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Archive for July, 2012

I came across this essay recently on the Poetry Foundation’s website. What a great poetry exercise to try with children of all ages! And since I’ve been knee-deep in editing my new math video, I thought this was especially appropriate. Enjoy! And stay tuned next week, when I will be posting a sneak-peek of the math work stations video. Happy Poetry Friday!

Fib Time
Tell
Fibs.
What time?
Every day
Two seconds before
Clocks hit 11:24.

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Have you ever thought about what handwriting looks like — not what is written, but how it’s written? This poem made me think of that — all of those elegant, connected lines. We lose some of that on the computer, don’t we?

Writing

By Howard Nemerov

The cursive crawl, the squared-off characters
these by themselves delight, even without
a meaning, in a foreign language, in
Chinese, for instance, or when skaters curve
all day across the lake, scoring their white
records in ice. Being intelligible,
these winding ways with their audacities
and delicate hesitations, they become
miraculous, so intimately, out there
at the pen’s point or brush’s tip, do world
and spirit wed. The small bones of the wrist
balance against great skeletons of stars
exactly; the blind bat surveys his way
by echo alone. Still, the point of style
is character. The universe induces
a different tremor in every hand, from the
check-forger’s to that of the Emperor
Hui Tsung, who called his own calligraphy
the ‘Slender Gold.’ A nervous man
writes nervously of a nervous world, and so on.
Miraculous. It is as though the world
were a great writing. Having said so much,
let us allow there is more to the world
than writing: continental faults are not
bare convoluted fissures in the brain.
Not only must the skaters soon go home;
also the hard inscription of their skates
is scored across the open water, which long
remembers nothing, neither wind nor wake.

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A work station for music

During back-to-school workshops, teachers from art, music, and P.E. often attend our training on work stations. Often, I’m pleasantly surprised by the creativity of these folks and how they adapt work stations to match their special subjects!

Jennifer Bartos, the music teacher at Ford Elementary School in Denver, CO., came to my after-school session and shared what she’s been trying in her classroom with music stations. I LOVE it! She does things a little differently, because she has many classes each day with lots of different students. But she makes it work for her! Here are a few of the stations she is using with her 3rd-5th graders on the stage in the auditorium, nonetheless!

Students read and play music here using a variety of instruments

Students read and play music here using a variety of instruments

Students read music and play the bells at this station

Students read music and play the bells at this station

Students also play the Boomwhackers (why didn't they have these when I was in school?)

Students also play the Boomwhackers (why didn’t they have these when I was in school?)

Kids compose music using the last 4 digits of their phone number and play it on the xylophone

Kids compose music using the last 4 digits of their phone number and play it on the xylophone

A computer station is used to teach about the musical staff

A computer station is used to teach about the musical staff

There is an emphasis on learning music vocabulary too

There is an emphasis on learning music vocabulary too

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In honor of Bastille Day tomorrow (France’s Independence Day, if you will), here is a poem by French poet Paul Verlaine.

 

Ars Poetica

By Paul Verlaine
Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

for Charles Morice

Music first and foremost! In your verse,
Choose those meters odd of syllable,
Supple in the air, vague, flexible,
Free of pounding beat, heavy or terse.
Choose the words you use—now right, now wrong—
With abandon: when the poet’s vision
Couples the Precise with Imprecision,
Best the giddy shadows of his song:
Eyes veiled, hidden, dark with mystery,
Sunshine trembling in the noonday glare,
Starlight, in the tepid autumn air,
Shimmering in night-blue filigree!
For Nuance, not Color absolute,
Is your goal; subtle and shaded hue!
Nuance! It alone is what lets you
Marry dream to dream, and horn to flute!
Shun all cruel and ruthless Railleries;
Hurtful Quip, lewd Laughter, that appall
Heaven, Azure-eyed, to tears; and all
Garlic-stench scullery recipes!
Take vain Eloquence and wring its neck!
Best you keep your Rhyme sober and sound,
Lest it wander, reinless and unbound—
How far? Who can say?—if not in check!
Rhyme! Who will its infamies revile?
What deaf child, what Black of little wit
Forged with worthless bauble, fashioned it
False and hollow-sounding to the file?
Music first and foremost, and forever!
Let your verse be what goes soaring, sighing,
Set free, fleeing from the soul gone flying
Off to other skies and loves, wherever.
Let your verse be aimless chance, delighting
In good-omened fortune, sprinkled over
Dawn’s wind, bristling scents of mint, thyme, clover . . .
All the rest is nothing more than writing.

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While working with teachers in grades 3-6 recently, we took a close look at the observation station. First, we viewed a video clip from Stepping Up with Literacy Stations on this station as introduced in Lisa Gregory’s 3rd grade classroom. Then we brainstormed ideas of what students might observe at this station in their classrooms. We came up with many innovative ideas as listed on the chart below. This station can easily be linked to science and social studies standards. Materials can be borrowed from local organizations, such as a high school science lab, children’s or science museum, or even a regional education service center. Ask around to find out what might be available to you.

If you open an observation station in your classroom, send us photos and tell us a little about what students are doing and learning in this station. We’d love to see what your class is doing!

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

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What a great take on Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem! Share with your girls — students, friends, sisters, daughters, mothers!

 

An “If” for Girls

By Elizabeth Lincoln Otis

(With apologies to Mr. Rudyard Kipling)

If you can dress to make yourself attractive,
       Yet not make puffs and curls your chief delight;
If you can swim and row, be strong and active,
       But of the gentler graces lose not sight;
If you can dance without a craze for dancing,
       Play without giving play too strong a hold,
Enjoy the love of friends without romancing,
       Care for the weak, the friendless and the old;
If you can master French and Greek and Latin,
       And not acquire, as well, a priggish mien,
If you can feel the touch of silk and satin
       Without despising calico and jean;
If you can ply a saw and use a hammer,
       Can do a man’s work when the need occurs,
Can sing when asked, without excuse or stammer,
       Can rise above unfriendly snubs and slurs;
If you can make good bread as well as fudges,
       Can sew with skill and have an eye for dust,
If you can be a friend and hold no grudges,
       A girl whom all will love because they must;
If sometime you should meet and love another
       And make a home with faith and peace enshrined,
And you its soul—a loyal wife and mother—
       You’ll work out pretty nearly to my mind
The plan that’s been developed through the ages,
       And win the best that life can have in store,
You’ll be, my girl, the model for the sages—
       A woman whom the world will bow before.

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