After Her Death

Following my mother’s death
We fought about the things.
We argued over furniture and
Heirloom diamond rings.

The Waterford from Ireland,
And oil-on-canvas art,
Madam Alexander Dolls,
Keepsakes of the heart.

Two lifetimes worth of Kodak prints,
The sweaters knit by hand,
Great grandma’s China gravy boat,
Old stories of the land.
____________

“My shelves are full!”
“My car’s too small!”
“Antique things’ll break!”
“I’ve got no room
On floor or wall
So nothing will I take!”

That’s the way we argued,
Voices almost at a wail.
So then and there we opted
For a discount two-day sale.

The Tooth Fairy: A True Story

Last Friday I read a story with a first grade student during his independent reading time. Actually, he read to me a story of the Tooth Fairy.  His ancestors of a few generations back came from Mexico (that will matter towards the end of this commentary).

Here is our conversation after he finished reading the story:

Student: I know that the Tooth Fairy is not real.
Me: No?  (I know that this student has older siblings and I wondered what they had told him.)
Student: No.  It’s not real.
Me:  What more can you tell me?
Student: No, it’s not a fairy.  It’s a ratoncito. This is true!  In parts of Latin America it is not a fairy that leaves coins for a tooth it is a Ratoncito Pérez.

The Cupboard

The ratty kitchen cupboard door
stood open every morning.
And everyday I told my kid,
“This is your final warning!

“You have to, must and always will
keep spices from the light
within the safety of the doors,
the cupboard closed up tight!”

“Sorry pop, it wasn’t me,”
the youngest one would say.
“I’d never harm the cinnamon.”
One day he moved away.

That open kitchen cupboard door
kept pestering my life.
Mistake! for it was not my child:
Was my forgetful wife.

“Oh honey, dear, please help me out
and do me a big favor:
Please close the cupboard door at night
so spices we can savor.”

“Don’t ‘honey me’ with open doors;
forgetful I am not.
I, too, protect the tarragon
and rind of apricot.”

After many years of open doors
she passed while sound asleep.
I cried for days, din’t eat a bite,
spent nights a‘counting sheep.

Then hunger knocked one afternoon,
I craved a spicy stew.
Aghast! the cupboard doors thrown wide!
I din’t know what to do!

***********

The cupboard doors I had removed,
And now I clearly see:
T’was not my son nor lovely wife,
The guilty one was me

Differentiated Instruction

Yes!  Differentiated instruction is important.  Students need the opportunity to learn and show their learning in ways that are appropriate and motivating for them.

For a humorous take on differentiated instruction, watch this video:

New Header- ¡Biblioburro!

The new picture above is of the Biblioburro.  Have you heard of it?  Do a Google search and you will see/ hear/ read about this amazing project in Colombia.  I believe in the power of books and literacy to change the world.  Take a look at this YouTube video to get started on your learning about Biblioburro.

How will you change the world? Y tu, ¿cómo vas a cambiar el mundo?

Life Lesson

As literacy coach, I mostly work with teachers to improve their instruction of reading and writing.  Now, as the school year ends, I have had the opportunity to return a bit to that which motivated my interest in coaching to begin with: conferencing with students.

Today in 5th grade a student asked me to do the final edit on his memoir.  I agreed.  We sat together and discussed a few key words, some grammar points and the structure of a memoir.  When we arrived at the importance of the story, he spoke of having learned that with support he can achieve any goal.  I told him to never forget that lesson.  We spoke of his going to 6th grade, his future and his enduring learnings.

As we finished our conference he leans over, pats me on the shoulder and says, “Thank you for the life lesson, Mr. Fleming.”  I smiled, thinking he was joking.  He wasn’t.

Life lesson.  That is education and it so much more important than the key words and the grammar points.

I know him, I don’t know him

Mr. B walked a kindergarden student to his room where I was working as the guest teacher for the day.  The 6 year old was surprised to see me and not his usual teacher.  Mr. B asked the student, “Do you know Mr. Fleming?”

“Yes, I know him.”

“Are you ready to have a good day with him, learn a lot and follow the instructions he gives?”

“Well, I’m not sure.  He’s old.  And I don’t know him.”

Kindergarten or Middle School

This week I have been learning about a new way of teaching kindergarten that my school district is implementing.  I don’t know much about kindergarten and I know even less about kindergarteners so, there is a lot for me to learn.  About the first ten years of my teaching was in middle school and then mostly 4th and 5th since then.

I commented to a colleague about my lack of knowledge/ experience with 5 and 6 year olds.  She asked, “But you know a lot about middle schoolers, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

“They are very similar: unpredictable, variable moods, they want to be grown up  and little kids at the same time, they learn fast, they say everything they think without filtering, they want life to be fair and consistent,” and on she described the wonderful, amazing middle schoolers I have worked with (with whom I have worked!).

I think I will have to spend some more time with 5 and 6 year olds and see if she is right. What do you think?  Is my colleague right?

A Charlie Brown Christmas

20        A Charlie Brown Christmas

When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown, is from St. Paul, MN.Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 9.41.49 PM