Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Loves of my Life- aka, my today's top 10!

My top ten list includes samples of student writing that were inspired by the book. These titles are in my bag as old standbys. I can whip one of these out and teach anything and everything a writer might need to know about writing. These titles inspire writers to envision their thinking on paper.

The Table Where Rich People Sit-Byrd Baylor
When I wake up in the morning
I can see
I am rich.
I walk over to my window,
I hear the sweet birds singing
I am rich.
I go downstairs for breakfast,
I see my mom and dad
I am rich.
I go to school,
I have a lot to learn,
I have nice teachers
I am rich.
I have my friends,
I have my family
I am rich.

age 7
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 64
Abby captured the power of the repeating word.

All The Places To Love-Patricia Maclachlan
On the day I was born
the rain fell outside the
window, the thunder boomed
like God’s clap, a rainbow
bowed across the sky. The
rain stopped, a bird chirped
and my father picked me up.
I lived in a small house. I
caught bugs and let them go.
I saw cottonwoods bloom and tried
to catch the white fluff as they
floated by and brushed my face.
I drew small pictures and wrote
crooked words.
I went to school.
I explored and I made friends.
I walked places, did things
and noticed. I sketched and became
part of all my places to love.

Today I drew a picture of the
places I love and I remember all of
the times before and my brother
watches me and does his job of bothering
me. I rode my bike tons of places,
to school and everywhere, but then I went
somewhere I shouldn’t go and my
mom took my front wheel
off my bike and hung it up
high and I would stand in the garage
staring up at it in the rafters longing and soon
it would be back on my bike
and I would be free to fly
again. And I found that I could
say stuff with my painting that there
were no words for, and the colors could flow
how I want them to. Control
is a virtue in life and sometimes
I can’t control, but the pain I can.

age 12
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 48-49
After I closed All My places to Love, I softly said, Whatcha' thinking to my group of 5th and 6th graders.

Tastes Like Chocolate-Randi Allison
Poetry tastes like chocolate.

age 8
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 75
Ryan is a severe needs kid. Ryan's writing inspired me to title my book, Tastes Like Chocolate

Happy Blanket-Tony Ross
So Worn, So Soft
Have you ever had a
toy truck or doll you could
never let go of? Or was
it your blanket? I’ll tell
you a secret if you
promise not to tell. I
still have my blanket.
Even though it’s worn
out, I still love to
lay on it over my pillow
at night and go to sleep.
Even though it’s 11 years
old, I still love to
bring it downstairs
with me on days when
it’s cold and on days
when I’m sick and
can’t go to school.
Even though it’s starting
to rip and the fluff
is coming out, I look
at it through different
eyes and dream of when
it was new. Someday
I know I’ll have to
let go, but not today.
Maybe tomorrow, maybe
even never.

age 11
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 92
Happy blanket by Tony Ross inspires kids of all ages to hold tight to their childhood.

A Writer-M.B. Goffstein
A writer is someone who
waits on her couch for her story to catch.
A writer is someone who
walks on the beach looking for seashells that tell a
A writer is someone who
goes home to sit on her couch to write her story
A writer is someone who
waits again.

age 7
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 109
Who are you as a writer?

Henry and Mudge and the Sparkle Days-Cynthia Rylant
mountains of snow
miles high
a blanket of white
covers the yard.
I yell to my brother,
“Last one out is a rotten egg!”
He yells back,
“First one out has to eat it!”
I scurry up the stairs . . .
I’m the rotten egg!

age 11
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 113
I have bundles of Henry and Mudge's in my book bag-along with Poppleton and Mr. Putter and Tabby. I can always rely upon Cynthia Rylant to inspire kids to think about their own lives.

If There Would Be No Light, poems from my heart-Sahara Sunday Spain
God Is Everywhere
In the dark
are light.
When pain is striking
beat it down.
When I am not there
are everywhere.
I love you God.

age 9
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 121
I shared some poetry from Sahara's book and asked kids to think about their light.

Grandpa Loved-Josephine Nobisso
when will you teach me how to fish?
when can we go pick blackberries?
will you tell me stories about the past?
will you push me on the swing?
will you ever leave me?

you promised.

age 11
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg 129
Nobisso inspires students to write their deepest feelings about death. Her writng is melodic and Jennifer was able to capture melody writing about one of life's most difficult reconciliations...death.

My Stories by Hildy Calpurnia Rose-Dale Gottlieb
I lost my shiny blue rock at recess.
I was sitting down on the wood,
you know the wood by the rocks?
My shiny blue rock was in my pocket.
My friends, Alex and Sidney wanted to see it,
I took my shiny blue rock
put it in my lap.
I stood up to play with Alex and Sidney
walked away.
My rock,
my shiny blue rock fell out of my lap
into all the other rocks.
I didn’t even realize!
This rock,
this shiny blue rock,
the one I chose
to be my special rock for today,
and now
my shiny blue rock is

age 7
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg. 37
Honestly, when I share Hildy I think Hildy really wrote this piece. Gottlieb has given Hildy voice and Morgan has captured voice in her reflection

Playing Sardines-Beverly Major
My sister is so sweet.
She is like a little nut hanging from a tree,
just hanging there
waiting to be picked.

age 7
Tastes Like Chocolate, pg. 79
...my friends are ready to play. We do waiting things like turning somersaults, climbing trees, hanging by our knees from the branches...

