Pedaled On

Without fanfare, the cool air crept in during the night, pushing humidity out the back door. Daylight brought crisp air and bicycles to the riding trail.

I find my mind goes to a zen place as I settle into the rhythm of the pedals going round and round. On this day, the phrase “living a dream” echoed through my mind as I ticked the boxes of my life that makes this true.

  • I was pedaling on a trail, while many were back in school.
  • I can take vacations in off seasons.
  • I have wonderful friends.
  • I have a very comfortable home that I love.
  • My husband . . . enough said :-)

The list could continue, but you get the drift.

A voice took me out of my reverie, “On your left!” as a man sped by me. I noticed he was wearing a onesie type of riding clothes. “Hmmm, that’s different,” I thought. Then I checked my mirror to see if my husband was coming up behind me. After noting these bits of information, I then focused back on the trail where I was jolted out of my musings. A shriek escaped my lips as my eyes took in the sight. A huge black snake stretched across the trail, soaking in the sunshine.

My heart leaped into my throat as I narrowly missed running over this snake. I wondered if my shriek was heard by the man who just passed me or my husband behind me. Slowly my heartbeat and breathing returned to normal. Then the regrets set in. I should have turned around to snap a picture of this snake, but I didn’t. I pedaled on.

My shriek had not been heard by my husband, but he was shocked that I had not stopped for a picture. I wish I had stopped, but for some reason my feet just kept on pedaling. The snake was gone by the time I returned to the spot on the trail. Maybe next time I will be more observant before I nearly run over the poor critter.

Along the Road

My mind thought back to the events of the day. A day of presenting balanced literacy to an elementary staff, K-2 in the morning and 3-5 in the afternoon. Analyzing each group’s reception of the information presented and pondering where to take them next when I return. I have eighty miles of time to think this through.

Suddenly, there is movement ahead. My senses heightened and my speed decreases as I zoom closer to the movement. It is a young fawn who has stepped out of the thick brush that lines the road.

Each step taken with deliberate care. No quick movements for this young fawn. A multitude of spots spilling down its back. The head upright, watching. Eyes wary. It steps closer to the highway. It pauses. Is that confusion or wonder in the fawn’s eyes, as my car speeds past.

My mind no longer thinking of my day. Now my thoughts are questions. Where is your mother? Will you continue on your way across the road or did the sounds of the cars frighten you back to the woods? I watch my rear view mirror as another car follows me. That car has not stopped, so I hope the fawn stood its ground or dashed away.

My thoughts linger on that fawn for many miles, hoping it returned to the woods where it might be safer. Eventually, my thoughts returned to my day, hoping the teachers won’t always stay in their safe zone, but try some new ideas.

 

 

Another Tree Tale

Last week’s final sentence, “The backyard has more mottled shade than before, but hopefully the next wild wind that blows in our direction will slip between the branches and leave the limbs intact.” My hopes were crushed and blown away.

Saturday morning, the sun turned the thermostat to high. Slowly we strolled through the farmer’s market, collecting the ingredients for our dinner, Southwestern chopped salad. The plans called for keeping cool in the movie theater, so we were discussing where should we go for lunch before the movie. As we chatted, the room grew darker and darker. A quick look outside surprised us with a gray sky. The forecast did not include rain.

As we gathered items on the patio, the wind began to blow. The trees began to sway. The wind became more angry. It was a bully pushing the limbs back and forth. Every leaf hung on for dear life, some lost the battle and went whirling away.

We retreated to the house to watch and wait. Would the thinning be enough to withstand the power of the wind? Unfortunately the answer came when the limb came crashing to the ground. By the time the storm moved on we had broken limbs dangling, on the ground, and behind the fence.

This was the largest limb that fell.

This was the largest limb that fell.

The sun boldly appeared as we squished through the grass to assess the damage. Immediately the chopping tools were brought out. Basket after basket was filled with chopped branches.

Ten baskets were filled and brought to the recycling center.

Ten baskets were filled and brought to the recycling center.

 

 

 

 

 

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” was certainly true this day. Did we even dream that we’d be chopping limbs? No way!

We did make it to the movie, a much later showing than originally planned. And yes, the

Another before and after of this poor beaten tree.

Another before and after of this poor beaten tree.

Southwest chopped salad was delicious.

2015 #pb10for10

10 for 10

Are you ready for the blogosphere to be raining picture book titles? Blogs everywhere will be listing the books they must share with students every year. These are books that will send you to Amazon or your favorite bookstore or a library as you search to find these gems you. just. gotta. have!

The books this year were new to me within the last two months. Some are from the library, some are my very own. In alphabetical order by author, I reveal my list of ten. Enjoy . . .

sophia1. One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail: Sophia sets about trying to convince her family she should get a giraffe for her birthday. She tries to persuade each member of the family with compelling information, but they inform her she is too verbose, effusive, and loquacious. What is the one word  that will get her her heart’s desire?

2. The Little “Read” Hen by Dianne de Las Casas: Little “Read” Hen wants to write a story. henWho will help her? Not the Dog. Not the Cat. Not the Pig. This book is filled with “fowl” language and the pictures must be studied carefully. Have you read Don’t Let the Chicken Drive the Tractor or Where the Wild Hens Are? The final page has the Write Recipe for a Story.

billy3. Billy’s Booger, a Memoir (sorta) by William Joyce: “Once upon a time, when TV was in black and white, and there were only three channels, and when kids didn’t have playdates – they just roamed free in the “out of doors” – there live a kid named Billy.” So the story begins and you learn that Billy (William Joyce) began his writing career in fourth grade. This is actually a double book because you also get another book inside titled Billy’s Booger, the memoir of a little green nose buddy.

4. Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathon London: Did you know that hippos are the most dangerous hipposanimal in Africa? This book is packed with facts about hippos and delivered with craft of a talented writer. The illustrations just beg you to study them for the details you can discover.

look5. Look! by Jeff Mack: Jeff Mack is a master at delivering a tale will limited words. This book uses look and out to tell the tale of a playful gorilla and an annoyed boy. You might want to check out Jeff Mack’s other books Ah Ha! and Good News, Bad News.

6. If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson: At first you think this is just plant seedanother circular tale and it’s about vegetables, so you might pass on this book. If you did that, you would be missing the opportunity to teach kindness vs. selfishness. Gorgeous pictures in this extra large book.

pitter patter7. Pitter and Patter by Martha Sullivan: Follow two raindrops, Pitter and Patter, that fall and take different journeys until they meet again in the cloud.

8. My Dog Is the Best by Laurie Ann Thompson: “My dog is the best. He best dogis fun. He plays ball. He plays tug. He plays chase.” What a great example of stating an opinion and giving supporting details. Simple drawings enhance the text. Perfect for sharing will the youngest of students.

help need title9. Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet: The characters are concerned that you have opened their book and they don’t quite know what to do with a reader. They don’t have a story, so they enlist help in creating a story. A very funny book with loads of voice.

10. You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple: Such a you nest hereperfect companion book to A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long and Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward. The human mama tells her young one how mama and papa birds nest with their babies, but you nest here with me is a reoccurring line.

Hopefully you discovered a new title to put on your wish list. Now head over to Google Plus Community page to read more and link your own choices.

 

 

A Tale of a Tree

Without warning, a wicked, fierce wind blew in from the north. It sent the neighbors scurrying into their homes as the trees’ limbs whipped back and forth like a stallion’s mane.

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Not content to observe from the window, my husband and I stepped onto the patio, mesmerized by the movement of the two maple trees being abused by the wind. Fear of breaking branches gripped our hearts. Last summer we lost the maple in our front yard due to wind damage. A loud crack echoed across the backyard. Was this sound from our tree? We scanned the treetops looking for a fallen limb. None could be seen in the night sky. But was that gap always there? With dread, we returned to the house to wait for the morning light to reveal the damage.

Daylight brought bad news, a limb had broken. Immediately a call was sent out to the tree service. A few days later, we were welcoming the crew into our yard to do whatever was necessary to save our trees.

Way up high, the wind broke a branch. The crew studies the situation.

Way up high, the wind broke a branch. The crew studies the situation.

Tools on the ground. Webs ready to greet the trimmer as he begins the climb.

Tools on the ground.
Webs ready to greet the trimmer as he begins the climb.

Tethered to the tree, he climbs up, up, up eventually the leaves hide him.

Tethered to the tree, he climbs up, up, up eventually the leaves hide him.

Meanwhile back on the ground the falling limbs are gathered and shredded. The chainsaw creates a shower of sawdust.

Meanwhile back on the ground the falling limbs are gathered and shredded. The chainsaw creates a shower of sawdust.

Finally, all limbs have been pruned. The yard has been cleared of all tree debris. Here is the before and after picture of the tree with the broken branch.

Finally, all limbs have been pruned. The yard has been cleared of all tree debris. Here is the before and after picture of the tree with the broken branch.

The backyard has more mottled shade than before, but hopefully the next wild wind that blows in our direction will slip between the branches and leave the limbs intact.

Thoughts on ILA

My brain simmered with new learning. My body exhausted from the pace of the previous four days. I needed down time, therefore, no slice last week. Now that time as passed, I’ve gathered some thoughts to share a few experiences from the ILA conference.

The pre-conference I attended was all about vocabulary. A day spent thinking about words and how do we get students to acquire these words. Should students look words up in a dictionary, write a definition, and a sentence? A resounding NO! from all speakers. Context is key to developing an understanding of new words.

Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger shared a format for writing a vocabulary word poem. I have attempted to define the ILA experience using their format. See if you can determine the structure.

An ILA conference gives you the opportunity to expand your learning.

The pace of your day will not be relaxed.

You get up close and personal with authors you adore.

Meals during the day are nonexistent. Pack a snack!

As your brain grows stronger, your muscles do too. Totes become loaded with books, strong shoulders and arm required. Miles are walked between sessions and throughout the exhibit area.

Book budgets explode. The plethora of books at your fingertips make it difficult to resist.

Should you ever have the opportunity to attend, grab it. You won’t regret it. 

Did you discover that the lines alternated from what it is to what it is not, with a concluding line? When students are able to give an example of what it is not, they process the word at a deeper level.

Here’s a glimpse of the books that came home with me. Some are signed by the author :-) and many will find their way into classroom libraries this year.

Nonfiction titles

Nonfiction titles

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Fiction titles I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Fiction titles
I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Sigh, what can I say? I love books!