Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Poetry Stretch - Six Words

After a horrible, no good, very bad week, I'm back in the poetry spirit and ready to write. I thought it might be fun to try another six word challenge. This idea comes from the book I Am Writing a Poem About . . . A Game of Poetry, in which Myra Cohn Livingston wrote about three of the assignments she gave to students in her master class in poetry at UCLA. One of these assignments was to write a six-word-based poem.

Your job this week is to write a poem that contains the five words sky, knot, fork, wall, and rose, as well as either trumpet or bullet as the sixth word. Leave me a comment about your poem and I will post the results here later this week.

Blog Tour for A Girl, A Boy, and Three Robbers

In celebration of the release of Gail Gauthier's new book, A Girl, A Boy, and Three Robbers, I'll be participating in her upcoming blog tour. Here is the schedule.
June 29: Books Together Blog
June 30: Sam Riddleburger
July 1: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
July 2: Jen Robinson's Book Page
July 3: Big A little a
July 4: The Miss Rumphius Effect
July 5: A Fuse #8 Production
Gail Gauthier is having a bit of a shindig of her own, so stop by and see what you might win. This should be a lot of fun, with some thoughtful conversation about chapter books for elementary age readers. I hope you'll drop by and see what folks have to say about the latest installment of the Hannah and Brandon series.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Poetry Friday - Silver Wind

I have been reading my way through a copy of Smoke and Steel by Carl Sandburg. Many of the places described are close to home, so it's making me even more anxious for my annual summer sojourn to western New York. Today I am sharing a poem from the section Mist Forms.
Silver Wind
by Carl Sandburg

Do you know how the dream looms? how if summer misses one of us the two of us miss summer—
Summer when the lungs of the earth take a long breath for the change to low contralto singing mornings when the green corn leaves first break through the black loam—
And another long breath for the silver soprano melody of the moon songs in the light nights when the earth is lighter than a feather, the iron mountains lighter than a goose down—
So I shall look for you in the light nights then, in the laughter of slats of silver under a hill hickory.
In the listening tops of the hickories, in the wind motions of the hickory shingle leaves, in the imitations of slow sea water on the shingle silver in the wind—
    I shall look for you.
The round up this week is being hosted by Jennie at Biblio File. Do stop by and check out all the great pieces being shared this week. Happy poetry Friday, all!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NCTQ Report is Out

Today the National Council for Teacher Quality released a report entitled No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools. In this study of elementary teacher preparation programs, the NCTQ examined 257 syllabi and required texts in 77 undergraduate education programs from across the country to determine whether the courses adequately prepare elementary teachers (K-5) to teach mathematics.

Only ten schools in the sample (a mere 13%) received passing marks in the evaluation of their overall quality of preparation in mathematics. Criteria used were relevance, breadth, and depth of preparation. Of the 77 institutions in the study, 37 (just under 50%) failed on all measures. My institution was one of them.

You can download the Executive Summary or the full report. Here are the major findings.
Finding 1 - Few education schools cover the mathematics content that elementary teachers need. In fact, the education schools in our sample are remarkable for having achieved little consensus about what teachers need. There is one unfortunate area of agreement: a widespread inattention to algebra.

Finding 2 - States contribute to the chaos. While most state education agencies issue guidelines for the mathematics preparation of elementary teachers, states do not appear to know what is needed.

Finding 3 - Most education schools use mathematics textbooks that are inadequate. The mathematics textbooks in the sample varied enormously in quality. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the courses use no textbook or a textbook that is inadequate in one or more of four critical areas of mathematics. Again, algebra is shortchanged, with no textbook providing the strongest possible support.

Finding 4 - Almost anyone can get in. Compared to the admissions standards found in other countries, American education schools set exceedingly low expectations for the mathematics knowledge that aspiring teachers must demonstrate.

Finding 5 - Almost anyone can get out. The standards used to determine successful completion of education schools’ elementary teacher preparation programs are essentially no different than the low standards used to enter those programs.

Finding 6 - The elementary mathematics in mathematics methods coursework is too often relegated to the sidelines. In particular, any practice teaching that may occur fails to emphasize the need to capably convey mathematics content to children.

Finding 7 - Too often, the person assigned to teach mathematics to elementary teacher candidates is not professionally equipped to do so. Commendably, most elementary content courses are taught within mathematics departments, although the issue of just who is best qualified and motivated to impart the content of elementary mathematics to teachers remains a conundrum.

Finding 8 - Almost anyone can do the work. Elementary mathematics courses are neither demanding in their content nor their expectations of students.
These are strong indictments, indeed. As someone who teaches at a small liberal arts institution (not a "school of education" - yes, I bristle when this language is applied in a blanket fashion and I apologize for that, but the world I live and work in is very different from the one where colleges and universities are large enough to support separate schools for the preparation of teachers), I'm very interested in hearing from my teacher readers out there regarding how you were prepared to teach math. Please, let's discuss.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Has Student Achievement Improved?

Yesterday the Center for Education Policy released a report entitled Has Student Achievement Improved Since 2002? State Test Score Trends Through 2006–07. Here are the main conclusions drawn by the authors of the study.
  • Since 2002, reading and math achievement on state tests has gone up in most states according to the percentages of students scoring at the proficient level. Gains tended to be larger at the elementary and middle school grades than at the high school level. Achievement has also risen in most states according to effect sizes. These findings are drawn from states with at least three years of comparable test data.
  • Trends in reading and math achievement on NAEP have generally moved in the same positive direction as trends on state tests, although gains on NAEP tended to be smaller than those on state tests. The exception to the broad trend of rising scores on both assessments occurred in grade 8 reading, where fewer states showed gains on NAEP than on state tests, especially in terms of effect sizes.
  • In states with sufficient data to determine achievement gap trends on state tests, gaps have narrowed more often than they have widened since 2002, particularly for African American students and low-income students. Gap trends were also largely positive for Latino students, but this finding is less conclusive because in many states the Latino subgroup has changed significantly in size in recent years. On the whole, percentages proficient and effect sizes revealed similar trends of narrowing or widening, although percentages proficient gave a more positive picture of achievement gap trends than effect sizes.
  • Gaps on NAEP have also narrowed more often than they have widened in states with sufficient data to determine gap trends. The exception was in grade 8 math, where gaps on NAEP widened more often than they narrowed for most subgroups. In general, NAEP results painted a less positive picture of progress in narrowing gaps than state tests did.
  • It is impossible to determine the extent to which these trends in test results have occurred because of NCLB. Since 2002,many different but interconnected policies and programs have been undertaken to raise achievement—some initiated by states or school districts and others implemented in response to federal requirements. Moreover, all public school students have been affected by NCLB, so there is no suitable comparison group of students to show what would have happened without NCLB.
The report raises some interesting questions. Is the law behind the rise in scores? The authors say it is impossible to determine whether NCLB alone has produced these changes in students learning. However, it's hard not be cynical and state the obvious. If you spend 6 years (or more) preparing kids to pass "the test," shouldn't their scores be higher? What I really want to know is whether or not they're really learning more.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Punched in the Gut

You know that feeling you get when you hear dreadful news? Your heart sinks into your shoes, your chest tightens, and you can't get your breath. It's what I imagine being punched in the gut feels like. Or reading negative reviews of your book and not being able to turn away.

Well, it's happened to me. It's been almost two days. I can't breathe. Can't sleep. And. . . I can't tell you why. But, I need to talk about it before it drives me insane. Oh, you'll hear about it soon enough. On Thursday, June 26th, to be exact. You see, a report is coming out then that says *** has received a failing grade on all measures in preparing *** to ***. This is something near and dear to my professional heart. It's something I pour my heart and soul into. It's something that has received a surface-level examination by outsiders and been judged to be inadequate. I can't imagine what the press will do with this. It's not going to be pretty.

So, you can see why my heart feels like it's been in a vice. I hope you'll stick with me as I try to work through this. Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Other Kelly Made Me Do It!

Okay, here's another quiz. I got this one from another of my favorite bloggers named Kelly.

You are 100% in form.

You are the Mr/Miss Universe of Poetry Form! Now, grease up and flex your poetic muscles for the camera.

Form Fitting 101
Make Your Own Quiz

Poetry stretches are making me smart indeed!

Kelly Made Me Do It

I'm blaming this one on Kelly. (I know I saw it on her web site!) And yes, I don't mind being the sidekick, as I'm not one for hogging the limelight.
You are Robin
Young and acrobatic.
You don't mind stepping aside
to give someone else glory.
Take the Which Superhero are You? Quiz.

Poetry Friday - Ulysses

I heard a portion of poem read at a retirement event recently and thought the words sounded familiar. I later realized they were from a poem I was introduced to in A.P. English, and one I have not forgotten. I dug it out in its entirety to share with you today.

by Alfred Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle —
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me —
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads — you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The round up this week is being hosted by the good folks at Semicolon. Do stop by and enjoy the poetry being shared this week. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!

Poetry Stretch Results - Rictameter

The challenge this week was to write in the form of rictameter, a nine line poetry form with the syllable count syllable of 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2 and where the 1st and last lines are the same. Here's what folks came up with on this new form.
Evelyn at Light One Small Candle shares a poem entitled Alive!

Laura Purdie Salas kills two stretches with one poem and gives us Missed.

Noah the Great gives us I Said Anything.

cloudscome at a wrung sponge shares a poem (accompanied by a beautiful photo) entitled Daylilies.

sister AE at Having Writ doesn't have a poem for us yet, but she did find a site called Write Your Life, where Marlys Marshall Styne (Seniorwriter) shared a series of rictameters (from A to Z).
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From The New Yorker to Shrek

From June 8, 2008 - September 7, 2008, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Fransisco is hosting an exhibit on the art of William Steig. Organized by The Jewish Museum in New York City, From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig features a wide selection of original drawings for both his New Yorker cartoons and his children's books.

You can view a special interactive feature that provides a glimpse into the work of this artist. We particularly love Doctor De Soto and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble in our house, so I'm sorry we won't get to see this in person. If you find yourself in California and are a lover of children's books, do consider taking this one in.

Library Cards and Reading Kids

This one just warms my heart, but it made me really happy when I realized it came from my home town. (Hey, I may live in Virginia, but New York will ALWAYS be home.)

This is the first time the City School District and Rochester Public Library have formally cooperated in a program that supports students in accessing the resources of their local libraries.

During an assembly at School 52 Wednesday, cards were given to students whose parents signed their children up for the program. Officials expect the students at the school not receiving library cards Wednesday, will participate in the program during the 2008-09 school year.

The hope of the program, said School 52 principal Denise Rainey, is to encourage students to develop a love of reading, by granting the means to check books out of the library.

Now that's a laudable goal, and so easy to achieve. What makes it even more attractive is that the program forgives library fines for students who have cards with overdue book balances. Wouldn't you love to see this in a city/town near you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Whoops! Another Monday passed me by. I began a two week intensive training institute for teachers preparing to become mentors yesterday, so let's just say I've been a bit busy. However, as I sit in a darkened room waiting for teachers to arrive, I've been writing and was suddenly dumbstruck by the realization that I posted no challenge for the week. Forgive me, please, for this momentary lapse. We'll call this one a poetry Tuesday stretch.

Since I am into counting syllables lately, the challenge this week is to write in the form of rictameter. Rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this new form at Wikipedia.

Will you join us in stretching this week? Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll post all the entries later this week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Morning Fun

You Are Fruit Flavored Gum
You are quirky and independent. You don't tend to follow any one style or rule book.

You are a mix and match type of person, and you draw inspiration from many sources.

While you're definitely a bit unusual, you get along well with other people.

You're eager to welcome anyone into your world. You are not judgmental at all.

You form close bonds with your friends, and your relationships tend to be very secure.

You hold firm to your beliefs and values, and you don't let anyone talk you into compromising them.

It's amazing how five questions can reveal so much. Go ahead and try it. You know you want to see what flavor you are! Thanks to Becky for the link.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Poetry Friday - Summer Days

With schools ending all around the county and the recent heat wave, the message is clear that summer is here, even though the solstice has not come yet. In honor of summer's arrival, I am sharing a poem from a Victorian anthology. (Yes, I like "old" poetry.)
Summer Days
by Wathen Marks Wilks Call

In summer, when the days were long,
We walk’d, two friends, in field and wood;
Our heart was light, our step was strong,
And life lay round us, fair as good,
In summer, when the days were long.

We stray’d from morn till evening came,
We gather’d flowers, and wove us crowns;
We walk’d mid poppies red as flame,
Or sat upon the yellow downs,
And always wish’d our life the same.

In summer, when the days were long,
We leap’d the hedgerow, cross’d the brook;
And still her voice flow’d forth in song,
Or else she read some graceful book,
In summer, when the days were long.

And then we sat beneath the trees,
With shadows lessening in the noon;
And in the sunlight and the breeze
We revell’d, many a glorious June,
While larks were singing o’er the leas.

In summer, when the days were long,
We pluck’d wild strawberries, ripe and red,
Or feasted, with no grace but song,
On golden nectar, snow-white bread,
In summer, when the days were long.

We lov’d, and yet we knew it not,
For loving seem’d like breathing then;
We found a heaven in every spot;
Saw angels, too, in all good men,
And dream’d of gods in grove and grot.

In summer, when the days are long,
Alone I wander, muse alone;
I see her not, but that old song
Under the fragrant wind is blown,
In summer, when the days are long.

Alone I wander in the wood,
But one fair spirit hears my sighs;
And half I see the crimson hood,
The radiant hair, the calm glad eyes,
That charm’d me in life’s summer mood.

In summer, when the days are long,
I love her as I lov’d of old;
My heart is light, my step is strong,
For love brings back those hours of gold,
In summer, when the days are long.
The round up this week is being hosted by Andi over at a wrung sponge. Do stop by for some wonderful selections. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!

Poetry Stretch Results - School's Out, Summer's In

This week the challenge was to write a poem about the end of school and or beginning of summer. Here's what folks are sharing.
sister AE at Having Writ give us a poem entitled Last Day.

Elaine at Wild Rose Reader shares a poem she wrote upon a teacher's retirement called Here is Her Room.

Laura Purdie Salas gives us a poem entitled Summer Souvenirs.

Gregory K. at GottaBook didn't write for this challenge, but has a poem that fits the theme, so I'm including it here. It is called Hello, Summer! -- (A Last Day of School Poem).
I've written a few haiku and some other short pieces, but I'm not too thrilled with them. Here's one I like, though it still needs work.
fireflies flashing
speaking the secret language
of love and summer
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a comment about your own end of school or summer poem and I'll add it to the list.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why I Review Books

Over at Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor has written a piece entitled Building Credibility: Eighth in a Series on Reviewing. This was, in part, prompted by recent discussions around the web about and their launch of "for-pay" blog tours for authors. I don't want to re-hash all that here, but do want to address the general issue of reviewing.

Many of the blogs in my feed reader are written by librarians and professional reviewers. I learn a lot by reading their work and am a better-informed reader because of the time and energy they put into their personal and professional sites. These are folks who review books for a living, so their goals and purposes in writing are very different from mine.

Why do I review books? I must answer this question by first telling you who my audience (or intended audience) is. I review books for teachers. I see great value in helping them find books that they can use for instruction across the curriculum. I want to highlight books that otherwise may not find their way into the classroom. I want teachers to see the value of poetry across the curriculum. So, in attempting to do this, I review books that suit this purpose. The downside to this approach to reviewing is that you aren't likely to come across reviews here that are highly critical. While I will point out the strengths and weaknesses of books I recommend, I won't highlight books that I think are problematic. My reviews also tend to discuss the instructional implications or fit of a book, something not seen in other reviews.

I am cognizant of the credibility issues that plague blogging book reviewers, and wonder if blogs like mine detract from the credibility of "real" (paid and/or professional) reviewers. I don't have an answer to that, but hope and believe that those who read TMRE regularly know who I am and what I try to do, and will recognize the value in my approach to reviewing, as different as it may be.

As a wrap-up, I suppose this is a good place for a little full disclosure.
  • I do not get paid to review books. (This is not said with any sense of haughtiness on my part or disdain for those who do get paid. There is a very real need for professional reviewers. I am not experienced enough for this, nor do I have time to take on a job of this magnitude.)
  • I do not receive money for this blog. There are no ads (paid or otherwise) and clicking links will not generate money for anyone except the Cybils. Money generated for the Cybils is for prizes for the winners.
  • I do receive free books from publishers on the order of 20 or 30 a year, though as a member of a Cybils nominating panel last fall I received far more than usual. The books I receive are put in my teaching library and used by preservice teachers in their courses, field placements and student teaching. Books I cannot use are donated to two local elementary schools for use in their libraries.
  • I am not a particularly fast reviewer. This may make me a poor investment on the part of publishers, but I promise that I do get around to reviews in good time!
  • I generally review only nonfiction and poetry. Once in a while I will review picture books or chapter books if I can find a direct connection to the teaching of math, science or social studies. Some books are reviewed here, while others appear on my other blog, Open Wide, Look Inside.
So, now that I've talked about why I review books, what say you? Why do you review books?

Age Banding Debate Rages On

Lots of folks have weighed in on the age-banding issue in the UK. Here are two particularly thoughtful responses.
Today in the Guardian Book Blog, Adele Geras has a piece entitled Age Banding Will Lead to a Two-Tier Book Trade. Here is an excerpt.

... and I did say, not too long ago in a comments box just round the corner from here, that I wouldn't say anything further on the subject.

I've changed my mind. And that's because while the educational, moral, ethical, financial and commercial reasons against this proposal are well-rehearsed, as far as I know nobody has mentioned that if the plan does go ahead, age banding will have another consequence: it will lead to a two-tier literary landscape.

The authors who sell in their zillions will not be affected because their publishers would not put an age on their covers without their consent and they have all withheld that consent. Horrid Henry, Alex Rider, Lyra, Charlie and Lola, and Harry Potter will quite rightly not submit to the system.
However, the others - those not even consulted, the less commercial, the unwary, the very new, the overlooked and the '"I don't mind either way" people - will come to be regarded as second-class literary citizens. That means that their books will stand less chance of being stocked by the chains and not more. They will suffer in terms of how seriously they are taken. A kind of literary snobbery may well creep in. Got an age range on your book? You're obviously not important enough.

She makes some compelling arguments. As we continue to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to such a practice, do take a moment to read her views.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anthropomorphic Literature

Today in the Guardian book blog, Ben Myers has a post entitled Why We're All Animal Lovers. Here is an excerpt.

Anthropomorphic literature is a sub-genre within itself, but why has it proved so endearingly popular? Why do writers feel the need to imbue animals with human characteristics? The simple answer is: because it wouldn't work any other way.
Perhaps that is anthropomorphic literature's main strength: rather than diluting ideas, it presents them in a new medium. In doing so, it broadens the readership so that books meant for adults soon find an audience with younger readers.

This is a thoughtful piece that includes reference to one of my favorite books, The Mouse And His Child by Russell Hoban. Do take a moment to read it. Then come back here and tell me what some of your favorite anthropomorphic stories were/are.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Poetry Stretch - School's Out, Summer's In

The last few days of school (K-12) are winding down here. After a half-day on Friday, summer vacation will become a reality. I've been spending a lot of time during the last two weeks planning for and dreaming about summer with my 7-year old. Boy, what dreams he has! All this talking has me thinking back to some of my own summers as a kid.

I thought it might be fun this week to write about the end of school and/or summer vacation. Select any form you like for this one and join us in a bit of a stretch. Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Visitor for Bear

Lots of folks have already reviewed this book, but there's just something about hearing Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon talk about kids books that I love. Today they talked about Bonnie Becker's book A Visitor for Bear in An Illustrated Visit to a Bear's Lair. Do give a listen if you have some time.

You can read reviews of this book at:

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Complete and Utter Failure


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

Yes, I'm stubborn, independent and put my cold feet on my husband at night to warm them. (Isn't that what he's there for?) Go on, you know you want to take the test.

Some Things to Keep You Busy

Here are some things I heard and read this week that you might enjoy.
Ursula LeGuin was this week's essayist for the series You Must Read This on NPR. She discusses Dr. Zhivago in her piece entitled Pain, Betrayal and Love in Old Russia. In it she says:
Only now do I realize how much I learned about writing a novel from Pasternak — the way a writer can leap across miles and years, so long as you land in the right place; the way accuracy of detail embodies emotion; the way that leaving more out allows you to get more in.
J.K. Rowling delivered her Commencement Address at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination is an interesting piece. As she begins, she says:
On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan shares an original by J. Patrick Lewis. It's a wonderful piece called I'm Learning to Speak English.

The latest Horn Book podcast takes listeners along for a night out in New York with Roger, Elizabeth Law (Vice President and Publisher, Egmont USA), Douglas Pocock (Executive Vice President, Egmont USA), and Newbery Medalist Richard Peck.

Poetry Friday - Home, Sweet Home!

Hello old friends. I've been lost in the whirlwind of meetings, classes and conferences this week. I've only just returned and feel like I've been out of touch for so long. I posted no poetry stretch on Monday, reviewed no books, and read no blogs. So, I am breathing a deep sigh as I sink into my chair and relish the fact that I am finally home. In honor of that feeling, I am sharing a poem by John Howard Payne.
Home, Sweet Home
by John Howard Payne

(From the Opera of "Clari, the Maid of Milan")

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there 's no place like home!
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
    Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
    There 's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain:
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly that came at my call;—
Give me them,—and the peace of mind dearer than all!
    Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
    There 's no place like home!

How sweet 't is to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home!
    Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
    There 's no place like home!

To thee I 'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there 's no place like home.
    Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
    There 's no place like home!
The round up today is being hosted by Sarah over at just another day of Catholic pondering. Do head on over and check out all the great poetry being shared. Happy poetry Friday, all!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

June Edition - Learning in the Great Outdoors

The Japanese Garden at Maymont was in full bloom last weekend. While my son and I have been spending a lot of time outdoors--walking, observing, and exploring--I've not been writing much about it. However, lots of others folks are sharing their ideas about learning out of doors. This can only mean one thing. The June edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors is here!

Worldly Travels
Last year at this time I was finishing up a trip through China, Tibet and Taiwan. This year, I'm but an armchair traveler. You can join me by reading all about this amazing trip to Nagarhole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park), Karnataka.

At A Keeper's Jackpot, take a hike through the Adirondack mountains and learn about Rock Piles, Cairns, and Ducks.

At 10,000 Birds, Charlie shares the results of two days birding in Cape Town, South Africa. All I can say is, WOW!
What's Blooming? In and Out of the Garden
The magnolia outside my office is beginning to flower. Over at Exploring the World's Trees, Dan shares some photos and information about the Southern Magnolia.

Lots of folks are thinking about their gardens these days. Laura at Laura Williams' Musings shares her thoughts on Plantin' Season Around the 'Ol Homestead.

The folks at the Parenting Squad share A Child's Vegetable Garden: Cultivating Fun, Learning and Responsibility.

Jennifer at A Passion for Nature teaches us a thing or two about the mustard plant.

Barb at the Handbook of Nature Study has a series of Green Hour Challenges. The latest challenge (#16) is on Growing Sunflowers.
Arts, Crafts, Cooking and Experiments
Have you ever wanted to make something beautiful from the things you find in your yard or garden? At Po Moyemu--In My Opinion, Sylvia describes the gourd basket she made with her daughter.

At Mama Joules, Julie shares some ideas for thinking scientifically about blowing bubbles.

Stephanie at Stop the Ride! teaches us about immature pokeweed and a shares recipe for bacon and eggs made with poke weed.
Birds, Bugs and Other Critters
Jennifer at A Passion for Nature takes us along while she helps out with some bird banding.

At Birds and Things, Tony shares thoughts on the joys of birdwatching.

John at A D.C. Birding Blog has a thoughtful review of The Young Birder's Guide by Bill Thompson.

Roberta at Weekend Science Fun shares lots of great ideas for a Critter Crawl.

Granny J. at Walking Prescott spent some time in the bayou and shares her view of Swamp Things.

Beyond the Fields We Know gives us a glimpse of a wild turkey nest with eggs.

Have the cicada colonies where you live emerged from the ground? I haven't seen or heard them here in Virginia, but Stephanie has seen them in West Virginia. Check out Every Seventeen Years for some photos and cicada info.
Outdoor Explorations
Over at the Handbook of Nature Study, Barb considers the difference between nature journals and notebooks.

What could be more fun than exploring the woods with your teacher on the last days of school? Not much! Terrell at Alone on a Limb lets us join in the explorations he shared with four very lucky students.

Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight shares the results of the May Nature Study.
That's all for this month's edition. I hope you have found some new sites to follow and enjoyed this collection. The July issue of Learning in the Great Outdoors will be hosted by Terrell at Alone on a Limb. I hope to see you all there!

**UPDATED** - Okay, it's not necessarily outdoor education, but in reading the Times this morning, I came across an article that all teachers and lovers of science should/must read. It's called Put a Little Science in Your Life. It was written by Brian Greene, a professor of physics at Columbia.