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Nervous Girl

Afraid.
Scared.
Concerned.

It's come on suddenly
with such force.

She used to play.
Outside.
In the dark.

Now she won't
leave my side.
Now she cries
when I go
out
for dinner.

Worried.
Nervous.
Alarmed

Let's hope it's
a phase.






Christmas Comes Once a Year

When I wake up, I can feel the heavy lump at the end of my bed. My left foot jiggles the weight so the bell on my stocking will jingle. It is Christmas morning! This is the single best day of the year in our house. My mother will be happy all day. On this morning, I wake in my brother's room as I have every Christmas day. We sleep in the same room so we can open our stockings right when we wake up. When they hear the bell jingle, they wake right up. Matthew, my twin, sits up and starts opening presents before he is even fully awake. Christopher, who is just a year and a few months older than us, keeps his eyes closed. "Don't tell me what everything is! I want to see for myself." The stockings, made by the Women's Exchange in New York City, stretch to accommodate a ridiculous amount of wrapped presents, yet there were still some that don't fit in.
The shear amount of presents in the stocking would be enough for many children alone. It is overindulgent and tha…

Christmas Without

Poetry Friday is being hosted over at my dear friend Tara Smith's blog. ____________________________________________ There is no tree in my house
but my mom says the ficus will have to do
plus, I looked it up and
it's an extremely important food source for wildlife, so
that's good.

We have no stockings or a fireplace
but my dad says our socks above the stove will work
plus, I looked it up and
it's not really a part of the Christmas story, so
that's good.

Most of our presents will be fruit
but my mom says fruit is nutritious
plus, I looked it up and
if we eat fruit we can be sure we don't get scurvy, so
that's good.

My mom is unravelling one of her sweaters
but my dad says the socks she knits will be filled with love
plus, I looked it up and
some natives reuse yarn to honor the sheep who gave it, so
that's good.

I don't talk about ours at school
but my dad says all traditions are important
plus, I looked it up and
a tradition is really just a belief…

Re-Writing a Book

A few years ago, I couldn't sleep. I lay in bed wondering what would Hattie do if the land wasn't proofed. I got up and wandered out to the living room in the cabin we'd rented in the mountains for Christmas. I opened up Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky and made sure Hattie was okay. As soon as I finished, I downloaded Hattie Ever After (thank God Kindle downloads don't require wifi) and started in on that. I followed up those two by reading everything Kirby Larson has ever written--that I know about.

So when I was reading her blog a couple years later, I took note when she told a story about her struggle to write books. She shared that she couldn't come up with an idea and she wasn't sure how it was going to happen. So she opened up a book she thought was like the book she wanted to write, and re-wrote the whole book. If I could find the link to her story, I would share it here.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I realized I needed to write a book, but c…

Starting

No easy words come.
Doesn't feel natural yet.
Starting can be hard.


Mouse Hunters

Driving down the road in my town, I looked carefully for the road where I was supposed to turn. As I looked to the left, I saw this. It literally took my breath away. I pulled over to the side of the road to make sure what I was seeing was real. I felt like the godfather was sending me a message.
I was born and bred in NYC and later moved to southern Maine. You don't see much of this in those parts. I am also not a hunter--though I do eat meat. Now we live further North and I have to admit that I wondered if our move would suit us as I drove away from these hanging deer.

That said, my husband and I have become hunters ourselves now. We are thinking we might film a new pilot called Mouse Hunters. Our assault weapon looks fairly old fashioned, but works beautifully. When loaded with peanut butter, we can catch those suckers in 15 minutes or less.
Some people have asked if we use the kind traps and set them free. Those people clearly don't live in an old house in the country. If …

Poetry Friday: Happiness

hap·pi·ness
ˈhapēnəs/ noun the state of being happy. "she struggled to find happiness in her life" synonyms:pleasurecontentmentsatisfaction, cheerfulness, merrimentgaietyjoy, joyfulness, joviality, jollitygleedelight, good spirits, lightheartedness, well-beingenjoyment; More
as in: bringing your homework folder back to school with completed homework in it

as in: getting your morning work done without any confusion

as in: remembering your boots and your sneakers

as in: choosing any book you want for your book bin

as in: having art today instead of PE

as in: sitting anywhere you want in the cafeteria during lunch

as in: knowing your mother is picking you up from school today


Why I'm not a Scientologist.

