Tag Archives: personal geography

Why don’t you turn on the dawnzer?

12 Apr

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Beverly Cleary turns 100 today.

It is hard to believe that this woman wrote books that I liked as a kid, and my students still enjoy.  I am not embarrassed to admit that I like to quote Ramona. So, for this Slice of Life post, I will share my favorite Ramona quotes, in no particular order

  1. “Why don’t you turn on the dawnzer?” – Ramona, thinking she was quite smart, thigh that dawnzer was a synonym for lamp. She learned it in the national anthem: “Oh say, can you see, by the dawnzer lee light.” Brilliant!
  2. “Sit here for the present.” Ramona’s teacher says this to her on the first day of school. Ramona follows her directions perfectly, expecting a present for doing so. I like to say this to kids and I snicker when I do. I think they think I am crazy.
  3. “Pieface!” Mrs Swink, an elderly neighbor, and Ramona call each other this in a good-natured way.
  4. “I am too  a Merry Sunshine.” Ramon says this when she is accused of not being one. You can imagine the tone f voice she used when saying this.

I am lucky to live in Portland, where the Ramona series is set. My local public library is right in Ramona’s neighborhood, and has a huge map on the wall of all the places Cleary mentions in her book. You can get a walking tour map from the librarians and take yourself on a tour of the neighborhood.

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There really is a Klickitat street.

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Grant Park, has a statue garden with Clearly characters.

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So, on this auspicious day, I hope you turn on a dawnzer, do something for the present, and shout “Pieface!” at someone you love.

Escapist literature #GNCelebration

22 Oct

I am old enough to remember when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 , but not so old that I remember it going up in 1961.

Simon Schwartz’s The Other Side of the Wall, translated from its original German by Laura Watkinson, tells the story of his parents’ departure from East Germany in 1984.

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Telling the story in black and white illustrations reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, 

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Schwartz tells us about his parents’ Communist upbringing in the German Democratic Republic and the ideas and events that eventually brought them to the decision to leave. There is some awkwardness as he shuffles back and forth in time, but the reader comes to understand the difficulties his parents suffered through as they awaited permission to emigrate to West Germany.

This book would pair nicely with The Wall  by Peter Sís, about Sís’ youth in Cold War–era Prague,

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or  Going Over,  Beth Kephart’s YA novel about young love and an escape across the Berlin Wall from East to West.

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 All of these books give readers interesting insights into the Cold War as experienced by those on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

You can join the  celebration and read about more great graphics novels HERE.

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Setting up the new classroom – A Slice of Life Story

1 Sep

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I went back to work officially yesterday, but I’ve been at work for the last two weeks.

last weeks I started the great unpacking of the 19 boxes that my school district moved for me. This was the first time I had ever let someone else move my school stuff. When I entered my room last week to start the unpacking process, my boxes were neatly stacked in the corner. I let out a huge sigh of relief.

The first step was arranging the tables and chairs in groups and deciding where my classroom meeting area should be. Once those were established I could decide where my desk would go. As I was setting up my desk area, the science teacher on my team came in and laughed, “Now we have 4 fridges and 5 microwaves on the team, but no one ever wants to use my fridge.”

Unpacking the boxes is still a work in progress. Last year, because I changed jobs so late, most of my books stayed in boxes. This year, I wanted to be better organized and I’ve been sorting through my books, grouping them and putting them in tubs. I can’t access a printer yet, so the labels for the tubs have yet to come.

When I started this process,  all six tables were covered. I have reduced the chaos to one table and there are still 4 work days before school starts.

I had a fitful sleep last night, school thoughts whirling in my head. I have a lot yet to learn about the things I will be teaching, but I am confident that my room will be ready on Tuesday when the kids show up.

The Halfway Mark

19 Jul

We’ve hit the halfway point in summer.Five weeks of summer vacation have passed, there are only five more to go.

That got me thinking about this A. A. Milne poem I loved as a kid.

Halfway Down

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
other stair
quite like
it.
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
where
I always
stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn’t up
And it isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn’t really
Anywhere!
It’s somewhere else
Instead!

It comes from When We Were Very Young a book my Grandma Gillespie gave my sister and I and there is just something about that poem, and the illustration by Ernest Shepard, that spoke to my heart. And still does.

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There is a contentment there, which I am feeling these days. My summer routines are clearly established. My pace of life has slowed “And all sorts of funny thoughts / Run round my head”.

The thing about this second half is that, in about two and a half weeks, I begin going back. I have my first back to school meetings on August 6th and  7th.

But I’m not ready to think too hard about August yet. I’ll just leave you with this.

Maptastic thoughts on personal geography

25 Aug

I recently finished listening to Andrew Clements’  The Map Trap.

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Alton loves maps and draws his own personal geographies of people and experiences. Some of them are brutally honest, so he doesn’t show them to others. Alas, one day his collection goes missing and he goes on a mission to find them and the person who is holding them hostage. The book is about what you’d expect from Andrew Clements, though shorter than many of this other books. There is a precious kid with a problem to solve. I think, though, that my prediction about the culprit was better than Clements’ actual perpetrator. Even though his teacher is a first year teacher, I can’t imagine she would be so unprofessional as to blackmail a student to confront a principal about saying “um” or make him change the type of t-shirt he wears. I suspected it was Alton’s little sister, and I would expect someone her age to blackmail a  sibling into doing those sorts of activities.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Keith Nobbs who does a marvelous job. Quite frankly, he saved it for me.  Nobbs projects a youthful voice appropriate to the characters in the novel, whom he manages ti differentiate nicely. His narration of the more descriptive elements of the book provides a nice balance with the emotional states of the characters.

The 2 CD Simon & Schuster audiobook, which runs 2 hours & 30 minutes, was provided to me by Audiobook Jukebox.

As I was listening to the book, an idea took hold. In spite of the books faults, it could be a good read aloud during a map unit. Or, it could be a great beginning of the year read aloud that helps turn kids on to ways of representing themselves.

Imagine reading The Map Trap  aloud, but coupling it with non-fiction texts about mapping personal geographies!

For younger readers, or to introduce the idea, you could turn to Sara Fanelli’s My Map Book.

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This is a wonderful book in which she maps everything from a bedroom to a dog.

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For older readers, there is You Are Here: Personal geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon.

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 Some of these have some mature content, so be sure to preview it before sharing it with kids. The book was written with an adult audience in mind, but the ideas contained within are beautiful and though provoking.

The idea of mapping your personal geography flows into the art of info graphics. James Gulliver Hancock has a new book out entitled Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff.

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From Abraham Lincoln to the Wright Brothers, Hancock creates mind maps of famous lives.

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Wouldn’t this be a cool beginning of the year activity? You’d learn about your students and you could see what kind of thinking and graphic skills they have.

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