More with Roscoe Goose

“This is it, Donerail.” Roscoe said as he patted the left-side of his black colt’s mane.  The sky was clear. The stands, lining the race track, were filled. Roscoe led Donerail to their assigned starting gate. His booted legs straddled the number 9. He leaned down closer to his horse’s ear and whispered, “According to the posted odds, they think we can win once out of 91 races. But only once. How about we win this first one to show them they are right.” Then Roscoe pulled back on his saddle, gripped the reins tighter, and raised his eyes toward heaven. In his view were the Twin Spires. White, elegantly proportioned to match this elegant event. Today was the 39th running of the Kentucky Derby and Roscoe and Donerail were about to have the race of their lives.

“And their off,” was announced as 20 thoroughbred horses shot out of the starting gates. Their hooves galloped quickly across the dirt track. One complete time around the track and then another quarter run to the finish line.

Just prior to racing, the cheering crowd placed their bets. Three kinds are bets are made: to Win or come in 1st, to Place or come in 1st or 2nd, and to Show or come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Today, May 10, 1913 Donerail crossed the finished line first in just two minutes and four seconds, surprising the crowd. Those who placed a $2 bet on her to win, earned $184.90. Never in the history of the derby had a horse won with such long odds.

 

“We did it! We did it! Donerail, we won!” Roscoe slowed Donerail to a trot as he scanned the stands. The ladies wearing their finest Spring hats were standing and cheering. The men, sipping their mint juleps, were cheering. The owners and supporters for the favored-to-win horses were speechless.

“You ran and ran and out ran them all!” Roscoe now shouted as he directed Donerail to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. Once there, a large bouquet of red roses, the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, was handed to Roscoe.

Next, a circle of roses was held in front of Donerail’s nose. He sniffed and felt the flowers go up and over his ears and settle around his neck. Roscoe leaned forward and whispered, “Smell that, Donerail. It’s the smell of our race, our sweet, sweet race. Just like you, a sweet, sweet horse!” Owner and trainer, Thomas Hayes proudly stood in his bowler hat and suit, posing for photos. The fans and sportswriters, in awe of this hometown jockey and strong thoroughbred, cheered for this winning team who surprised all to win the 38th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 10, 1913.

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Roscoe Goose, Part 2

Last week, I tried a writing strategy suggested on Kate Messner’s TeachersWrite blog. Today I revised it a bit and added a second paragraph. My goal is to make a picture book biography of Roscoe Goose, my mom’s cousin’s grandfather’s brother.

My opening page from last week, with a few revisions:

“This is it, Donerail.” Roscoe said as he patted the left-side of his black colt’s mane.  The sky was clear. The stands lining the race track were filled. Roscoe led Donerail to their assigned starting gate. He leaned down closer to his horse’s ear and whispered, “According to the posted odds, they think we can win once out of 91 races. But only once. How about we win this first one to show them they are right.” Then Roscoe pulled back on his saddle, gripped the reins tighter, and raised his eyes toward heaven. In his view were the Twin Spires. White, elegantly proportioned to match this elegant event. Today was the 39th running of the Kentucky Derby and Roscoe and Donerail were about to have the race of their lives.

“And their off,” was announced as 20 thoroughbred horses shot out of the starting gates. Their hooves galloped quickly across the dirt track. One complete time around the track and then another quarter run to the finish line. Just prior to racing, the cheering crowd placed their bets. Three kinds are bets are made: to Win or come in 1st, to Place or come in 1st or 2nd, and to Show or come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Today, May 10, 1913 Donerail crossed the finished line first in just two minutes and four seconds, surprising the crowd. Those who placed a $2 bet on her to win, earned $184.90. Never in the history of the derby had a horse won with such long odds.

 

Roscoe Goose, Generating Ideas

Monday, July 23rd I read the post to Kate Messner’s TeachersWrite blog and met biography author, Sarah Albee. Sarah’s advise to writers is to jot down ALL you know about the topic. Then make choices about what to include. It felt freeing to hear that I don’t have to include every single detail. She also mentioned how she likes to include details about what people wear. This made me think for me, I’d like to include details about buildings because I like architecture.