I've been seeing a lot of Leah Remini stuff around lately because of her new book. This reminded me of something that happened to me. 
A story about me
Once I was living in Boston alone and I was super lonely. I would often try to find different things to do during the day to pass the time. 
So, one day I saw a flyer about coming to the Church of Scientology to see a movie. I went. It was in this beautiful brownstone house right in Boston. When I came in, there was a display case with all of L. Ron Hubbard's books and other Scientology things that could be purchased.  It was like a little store and not like a church at all. The couple behind the counter wore black turtlenecks and skinny pants and had necklaces on the outside of their turtleneck. They looked like they were right out of an Audrey Hepburn beatnik movie. I was just about to turn to leave because it was so weird, when they suddenly focused on me. After a few quick introductions, they whisked me off to a room with s…

My Happiness Project

It's December and I'm cheating, or let's just call it planning ahead. I've already decided on my OLW--one little word for those unsure. Happiness. It really cannot be overrated. I bought myself two presents for Christmas. I do that. I like to be sure I give myself something that I know I'll use. The cheating part is that I'm already reading one of the books.

This book:

I'm reading it because I need to be ready on January 1 to spring into action. Based on this book which is well written and perfect for someone like me who really needs to plan and set goals, I have decided to slow way down on my writing freelance work and focus only on writing a children's chapter book. I've given myself three months which means either March 1 or April 1 depending on when I hit my stride. Even I agree that it may be missing the mark to start this project December 1 since that is such a busy month, but I'm leaving that option open. So I'm wrapping up all of my…

The Shop Around The Corner

There is a scene in You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan is closing her store for the final time and reminding herself that it is the end of an era. That her store will no longer be the center of growth for children and their parents. That the books which matter to us most, those from our childhood, will not be readily and eagerly talked about on the Upper West Side in NYC anymore.
"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it'll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But t…

Get back what you thought you lost.

Every Tuesday I stop what I'm doing and share a part of my life with my writing community at Two Writing Teachers.

When I met my husband, he was not a reader. People were shocked that I could be so in love with someone who didn't read. What would we talk about? How could we understand each other?

I'll never forget the moment one evening after having read to the kids when he said, "I wonder if I'd be different if someone had read to me like that."

Without skipping a beat I said, "I think you can find out. I think if you read the books you could have read, you can relive that time and change with each book."

The next night I gifted him with a stack of books many by Gary Paulson, an author I knew he would have loved as a 10 year old. He read each one like a drowning person gasps at air. I couldn't talk to him or get him to do anything else. He would simultaneously put one book down and pick up the next.

The way he talked changed. He discussed char…

Writing Professionally

Each Tuesday, I write alongside other teachers who write at Two Writing Teachers because they are my community. I am supported and understood and respected. This matters.

Lately I've been focusing a lot on how teachers can be seen more professionally. When I see decisions that have been made about education (without teacher input) by administrators and school board members and governors, I can't help but wonder where did we go wrong as teachers? Why aren't we perceived as the professionals who should be making these decisions or at least informing them?

I always discover new ideas about myself as I write. I began this piece by thinking about one thing and quickly realized that I need to walk my talk first. I need to be a model for professional behavior before I can ask others to be.

What do I mean by this? I look at all the teachers out there who we look to as models and I wonder--how did they get there? How did Donalyn Miller, Pernille Ripp, Cathy Mere, Lisa Eickholdt, P…

Project Based Learning

I've been running a challenge program for some of the kids in one of the schools I work in. The first one is about Animal Adaptations.

I kicked off the unit by showing this video
They adored this video. The conversations ran much deeper than I thought they were going to. They even started talking about how humans could use what they know about animal adaptation to improve their lives. I love it when they realize why I'm teaching something!

