National Secondhand Wardrobe Day–Imagine a Life

Imagine a LifeHere is how the National Calendar Day website describes National Secondhand Wardrobe Day:

There is nobody who does not like to save money and today is a good day to do just that.  National Secondhand Wardrobe Day is observed each year across the United States on August 25.

The practicality and thriftiness of second-hand shopping in today’s economy, its earth-saving benefits as well as donating some of your own slightly worn clothing is what National Secondhand Wardrobe Day is all about.

And it’s true. Shopping second-hand stores is one of my and my hubby’s favorite recreational activities. We’ve saved a lot of money (and I have purchased some of my most complimented wardrobe items) just this way. In addition to saving money on things you need, however, second-hand stores, both those featuring just clothing and those of a more general nature, can provide great fodder for pursuing your goals, creating characters and worlds, and exercising your imaginative skills.

Imagine a Life

Think beyond the question of who am I? In “The Career Mindset Comes Before the Writing Career”, author Jamie Raintree discusses how acting “as if” can help you reach your goals. Who do you want to be? What do you want to be? Browsing through the racks of a secondhand store can help make your vision for your life more concrete and the outfit that matches your goals more affordable.

Imagine a WorldImagine a Character

Are you working on a novel or a story? Who is your main character? How does he or she dress? What colors does they character like? What might he or she have sitting around their homes? What one object does your character treasure? What one object is symbolic of your character? Of his or her goal?

Browsing a thrift store (and maybe making a purchase or two) exposes you to a wider range of fashions and accessories than any retail store ever will. (And if you are looking for even more out of this world ideas–October secondhand stores are awesome!)

If you don’t want to buy it, jot down a description in a notepad or text it to yourself. Snap some pictures with your phone. Add these to your character file.

Family Field Trip

Second-hand stores are great places for a fun outing. Give each of your children a few dollars and head out second-hand shopping. Tell them there is just one rule for how they can spend their money–they must be able to make up a story to share with the family in which their purchase plays a major role.

After the outing, sit down together–maybe over lunch or a snack–and each of you share what you bought and tell it’s “story”.

Literacy Field Trip

Follow the same procedure as the Family Field Trip, but when you get home, ask you children to write the story of their purchase (and you do the same–modeling is very important in teaching and learning). Encourage your family to illustrate their stories if you wish.

If you and your family have been engaging in literacy activities or will continue to do so in the future, start a “book” of family stories. A three-ring binder works great. Date the stories and put them in the binder. Encourage your children to add stories whenever they want.

Now, Go Boldly Forth & Shop!

Have fun, enjoy National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, but don’t limit yourselves, and when you come home, use the response section below to tell about your purchase or record your story!

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Teacher’s File Drawer: Summer Back-to-School Poetry Unit

Pug w SunglassesMy favorite unit I’ve ever done with my students is a Summer Vacation Poetry unit. I liked that it was different from the usual “write an essay about your summer vacation,” that it allowed us to play around with poetry, and that working with poetry is a great way to build students’ word choice skills.

The length of time it ran varies from year to year, depending on how many types of poetry I want the students to try, and the final product was a hand-crafted book of poems.

STEP ONE

To begin the unit, I had kids get out pen and paper and brainstorm the things they enjoyed doing during their summer. (I usually timed this: 1-3 minutes depending on the needs of the class.)

Next, I had them circle three that they are most interested in writing about.

STEP TWO

The next time we worked, I asked the students to choose one item from the three circled on their list around which to focus their poetry.

I also introduce the various techniques of poetry. I used this handout for the lesson.

Summer Techniques of Poetry Notetaking Guide

At the end of the lesson, I discuss how these can also be used for mood and emphasis in prose writing.

STEP THREE, FOUR, FIVE, ETC…

At a rate of two forms a day, I introduced different forms for poetry and require the students to write a poem using at least one of them relating to their chosen summer activity.

Some of the forms I’ve used over the years are:

  • Haiku
  • Tanka
  • Acrostic (using the name of the destination or activity)
  • Diamante
  • Couplets
  • Quatrains
  • Free Verse
  • Concrete
  • Farewell Poem
  • List Poem
  • Letter/Post Card/Wish You Were Here Poem
  • A Sensory Poem (using at least 4 of the 5 senses to describe a particular object or moment

The number of options is tremendous!

For each form, I modeled a poem of my own from my summer vacation experience.

I did this as a writers workshop, and so during our writing time, while students are required to try one of the new forms, they were also welcome to try the other new one, one from a previous day, or revise their poems working in some of the techniques of poetry.

STEP FOURTH TO THE LAST

Finally, I asked the students to select 8 poems they wish to incorporate in their books. (Of course, they were always welcome to select more if they want to. This day is then spent selecting and revising each poem, focusing especially on word choice and the techniques of poetry.

STEP THIRD TO THE LAST

On this day, I had students pair up to peer edit their selected poems.

