Reading is Controversial?

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In the US Read Across America day is celebrated on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. As an elementary reading specialist, I took advantage of all of these special “holidays” created around reading to promote books and fun to my students. (Another one is read for the record day which began with Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar)

I used to facilitate a school wide rotation of Dr. Seuss centers. At the time, we had an early childhood vocational program that helped create centers for the event for several years.

I have dressed up as the Cat in the Hat more times than I can count. If I look hard enough, I can probably find the newspaper clippings proving it.

On Tuesday evening while in the car I was listening to the Creative Kindergarten podcast and she was talking about how Read Across America day has changed from a Dr. Seuss focus to a more diverse focus this year. NEA had gotten complaints in some fashion about the connection to this author.

I do not have an objection to it being changed to be more diverse. We need more diverse books in classrooms. As my friend Lisa Vahey says, we need to have books that are windows and doors. Children need to see themselves in the text and they also need to learn about people different from them.

Personally, I like to read to learn about how others think. I want to know how characters would handle a situation I have never been in. I feel it prepares me if I ever AM in that situation.

I have always thought about Dr. Seuss’ characters being universal especially the ones that are …animals? As I write this I struggle for a word that describes Sneeches and the Lorax accurately. Larger ideas can still be discussed when reading Dr. Seuss.

As a writer, I am fascinated that Green Eggs and Ham was a writing dare to Seuss. He was challenged to write a book with 50 words or less. I love a prompt of a list of words to construct a story and I am certain I have given that prompt to students.

All of this controversy makes me wonder about people. The conversation needs to be had and the addition of more authors and types of books is a step in the right direction. But does name calling need to occur? Does being nasty about it make it more memorable? That idea is NOT what we want to be modeling for children.

Let’s keep the fun and the wonder. Let’s keep the positive and forward moving parts and then add where we are lacking with respect and kindness to everyone whether you would eat green eggs and ham with Sam I am or not.

Time and Constraint

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I have come to know that time is a human constraint, not a natural one. Cycles are natural and occur, but time is imposed. The new moon cycle started yesterday. Usually, this is a time was thinking about goals and what to bring forth before the full moon. This new moon, although positive goals are set, seemed emotionally rough for me Sunday and Monday.

Every thing does have its season whether it is friends, interests, or situations in the classroom. Everything is temporary.

The last two Monday’s have been wonderful for me. The time flowed nicely and I didn’t feel rushed. I also didn’t feel like anything dragged on forever like I was on the treadmill.

Yesterday…not so much. To be fair, those I issues I had Sunday caused me to not fall asleep til 1 am and I woke up before the alarm at 5am. Something was off, and not just on my end. I had students crying that never do. There was a noise level that went beyond constructive and kept escalating. Students were not responding who normally do even when their names were called.

We all made it through all though it was painful partly because the time felt like it was moving slowly. The flow we normally have was elusive.

On days like these, I try to remember the positive. It is how I control time. I got lots of hugs and pictures made for me. The kids’ expressions for blood oranges was priceless. There was art!

Today, we start again.

What do you do when you feel time is messing with you?

Weekend Coffee Share – New Moon Edition

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Thank you for joining me for coffee today. I have a new Keurig so I have some new flavors to share! Caramel? Dark Roast? Hot chocolate perhaps?

If we were having coffee I would tell you a new moon is this Sunday. The new moon cycle is a time of new beginnings. I will do my tarot pull for the new moon Sunday.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had many new concepts come to my attention this week. One was Memento Mori — it is a short story written by Nathan Nolen. There is also the use of the phrase to remind yourself you will die. It is an absolute truth, so you must choose to live every day. It is the idea to not forget that your daily life is important. I am still thinking about how this will manifest itself in my life. It ties into my one word for the year of More. I want my daily life to have more of what is essential to me.

Another concept that came to me was from the Rebel Author Podcast. I am drawn to sections of books and short stories often. I copy lines and ideas in my notebook. Gabriella Piera talked about photocopying the section and making a note of the craft concept, why you liked it and then giving it a category so if you having trouble writing dialogue, or a character you can have your set of mentor texts to refer to altogether.