Next, we did some experiments to understand physical adaptations: blubber, camouflage, and claws. I have been training myself to introduce the activity and the general learning goals--then to stand back and let them do the learning. My observation of their understanding and connecting was nothing short of miraculous.

First they put on gloves with spoons taped to the fingers. They had to collect "food" in order to survive the winter. We discussed who would live to have offspring and why.
Next, we created Skittles habitats and dumped…

Doubt

The Fall

Again, I'm using the random first line generator at http://writingexercises.co.uk/firstlinegenerator.php.

"As he fell, he waited for"

____________________________________________________

As he fell, he waited for the impact. It was inevitable. All falls come to an end. They would find out sooner or later that he had chosen not to give the standard test in September. He desperately tried to generate rationale which might help his case, but the truth was the kids just seemed so tired...and scared. He couldn't feel good about giving them a test so early in the year when their whole lives had just been turned upside down. First they were 5th graders and at the top of their school. Next they had a summer of freedom where they were learning who they were becoming and why it mattered. Then suddenly--new school, new structure, no recess, and many teachers who shot sarcastic remarks at every gaffe making it more difficult and nerve-wracking to navigate this new world.

So--he s…

Teacher Doubts

I've been thinking a lot about why teachers don't write more and how to help them see that everyone has doubts and how so many teachers are doing amazing things that others could learn from. This is my November 1st DiGiWriMo comix as a way to start the thinking process for myself. I need to understand why so many teachers doubt themselves and how to help dig out the great ideas and find ways to share them for all.
PS Your students really can join NaNoWriMo. Click on the image below to find out how.

Random First Line Generator

Last summer I went to a workshop about freelance writing. I met a fantastic woman there who is going to be forever my writing check in partner. She is smart and funny and so humble about her writing and her life. We check in as much as we can about our writing and we are there for each other when we need it. We are lucky indeed to have made such a connection.
Joan sent me this cool random first line generator site to use for prompts. I highly recommend it, particularly during times when you can't think of anything to write about. I don't like to write fiction, but I am going to use it as a way to fit it into the non-fiction stuff I write.

My line this morning was:

"The urge to interrupt him before he had finished was overwhelming."

And so I'll begin:

The urge to interrupt him before he had finished was overwhelming. I sat listening to a teacher tell me about how important it is that children have homework even if that homework is just busy work. "It's the p…

Time to Breath

"How do you fit it all in? Do you ever sleep?"

These are some of the things I heard every day...and recently I realized that these kinds of comments had become kind of addictive to me. I liked being the woman who could do everything. Mother, wife, writer, teacher, book club organizer, writing club organizer, breakfast duty every day, etc, etc.

The truth was, though, that I was starting to run out of steam. I missed sleep. I was arguing with my husband more. When my children had homework issues, I had less patience. I suddenly didn't want to be the go to person at work. "Leave me alone," I thought. And it surprised me because I liked being that person who has a million and one ideas, that one who can stop what she's doing and do your work instead.

But, I missed doing my work. And I really missed doing my work well. Smart people have been telling me for years that I should stop doing everything and get really good at one or two things. I pooh-poohed them bec…

My Daily Write

This morning over coffee, I read my friend Kevin's blog post Compelled to Write (Every Day). His post made me laugh because just this morning as I was getting dressed I thought of two writing ideas and I kept thinking, 'this is why people use writing notebooks, Kimberley! You will forget these ideas.' And, I might, but for some reason I don't stop to write them down. I wait until I am at my blog which is my first point of writing down ideas. I think about my writing all day long. I think as I read about how that author writes what he/she writes. I think about writing in the shower, as I cook, when I am in my car.