Your Assignment: Choose someone to write about. It might be a famous person, a little-known person from history whose story you want to tell, or yourself. Write down 8-10 facts about this person’s life. Birth, family background, all that basic stuff, sure. But include at least a few pivotal moments in the person’s life—triumphs, disappointments, adversities that shaped him or her (or you).

And now, write the first two or three sentences of this biography—but make some choices before you start writing. Where will you start your story? Which facts from your list really sum the person up and give your reader a sense of who they are? What voice will you use? How will you hook your reader? Share a bit of what you wrote in the comments if you’d like!

Generating Ideas: I just returned from a trip to Louisville, Kentucky with my mom so she could visit with her cousins. Her one cousin took us to see the historical marker set at his grandfather’s brother’s house.

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I decided I’d pick ROSCOE GOOSE as my person. Here’s the beginning of my assignment, my biography of ROSCOE GOOSE, the winning jockey of the 1913 Kentucky Derby.

First, using the historical marker and some online research, I made these notes:

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My opening page:

“This is it, Donerail.” Roscoe said as he patted the left-side of his black colt’s mane. “They think if we race here 91 times, we will win just one of those races. How about we win this first one to show them they are right.” Then Roscoe raised his eyes to see the Twin Spires pointing straight to heaven. Today was the 39th running of the Kentucky Derby and Roscoe and Donerail were about to have the race of their lives.

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Potluck at the Pool

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 11.24.16 AMAs a kid, I lived at the pool in the summer. Morning swim team practice. Afternoon games of sharks and minnows in the deep end. Break time reading and swapping Nancy Drew Mysteries. Sunday morning donuts which was also the one time they allowed rafts in the pool. Games on the 4th of July. The Greased-watermelon challenge was fun to watch but seemed too hard to ever win. The penny dive was more my speed. But the very best summertime activity of all at the pool was Saturday Evening Potlucks.

As I climb out of the pool after hearing the lifeguards blow their whistle for the 6pm break, I notice the long line of rectangular tables stretching from one end of the deck to the other. Already a line was forming and I see my dad in it toward the front. “Yes,” I thought to myself. I hurry to grab my towel, dry off and join him to help hold our place in line.

As I walk, I notice Mrs. Francis place one lasagna casserole on the table, followed by her oldest, Amy, placing the second casserole on the table and her next oldest, Tom adding a jello mold and her next oldest, John adding a bag of rolls to the table. The remaining 4 – Ray, Anne, Meg and Catherine followed in line like little ducklings. All the girls are dressed in matching sundresses. I look and marvel. How did the Francis do it? All 7 kids helping. All 7 dressed and ready for Saturday dinner. My family was so different. Dad and me at the pool all day. Mom helping to orchestra. Me with a towel wrapped around my still dripping swimsuit. I had no idea what being in that family was like but I am sure glad Mrs. Francis and her kids are here with not one, but 2 casseroles of lasagna. It’s my favorite.

All along the long table sit more platters holding food. I see my mom’s homemade fried chicken and potato salad, next to 2 buckets of chicken made by the Colonel. I’m definitely not choosing from a bucket when I can eat my mom’s, I thought. And so many salads – 3-bean, pasta, tuna with noodles. And because it is summer, lots of fresh vegetables – sliced tomatoes from pool members’ gardens. Corn on the cob right off the grill.

Suddenly, I notice the long table seems to be filled. I turned around and now see the line extends back for what seems like a mile. I smile at my dad who smartly got our family a spot toward the front. After the lifeguards are kindly invited to go first, the line begins to move. I get ready to take as much food as I want. My dad’s motto is “Take all you want but eat what you take!” So I grab a chicken leg made by my mom, a scoop from the jello mold. a spoonful of tuna-macaroni salad, and a 4 inch by 4 inch cube of Mrs. Francis’ lasagna. YUM!

Summers growing up for me meant hours swimming at the pool. Endless hours. But the best hour of all was the 6pm Saturday Potluck hour. A meal shared by a community of pool-goers is the best!

 

Summer Rainstorm

A constant grinding sound came from my basement. The sump pump. For the last hour it churned non-stop as rain poured down outside. Every few minutes, a loud boom was heard. Then I glimpse a bright light of lightning. If my grandma was still here, she’d say, “It’s the angels. They’re bowling.” As I looked through my kitchen window, instead of gentle drops falling, it appeared to be a wall of water surrounding my entire front yard. Maybe instead, it was Wash Day and a miles-long, clear sheet was hanging down from the angels’ clothesline in heaven.

