Today is Election Day in the United States. Please vote.
And when you vote, please consider your beliefs, your values. When I vote, I tend to think about the greater good. I think about the people who have not had the luck, the blessings that I have had. I consider the Catholic Church’s preferential option for the poor, the impoverished. Who would create conditions and policies that would favor them?
I also think about welcoming the stranger, the migrant, and the children. Which candidate will create conditions at home and abroad where all feel welcome and safe? No one wants to be forced to leave home, but sometimes it is necessary for reasons of health and safety. Who will be welcoming while helping to create a world where migrating is a choice, not a matter of life or death?
I think about education. When quality education is available for all, possibilities emerge, futures are possible. Education never stops; we never stop learning. Which candidate will create conditions so that life-long learners have the opportunity to think critically? I want people to think deeply and from various perspectives. I want people to see the world in shades of grey while avoiding dualistic thinking. We weave the tapestry of the world with many colored threads. That beauty is diminished with either/or thinking.
I think about the future. When we care for the world, the air, the water, we will preserve the world for future generations. No one wants to breathe dirty air nor drink contaminated water. Which candidate will promote healthy development so that the future is better for all? We know that some resources are non renewable. How are we preparing now for a future without those resources? Which candidates will help us create a better world for the future?
The world I long for, I try to help create everyday, sometimes with more success than others. In addition to the above, I think about rights and responsibilities, the dignity of work, health care, peace, and solidarity with the most vulnerable. My vote can help create that world. I will do my part.
Please do your part and vote your values, hopefully for an inclusive world built on solidarity, love, and hope for all.
Beside the freeway bus stop
the boys play soccer
with a piece of trash
(today it’s a tossed-aside
one liter water bottle).
The bigger one kicks off his
shoes, towards his mother
who is selling fruit to the commuters,
because the sneakers’ sole
to the hole-y canvas upper
making it hard to beat his brother
at trash soccer.
“Put on your shoes,” sighs mom
as she takes a few cents for a
watermelon slice, all the time knowing
with purses, backpacks and briefcases
(and slices of fruit),
climb the stairs of the pedestrian bridge
that spans the freeway.
A writer who wrote had a dream:
Tell stories to feel, think and scream.
“I’ll motivate reading,
Young minds I’ll be feeding,
With wonders that aren’t what they seem.”
I have known “writers” who don’t write and folks who say they are not writers but who, in fact, write. Me? I like to tell stories about kids who are similar to my students, typically 4th through 8th graders with dreams and worries, hopes and inhibitions. Soon I will join the legion of writers who take up an MFA program in writing. It is a low residency program at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota that focuses on writing for children- it is a perfect fit for me… and they accepted me.
In order to complete the program I will travel twice a year to Minnesota from my home in Lima to learn, write, reflect and revise. My previous studies in the last 20 years have been to find or keep work. I have enjoyed earning each of my teaching licenses and the learning that came with them. This one, though, is for me and my students… and I am really looking forward to it.
If you know of any sources to assist with funding please send them my way.
In the meantime it is almost November and that means NaNoWriMo. But who needs an excuse to write?
The short answer is: speak to your children in the language you know best. Oral language is the precursor to all literacy skills:
What you can think, you can say;
what you say you can write;
what you can write you can read.
When parents ask me what language they should use with their children I consistently tell them to use the language they know best. Most of the time the parents are non-English speakers wondering if they should speak with their children using the little English they know. “No,” I tell them.
When children are offered rich language in extended discourse they develop amazing vocabularies and complex sentences. If their caregivers offer them limited vocabulary and limited discourse that is what the children will develop. Because literacy skills transfer, the extended discourse will transfer once the children have the necessary vocabulary in the new language… but they can’t transfer what they do not know.
Speak to your children often and listen to their answers.
Have them tell you stories and ask follow-up questions.
Ask open ended questions (questions that require more than yes or no).
Ask them to explain more or tell you what that means.
Give them new vocabulary as you ask them questions and respond to their stories:
Child: I used that thing to cut cheese.
Adult: Oh, you used the cheese slicer.
Child: Yes, I used the cheese slicer and I cut a lot of cheese.
When you read with your children ask them questions such as:
What do you think will happen next?
Would you have done that?
How would you solve the problem?
Tell me the story
Talk, talk, talk!
There is much research about the importance of oral language. Give your child the gift of language through conversation and story telling.