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. 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: WANDERLUST

EEYORE SHOULD SO GET MORE RECOGNITION FOR HIS BRILLIANCE.

I did some serious listening recently, in palmetto hammocks and oak scrubs.

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” ― Dalai Lama

 

You might call it my listening tour of Halpatiokee Regional Park.

 

Remember anthropologist Margaret Mead? She defined ‘listening tour’. She was out there on the Sepik River with a pad and pencil, and every time you see her with the natives of Papua New Guinea, she’s in listening mode.

 

Florida-gator

 

Halpatiokee is a Seminole word.  It means ‘Alligator Water’.  Yes, they’re there. And they’re listening, too.  Alligators hear with ears that are located behind their eyes and are very sensitive to vibrations in the water.

I hiked the 3-mile trail that runs along the South Fork River and loops back to the trailhead inside this 470- acre wetland preserve.

 

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The area is a step back in time, to the days of old Florida.

 

 

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Like steeping tea bags, cypress trees stain the quiet water a dark brown, but it’s so clear that you can see the fish below.

 

JayW

Some of Florida’s most threatened and endangered species live here, eating and sheltering in scrub areas, like the gopher tortoise and the Florida scrub jay.

I met this guy schlepping back to the scrub.

 

An amazing thing about the gopher tortoise is that it amiably shares its burrow with more than 350 other species. Burrowing owls, Florida mice, indigo snakes, opossums, rabbits, gopher frogs, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and gopher crickets, all enjoy good fellowship underground.

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The gopher tortoise is protected by Florida law. This little shaver depends on it.

 

In the Sunshine State, every day is a perfect day to take a listening tour.

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TONI 4/27/17

WE’RE ONLY SEVEN YEARS OLD ONCE!

It’s our blogaversary!

That being said, here’s our very first post ~  4/20/2010

Today we’re starting our blog. For years we’ve sipped great coffee, nibbled tasty treats, talked through the life dramas, and read our writing to each other. Frequently we’ve had a silent partner in all this: Ted Kooser, Jane Yolen, Lary Bloom, Art Plotnik, Anne Lamott. We’ve read their books about writing and let their wise words inspire us. This blog is going to be another silent partner we think, but right now getting going with it is a bit like trying to get clear, cool water from the faucet. We need to run the water for a while to swish out whatever’s been lodging along the old pipes. Sometimes those pipes clank and the water sputters. Sometimes we curse and talk about whether or not the plumbing’s ever going to be right. And then it happens. Luscious, clean, boy-is-this-well-good-or-what water. That’s the way it will be with our fussing with a writing blog. Just keep the tap on we’ve decided. It’ll come.

And come it has.

Words We Women Write was born out of, well, unbridled curiosity and wonder.

 

The adventure of uncertainty lured us in. (That, and there was nowhere else we needed to be.)

 

Now, seven years later, we’ve birthed two more ~

Click here to read Patty’s middle-grade novel blog, Isabel the Storyteller.

Click here to read Toni’s poetry blog, mental crumbs ~ in love with carbs and poetry.

 

Having awesome site stats means you can dance no matter who’s looking.

 

We still fuss with the plumbing.

 

Apple geniuses help us tinker, WordPress Happiness Engineers make the irreversible reversible.

 

And Readers, you are why we’re still having a good time, all the time.

Thanks for coming. 

 

Patty and Toni  4/20/17
and yes, there is always cake

While Trump takes steps backwards, I ponder taking more positive steps like the Tsimane. A 420 character 9-liner.

Take steps (17,000) & fruits, veggies, nuts =

the healthiest heart in the world.

Live like the small, active community of Amazon Tsimane on the Maniqui

& acquire a pristine, unclogged, positive-outlook

& arteries.

More positive than the PFN’s steps to abolish EPA, roll back Dodd-Frank.

But how about that failed resolution of inquiry* ?

It forced Republicans to reject calls for greater conflict oversight.

Take steps.

PATTY

NOTES FROM PATTY: PFN = President for Now. And on that resolution: House Republicans derailed a Democratic resolution that would have forced disclosure of the PFN’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest. Republicans wanted to avoid a full House vote that would have been embarrassing and divisive for the right.

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2017/04/07/walking-15000-steps-daily.aspx

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/why-does-this-amazon-tribe-have-the-healthiest-hearts-in-the-world-1.3043569

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/28/walking-15000-not-10000-steps-optimal-health-repor/

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-russia-house-republicans-235515

While Trump takes steps backwards, I ponder taking more positive steps like the Tsimane. A 420 character 9-liner.