I must write every day. I write before everyone in my house (two children and a husband) get up and start placing demands on me until we go off to school together. I write when I have 15 minutes at work and should be copying or tidying up. I write after school when my kids take time to play before homework. I write while I make dinner--really, I cook with my l…

SOL: My Twin Brother

Five Years Old: 1974, New York City, NY Lying in the unfamiliar hospital bed feels strange and sad. My hernia was operated on just hours before; was born with it they say but it lay undetected for a few years. It was the first time ever spending a night without my beloved twin brother Matthew. Though now I was missing him and feeling lonely, it was he who was usually the needy one. In fact, I worried that though he was at home, he would not be okay without me. We slept in a red wooden bunk bed. I in the top bunk because that bed made him nervous. He liked me to flip my head over so he could play with my hair as he fell asleep. We talked and laughed for at least a half hour each night. My mother hadn’t wanted us to share a room because, “You are a girl and he is a boy!” We looked at her blankly when listening to that argument. We watched her set up a pretty room with small pink tulip wallpaper and a white bed. We followed down the hall as she set up a handsome room with red and cream ti…

Haiku Deck Scamper

I love participating with Margaret Simon for #DigiLitSunday. I'm in just under the wire this evening.
I'm taking two graduate courses in teaching gifted and talented students. One of them is about teaching creativity. In that one, I was asked to use a strategy called Scamper. It's a strategy developed to help kids think about one item in many different ways. I loved thinking about it. I used Haiku Deck to share my thinking.

SCAMPER - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Water

Whenever my babies cried, I put them in the tub. It transformed them into happy laughing children. It gave me a moment to have a glass of wine and remember their joy.

On warm days when my kids used to come home from school in Scarborough, we didn't tell each other about our day until we were down at the beach. We rolled up our pant legs and walked in the wet sand. Then we shared our good times and bad while we were away from each other.
Now that we've moved, when my children are restless and bored, I take them to the pool in Orono. Instantly they are leaping into the pool and playing like the best of friends. Better than that. They know each other better than friends. They are brother and sister who know every button to push for joy or insanity.
On Sunday nights when every one is low, I go upstairs, close the shades, turn on lights, and run the shower hot. Then I call my babies up to take long hot showers while they chat with me. I breath in the steam and prop my feet up on th…

Reflecting on my OLW

Today's Two Writing Teachers post by Betsy Hubbard reminded me that I haven't reflected on my One Little Word in a while. My OLW this year was iWrite. It's a bit of a made up word to be sure, but it worked for me. For the first time ever I actually used my OLW all year long.

I've made writing my priority.
I've written and published several articles this year.
I've taught writing and been invited to new venues to teach more.
I've written every single day without fail.

iWrite for sure. Now I'm dying to see what I'll choose next year. I think I'll make a bracelet or something with that OLW so I can look at it each day and keep it with me.

Theme Based vs Book Based

I've always taught, more or less, to a book. I find amazing books to read aloud or book talk for independent reading and then I teach mini-lessons around the themes or sign posts in each book. I am a reader, this makes sense. I believe I am who I am in huge part because of the massive amounts of reading I have done.

But my teaching has shifted recently. I am now teaching gifted and talented students in grades 2-5. I am also taking a couple of graduate GT courses to complete my GT certification. I am motivated to change by what I am learning. I am working on developing a core curriculum for gifted and talented in our school. We only have the kids for three (sometimes two) brief 30 minute sessions per week. My colleague and I have decided that this is no longer appropriate or effective for our students. We have decided to create more of a seminar or workshop curriculum based on one hour and a half session per week instead.

I am basing my new structure around global themes. The firs…

DigiLit Sunday: Community

On Sundays I try to join my friend Margaret to share interesting digital things I've been doing.

I'm building community in ways I hadn't really intended. Recently I remembered the Global Read Aloud created by Pernille Ripp.

I ordered Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and prepared to read it with my grades 3-5 gifted and talented students.
As I was googling ideas for enriching the book, I saw that some of my online friends were having a Voxer group about the reading of the book.
I was intrigued because I had not been a part of a Voxer group before. So I asked to join. As the teachers and students started adding their voice to the reading, I found myself waiting impatiently for the next Voxer to pop up. The ideas that other teachers shared about how they front loaded information and got their kids digitally involved inspired me. My students are so motivated to read this book because there is a new audience in town. They are writing on their Kidblogs, talking on Voxer, an…

The Right Path?

