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Here are some pictures of the “after” photos of the classroom I set up after school yesterday. As part of the training on small group reading instruction, we looked at how to set up a classroom a la  my book, Spaces and Places. One of the teachers there talked to me at the break and explained that she was graduating from college on Friday (this week!) and starting in her first teaching job next Monday. She wondered which space she should focus on setting up first. I always recommend planning classroom spaces on paper before moving any furniture. So, I told her I’d help her for a little bit after class.

We drove several miles to her new school, and the teacher whose class she’s taking over was gracious enough to let us plan and move the furniture. Less than 2 hours later, the new look was taking shape.

10 after Callahan Paige in whole group with tech center in corner(1)

The “new” whole group area (with tech in the corner)

caption 2: the "new" small group area (by the built-in shelves which are perfect for storing small group materials)

The “new” small group area (by the built-in shelves which are perfect for storing small group materials)

12 after Callahan new library

The “new” classroom library with books graciously donated by the teacher who is leaving to teach P.E. We moved and reconfigured the bins and shelves from a different part of the room.

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I’ve been thinking about and searching for peace after the turbulence of the past few months and came across this poem. I hope it brings you peace, too.

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

No Words

Our family: Jessica, me, Tom, and Jon

My husband, Tom, passed away peacefully in the early hours of Sun. Sept. 23, the first full day of fall. We will all miss him terribly. When confronted with the choice of two weeks (with no treatment) or two months (with more chemo and hospital procedures), he bravely chose two weeks. “What can you do in two months that you can’t do in two weeks?” were his words of wisdom that will echo in my heart forever. Tom was generous, thoughtful, intelligent, witty, and inquisitive through his very last day on this earth.

Our newlywed son, Jon, and his wife Brittany, and our daughter, Jessica, did so much to care for him in the past three years since his diagnosis with multiple myeloma. We are both proud of them and thank them for their love and strength. Please pray for comfort and healing for them during this very difficult time.

Tom’s memorial service will be held Sat. Sept. 29 at 11 AM in the chapel at Grace Presbyterian Church (at Beltway 8 and Westheimer in Houston) with a reception following at Royal Oaks Country Club from 12-3.

We thank Vitas Hospice for the angels who helped us care for Tom during his final two weeks at home. There were no more hospitals, no more treatments, no more labs… just time at home with his family and close friends… which is where he wanted to be. Tom asked that donations be made in his honor to the SPCA. He loved his Great Dane, Atlas, who was also by his bed until the end.

I hope your classroom is not feeling this mixed up yet!

Mixed-Up School
By X J Kennedy

We have a crazy mixed-up school.
Our teacher Mrs. Cheetah
Makes us talk backwards. Nicer cat
You wouldn’t want to meet a.
To start the day we eat our lunch,
Then do some heavy dome-work.
The boys’ and girls’ rooms go to us,
The hamster marks our homework.
At recess time we race inside
To don our diving goggles,
Play pin-the-donkey-on-the-tail,
Ball-foot or ap-for-bobbles.
Old Cheetah with a chunk of chalk
Writes right across two blackbirds,
And when she says, “Go home!” we walk
The whole way barefoot backwards.

Just like Kate Messner, I don’t like to get political either. But I just had to post her lovely poem. Let us all remember the things that bring us together:

What We Have in Common
By Kate Messner

For just a minute, let’s look at the leaves together.

Do you see how this one blushes pink around the edges?

How that one is all red, its neighbor halfway gold?

I like the way it is leaning toward autumn

But isn’t quite ready to leap.

Read the full poem on Kate’s blog.

Do you ever catch a student snoozing in class? Here is a lovely poem for today’s Poetry Friday.

For a Student Sleeping in a Poetry Workshop

By David Wagoner

I’ve watched his eyelids sag, spring open
   Vaguely and gradually go sliding
      Shut again, fly up
With a kind of drunken surprise, then wobble
   Peacefully together to send him
      Home from one school early. Soon his lashes
Flutter in REM sleep. I suppose he’s dreaming
   What all of us kings and poets and peasants
      Have dreamed: of not making the grade,
Of draining the inexhaustible horn cup
   Of the cerebral cortex where ganglions
      Are ganging up on us with more connections
Than atoms in heaven, but coming up once more
   Empty. I see a clear stillness
      Settle over his face, a calming of the surface
Of water when the wind dies. Somewhere
   Down there, he’s taking another course
      Whose resonance (let’s hope) resembles
The muttered thunder, the gutter bowling, the lightning
   Of minor minions of Thor, the groans and gurgling
      Of feral lovers and preliterate Mowglis, the songs
Of shamans whistled through bird bones. A worried neighbor
   Gives him the elbow, and he shudders
      Awake, recollects himself, brings back
His hands from aboriginal outposts,
   Takes in new light, reorganizes his shoes,
      Stands up in them at the buzzer, barely recalls
His books and notebooks, meets my eyes
   And wonders what to say and whether to say it,
      Then keeps it to himself as today’s lesson.

A poem on this Friday about a different kind of teaching and different students. Enjoy!

Teaching English from an Old Composition Book

By Gary Soto

My chalk is no longer than a chip of fingernail,
Chip by which I must explain this Monday
Night the verbs “to get;” “to wear,” “to cut.”
I’m not given much, these tired students,
Knuckle-wrapped from work as roofers,
Sour from scrubbing toilets and pedestal sinks.
I’m given this room with five windows,
A coffee machine, a piano with busted strings,
The music of how we feel as the sun falls,
Exhausted from keeping up.
                                       I stand at
The blackboard. The chalk is worn to a hangnail,
Nearly gone, the dust of some educational bone.
By and by I’m Cantiflas, the comic
Busybody in front. I say, “I get the coffee.”
I pick up a coffee cup and sip.
I click my heels and say, “I wear my shoes.”
I bring an invisible fork to my mouth
And say, “I eat the chicken.”
Suddenly the class is alive—
Each one putting on hats and shoes,
Drinking sodas and beers, cutting flowers
And steaks—a pantomime of sumptuous living.
At break I pass out cookies.
Augustine, the Guatemalan, asks in Spanish,
“Teacher, what is ‘tally-ho’?”
I look at the word in the composition book.
I raise my face to the bare bulb for a blind answer.
I stutter, then say, “Es como adelante.
Augustine smiles, then nudges a friend
In the next desk, now smarter by one word.
After the cookies are eaten,
We move ahead to prepositions—
“Under,” “over,” and “between,”
Useful words when la migra opens the doors
Of their idling vans.
At ten to nine, I’m tired of acting,
And they’re tired of their roles.
When class ends, I clap my hands of chalk dust,
And two students applaud, thinking it’s a new verb.
I tell them adelante,
And they pick up their old books.
They smile and, in return, cry, “Tally-ho.”
As they head for the door.