Category Archives: Writing fun

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The Educator’s Balanced Diet Blog

At the end of this school year, I felt mentally and physically exhausted.  I had one of the best years in my teaching profession, but I had worked really really hard.  I missed my family, I missed my reading, I missed having free time.  I was so busy working last year, that I “missed” many things.  My French tribe decided that we should take  a beach vacation. I was very pleased at the thought of a beach getaway, but I was overweight and wanted to wear a bikini this summer.  How could I shed this excess weight before we left?  I was running out of time.

OFancyFrench-Pink-Poodle-on-Beach

Because we are educator’s, we meet many people each year, and we get personal pretty fast.  We meet new staff members and their children, we have new students and their siblings, and we meet new families each year.  When I teach, I want to show that I care about people, so I ask those that I encounter questions like, “How are you doing today,” “What did you have for supper last?”  Sometimes the answers are pleasant and easy, but other times you get responses that are disturbing, or sad.  What if someone did not eat last night because there is no food in the house?  (This is the difficult part of education.)  Teachers care about  people.  Teachers listen, and try to help guide people in a positive direction, otherwise these people would be in a different profession. I consume what people say to me.  I think about students, teachers, and peers long after they have left the conversation.  Last year, I consumed too much, and I was overweight at the start of summer vacation.  

Be mindful about what you consume, or it will consume you.  

Once vacation time began, I was burned-out.  I had consumed too much:  joy, grief, love, hate, work and exhaustion, for my mind and body to handle.  I was fat.  I was unhappy and exhausted.  I knew that I had to make a change, and began to think about the Educator’s Balanced Diet.

As in all good meal plans, the key to managing weight is moderation.  I realized that I was consuming things that were not healthy for me, too much junk food was in my diet, from too many people.  I had not had enough spiritual food in my last few months, and I was feeling sluggish.  I did not love my neighbors as I loved myself.  I had not honored my son and husband the way they needed to be honored. I had a problem and I realized I needed to fix it!

Summer-Books

Consume more love, peace, happiness, laughter, and light;   allow those positives to consume you.

I needed a better diet, so I became a picky eater this summer, and let me tell you, I have lost a significant amount of weight.  I chose activities this summer that helped me unplug from my profession.  I did not spend countless hours at my school working on curriculum, but precious hours with those that I love.  I cat-napped.  I laughed a bunch.  I danced and sang under stars.  I realized that I possessed the power to accept, or decline consumption, and it felt great!

So, educators and advocates for education, here we find ourselves at the start of a new year.  I am making  beginning of school resolutions (you are my witnesses!), and I hope that you will help me keep them, I resolve:  to consume a balanced diet, spend more time with those that I love instead of working at school all the time, I resolve to laugh more and share my joy, more purposefully with others.  I resolve to keep the weight off, physically and metaphorically.  It’s going to be a tough battle, but a balanced diet is important to keep us teachers healthy.

Be mindful about what you consume, because later, it WILL consume you.

Kathryn-French-OFancyFrench

Friends, how can you find your peace this year?  Consider doing things that bring you the most joy in life.  Love your family, and focus on the positives that they bring you.  Read books that are enjoyable, not just informational.  Eat your veggies, but have apple pie with, or without ice cream.  Leave school before 6:00 PM!

Let’s welcome our new group of people in August with a warm hug, and a happy heart.  Welcome little hands, and squeaky new shoes.  When we see our students, remember that they want YOU to adore them, teach them, praise them.  We must take care of ourselves as much as we care for our students.  I ask you, what will you resolve to do, or be this year to positively impact your life?  It’s time to get healthy, and we can make this journey together.  Let’s resolve together, let’s consume a balanced diet…

Have a fantastic 2015-2016 school year!

-K

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All you need is love

O’ How I Love The Book, brown girl dreaming…

I LOVED the book brown girl dreaming. The book was written from the perspective of a young lady in 1960s to 1970s America, who is searching for her place to belong, and looking for her voice, which she finds by the way, using the written word.

I read through the book and dog-eared a couple of memorable pages.  I thought it might be interesting to record some of the stand out moments that made me fall in love with this author and her lovely mind.    I thought that I might share some of those moments with you, if I may.  I will surely use these quotes to incite imaginative learning/thinking with my middle school students, maybe you will too.