Every Tuesday, I participate in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers. It helps me create, evaluate, review, reflect, and revise.
Writing helps you understand the world, and find your place in it. (Katherine Applegate)

My son is struggling to find his place in the world. I wasn't going to share it here, but I do my best thinking on my blog. 

My boy is extraordinary. He is brilliant, but sensitive and empathetic in a way that might make Ghandi stop and take notes. I've had to push him to be willing to read books where sad things happen because he feels it so intensely and so he avoids that explosion of emotion. I pushed him because, well think about it, is there any book worth reading that doesn't have something sad happen? Sadness makes us understand motive and purpose. It is no coincidence that in the movie Inside Out, Sadness is the most critical component of human emotion.

As parents, we have struggled to help my son through his school experience and lack of social…

DigiLit Sunday: Blendspace

I haven't joined up with my good friend Margaret for a while now, but today I just have to share my new discovery
I've been working on choice boards for teachers to use when they have kids who complete the regular work and need independent work. I usually create something more like this (something my colleague created for the GT kids) But, at our school the classrooms have access to iPads and laptops, so I thought it would be great if I could make something more interactive. I was surfing the net for something I could use to do this when I came upon Blendspace.com. It seemed like just the thing. It has a bit of a learning curve, but I think I could create something more like this instead. I'll keep you posted!

Elevating My Standards

Every Tuesday, I participate in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers. It helps me create, evaluate, review, reflect, and revise.
Back in 2012, I heard about a woman named Kate Messner who offered to host some teachers who wanted to try to write over the summer. I'm not religious at all, but I put my 4 and 5 year old kids in the bible camp across the street from 9-12 and got ready to write. Those mornings spent drinking coffee, writing in my kitchen, and getting to know Gae Polisher, Jen Vincent, Jo Knowles, and Kate Messner really changed how I thought about myself. Since then I've been slowly but surely growing my writing community and working hard to spread the word about how important it is to be a teacher who writes. Recently I've been reading lots of books by Kate Messner. I have adored these:
Then I met Kate at a library conference a couple of years ago. I was mesmerized by her workshop about observing the world through your own eyes to help establish your per…

Teacher Observations of a Farm to Table Restaurant

Last Saturday I went to The Lost Kitchen. It's a spectacular farm to table restaurant located in Freedom Maine. The building is made of old hewn wooden boards with big wide beams. It sits on a river, so you must cross a bridge by foot to get to it. It is a price fixed restaurant, so they just keep bringing out food tastes on beautiful plates. We sat at the only four spaces lined up at a counter overlooking the chef cooking.
I tasted small bites of swordfish with plums and greens, fried oysters with aioli on cabbage, three different kinds of beets with candied walnuts and goat cheese, loads of different kinds of tomatoes, and lamb on lentils. With each taste, I thought about how important it is to give tastes to people who are learning. The more tastes of anything people have, the more choice they are given. I came home craving change in the way we spend our eating time. I baked bread and made a simple risotto with onion, arborio rice, vegetable stock, and parmesan cheese. I felt m…

Busy busy busy...

Today as every Tuesday, I am writing with my friends at Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life.
I have too much going on and because I love everything I'm doing, I am not sure what to cut out. Here's the run-down:

Gifted and Talented TeacherTwo Gifted and Talented graduate courses to complete certificationWriting education content for Academic PartnershipsTaking a course called Upping Your Game about writing for publicationsTrying to start up a writing groupBeing on the leadership committee for the Maine Writing ProjectPreparing for teaching a workshop about depth and complexity for a conferenceEditing an article coming out in marieclaire.comWaiting for more info about an accepted article for good.is
This is in addition to being a good partner to my husband and being a good mother to my two children who are just 8 and 10. The thing is that I love being too busy. I just like it more when I am super organized about what needs to get done when. As I read through Two Writing Teache…