy 2021! Thanks for coming to check out what I'm up to and to share what you are reading! 

This week I finished listening to Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao and read some essays by Latinx authors like Carmen Machado. It's time to go back to school tomorrow. We have an in-district conference today and I'm presenting on Writer's Workshop as Identity Work and on ideas for I Feel Better When I'm ______. As hard as this year has been, I'm hoping to share some good vibes and good energy with colleagues.

For Story Exploratory, I'll be sharing a FREE workshop just for teachers at the end of the month. If you're interested, make sure you are signed up for my newsletter. You even get a freebie for signing up!

This Week's Book Adventures:

This week I'm going to commit to another audiobook. This time I'm listening to Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. 

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, December 28, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/28/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I ended up leaning towards audiobooks this week. I listened to Charming As a Verb by Ben Philippe and started to listening to Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao.

This Week's Book Adventures:

I'll be finishing listening to Rent a Boyfriend this week and then I think I'm in the mood to reread Untamed by Glennon Doyle to start the new year. 

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, December 21, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/21/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
My students and I finished The First Rule of Punk this week! We had to take a little more time than usual for our read aloud on Friday but we go to finish it before break. It's such a great story. This week I'm going to finish The Time Traveler's Wife and read stories from My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories.

This Week's Book Adventures:

This week I'm going to finish The Time Traveler's Wife and read stories from My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories.

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, December 14, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/14/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I finished re-listening to Big Magic this week and then listened to a few episodes of Michelle Obama's podcast. I reread bits of Heart Talk and The Wrong Way to Save Your Life. I've also been reading more essays since I'm in a class with Megan Stielstra. I've also been reading more of The First Rule of Punk with my students and I've been reading their writing. We are putting the finishing touches on our writing showcase this week and I'll have more to share soon. 

This Week's Book Adventures:

We are going to finish reading The First Rule of Punk this week! It's a must-do before we go on winter break. I know I have a lot to do this week so I'll probably not get much reading done but I do love to reread Dash and Lily's Book of Dares this time of year. 

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, December 7, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading/ 12/07/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
You know, this week, I needed to recharge so I started re-listenign to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. You know how some books just bring you back to center and fill your heart up? Big Magic does that for me so I decided it would be a good tone to listen to again. 

This Week's Book Adventures:

I'm going to keep re-listening to Big Magic and reading The First Rule of Punk with my students.

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, November 30, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/30/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I shared The Way of the Anigiduwagi by Traci Sorell and illustrated by MaryBeth Timothy from The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love, & Truth and more of La Primera Regla del Punk. I'm still listening to The Gravity of Us and reading The Time Traveler's Wife. I also am close reading Choice Words by Peter Johnston. I've read it before but I'm reading it as a mentor text and paying attention more deeply this time around. 

This Week's Book Adventures:

I'l keep listening to The Gravity of Us and reading The Time Traveler's Wife and reading La Primera Regla del Punk and The Talk with my students. It might be time to abandon The Gravity of Us or at least take a break...I am just noticing that I'm not making time to read it which is usually a sign to reassess.

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, November 23, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/23/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I shared Why Are There Racist People by Duncan Tonatiuh from The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love, & Truth and more of La Primera Regla del Punk. I'm still listening to The Gravity of Us and The Time Traveler's Wife.

This Week's Book Adventures:

I'l keep listening to The Gravity of Us and reading The Time Traveler's Wife and reading La Primera Regla del Punk and The Talk with my students. Hopefully I'll be on to different texts soon! 

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Monday, November 16, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/16/2020

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I saw Jess Lifshitz share The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love, & Truth and I bought it right away. It's amazing. It's a short collection of texts and I'm most of the way through. I read Our Inheritance by Adam Gidwitz with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds to my 8th grade students on Friday. With my 7th graders, we made it through three chapters of La Primera Regla del Punk so far and they're enjoying it. I also picked up my copy of Keep Moving by Maggie Smith and started reading it.

This Week's Book Adventures:

I'm still listening to The Gravity of Us and still reading The Time Traveler's Wife and I'm rereading La Primera Regla del Punk with my students and now I think I'm going to end up reading all the texts in The Talk. We'll also be reading the poem on activism from Woke this week too. 

Read alouds are so great right now. I started the year with shorter texts and now we're getting into longer reads. I love sharing ideas and stories with them and read alouds are just lovely.

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Writing Out of Wonder

In 2017, I shared the book Out of Wonder  by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth with illustrations by Ekua Holmes. Y...