If we were having coffee I would tell you using poetry as a prewrite idea and questions for poetry prompts came up this week. One idea was from a blog and the other was from a podcast. I am going to work on these ideas over the next week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I need to buy more notebooks. I have some blank ones but they are not the RIGHT ones. I have not had to time to get the notebooks I want. They are not ones I can order online. I need to find a harder backed notebook with a pocket.

Would you like some water? Some more coffee? I never seem to be able to get enough. I am going to the kitchen for a refill.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had dinner at Weber Grill this week and it was delicious. I love their pretzel rolls and beef brisket. It is so delicious.

If we were having coffee, I would want to know what your week looked like! I love reading everyone else’s coffee share posts at Eclectic Alli’s Blog link!

Tammy L. Breitweiser is a writer living in the Midwest and working on her first collection of short stories. Her fiction has been published in The Ninja Writers Monthly, Spelk, Clover and White, and Elephants Never. Her essay is published in the I Wrote it Anyway anthology. You can connect with Tammy through Twitter @TLBREIT. Sign up for her newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/e19e03e6cd33/tammynews

FMF – RISK

You can read this 5 minute writing on Medium here: https://medium.com/the-partnered-pen/fmf-risk-3da8ce467eca

Reading on Medium helps support me as a writer!

Every Friday Kate chooses a word for her community to write on for 5 minutes and link. Please visit fiveminutefriday.com to read more essays on RISK!

Want to read it right now??? OK…. Here you are!

Risk is equated to danger for me. I do not consider myself a brave person. I do not want to injure myself. Taking risks has its perspective. When I drive too fast (most of the time) I run the risk of getting pulled over and possibly a ticket. If I neglect to prep for work I run the risk of it being a stressful day. If I do not risk asking and striving for what I want then I would never attain it.

Why do our brains go immediately to the most extreme example? Honestly, my first thought was jumping off a cliff — something I have never done. It is not on my bucket list.

Every day comes with risk. There is no predicting the future. Accidents happen, feelings get hurt, people get sick, hearts are broken.

If I risk sharing who I am then I run the risk of being rejected. That is the basis of my #100rejections project. I send out a piece of writing a day with the idea to collect 100 rejections. I also run the risk of being accepted. As an every day risk of rejection it makes the blow feel less. I think the more we put off certain things the more impact it actually has. For example, I do not like to talk on the phone. For a long time, I did not even order pizza. I am the person that loves online ordering because I do not have to talk to a person. I one time put off a 5 minute phone call for 3 hours worrying about it. Too much time wasted.

STOP!

How Do You Prepare?

Starting March 1. 2020 the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge is on!

From the Two Writing Teachers site: This March, we are thrilled to host the 13th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. Since 2008, the mission has remained the same: to support teachers who want to write daily.  We believe that teachers who write regularly can better support the students they teach in writing workshops daily.

I have participated for so many years but cannot remember the number. My son was young and we were in Hawaii one year – I didn’t make it all 31 days that year.

I have the Slice of Life Challenge in March, Sarah Donovon’s Poetry Challenge in April and STORYADAY May coming up.

To prepare for SOL 2020 I am making a list of topic ideas so if I do not know what to write that day I have something to go back to. I am hesitant to call it an editorial calendar. It sounds more official that way. With the slice of life I do let the days at school dictate what I write about.

As other writers post their list, I will add to mine as well. This is the time I pay attention to the posts I like to read in my blog reader and see which ones I want to emulate. I always try to link back the original writer.

LIST:

  1. Three sentences I love from three different writers.
  2. Currently post
  3. Kidology – Words kids say in my classroom
  4. Favorite Things for Kindergarten
  5. Mentor Texts and How I Use Them
  6. Poems
  7. My Good List – inspired by Tsh Oxendrider a piece of art, a thing and a habit
  8. 10 Noticing From the Day without metaphor
  9. Six Favorite Places To Read
  10. Centers
  11. What I am Grateful for…At Work
  12. Energy Challenge
  13. One Word Updates
  14. 100 Rejection Project Update
  15. Podcasts I Love

What’s on your list?

Have You Seen This?

