Day #354: Tidbits

I am grateful for tidbits. You know, the odd fact that you pick up when you’re reading a book. It often has nothing to do with the book you’re reading, but the author slips it in because (I suspect) they learned this fact and wish to share it. Today I learned that Beatrix Potter believed in putting a hard word in each of her books so the child would have to go and talk with their parents. Tidbits often send me on a detailed search: is this fact true? I haven’t found those exact words but I did find a quote that said, “Children like a fine word occasionally.” In the meantime, I’ve learned even more about Beatrix Potter, which is akin to the child asking about the hard word. Thanks to the authors who include tidbits in their books.

(You’ll enjoy “Happy birthday, Beatrix Potter: the Author’s Legacy 150 Years On,” Nicholas Tucker, The Guardian, 28 July 2016. image below: A picture by Quentin Blake for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Illustration from the article: courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co and the V&A Museum)

Day #299: One Stateliner Story

I am grateful for schools across the country that dive deeply into books. This elementary school in Phillipsburg, NJ, has transformed their school into Dimwood Forest and they’re involving all of the students’ families in the reading experience. This is one book those students will never forget. Way to go, readers!

One Stateliner Story in Phillipsburg, NJ features Poppy by Avi

Day #161: Driver’s License

About eight months ago, I was carded at a restaurant (yes) when the waitperson told me that my driver’s license was expired. More than a year ago. In our state, this means you need to take the written driver’s test and pass. I haven’t driven our car for many months. Finally, yesterday, I had studied enough (there are many new rules and regulations) to take the test. Along with a roomful of 16-year-olds, I passed the test. I am grateful to be able to drive again. My husband is grateful, too.

driving on a rainy day

Day #153: Numerology

Numbers have intimidated me for most of my life. Words are my comfortable space, numbers not so much. In high school, we spent a month in one class on extra sensory perception (ESP). Various scientists, mathematicians, psychics, and practitioners visited our classroom. I was especially fascinated by numerology, which purports to interpret the mathematical code running through each individual’s life. I learned how to do this, even charting people’s numbers at a traveling psychic fair, but years later I’m grateful that it opened the door for me to feel more comfortable with, even fascinated by, numbers. In this way, numbers led to stories which led to understanding. (Here’s a peek at numerology.)


Day #138: SWMRC

We will travel to New Ulm today. At Martin Luther College, we’ll meet with teachers and librarians, members of the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council, who are gathering to hear author Aimee Bissonette speak about Everyday Heroes and Wonder Women. We are grateful for this opportunity. We admire these people who are passionate about encouraging our children to become lifelong readers. And then we’ll beat the blizzard home.

Southwest Minnesota Reading Council at Martin Luther College

It was such a special evening. If you teach or you’re an education student or you work in a school library, you’ll want to be a part of the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council. Seriously. As I listened to their president, Dr. Cindy Whaley, welcome the students from Martin Luther College and Southwest Minnesota State University, asking them to share something about themselves, and thanking them for their commitment to the profession, I realized that this is a CARING community that dedicates part of their professional lives to educating, advocating, and supporting each other. They are so focused (you see what I did there, Jon Roux?) on making a difference in kids’ reading lives that I was brought to tears.

Day #100: Music Teachers

Aren’t school music teachers wonderful? They help us explore talents that might otherwise go undiscovered. They introduce us to music that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. They give us a vocabulary and a way to appreciate music that would remain mysterious otherwise. “Pictures at an Exhibition,” “Peter and the Wolf,” and “Carmina Burana” (are memories stirring?) stay with us because we remember them musically and visually. They tell us stories. My Flutophone led to a clarinet and the knowledge of what a musician in an orchestra or band experiences. I am confident many of us share the gratitude I feel for music teachers. For me, I am grateful for my elementary school teacher, Mr. Sundt in junior high, and Mr. Griebenow in high school. How else would I know about musical notation, John Cage, timpani, or Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s version of Mussorgsky’s piano suite? How else would I have learned enough to feel so blessed by music?

Mr. Gordon Griebenow and Mr. Eugene Sundt
Mr. Griebenow and Mr. Sundt, two of my heroes.
Pictures at an Exhibiition and Grand Canyon Suite
I played these two albums until they wore out.
Emerson Lake & Palmer's Pictures at an Exhibition
Did you listen to this rock version of “Pictures at an Exhibition”?
Carmina Burana, Robert Shaw
Our combined choirs of St. Louis Park, Stillwater, and Edina sang “Carmina Burana” at Northrop Auditorium. With an orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw and professional soloists,it was the memory of a lifetime. Who knew Robert Shaw well enough to bring him to Minnesota for this performance?

Day #99: Heidi Grosch

I am grateful for my friend Heidi Grosch who is one of the most ebullient, determined, warm-hearted, and talented people that I know. After moving from the US to Norway for love, she learned Norwegian, earned a master’s degree in education, raises Christmas trees, and, oh yes, teaches education at Nord University. Her current excellent idea is CyberBridge, short, daily videos inspiring ESL teachers in grades 1 through 7. Today’s video, singing “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music, is suggested for your classroom (done in sing-along style). Other videos talk about grammar, books to share, and learning activities. And remember, these are done by Norwegians for whom English is a second language. Heidi, you are simply amazing.

Here are links: “Do Re Mi” sung by Sparbu songlag, their YouTube channel to which you can subscribe, and their Facebook page, which you can follow.

Day #13: Spelling

I am grateful to my sixth grade teacher, Gordon Rausch, who put an emphasis on spelling in a challenging and visual way that made it important for me. It was an honor to have your name on Snoopy’s doghouse for your spelling achievements. This image was large on the classroom wall, unavoidable, a quiet reminder of the goal. By the way, one of these words knocked me out of the regional spelling bee. Yup, I still remember that word (and how to spell it) to this day.

Snoopy's doghouse
Charles Schulz, copyright Peanuts Worldwide