Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

I LOVE Mail!

And my kids.  And teaching.  And appreciation.

Thank you Harriette, you are so very welcome.  It is really my pleasure darling.

All the hard work is so worth it when I walk into the classroom and you have your legs draped over the side of the chair, when everyone else is out playing, and you are choosing to read instead.

A reader you are, a writer you are, a joy you are.

Letters to Washington D.C.

Dear Girls and Boys:

I will be in Washington, DC in November to lobby congress. To lobby means to meet with Senator Patty Murray, Senator      Cantwell, and Representative Jim McDermott. I have met with these people or their aids in the past when I went to DC. It’s fun to think of going back because I know where their offices are, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to meet these people (I’ve met them all in the past). One never knows, because they are so busy. One year Patty Murray made a special trip from the floor of the Senate where an important vote was coming to meet with me. We could watch the Senate from the TV in her office. Other times I’ve met with these people’s aids.

I’ll be going with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) a Quaker lobbying group. The focus on our lobbying efforts will be Iran, building relationship with Iran, talking with the Iranian government, not going to war. Since I was just in Iran, this will be especially interesting for me.

I would like to take letters from you children to give to Washington state’s two senators and Representative McDermott. I will take pictures of their office, their receiving your letters, and also of Washington DC so you can see scenes from our country’s capitol. I have learned in my past visits that it’s possible to meet the people who do the work of national government for us, to tell them what I and the group I’m representing think are important issues and things to do. I’ve learned they’re people just like you and me, except we are all grown up and you are still growing. But, before you know it, you will be 18 and expected as a young adult to participate in making this country work. I’ve also learned, there will always be work to do to make things better in our country, and that as citizens, voters, and people living here, we not only can talk to our government, but we need to participate ourselves in making this country work better and better.

It may be a lot to write three letters, one for each senator and representative, so maybe you want to write a class letter. Another possibility would be for me to divide the letters into 3 groups and give some to each person. Or, you may figure out an even better way. Pictures will work too. Although I will be talking mainly about Iran, you are free to let these people who represent us know what is important to you.

I’ll visit your class before I go, and when I get back. It would be very nice if I could take along a nice sized picture of your class to give to each of these people.

I look forward to hearing what your concerns are, and what questions you have about DC that could bring back the answers for.


Travelin’ Grandma, Diane

We finally got around to writing our letters the day after the election, thus the focus on Barack Obama…

And just so everyone knows, we spoke equally about both candidates in the classroom.

Dear Barack Obama,

I wish you would stop the war.  I wish there was better schools and health care.  I’m glad you were elected president of the United States.



Dear Barack Obama,

I hope there is health care for everyone.


Dear Barack Obama,

I would like better public schools.

Love, Amalie

Dear Barack Obama,

Please give the homeless people a house because they don’t have any houses.  I am glad you are president.

From, Isabel

Dear Barack Obama,

I would like to stop the war.  And I would like better health care.


Dear George Bush,

I hear it is very nice there George Bush.  But I do not want to be there.  It is still nice.  George Bush I think it is good to be at that state.


Dear Barack Obama,

We are glad you are being president.  My family voted for you.


Dear Barack Obama,

I hope you have a good time being president.  I hope you are going to be a good president.  I’m glad you are president.


Dear Barack Obama,

Please more health care for the animals.  I am glad you were elected president.


Dear Barack Obama,

I would like you to lower gas prices.  I am glad that you were elected president.


Dear Barack Obama,

I would like there to be less war.


Dear Barack Obama,

Please stop the war.  Please provide more health care.  I hope you are a good president.  Yes we can.


And the letters are off!

A Spelling Story

Last week, The Tigers and I took our three word lists and wrote a story together.

(Photo by Amy)

We tried to use as many words from the list as possible, while keeping the story in tact.

(Photo by Amy)

They didn’t all make it in but we did fairly well and had a blast. (We circled the words from our list.)

Of course there were some compromises to be had with the storyline but there were eight people working on it.  It’s on our ceiling in the classroom.  Come on in and see.

