Reading, Teaching, Learning

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Celebration Saturday

I love linking up to a wonderful celebratory community, inspired by Ruth Ayres, every Saturday!
I wasn't going to write a Celebrate This Week post this morning.  Not because I don't have anything to celebrate, but quite honestly, I was in a little bit of a funk.  I chose not to go to NCTE this year (LOVED it last year) for multiple reasons, and it's still the right decision.  However, I feel a little sad watching/reading about all the goings-on there.  It makes me want to be in DC right now!  There are amazing people, ideas, books, and writing at NCTE. There are some blogging friends I'd love to be meeting and ones I've already met and would love to see again.  Next year, I need to go! 
Then I started to read a couple Celebration posts and started thinking about all the great things that happened this past week.  I need to concentrate on the celebrations, not what I'm missing out on! Besides, there are a lot of great reasons to enjoy being home - like a date night with my husband last night, dinner tonight with Libby and Jamie and his family, writing time, and getting a chance to walk and then read after I finish this post!  I'll also catch up on some grading. That's what I love about the Celebration community - it makes you concentrate on the good stuff!  So, here goes...
1.  I started a new read aloud with my fifth graders.  We're continuing to think, read, and write about fear and courage.  I chose Duke by Kirby Larson.  It fits into our thinking perfectly.  It's historical fiction, which my classes explored through small group books, and it's about a boy living during WWII who feels like he isn't brave like the courageous men in his family.  He decides to donate his beloved German Shepherd, Duke, to the war effort by loaning him to Dogs for Defense.  At the end of one chapter, Duke is being driven away by the director of the organization.  It is heartbreaking.  The kids sat in stunned sadness when I closed the book for the day.  One student sighed and said, "I love when authors can make you feel emotion.  It makes it feel so real."  Yes!  I tweeted Kirby later that day. Here is her reply:
I continue to tout the importance and impact of reading aloud.  It creates community, encourages thinking, and promotes empathy.  I also love that authors like Kirby Larson are so willing to communicate with us!

2.  Speaking of read alouds, I'm doing a different kind of read aloud with my 6th graders.  The 6th graders are thinking, reading, and writing about social responsibility and leaving a legacy.  I chose the stage adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank for the class to read aloud together.  This play means a lot to me.  It brings back memories of playing the role of Miep when I was a freshman in high school.  I wrote about the experience and what Anne Frank symbolizes for me here in a previous blog post.  The kids volunteered for parts, which I'm changing every 3-4 scenes.  It's a great opportunity for them to study this genre and notice things like stage directions, set instructions, format, and characterization.  We're at the scene in which Anne and Peter have begun a somewhat romantic relationship.  Lots of giggles ensued.  It's cute.  It makes Anne and Peter real to them.  I hope to show the movie, also, after we're done.  We've enjoyed this different read aloud experience.
3.  SNOW DAY!!  After a wonderful weekend of celebrating friends during our 27th Friends' Thanksgiving party, I was exhausted!  It was a gift that I was able to sleep in on Monday and recover from the late nights and hosting responsibilities.  I was able to get the house back in order, rest, and read.  Perfect!  It also happened to be a BEAUTIFUL snow!

4.  Libby found her wedding dress!  I'm going to write about this more at length in a future Slice of Life post, but it is STUNNING, and it was such a fun experience the way it happened.  I also celebrate her engagement pictures.  A friend of theirs took them, and they turned out beautiful!
5.  Our cat is better!  Our poor cat, Faith, has been struggling with an illness for months now.  We really thought she was not going to make it.  Our vets, however, were able to diagnose her and prescribe just the right medicine, and she's on the mend!  She's a quirky cat, and I really didn't even realize how attached I was to her!  She's back to her old habits - collecting things around the house in her cat bowl, running around, and jumping up on my lap while I read and watch t.v.  I love when she perches on the windowsill to watch the birds...
Well, as usual, after writing a Celebration post, I feel much better!  I'm looking forward to dinner tonight with Libby's fiancĂ©'s family and the upcoming Thanksgiving week.  I wish all of you many blessings and celebrations during this holiday.  There are so many reasons to be thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving!