Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

I really love our "small" town parade! I'm sorry I missed photographing the veteran group that led the whole parade (lots of applause and waves) because they're the main focus of the holiday, but the farmers market floats were also very nice. It was 85 degrees, sunny and humid, so we felt awful for the middle school and high school bands who did a great job but YIKES I bet they were HOT. I think the cute couple on the side-by-side bicycle is an annual tradition. This is our second year attending the parade - I hope it becomes our tradition :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May author letters

Just finished an author business letter unit with 7th grade classes. I've always enjoyed the authentic nature of the business letter writing unit because we really mail the letters out. (Yes, some have received written responses along with free coupons, free tote bags, autographed photo, etc.)

The author letter is new for me: Students chose an author whose book they enjoyed reading this past year. They read several model author letters from a book I borrowed from colleague, studied the elements of a good author business letter, and crafted their own. (One additional resource was - schools can obtain free membership - instructional cartoon videos, many games, quizzes, fun!)

I'm very happy so far with the personal connections they made and expressed in these letters. For example, one girl wrote that the book inspired her and her friend to do something unconventional at school - wear dance costume (tutu skirts) over regular clothes - just for fun! Several described sharing the books with friends and siblings. One candid girl said, "I don't mean to be rude but I never heard of you before my grandmother gave me your book." Another connected the Holocaust information she learned from Maus to what her mother was currently studying in college.

I've assigned several "reading letters" during the year, in which students wrote to ME about their independent reading books, connections, evaluations, etc. Overall I found their reading letters (to me) formal, generic, and just not that interesting. I think the authentic audience feature of these author letters pushed their thinking and writing to the next level (up)!

Friday, May 7, 2010

NYC author book signing

One of our NYC trip highlights: We met a real live writer Sonya Chung who published her debut novel Long for This World in March 2010! And she signed our book!

Sensationalist punctuation aside, Sonya is our friend whom I met in college many moons ago. Here's our "book signing" at The Mill, a Korean restaurant on Broadway near Columbia University where we met for lunch. I really meant to stage this public sidewalk greeting for our first meeting after her novel published: "OMG IT'S THAT FAMOUS WRITER SONYA CHUNG! I LOVE YOUR NOVEL LONG FOR THIS WORLD!!!" But we were already seated inside the restaurant when Sonya arrived, and there were few other patrons to impress, so I chickened out, SORRY!  In this picture, my daughter exhibited her book nerd legacy and watched with excitement a REAL LIVE AUTHOR sign her book!

For some reason, I think I've written about Sonya's novel in this blog, but my memory is fuzzy about this. Here is a great interview with Sonya about her writing life that I enjoyed reading very much.

I must credit Sonya with the start of my blogging life! She is THE person who introduced me to blogging almost 3 years ago.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May!

Spring is always so promising! Last month was lovely - National Poetry Month, our vacation in New York City, and even the state test was fine and at least done! (We score next week, 3 days out of classroom for me.)

Here are some more notable sights in the Big Apple: Top pic is statue in the Children's Sculpture Garden, next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. We lived in this neighborhood for several years, and later I attended Barnard College, also nearby. My favorite personal connection is that Madeleine L'Engle (one of my favorite writers) featured this Episcopal parish setting in several of her young adult novels. I believe she was a parish member.

Bottom pic is Ann Curry of the Today Show. Yes, we stalked the Today Show each of the 4 days we were in the city! We stayed with a friend who lives in mid-town, so each morning we'd leave her apartment around 7:30 or 8 and walk to Rockefeller Plaza among many people who were going to work, so I really felt like going to the Today Show was our job! The crowd at the Plaza was manageable, we "met" Ann twice, and we were on camera a few times. FUN! (She is THE NICEST person ever! She would walk around slowly and greet many many people, striking up conversations, and just super friendly!!!) (Yep, that's my husband in his Ryan Miller/Sabres jersey, but I don't want to talk about it.)

Top of the Rock view of Empire St Bldg