So there you have it, the loves of my life, my today's top ten!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Rereading Allen's, Conferring The Keystone to Reader's Workshop, I am reminded of Patrick's 'early' days. The days of just beginning to think about the teacher-student relationship. Do you remember when you first became a teacher? You might have been a five year old teaching your younger sibling your new understanding of how to tie a shoe. Or maybe you just graduated from college holding your Education degree tight in your hand, finally able to breathe, thinking,'now' I am a teacher. Go back, do you remember your beginning reading conferences? I remember mine and Allen's. He sat behind his half table with his group of students, and I worked with another group out in the hall. Students read, we asked questions, i.e.; who is the main charactor, where does the story take place? This process of a conferencing didn't last very long! The conference was missing something, like missing the vanilla in a favorite cake recipe. The conferences were dry, no life, no breath. Patrick began to grow. He studied others, he practiced, he reflected upon his practice and he brought me along with him on this journey. Then we talked kids and now we continue to talk kids. One thing I know of Patrick is Patrick really wants to know what his students are thinking and to get at thinking Patrick waits for thinking. Patrick teaches like he fathers his four children and like his parenting has grown so has his teaching. Visitors come and the say, "I can't do this, and Patrick says,"Just begin." Allen teaches us the difference between conference and conferring. He teaches us about the power of mentorship. He teaches us to think deeply, which in today's educational climate, is not of great import from the beliefs of the powers that be. Patrick confers shoulder to shoulder to collect data, assess the data, and teach, over and over and over! Patrick respects every child as if he/she is his own. Student's can't escape his presence-students don't 'play' school in Patrick's room. Together students and teacher set the tone and expectation. Each student knows they are valued, knows that their thinking is the thinking that will change the world and often times one of the students is the teacher and Patrick is the student. As a teacher Patrick shares the stage with all learners. Patrick and I have traveled many miles through our careers together-from his humble half table conferences to his shoulder to shoulder conferring and all the 'ways' in between, Patrick is a mentor-model for me to continue to never stagnate, to hone my practice through talk with mentors, to continue to practice with students always in my forefront, and to have the confidence to stand up for my beliefs in all aspects of life-

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 1993-A Life Circle

Dear Blab,
Only Cynthia can say, "The whale emptied her songs into her baby." Only Cynthia can make me retrace my steps back twenty-one years ago. Back to the moments that were left behind in my forgotten places. To the moment of the first movement of life within me, back to the time when she, my first child, burst out of my body in a flood and into my arms. And now I am feeling the life of my first grandchild. I watch my child's body change and shift to
accommodate her child. I sneak peeks at her in between my knitting and purling as she rubs her billowing belly making contact with her unborn as she sits watching nothing on T.V.. Her hands caress her bulging abdomen. Sometimes she giggles when her baby makes contact from the inside out. She'll call, "Mom, Dad, feel this." My daughter never knows I've been spying on her, watching her as she bonds and loves her unknown. The purity of the love between mother and unborn child. Oneness.
Thanks Cynthia,

Our 5th grandchild is now growing in my son's wife. Eighteen years later I am blessed to watch my son and daughter grow, caress, and bond with their 2nd child. I love that I have kept a Living Book for 20 years!
Today revisiting my 2nd Living Book, February 16, 1993-June 17, 1993, I am able to connect a straight line and turn it into a life circle.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"My writing today is someone's reading for tomorrow, my reading today is someone's writing from yesterday."

For 19 years I often wonder why I write in a 200 page, no lines, artist tablet almost daily. Today I called my first granddaughter, Jordan, age 17 1/2 to share what I wrote 17 1/2 years ago when she was an embryo of 22 weeks swimming in her mother's womb. She cried and then thanked me for writing my feelings for her before she was born.

Living Book #1

12:30 p.m.

Jenn went and visited Stuart today. She had a 15 minute ultrasound. She just called to tell me her baby has everything-good lungs, a heartbeat of 150 BPM [good range is between 130-160] I remember reading somewhere that a fast heartbeat could be a girl. I know that's what Jenn wants. I think she will be happy with whatever she gets.

It's a Miracle
I see
the baby's foot,
and all four quadrants.

It's a miracle

I see three sneezes
one thumb suck.

It's a miracle
a wiggly little person
swimming around inside
my baby,
swimming here
swimming there,
twisting here
turning there.

I saw a miracle!


Do you think you can use your Living Book to make the commonplace seem marvelous?

Jordan has been accepted to University of Arizona
She is waiting to hear from nine more Universities from around the country!

"My writing today is someone's reading for tomorrow, my reading today is someone's writing from yesterday."
Randi Allison

Monday, February 7, 2011

A good place to begin is at the beginning...

A good place for me to begin would be my beginning, which I suppose the beginning is a good place for most anyone to begin...

July 8,1992
Dear Living Book #1,

Welcome #1! I'm not sure welcome to what, but together you and I will figure it out. Don at the summer institute said, "If it's not for us, it's not for them." I knew I wanted a place to house my thinking. I do know one thing though and that is I don't want you to be my journal-I've kept tons of journals and they don't sound like my living. Rereading the journals I've kept, I noticed that I write about waking up, what I did that day, and going to bed! BORING- My intent is for you to help me see my living through my writing, and not report my living, and hopefully, I will be able to tell the difference!

Today, February 7, 2011, almost 20 years later I have filled 43 Living Books-Yes 43! Today I unpacked all 43 from my file cabinets and surrounded myself in my life of the last 19 1/2 years. My writing has captured love, birth, death, friendship, poetry, thinking, learning, process, understanding...

my life,

welcome to it!