Some scientist, I’m sure, can explain exactly what causes some storms to be filled with the lovely, soft pitter-pat of raindrops and others to be so violent, like this storm. For now, I’m blaming it on Wash Day at the Hotel Hilton in Heaven.

Time to throw those sheets into the warm dryer.

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Inspired by Memory Chain Post

I read the 6/25/18 Two Writing Teacher’s post by Stacey and then tried out her Generating Writing idea.

I picked an object: my swimming google and my Memory Chain ended up looking like this:

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Then I picked “practicing for All Stars – pool had different feel” and I wrote this story:

All Star Practice

“Have a good swim practice,” I heard my mom say as I climbed out of the car.

“Thanks,” I replied and then headed into the pool area. Last week at this time there were kids everywhere. The 8 and unders were in lanes 1 and 2 with their coach calling out directions. The 9 and 10s were in the deep end doing half-length sprints with their coach. And the 11-12s, 13-14s and 15-17-aged swimmers were at least 6 to a lane across the six lanes in the lap pool. Each lane looked like a game of Follow the Leader. The leader headed swimming down on the right and back on the left and just like the cars on the beltway, a safe distance was between each swimmer.

But not today. Today there was Ryan, a 15-17 backstroker, there was Megan, a 13-14 breaststroker and there was me, a 11-12 butterflyer. Only 3. Why? Because only 3 were lucky enough to swim so fast at the last team meet of the season and qualify for All Stars. The good news: We get to swim in All Stars. The bad news: We have swim practice, just the three of us,  for one more week.

“Pick a lane and start your warm-up. A nice and easy 500-free,” the coach announced.

Ryan walked over to lane 3, dove right in and started swimming freestyle. Megan pulled on her swim cap, adjusted her googles and jumped into lane 4. After bobbling up and down a few times, she took off, too. I quickly put my towel on a lounge chair, removed my warm up pants and t-shirt and jumped into lane 5. After I dunked down, getting my hair wet, I put on my goggles and began my warm up.

At the opposite wall, I did a flip-turn, pushed off and set into this freestyle pattern.
Stroke-stroke-stroke-stoke-breath on the right.
Stroke-stroke-stroke-stoke-breath on the left.
Back to the starting wall, I flipped and counted, 2 laps down, 18 to go.

After about 10 minutes, I reached the wall for the 20th time and stood up. Ryan and Megan were at the opposite end of the pool with a kickboard. “Sally, grab a board and be ready to join us,” the coach shouted out to me.

I pulled myself out of the water, walked over to the stack of blue kickboards in the corner and grabbed one. I hurried back to my lane and watched my older and faster teammates kicking toward me, Megan just a tad ahead of Ryan with a smile on her face.

“OK, be ready to take off together on the top,” coach announced. I glanced at the pacing clock at the side of the pool. The red hand was on the 7 and sweeping toward the 12.

“Ready, go,” coach shouted as it reached the 12. I pushed off and moved my legs up and down as quickly as I could while keeping my arms perfectly stretched out holding the kickboard on each side. Ryan took the lead this time and together we looked like the right side of a flock of geese flying south. Except we were flying through the pool, preparing for All Stars.


Thank, Stacey for helping me recall this memory “chained” to my swimming googles!

Author Visit

Friday, a mom of a student I taught last year visited my middle school classroom. Kristyn Kusek Lewis. She is also a writer for adults and a freelance magazine writer. I’ve read both her books and recommend them if you are looking for a fun beach read!

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I enjoyed hearing about her work on her third novel which comes out in January. Just like Judy Bloom, she starts a new notebook for each new novel and jots ideas into it. If ever stuck, these ideas help. And she held up a flower covered notebook to show us hers.

She shared the cover that just got approved for her new book. A red door, ajar. A flower pot was added to the lower, right cover to make it appear more of a door of a house in the country, as this novel is set in central Virginia.

“This is my homework today” and she held up about 30 pages, each with the words formatted on the page like in a novel. “I need to reread to ensure it makes sense and no typos.” She explained how she recently fixed a scene where the couple was driving home. In an earlier draft, the husband was driving. Then she changed it be the wife driving. Yet, at the end of the scene, it still said “He pulled the key out of the ignition”. Oops. She caught the mistake and fixed the pronoun to make sense.

