Celebrate: A Long Ride Home

The ride took two hours but felt like less. We were fresh and ready for adventure.

We stepped off the bus, into the chilly 48˚ air, into a colonial village in the foothills above Los Angeles to learn.

We explored crafts and customs of the time: the manners and expectations so far removed from our digital, neon-colored existence.


After lunch, we boarded the bus. Tired and cold.

Driving down the narrow mountain road,  I saw a dark wall of low-lying clouds.

It came down. Hard.  The rain banged on the metal bus roof and summoned quiet.

No one wanted to be on this bus ride. But we had no choice.

That’s how life is sometimes.

We don’t get what we want now.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want at all.

We have to suck it up and hang in there. Knowing, or maybe believing, we will get there.

We have to have patience. With ourselves, our neighbors, the traffic.

Some fell asleep.
Some colored.
Some talked.
Some played cards.
Some stared out the window.
Some invented games.
Some thought.

What seemed interminable and impossible was tolerated. Being kids, they couldn’t help themselves. They laughed and talked and played and invented. Being humans they couldn’t help but look around and notice and wonder and learn.

I learned R notices the small things, on the side of the street and all over the bus.  I found out about E’s cats, and that B had an art show this weekend; that  K has a beautiful singing voice, and A has incredible patience. B knows everything about Mustangs and Cameros and cool looking motorcycles;  T’s sister is starting college, and R’s sister is trying to get straight As.

R, E, O, B, T, and A learned more about my kids, my cat, and my knowledge of songs. That I’m not good at remembering song titles, but I like many of the songs they like.

I listened and learned a lot about the children I sat beside.  We sat, and we shared our space, our noticings, our wonders, our experiences, what we had inside.

We learned. We got along.

That long ride was not planned or wanted, but it added to our understandings of the world and each other.

And we all got home.

This week, I celebrate a long ride home.

Thank you, Ruth, for your weekly call to celebrate the week. Read more celebrations here.

celebrate link up


Poetry Friday: Children of Air

poetry friday logo
Glad to be here on Poetry Friday  hosted by Sylvia Vardel @ Poetry for Children

Mother’s Day.
A day that was
all about mom
my mom’s mom.
and grew to
my husband’s mom.

And then

Now in
my students
I see
whispers of my own.

Precious gifts
their sweet souls seen through their mother’s eyes.
I say,
If this was my child
and every day is
Mother’s  Day.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, To Any Reader, tugged at memories of my own children, long grown. Children of air. Lingering. Aren’t we all those children?


To Any Reader

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

SOL: A Slice of Their Life

It’s that time of the year.


Kids are wiggly.

The end is near.

They feel it.

They are only with me for a few more weeks.

It gives me this sinking feeling, a profound sense of loss.

My fifth graders go on. Excited to go on, yet they know they are losing something. For many this has been their home away from home. It is their first place of learning. They’ve done a lot of growing up here. They feel the end coming.  I hear it every morning when they walk in, “I don’t want to go” and “I’ll miss this place.”

I tell them, this place will miss you.

We have a full calendar ahead. A field trip that inspires and supports project-based learning. Some writing, some responsibilities, some opportunities to give back to the school they’ve been in for the past six years. The busyness is purposeful and necessary. It keeps us from falling apart.

To help me end the year, I’ve got a project of my own. A little something for each student. A goodbye gift.

Every year, each kid holds a space in my heart.  I want them to know what I see in them, what I hope they see, what I’ll remember, what I hope they’ll remember.

I scribe a few a day.  Here are some. Names removed.

Strong and fiery
Destined to change the world
Find a passion outside yourself
and take off

Opinionated and observant

Your silly moments
flow in and out
looking for your voice along with your
pink hat.
There’s wonder in the search.

Perfect curls frame you.
Open up
let the world in
grow into it.

Crafter. Designer.
Your vision grows
as you sketch the image
for the rest of us to see.

Munching a Snickers bar
you flit in.
Poet’s heart
always in motion.

Seer of the possible
find magic in a piece of

Bright eyed, bursting
discoveries await

These are my little tributes to capture them in the moment. A slice of their life.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.




DigiLit Sunday: Function

slide11This week’s DigiLit Sunday topic is “function”. Connect to Margaret Simon’s blog Reflections On the Teche to read more.

I’m wondering, how are my students functioning with technology and how is technology functioning for them.

My students have the opportunity to write on technology. Every day. They have a blog. They connect to other classrooms and each other. They write for themselves and units of study. As they draft on google docs, the concept of revision has become clearer and more doable.  Electronic tools from spell check to research are becoming second nature. Many are taking notes and collaborating with electronic tools. The resistant note takers and writers are using voice to text apps. All students have time to write. Every child. Every day.

I am thrilled. They are writing more. Their writing is improved. They want to write. It’s all good.

But. Wait.

Hold on.

As much as these technology tools liberate my students as researchers and writers, there is a downside, unless we consider technology through the lens of function. We, as readers and writers, need always be asking ourselves: how does this tool help me; is this the best tool for the job.

Friday, we started a researching colonial times. Even though there were books on their tables, students jumped online. They found quick facts, pictures and much more than they could understand, yet. The books sat their in their baskets. Untouched. I knew they held what they needed to start their inquiry into the period.

In the past, I have controlled their access. Book in the beginning. Controlled whole group introduction to videos and websites. Lectures. Then, when their knowledge was stronger and couldn’t find answers to their questions, access to the internet. It worked.

But. Wait.

Hold on.

Students need to learn how and when to use the tools they have, books and the internet. Just like they need to know how to select a book that is just right for them, without me directing them to the correct basket, they need to know what places to go to find research that matches their needs.

So tomorrow, after testing, I’ll call them to the carpet and ask them to consider this:

Researchers,  I want your to think about the tools you need to do your job as a reader and a researcher. Consider a few questions:

Is this the best tool for the job?
What is my question? Did this tool answer it?
Does this tool hold on to my thoughts in a way I can reference it any time?
Can I add to it at any time? Is it limiting?
Is it flexible enough?

Just as we decide if we want to draft on our blog or on google docs; just as we decide if we are going to use post its or our notebook for writing about our reading, we must make decisions as to where and how we research.

As we start today let’s consider the function of our tools and question it. Is this giving me what I need now?

Technology is a powerful tool and resource. When we pick it up we must always consider its function and question, does it meet our current need.