BETSY DEVOS? NEED A PENCIL? TAKE A NOTE: We do not teach and learn wisely and well if certain sturdy stances aren’t in our repertoire. This is a Listening-Conversing-Questioning-Routine from “my” high poverty-high achieving school.

Mrs. M: You’re going to write about your grandmother’s kitchen table, Milo?

Milo, his notebook closed, nods.

What’s the memory attached to the table?  (The 5th graders are writing stories connected to important objects in their lives.)

Milo shrugs. Don’t know. He slaps the notebook open and riffles through pages tagged with post-its.

Wow. You’ve marked all your notebook entries that relate to the table. You’ve got a lot!

Milo and Mrs. M go head-to-head and read the entries silently. Mrs. M learns that Milo lives with his Granny and Mom, how the light plays on the table from the window in the kitchen door, about the honey tones of the wood surface, and how Milo always sits at the same spot at the table.

You always sit at the same place?

Yup. He points to another flagged entry. I like how the sun comes in the door window and warms my back.

Cozy. What else?

I watch my Granny cook oatmeal every morning from my seat. Milo looks at his teacher and smiles. Earlier he’d read an entry to the class about how when he was little he could hardly wait for his Granny to finish stirring brown sugar and golden raisins into the thick, bumpy oatmeal. Once he was so excited he’d knocked his chair over.

Are you going to write about the time the chair tipped over with you in it?

Milo shakes his head.

Mrs. M waits.

I sit at the gash.

The gash?

Milo sits straight and points to the pencil groove on the desk. It’s about this long but deeper.

Is it an inlay table–you know with decorative carving on it?

It’s not a design. It’s from the knife.

It’s like Milo has dropped a fishing line into a memory lagoon and snagged onto something he’d forgotten.

It’s from a knife?

The carving knife.

A carving knife?

My Dad had it.

Was he carving the turkey, and it slipped?

Nah. He wasn’t carving no turkey!

What was he doing?

Fighting with my Mom. I was hiding.

Where were you hiding?

Behind the door. It was wide open. I could feel the cold on my feet.

What happened?

He’d burst into the kitchen and grabbed the knife. It was in that wooden knife holding thing on the counter.

Then what?

He chases Mom around the table.

With the knife?

He’s waving it. Mom’s screaming. Milo pauses. Then he sees me.

Behind the door?

I’m peeking. Through the window. On my tiptoes.

And he…?

He stabs the knife into the table. And runs out the door.

So the gash you always sit at…?

Milo nods. I sort of forgot how it got there ‘til now. He picks up his pencil.  I never saw him again. He turns to a clean notebook page. I put my pencils in it now. He makes a margin on the left side of the page. When I was little I stood my Lego men in it.

PATTY

Note from PATTY:I wrote this in 10/14/12 and feel it would be helpful for the new education czar to learn what it looks like in schools where, despite high-poverty, the students are high-achievers, where the teachers have finely tuned their skills at listening and questioning. You can’t teach a child until you know what he’s bringing to school with him besides his trapper keeper and empty lunch box. Teaching memoir as a genre is one way of helping kids get a handle on who they are and what they’ve got going for them to value and develop. 

I CAN’T EAT ANOTHER BITE. OH LOOK, PIE!

Ah, Thanksgiving. Like many of you, we’ll sit around the groaning board, swap lies, and whoop (intermittently) How ’bout those Giants!

 

Mostly though, we’ll feast on the stories ~ memories of Grandma’s chicken soup with rice, the cast-off toilet (lid up) in the yard, Ma’s frozen French fries cooked with a brick of lard in the cast iron skillet. Oh, and the mayonnaise controversy. So much history here.

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The house, built in the 1800’s and moved to its present location, is full of Remember-Whens. A new table looms large and stands where bunk beds barely contained three boys.  A granite undermount sink replaces the chipped porcelain basin in what used to be the old pantry.  We love this old house and the people in it. They care about the eaves and beams, the joists and rafters. The family nest is aging gracefully and for that we are thankful.

 

 

This year, Thanksgiving will be in a different house, a different town, hosted by a different generation with its own growing families and stories to share. Each generation before us contributed to this abundance of joy.  And so it continues. Lucky us.

I’ll look around the Thanksgiving table and be (yet again) flabbergasted that we are unexpectedly older.  I knew it was coming, just not this fast.

Life is not about seeing the glass half empty or half full. The point is that you have a glass.

I raise my glass to you, Beloved Family and Loyal Readers. Notice everything and live it all.

Hey, be sure to add this little funky jam to your T-day. No, it’s not about actual turkeys. It’s about jive turkeys. A little throwback for us oldies at the table.

 

Toni 11/21/17

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Peeking out from the trompe l’oeil on the ceiling of my room in Paris is this charming imp.   Trompe l’oeil is a French term, meaning to “deceive the eye”.  European painters, from the early Renaissance onward, created mesmerising illusions like this one by painting false frames out of which people appear to spill.

Toni 11/5/17

 

How to help kids lead the wide awake curious life; a 420 character 9-line poem juxtaposing a skill useful to both birding and coping.

Perspective. It helps me cope w/ my Trump angst & binoculars.
I thought of this while helping one of the kids w/ HIS bins. He’s got the hold-the-barrels-steady
part.
The Eagle Optics Kingbirds & National Geographic Kids Bird Guide are great, btw;
which reminds me that solid ideas & resources help w/ coping too.
Then I had him read signs @ various distances
starting w/ the closest & moving farther away. Perspective.

PATTY

 

Another source of perspective? Late night tv, or in my case, late night tv youTubes:

 

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/tv/2017/05/taking_aim_at_donald_trump_lat.html