Along with doing the final edits for this 3rd novel, she just sent in a pitch to Washingtonian magazine. She explained that a pitch is a one page summary of a magazine idea. She hopes to get an affirmative reply and then will have a deadline to write so many words for the article. Fingers crossed!

She explained how she got the idea for this recent magazine pitch. She saw a photo on Instagram by the National Zoo. The zookeepers were making toys for the animals. She interviewed the zookeepers and has an interesting story now to share, hopefully in Washingtonian Magazine! She liked meeting the zookeeper so much that now she plans to have a character in her fourth novel be a zookeeper. All because she saw a photo on Instagram, proving writing ideas are everywhere!

She ended by giving the class these writing prompts and a writing assignment:

Writing Prompts – Pick one – then write, and be sure to describe using your 5 senses

  1. ONE INCH FRAME – think of something you could describe that fits into a 1-inch frame…write about it!
  2. Write a THANK YOU note to someone
  3. Write 3 questions you want to ask your Principal.
  4. Write about the things on your bedroom floor
  5. Write as many ch- words as you can think of. Pick one and write about it.

I set the timer for 10 minutes and we all WROTE!  I used my time to write a THANK YOU (#2) to Kristyn.

When the timer went off, I asked, “Who chose prompt #1? #2? #3? #4? #5?” I was amazed that in a class of 16, ALL 5 prompts got chosen. I always hated in school when the teacher assigned a prompt. But maybe because only 1 was offered. Having 5 to choose from got ALL in my classroom to write for 10 minutes!

Thanks for teaching my students and me, Kristyn!

 

OLW – midway reflection

First off, how is it June, the 6th month?? By the last day of this month, the 2017-18 school will be over and so will half of 2018. How can that be??

Today, I thought I’d revisit my OLW and se how I am doing. On Dec. 31st, I wrote (in black):

My 2018 OLW will be….
ACTIVE

I will be active in my personal life – actively eat well and exercise often and I won’t just SAY it, I’ll DO it! I’ll keep walking to school daily. I will look into an exercise or yoga class and join it! I have walked to school almost every day. I do like this outside time to think as I walk and see the flowers and birds and the morning sky. I still want to find an exercise class to join. Maybe during summer break!

I will be active in my teacher life – actively DO all that I teach my students to do and reflect on it often in the new club I am forming called the Reflect Often, Then Act Teacher Research Club #ROTATRClub  I am very good at actively reading and writing with my students. I also am proud of the club I actively formed to do Action Teacher Research. We met for the 5th time on Saturday and we plan to have a Celebration Share Out of our work in August. And all the club members want to continue on next year – casting a question, trying something out in the classroom, gathering data, reflecting often and concluding with some findings and implications for the future. (My club meets in person once a month. YOU are welcome to form a club and use my blog posts as a guide for your meeting OR just join my club virtually!)

I will be active in my writing life – actively meet monthly with my writing club, actively reflect on my MSblog each Sat and actively posting a SOL each Tuesday and every day in March. I am actively writing with my Writing Club each month! I have added some to my Middle School blog but need to add more about the Poetry Unit and add about the Ignite speeches and our Kate Messner Author visit. (I guess I have my next 3 Tuesday blog post ideas, now!) And I have added a post HERE most days in March (minus days without internet while on Spring Break) and on Tuesdays. Posting weekly on Tuesdays now seems to be a habit, an active writing routine!

I will be active in my reading life – actively find and join a book club (how crazy that I am a Reading 6 Middle School teacher but I am not part of a book club right now!) and I will actively add my thinking to my Reading Notebook after each book read. I haven’t found a book club to join in person. BUT I have reached out to virtual friends I have met here and at TCRWP and formed a July Virtual Book Club – ALL ARE WELCOME. Just click on the Padlet link to find out more!  I do like adding my thinking to my Readers Notebook!

I will be active in exploring my world – over Spring Break, I’ll do this by visiting my daughter in France – each month my husband and I want to  will explore a new restaurant for dinner, something we can easily do because we are empty-nesters – I will take advantage of living in Arlington, just across the river from D.C. which offers so many cultural experiences, most for free! I could do better here….I did get to explore Paris and Marseilles, France over Spring Break while visiting Anne, my daughter. So amazing!!! I did last week go explore a used book store in the town next to mine that a 6th grader told me about. I still want to go to The National Portrait Gallery to see the Obama Portraits. I still want to go out to dinner with my husband at a new restaurant. We just need to plan it but we instead end up being homebodies. 

So far, I’m doing OK with my OLW. How about YOU?

 

 

My Summer Plan!

Over Memorial Day weekend, I started making my Summer Plan! First stop was to Staples to buy this new planner.IMG_1749

I still use a paper calendar planner even though electronic ones are more the norm for others. After adding curriculum writing (1 week in June), trip to KY with my mom (one week in July) and TRCWP Writing Institute (1 week in August), I see I still have 5 weeks to myself!

Here’s my plan:
1. VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB  I created this padlet and shared it with others I’ve met here on this blog and at TCRWP. For 2 weeks in July, I will set a reading goal using the TCRWP Learning Progressions and then read this book with my goals in mind.

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Then I’ll post my thinking onto the google docs posted to the padlet. I’m excited to read in the company of other smart readers around the globe.

If YOU are interested, join me!!
Information is on the padlet. ALL are wlecome!

2. Writing Work: I spent this year teaching Reading 6 so most of my writing was about reading. This summer, I plan to write 3 pieces: a narrative, an opinion and an information piece. I am taking home the Grade 6 Units of Study for Teaching Writing resource books and plan to daily read a mini-lesson and then write. With a daily dose of writing workshop, I know I can make up for all the writing I didn’t do during the school year. (I also got accepted into the TCRWP AUGUST WRITING INSTITUTE!! Can’t wait to arrive and be immersed in everything writing for a week!!)

3. Movement: I plan to daily MOVE – a walk, a visit to the air conditioned gym or a swim. I plan to not go to bed each night this summer unless I have done some kind of movement. During the school year, I walk a mile to work so it’s important to me to keep up my habit of exercise this summer, too.

I also hope to enjoy time cooking, gardening, cleaning out the basement and visiting with family and friends. Writing down my plan is getting me excited for June, July and August!!

Do YOU have a Summer Plan?

 

Walker/Bus Rider?

The dismissal bell rings at 2:24pm. The hallway swells with Middle Schooler bodies. Then within five minutes, the hallways are clear. All have filed out the front door after a stop at their locker. Some grab a bike, some start their walk, many head to a school bus. All head home.

N joined my class as the fourth quarter began. I see him after school still on the sidewalk as I begin my walk home. He is putting his cell phone back in his pocket. “Did you miss the bus?” I ask. He tells me he lives too close to ride the school bus and instead is waiting to take the Metro Bus. “But it doesn’t come for another 10 minutes.” I take this info in as I walk the half mile east to my house.

Once home, I look at my student rosters and electronic information and see where N lives. It is a few blocks beyond my house and a few before the high school. I recall seeing another one of my student, E,  walking her dog while I was driving in that neighborhood once on a Saturday. The  next day I ask E how she gets home. “I ride the school’s bus. The first stop is the high school and I walk home from there.”

I look online to see the bus routes. But they are not posted for safety reasons. Instead, it says to contact your school for this information. So the next day, I ask in the Counseling Office and I’m told what N’s mom was told. “He lives within 1.5 miles of our school so he is a walker.” I get this rule. However, it makes no sense to me when just a half a miles beyond his house is a middle school bus stop at the high school. If he took that bus, he’d avoid the $2 fare to ride the Metro Bus which drops him .5 miles before his house. Why not ride our free school bus?

I asked N’s counselor to look into it and he did. Thanks to his efforts,  N rides to and from school for free on our school’s bus.

Now I feel the need to share this information with my school district. Maybe a persuasive letter to the transportation department asking them to consider this information. If I hadn’t noticed N, he’d still be spending $20 a week riding the Metro bus, not to mention the added time spent doing so. My hope is that we notice a family’s address in relation to the school AND in relation to all school bus stops. Then share all the transportation options. Then a family can decide whether to be a  walker, a bike rider, a car rider or bus rider.

Note: By writing this piece, I’m feeling ready to write my letter. This was a good way to draft!