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Archive for October, 2009

This morning I was reading about just doing a small thing that can create a big ripple. My small thing to do? Donate to Donors Choose.

If you haven’t heard of them, Donors Choose is a non-profit group that funds grants for teachers. It is a simple process (grants can be written in an hour or so) that can net you great results.

As I work with teachers across the U.S., they often tell me, “I’d love to have a big book easel, but our school can’t afford to buy me one.” That’s where Donors Choose comes in! Write a mini-grant for a big book easel (or crayons and paper and scissors or a classroom digital camera, etc.) and get what you need for your kids.

Here are some of the thank-you’s I’ve received from funding projects at Donors Choose. I hope you’ll consider either writing a grant or helping to fund one.

What small thing will you choose to do today to help someone else?

donor1

donor2

donor3

Dear Debbie! Thank you for the awesome cameras! That was kind and thoughtful. You are total awesomeness. (Don't tell Janie I said that.) The kind always get rewarded. So I am sure you will be rewarded. Wish you good luck on the road of life.

donor4

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Gotta love Sony!

Anyone who’s heard me present in the past few months knows I’ve had trouble with the DVD player skipping on my new laptop. Because my laptop is under warranty, I called SONY and was amazed by their response. Not only would they fix my laptop, they’d send a repair person TO MY HOUSE at my convenience. Wow! I am so impressed.

So today I give a big shoutout to SONY and their service. I love my VAIO and work on it daily.

Back to writing now. That math book is waiting.

The Sony repairman fixing my laptop at my house!

The Sony repairman fixing my laptop at my house!

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A quiet nook

Where do you like to read? I have a quiet little reading nook tucked in above the staircase in my home. Take a look at it:

Deb's-reading-nook

It’s pretty cozy, right? So send me a picture of where you like to read – or where you happen to do most of your reading. Is it in your living room? Or in your car while you are waiting for your kids to get out of soccer practice? Is it at school? I’d love to see your pictures – if you happen to be reading one of my books in the photo, even better! I am going to pick the most creative photo and you will receive a signed copy of one of my books! So start snapping away! My e-mail address is d.diller@live.com

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Word wall

I received this great message and picture from Jeanne Messmer, a third-grade teacher in Arcadia, Indiana:

“Debbie, I am a third grade teacher, and was at your workshop in Lafayette, IN. I talked with you about arranging my Word Wall Words around my Read Aloud books instead of in ABC order. I have attached a picture of the books I have read aloud this year, and the vocabulary words we talked about. I find it very useful to have the words connected to a story we have shared. The students find the words in books they are reading independently, and I use the words as much as possible in my teaching.”

Jeanne's word wall in her third-grade classroom

Jeanne's word wall in her third-grade classroom

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recessRecently, I blogged about the Drama Work Station and received a comment from Alexis O’Neill, the author of The Recess Queen. I had mentioned that this is a great book for students to retell and dramatize at the Drama Station. After hearing from Alexis, I emailed her and asked her to be a Guest Author on my blog, and she agreed. What would you like her to tell us about?
 
In the meantime, she sent me some info about why she wrote The Recess Queen, the story of a bully, Mean Jean, and her transformation through meeting a new girl at school. Here’s what Alexis had to say:

Q: How did you come up with your story?
A: This is going to sound incredibly silly, but I began the story because I liked the sound of “mean” “Jean” and “queen” together (and I do hope that any of my friends named Jean do not take my book personally . . . ) Then I wondered what Mean Jean would do – and what she kingdom she would reign over. Since recess was (and still is) my favorite part of the day, I made her queen of the playground. The character of Katie Sue was inspired in part by my niece, Megan Rose, who on the surface looks quiet and shy but is the most energetic player I know. Other parts of the book were inspired by my younger nieces Stephanie, Allison and Laura, but mostly by my sister, Donna, who has a great sense of humor.
Q: How long did it take you to write your story?
A: I wrote notes  for The Recess Queen in 1992. The first title was, “Mean Jean, the Playground Queen.” But I just kept putting notes into a folder off and on for a long time. I wrote the first two pages in 1993. I wrote the first full draft in January 1999. Then I workshopped about 6 revisions with my writers group before I sent my story to a publisher in June 1999.
Q: Have you written any other books?
A: In addition to The Recess Queen, my other books include Loud Emily and Estela’s Swap. My newest book, The Worst Best Friend, is a companion to The Recess Queen.
 
I hope you’ll read aloud these books written by Alexis O’Neill to your class and try them soon at a Drama Station. Let us know what you try! We love pictures, and so does Alexis! Leave your questions in the Comments area and send your photos of your drama station to d.diller@live.com.

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I am very excited about presenting at this year’s NCTE conference with my colleagues Laura Robb and Carol Varsalona on Saturday, November 21, in Philadelphia, home of Temple University where I went to graduate school! Please check out the video about our session online!

At the 2008 NCTE convention with Carol Varsalona and Laura Robb

At the 2008 NCTE convention with Carol Varsalona and Laura Robb

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One of my favorite things to do is visit a park on a Sunday. Families and friends are walking, picnicking, playing, relaxing. This past Sunday Tom and I went to Hermann Park in the heart of Houston. I took pictures of some of the things we saw. It’s a beautiful spot. Almost makes you forget you’re in the city.

While in Paris a few years ago, we enjoyed strolling in its parks on a Sunday afternoon, too. Much like one of my favorite paintings, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. And like a favorite book, The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, a story told about a famous Renior painting of friends enjoying a weekend afternoon together.

Hope you enjoy a park near you during one of these upcoming, cooler fall weekends.

Reflecting pool at Hermann Park in Houston

Reflecting pool at Hermann Park in Houston

The new Houston Zoo train travels through the park

The new Houston Zoo train travels through the park

Water lilies in the park

Water lilies in the park

Driving along Rice Ave., lined with live oaks en route to Hermann Park

Driving along Rice Ave., lined with live oaks en route to Hermann Park

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