A list of inspiration things you may not have stumbled upon until now!

  1. Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party

This is an installation in the Brooklyn Museum which is a triangle table honoring 39 women with a place setting.

Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. (Photo: Donald Woodman

The triangle table is unusual. There is the thought of who would I honor in such a piece. I imagine this as short story with the description of the woman and the objects that are associated with them. This art piece has stuck with me for a while. I need to write the story!

2. Questions as Poetry Prompts

This is a picture of my copyright 1985!!! version of The Book Of Questions. I love this little treasure. I have used it to journal, have conversations, get to know someone, etc. Do you have a book you have had forever?

I heard an idea this week to use questions as poetry starters! I had not done this before and got out this book for the purpose. The poet (see #3) I was inspired by used Facebook questions that popped up on her feed for her poems.

3. Amy Watkins – Poet

Amy Watkins

While listening to The Drunken Odyssey podcast King interviewed the poet Amy Watkins. She wrote a book of poetry based on questions given to her through her feed on Facebook. She was actually angered by some of the questions. Check out her book LUCKY. Mine is on its way.

Who Are Your Five People?

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On a creative group Zoom call last evening the idea that you are the sum of the 5 people closest to you came up. I have thought a lot about this idea since I heard it about a year ago.

I waver back and forth as to my belief in this statement. I do believe there is a circle of concern for the people that are closest to me. There is also a circle of influence that flows both ways. I influence others and they influence me. (Covey, anyone?)

I do know that I am more creative and business minded with my writing since I became part of my creative group last fall. The women in that group are all over the country and have perspective and know me in a way no one in my real life does.

[As an aside here – Does this phrasing bother anyone else? If my friends are online it is still my real life – I abhor the idea that since I am not in the same room they are not real! I vow to stop using it now.]

I have education people, writing people, creative people, personal people. Only a couple of them overlap.

Do you know who your five people are?

I challenge you to make that list today. Writing it down may surprise you.

Coffee Share

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Let’s sit and have a hot cup of coffee and watch the snow outside. Finally, there is snow here! I wish it had been here for the holidays but I will take it now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this week flew by. It was busy. I had some really great food this week. With it being so cold I had the hankering for soup. Tomato soup with rustic bread croutons really hit the spot for me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this week has been full of sadness for me. I am missing some things in my life. I am trying to focus on the positive but it can be hard. A friend of mine was dealing with a tragedy this week as well. It added to the sadness but I was glad to be her friend and talk through some things. It made me feel more connected in a weird sort of way.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had some great morning writing time this week. I was full of inspiration. When I leave the house it leaks away but I took advantage of the time when I had it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have listened to some great podcasts. One of the best was Stop Writing Alone. Two of my great writing friends were on which only took me 13 minutes to stop the podcast and write my own essay.Episode 57: Jenna Britton talks Personal Essays, Podcasts and NewslettersEpisode 57: Jenna Britton talks Personal Essays, Podcasts and Newsletters listen on iTunes listen on Stitcher listen on…stopwritingalone.com

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote some poetry this week. You can read that here:TrappedA Poemmedium.comStars and Teeth Streaming in the WaterA Poemmedium.com

If we were having coffee I would tell you my #100rejections project is going well. You can read some of my insights here:100 Rejections ProjectAn Update On the Project that is Changing Memedium.comWhat I Have Learned the Last 23 DaysA Reflection on Life and Rejectionsmedium.com

If were were having coffee I would want to hear about your week! What was the best thing that happened to you?

What Does Support Mean to You?

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What does the word support mean to you?

My ex husband used to tell me just being there physically for him was how I could show support. I could not even watch the event he was coaching and he would still feel supported. I could grade or write or read. I just needed to show up.

Sometimes support to me is a listener.

Sometimes it is someone who stands with me.

Sometimes it is someone who does something for me I simply don’t want to do.

Lately it has been a person who engages with me in life giving conversation. To feel fueled intellectually by the words being exchanged. To share things that people are passionate about or what they are learning. I love to learn what people are reading and what is resonating with them.

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What does support look like to you?

Is it different personally or professionally?

Please share with me!