 

“Somewhere in my brain
each laugh, tear and lullaby
becomes memory.” page 20

“We all have the same dream, my grandmother says.  To live equal in a country that’s supposed to be the land of the free.

She lets out a long breath,
deep remembering.” page 89

“When Daddy’s garden is ready
it is filled with words that make me laugh
when I say them-
pole beans and tomatoes, okra and corn
sweet peas and sugar snaps
lettuce and squash.” page 97

“and stars
and tears
and hope.” page 106

“But our hearts aren’t bigger than that.
Our hearts are tiny and mad.
If our hearts were hands, they’d hit.
If our hearts were feet, they’d surely kick somebody!” page 128

“The first time I write my full name
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
without anyone’s help
on a clean white paper in my composition notebook,
I know
if I wanted to
I could write anything.” page 156

“I am not gifted.  When I read, the words twist
twirl across the page.
When they settle, it is too late.
The class has already moved on.

I want to catch words one day.  I want to hold them
then blow gently
watch them float
right out of my hands.” page 169

“And in the darkened auditorium, the light
is only on Hope
and it’s hard to believe he has such a magic
singing voice
and even harder to believe his donkey is going to come running.” page 233

“I want to write this down, that the revolution is like
a merry-go-round, history always being made
somewhere.  And maybe for a short time,
we’re a part of that history.  And then the ride stops
and our turn is over.” page 309

“Write down what I think I know.  The knowing will come.
Just keep listening…” page 310

“I believe in one day and someday and this
perfect moment called Now.” page 318

“When there are many worlds
you can choose the one
you walk into each day.” page 319

“Jackie and Jacqueline-
gather into one world
called You
where You decide
what each world
and each story
and each ending
will finally be.” page 320

This book is written in free verse, the words poetically dance themselves across the pages.  The characters in the novel are a part of my memory now, forever, the author Jacqueline Woodson, even includes a family tree and includes photographs from her personal albums, allowing readers to bridge their invented imaginations of the family, with actual snapshots of real family members.

I would suggest using this novel to model the writing process for students.  Woodson writes about the processes of how we observe, think and record personal narratives, with a graceful, and pure voice.  By writing this novel, Jacqueline Woodson offers herself as a role model for young ladies, especially African-American young ladies, encouraging these ladies to follow their dreams, just like she did.

I LOVE the novel, brown girl dreaming.

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Student writing with chalk on library floor

How Do You Teach a Student to Write?

It’s that time of the year when fourth grade teachers across the state of Texas are looking through student compositions and are worried, they wonder how their students are going to fare on the STARR test.  They sigh and ask themselves, “How do I teach my students to write?” I know those teachers, I was one of them for 17 years, now I get to look at the situation from the outside, and I have a different perspective about how to teach writing… just write, and write often.
I get questioned all the time about how to teach students to write, and not only just to write, but how to get them to write well.  I secretly smile when asked those questions, all educators know what to do…put the pencil to the paper and let words take over.  Just do it.  Simply stated, students and teachers alike need to be just brave enough to start writing a thought.  Thoughts, will lead to feelings, feelings will translate in to sentences, and pretty soon, you will have paragraphs.
Today in a writing class, I explained to the students that I do not like to always write and I do not always share my writing with others, I am super-critical of myself.  When I write I double, and triple check my spelling searching for errors, I question whether or not my writing is interesting enough for someone to read?  (I am doing this now as I type.)  Students share the same fears that us adults have, it’s hard to put yourself out there to be potentially judged by others.
Remember that the power of the pen is mighty.  As a teacher, I am very cautious about editing and revising student compositions.  I try not to make too many corrections, or suggestions, I want students to understand that I am their teacher, not their judge and jury.  Students are still learning their writing craft.  Children want to share, they talk all the time, as educators, we need to get them to use another form of communication…written communication.
I write these sentiments to offer a “shout out” to my writing friends and colleagues that may be worried about writing and exams, and perfecting the craft.  Writing doesn’t have to be perfect.  The intent of writing is to be expressive.  How do you develop strong writers?  Strong writers are created when they are nurtured, confident, and practiced.  You want to know how to get those students to write well…get those kids to put the pencil to the paper, they will make you proud!
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