On International Women’s Day

Slice of Life March 8

Today, a line to honour and celebrate each of the women I love and who have inspired me to be the person I am today.

Infinite love, unwavering champion, unshaken foundation.

Wisdom, strength and longevity.

Independent, courageous, united.

Laughter, adolescence and motherhood.

Fierce disrupter, teacher, listener.

Advisor, critical thinker and challenger.

Creative spirit, full of joy, confident.

 

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Living in a Snow Globe

Slice of Life March 5

Today it feels like I live in a snow globe. Looking down on the city  from our fifth floor condo, I see a winter world shaken, white swirling and churning, up, down, all around. There is a softness from up here, removed from the disgruntled complaints of motorists and pedestrians impossibly trudging through mountains of snow. In my living snow globe, I take pleasure in the beauty of a late winter snow storm.

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Boredom Buster

Slice of Life #3

Sometimes being bored can be beneficial. Last night my son ran out of things to do so he invented a game. He gave nonsense words to food and utensils and then made a menu that we had to order from. We had no idea what we were were going to get. I ordered a “cwikneetree” with a “windyflile” and my husband ordered a “flingflung” with a “thermafloop”. We were served with a bowl of cereal to be eaten with a spatula and a tray of pickles that had to be eaten with a whisk. What fun a little boredom can bring!

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What’s in a Name?

Slice of Life Day 2.

As a child of the 80’s all I wanted was a pencil with my name on it. There were pencils galore with names like Lisa, Janet, Amber and Amanda but none with my name, Kira. At supper one night, my mom made the mistake of telling me that they just about named me Jennifer. Big mistake, HUGE. There were pencils, pens, bracelets and even scratch and sniff stickers with the name Jennifer boldly emblazoned on these products. So that night, in protest, I decided that the only name I would answer to was Jennifer. This went on for some time and I either tired of the game or perhaps the name fad started to be less important to me. I grew to love my name and I also learned that it means twinkle in Japanese which suits my personality.

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Slices

Here is a little slice of who I am.

Love it…

The warmth of the sun after a long, frigid winter.

The smile on my son’s face when I pick him up from school at the end of the day.

The smell and feel of a new book.

The twinkle in a student’s eye when they master something new.

Loathe it…

The dreaded decision of what to make for supper.

The taste of coconut.

The empty void when you finish a Netflix series.

The pressure of writing in greeting cards.

 

 

 

 

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Out of Hibernation

As the sun finally starts to gain power in this frigid northern land, I have decided to resurrect my long neglected blog. Ironically, my last post in 2013 was about dormant readers so I guess this is a good time to admit that I myself am a dormant writer. As a graduate student, writing was a regular part of my daily routine. I completed my thesis in 2015 and as I prominently shelved my burgundy leather bound book in my home library, I also shelved my identity as a writer. The act of writing become solely for the purpose of completing my job and I was no longer writing for learning or for pleasure. This has made me reflect that as an intermittent, dormant writer how can I expect differently of my students?

I came across Stacey Shubitz’s Feb. 15, 2017 blog post Empower Your Teaching by Being a Teacher-Writer that encourages teachers to become effective writing teachers by becoming writers themselves. Something that stuck out to me was her story of taking her daughter to an aerial arts class. She was reassured that the class was taught by a highly trained and well qualified instructor. She writes, “Just as teachers of aerials need to be proficient aerial artists, teachers who lead writing workshops should be writers themselves. I never would have enrolled my daughter in the aerials class if the instructor wasn’t a proficient aerial artist herself. Similarly, I believe writing regularly plays a role in becoming an exemplary writing teacher.”

In Lori Rog’s most recent book Marvelous Minilessons for Teaching Intermediate Writing Grades 3 – 8 (2018), she writes, “Not every student of writing will become a published author, just as not every pianist will perform at Carnegie Hall, and not every junior hockey player will win the Stanley Cup”. (p. 10)

And so that brings me to today, March 1, the first day of the Slice of Life Challenge. I am going to challenge myself to begin a writing journey, not to become an award winning author but to become a more confident, consistent writer and a better writing teacher. If I ask my students to take risks, I’d better be willing to take a few myself.

So with a heavy beating heart, here I go…

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Get Dormant Readers Out of Reading Hibernation

It has been the longest, most difficult winter that I can remember in a long time.  All I want to do is stay curled up in my flannel pajamas and hibernate in my basement under a cuddly quilt.  I feel dormant.  I am told spring is coming but when I look out my windows,  I’m finding it hard to believe.

Donalynn Miller (The Book Whisperer, 2009) uses the word “dormant” to describe students who are reluctant readers.  These are the lost readers in our classrooms that need support, encouragement and guidance to be rejuvenated as readers.  Miller writes, “I believe that all dormant readers have a reader inside themselves, somewhere.  They simply need the right conditions in order to let that reader loose…” (p. 28).

When I think about my reading history, I now understand that I was a dormant reader for many of my high school years.  I didn’t have anyone talking to me about books and sharing new and exciting literature with me.  I lived on a steady diet of Archie comics and Sweet Valley High books.   Enjoyable , yes, but not the most enriching experiences.

This long winter makes me think of the dormant readers we have in our classrooms and what we need to do as teachers to get them out of book hibernation and awaken their senses.  We need to create supportive reading environments to coax these readers out of their dormant states.  Here are a few simple ideas:

1.  Do book talks frequently

2.  Share your own reading history

3.  Let kids recommend books to each other

4. Show book trailers and get kids to make their own

5. Let kids abandon a book

6. Encourage kids to stick with a book

7. Give them time to read

8. Use student interest surveys

The thesaurus list these words and phrases as antonyms to dormant; lively, vigorous, energetic, dynamic, full of life, on the go, full of zip.  Students won’t stay dormant for long if this is how we approach the teaching of reading in our classroom.  Happy Spring!

“If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong!”

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