A Little Bit About Spelling

We have all been working so hard, these second graders and me.  We are putting our noses to the grindstone and forging ahead — learning new ways to remember, figure, and memorize.  We have been focusing on word lists.  Each week, we have a new list that we read through, spell, put into a sentence, and then a few days later, after they have had a chance to study at school with me, with a friend, and at home, we have a pseudo test.  We sit down and I give them the words. I let them know that it’s only important that they try and that we will go over the list at the end to correct any of the words that were missed, circling them so we can continue to study them.  There are no grades, no check marks in red.  They correct their own work so that they can see what they’ve missed and how to fix it.

I don’t believe much in spelling tests, but I do want them to memorize some of those tricky words, and to be prepared to move on next year to what will most likely be other types of word tests.  Some people are naturally better at spelling than others are.  Over the years, it seems that some brains are set up to spell easily while others may be set up to draw with ease and so on.  I’ve also learned that it has nothing to do with intelligence or story-telling ability.  I know PH.D candidates, physicists, journalists, and some of my favorite writers who have difficulty with spelling.

When a student is writing a story, I think spelling should be the last priority.  Thought, flow, and heart should always come first.  Then the story can be reviewed for spelling and punctuation errors.  I have struggled with spelling all of my life, even though I have a literature degree and a Master’s in Education.  Often, I re-read the columns that I write for a mothering magazine. And often, I need to correct spelling errors up until the final draft is sent to my editors.  I also occasionally misspell words on the blog (although this may be because the last thing I do in my day is blog, between 11:00pm and 1:00am depending on the day, after my own child’s dinner, bath, and bedtime ritual).  So I can relate to the kids who find this process frustrating.

I’m trying to find balance in this arena of letting the oldest kids in the class guide their own learning while also providing some solid teacher instruction time.  I’m hoping these tools that we are working on will help them to write more easily and with more confidence.  And if you find that on occasion I’ve accidentally replaced there with their, please have confidence that I know the difference, and that it is possibly the wee hours of the morning and I can barely see straight…

Signing off — with heart, soul, and words circling the drain.

Work at School and Home

We have started introducing some fun family activities for home.  These are available weekly and can be found next to the sign in sheet.  I’ve suggested that one “Read with your family” sheet be done weekly.  There will also be different math activities available each week.

The tigers (2nd graders) have their own spelling homework.  Each week we have a list of words that we work on together as a group.  I give them the words aloud, we spell them together, they write them and we put them in a sentence.  I then send them home to be reviewed in the same way.  Retention is typically gained through writing the words.  We then have a spelling test later in the week.  We have been working in the back room for forty-five minutes a day.  During this time I’ve told them that this is for them.  For them to learn the words for themselves.  That it’s not for me, or for their families or for their friends but for them so that they have a bank of words to reference when reading and writing.  They have been truly excited and so devoted to working on the words.  Please work on these words with your kids each week.  I want them to feel prepared and ready to move on when they get the new list for the next week.


One of the other classes at Community School has started a lovely blog, spending hours documenting the kid’s days and creating a window into the classroom for their families.

I’ve also noticed that the parents of this classroom leave comments ALL THE TIME.

I’m just sayin’…

Magnetic Sentences

Can you match the student to the sentence – parents? (Keep in mind it is only the 1st/2nd grade group.)

Inventive Spelling

Give your best guess as to what this says and leave it in comments. Just so you know, I had nothing to do with it, although I sort of wish I did. Hint: we were talking politics. And, keep your minds out of the gutter, this is respectable elementary fodder here! I’ll reveal the message soon.

In case you can’t make out the letters it says; “I dlck pazd bsh.”

My Vacation by Alex

Alex reads his story.

“My Vacation”

“I did a magician show and my grandma Fran visited me.”

“I am a magician. Jacob is my friend.”

“I am going to do a magician show and me and Jacob are going to play with my bat copter and me and Jacob are going to play a game and me and Jacob are going to jump rope and me and Jacob are going to play hide and seek.”

“Jacob is my best friend and he is lovable.”

My Day to Day by Brigit – The Finished Story

Brigit actually finished her story the next day and I keep forgetting to post the final product:

The End

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