Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday SOL Summer musings

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

Just this week, in the midst of summer, I was sorting through my photos on my phone, collecting my favorites from recent travels. (We traveled to Oregon for the wedding of the daughter of my best friend from college; we had a great time sightseeing and hiking.) I was delighted to see not just these vacation photos, but many fun photos from the last days of the school year...and I find myself smiling in memory. 

Let me share a few with you....

The Bucket Truck

Rain didn't stop us from heading outside to play on this day. But the showstopper was this repair truck - the children were riveted, studying every move. Children call us to be present, so curious about the world, finding joy in their surroundings.

Water Play Day

Our traditional "splash day" was also an overcast, rainy day...and our location was the crumbled surrounds of a community center behind our school (scheduled to be renovated and revamped this next year!). But that didn't stop the children from having such a great time outside, enjoying the hoses, buckets, spray bottles, sidewalk chalk, and more.

The Tablecloth

We created a process art tablecloth/dropcloth for our Teaching Resident (Ms. Kim) as an end-of-year gift. The children used found objects and nature items to stamp prints all over the canvas, choosing their favorite colors. They also used fabric markers to sign their name on the cloth. We're hoping that Ms. Kim will use this cloth for 'messy' activities in her new classroom, and remember this sweet class of preschoolers every time she does.

Marble Art

The first art activity the children experienced in the Big Cats was doing marble art on a nametag. At the beginning of the year, this was a teacher-led and supervised project. Here, at the end of the year, the children ran the project themselves - selecting paper, paint colors, dropping marbles into the paint, and rolling these onto paper. Everyone had a grand time and even enjoyed cleaning the table and supplies at the end. I got to marvel at how much everyone had grown during this year. 

Balls, Cars, Blocks, and Ramps

There was incessant creativity in the block corner these last few weeks of school, as if the children were well aware that they would no longer have access to these open-ended building materials. I was amazed by the teamwork, how well the preschoolers worked together, sharing the materials and ideas.

The Family Book

This was our favorite book to read - with individual pages about each child and family, created by the families themselves. Here, the children are helping me to stuff these pages into their portfolios, so that the pages are returned home at the end of the year. But, these boys are transfixed - not wanting to take the pages out of the book but seeking to re-read the pages about each other, noticing who's who. It is amazing how much we learn about one another during a school year.

Engineering with Recylables

We had a "free for all" with the recyclables, with me issuing an open invitation for children to create and invent with abandon. 

Helping Clean the Classroom

We had created a train track out of tape on part of our classroom floor and the children worked diligently and tirelessly to remove it, to help Mr. Thomas (our Building Manager). Again, I am awed by the focus and tenacity of young children when they desire to accomplish something.

Field Day Fun

I think we had the hottest and sunniest day of the school year for our traditional field day - but that didn't stop these preschoolers from running non-stop.

Signing the Goodbye Board

They had helped us clean the room and put away all the toys, supplies, materials. Now it was time to practice their writing skills one more time, using the whiteboard markers.

I really enjoyed this past year of teaching...I worked with a delightful group of preschoolers and their families, I had a strong teaching team, I love the physical space of my classroom in our new and permanent school building. It is fun to go down memory lane in the midst of summer!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday SOL: Three poems about four girls

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

My apologies - this post is not about teaching preschool...
in fact, it is radically different. 
Summer provides me time for reflection and creativity.

I'm daring to share some poetry that arose from my personal research and reflection about the four young black girls who were killed in a churching bombing by klansmen in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s.

 "I am just slowly awakening to the privilege of my own life experiences.
Elissa Johnk

Until recently, I knew very little or nothing about these four young girls.

What were their names?
When did it happen?
How old were they? (How old was I?) (How old would they be now?)
What can I learn about their hopes and dreams?
Why did it happen?
How did their loved ones recover? Did they recover?

Why don't I know more?
Were they invisible to me because they are black and I am white?
Was I taught about them and I forgot?
Or was I never taught?

I don't have answers to all these questions yet, and I have many more questions the more I learn. These poems grew out of my reading/research about this horrific crime. 

Three Poems About Four Girls

The Calculated Crime*

September 15, 1963,
10:22 am,
16th street Baptist Church,
some 450 parishioners gathered,
Birmingham, Alabama.

5 days after
3 all-white schools desegregated,
Birmingham, Alabama.

21 bombings
in 8 years;
1st that killed,
Birmingham, Alabama.

4 white klansmen,
15 sticks of dynamite,
20 black children injured,
4 black girls killed,
Birmingham, Alabama.

Addie Mae Collins, 14 years old
Denise McNair, 11 years old
Carole Robertson, 14 years old
Cynthia Wesley, 14 years old
Birmingham, Alabama.

[*Note - title of this poem was inspired by a reflection by Condoleeza Rice, at the 50th anniversary of the bombing; Condoleeza Rice was 8 years old at the time of the bombing and a classmate of Denise McNair. Here are her words: 

The crime was calculated, not random. It was meant to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations, and ensure that old fears would be propelled forward into the next generation.” ]



strewn about,

brightly painted children’s furniture,
bibles and song books ,
rear wall of church,
the back steps, and

all stained-glass windows,
except one,“Christ with the Little Children;”
this window was intact,
with only Jesus’ face missing.


Hopes and Dreams

Addie Mae, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia.
September 15, 1963,
a new school year just beginning.
Four young girls, 
imagining, dreaming, hoping, and seeking.

Desiring college and careers?
Imagining love, hope, and peace?
Four young lives abruptly ended,
Addie Mae, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia.

Addie Mae Collins, 14,
An avid learner,
loved to draw,
imagined herself an artist,
strong and athletic,
with a powerful softball pitch,
an entrepreneur,
sold her mom’s potholders and aprons door-to-door,
her family loved her as a peacemaker,
solving conflicts amongst her seven siblings.

Denise McNair, 11,
an only child,
with a ready smile, and
a big heart for others,
she organized fundraisers for muscular dystrophy, and
an annual neighborhood talent show,
with skits, dance routines, poetry,
she was inquisitive,
stood up for others, and
wanted to be a pediatrician.

Carole Robertson, 14,
an “A” student,
an avid reader,
with many extra-curricular activities,
ballet, clarinet in the marching band, girl scouts, choir,
loved listening to rock and roll on the radio,
wanted to teach history,
she loved to let friends practice hairstyles on her,
she was a good listener, a mediator,
thoughtful, reflective, a good friend.

Cynthia Wesley, 14,
a strong student,
excelled in math and reading,
loved music and played clarinet,
she was much loved by two families,
informally adopted and treasured as an only child to educators,
visiting her birth home on weekends as a big sister,
she shows us it takes a village,
we need one another,
we are all connected.

Four young girls,
gifts and passions,
hopes and dreams,

Who were their best friends?
What did they want to know more about?
What were their favorite books?
What did they like to do when they got home from school?
What did they think about as they went to sleep at night?
What were their worries?
How were they hoping to change the world?

Four young girls,
gifts and passions,
hopes and dreams,

Addie Mae, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia.