a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Saturday, October 19, 2013

in which I CELEBRATE this week

Ruth Ayres’ one little word this year is shine.  She never ceases to amaze me by the way she lives her beliefs.  Her one little word is no exception.  The CELEBRATE This Week link-up she is hosting is just one of the many ways she shines warm light into my life.  Won’t you consider linking up with us?

one.  I started this week in the company of a three-year-old.  My oldest friend (we’ve been friends since second grade, she is not old herself), her husband, and their daughter joined my husband and me at my dad’s house in Indiana for Columbus Day weekend.  I think this is obvious cause for celebration, but moments that made this extra special include A telling us to be her darling cows while she pretended to be the cow mama.  When her father complied by letting out a deep, “Moooo,” she ordered us to sound like darling cow children by using our pink voices.  Here she is sharing Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons with my dad’s partner:
two.  Yesterday I had to give my students their third district common assessment for language arts this school year.  But since this is about celebration, I won’t dwell on that issue.  It is simply significant to note because following the multiple choice style beatdown, we shifted the energy in the room by having what Ruth calls in her newest book, Celebrating Writers, a ‘Silent Celebration.’ 

I mounted student poems on large sheets of butcher paper.  These were scattered around the room in a ‘Gallery of Poetry.’  Each student chose a fun colorful pen.  Mozart played softly in the background.  I briefly set the stage with a tightrope visual, discussing comments that offer the kind of strong support I expect and the lenses through which students might respond (as a human, as a reader, as a writer).  Students moved around the room, visiting each others’ words, offering celebratory responses. 

At the end of class, I heard evidence of the power of celebration in the words of my students as they walked out of the classroom:
“Class flew by today.  I hate when class is so good and it is over too quickly.” 
“I didn’t know people would think these things about my poem.”
“These comments are like food in word form.  I feel full.”
“I should’ve just put my name on my poem.  I had no reason to worry about what people would say.”
“I had no idea D could write like that.  His poem was amazing.”
They had already forgotten the 45 minutes spent bubbling in answers. 

three.  This week is ending with freshly groomed pups at my side, the last Chicago FIRE soccer game (complete with hopes for making the playoffs) on the television, warm pumpkin seeds straight from the oven, and words on the page (thanks to Ruth and Terje for nudges to find joy this week).


  1. You always touch me with your writing and today you went straight for my heart. Thank you for noticing little things that mean so much. I love the way you combat mandated tests with a writing celebration. Awesome!
    Shine on,

  2. I love your "Poetry Gallery" celebration. "These comments are like food in word form. I feel full." Love that and it is so true.

  3. Like Leigh Anne, I loved, loved, loved the poetry gallery. I want to try it this week!

  4. Love the Mozart playing as your students walked around the gallery enjoying each other's words! Their comments gave me goosebumps!

  5. "Pink voice moo" is just too funny.
    You are clever and caring to have the poetry gallery after the testing. This is personal and powerful and so much more meaningful than any bubble test.
    I am glad that you wrote. Read you again on Tuesday?

  6. Such fun words surround you, from pink moos to comments are like food (which is so true). Sounds like sheer coziness for the evening. I am watching and waiting for your next post. :-) I'm with Terje, see you Tuesday?

  7. As we know, those comments mean so much, & your response to combat the 'bubbles' was so right. Also love hearing about your visitors and those pink cow voices!

  8. Christy,
    So much to celebrate! I enjoyed hearing the words of your students after celebrating the work of their classmates. (Since this a celebration post I won't ask why you've had to already give THREE common assessments. **wink wink**) Students seemed to appreciate having their friends commenting on their work. I had to smile about the "words like food" comment. All worth celebrating!


  9. Your passion for true literacy shouts from your celebrations. The student comments are precious nuggets to hold on to. I look forward to hearing about another celebration in the future.
    Pink moos - aren't kids so imaginatively fun. Glad to hear you had some time to enjoy friends and relaxation.

  10. "Darling cow children." Wish you could capture that so we could spray around the classroom. Even if that wasn't enough to inspire creativity, it would be enough to make me smile.

  11. I have so missed your voice. Who but you would think to have a poetry celebration after testing. A wonderful, in-your-face-testing, here's what we really do way to celebrate.

    Don't stop celebrating. Don't stop believing (no, I'm not a Journey song), Don't stop sharing your world.