STEP SECOND TO THE LAST

With plenty of art materials on hand, I shared a book with the class, Making Books That Fly, fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, and Turn by Gwen Kiehn, which has examples of a variety of ways to make their books. (You can likely find books like this in your school library and most assuredly online.)I encouraged them to consider a way that most interests them and welcome to use their own ideas as well.

I allowed a couple of class sessions for the students to make their poetry books

FINAL STEP

I instruct the students to write me a letting including the following criteria:

Paragraph 1

  • The strengths and weakness you see in your poetry
  • The title of your favorite poem and the reason it is your favorite

Paragraph 2

  • Explain your understanding of:
  • Types of poetry
  • Techniques of poetry
  • Cite examples from your own book.

Paragraph 3

  • An explanation of what was the easiest and the hardest part of writing your poetry
  • An explanation of how you helped yourself to overcome your challenges

In addition to the letter, I also ask them to staple together (and label) a copy of their pre-writes, drafts, and evidence of revision and editing.

SCORING

In addition to scoring using the school’s standards for scoring writing (which count for 40% of the score.)

I also scored for:

Preparation

  • Pre-writes (5)
  • Rough Drafts (5)
  • Evidence of Revision and editing (5)

The Book

  • Title (2)
  • Table of Contents (2)
  • Creativity (2)
  • Color (2)
  • Illustrations/Graphic Elements(2)

Writing

Your school or districts writing rubric = 40% final score

The Letter

  • Discussion of Strengths (4)
  • Discussion of Weaknesses (4)
  • Most Proud/Why (4)
  • Mastery of Types (3)
  • Mastery of Techniques (3)
  • Conventions (2)
  • Examples Cited (3)
  • Discussion of what was Easiest (4)
  • Discussion of what was Hardest (4)
  • How you handled the challenges

The total of points will come out to x/100. You can then apply the percentage to whatever you want this unit to be worth.

THE RESULTS

First of all this unit was fun. (A great way to start the year.)

Second, each poetry book was totally unique to each student. (A great way to begin to get to know your class.)

Third, word choice skills are highlighted as well as the rhetorical skills in the techniques of poetry that students can draw on in their writing throughout the year.

Fourth,the  writing process has been established and practiced.

Fifth, the results were a delight to read.

Debby Zigenis-Lowery’s Literate Lives Blog: What’s My Purpose Here?

Litlives Purpose

Last spring, a dear friend and I talked about Literate Lives and just what I was trying to do with this blog. She helped me come up with a list of improvements and clarifications then asthma and allergies knocked me flat before I could implement them.

This summer, as in previous years, I have been working to rejuvenate Literate Lives, and I hope and pray I have come up with reasonable goals and a doable schedule for the blog that I can sustain for you, my readers, during the coming school year.

But back to the title question: What is my purpose here? Why am I investing time and energy in Literate Lives at all? Why do I feel compelled after each of my “fails” at consistent blogging to try to get Literate Lives up and running once more?

The Purpose of Literate Lives

The purpose of this blog is four-fold. It is about friendship, encouragement, celebration and giving.

Friendship First

I want Literate Lives to be the friend you find in your inbox, the “new post” alert that makes you smile. One of my main purposes in creating Literate Lives is to connect with others, but not just anyone! I love to read and write, and I want to connect with others who likewise value these practicesl and care about the development of these practices in the lives of young people.

Encouragement

One of my favorite things to do, despite my introvert tendencies, is to encourage others. As a wife and mother I love encouraging my spouse, children, extended family, and friends. As a teacher, I love helping students discover that they know more than they think they know and can do more than they think they can do. And as a fiction writing critique partner, I love directing my colleagues attention to what is going well in their work.

Here at Literate Lives, I want to encourage you, my readers, to read and write, to experiment and play with words, and help others expand their reading and writing skills. I want to give you the permission you may find hard to give yourself to invest time and attention in these pursuits and bring you information that supports the value of these practices.

Celebration

Here at Literate Lives, I want to celebrate the joys and benefits of a reading/writing lifestyle. I want to celebrate authors whose books have enriched my life. I want to celebrate the actions you take to build your own Literate Life, and that of your students or family, and share with you my delights.

Last, I want to Give

So many people have given so graciously to me in my personal, teaching, and writing life, that I burn with a desire to give also.

What do I want to provide for readers of Literate Lives?

  • book recommendations
  • fun and interesting writing exercises
  • home literacy practices
  • ideas for expanding and developing not just the practices of reading and writing, but the roles of thinking and creativity in our lives and those of young people.
  • language arts lessons and tips
  • my experiences pursuing a reading writing lifestyle
  • ways to make reading and writing fun for you and your family
  • writing craft tips

I love reading, writing, and teaching, and I want this to be a place to celebrate these practices and to give something of value back to the reading, writing, teaching world.

What About You?

What do you hope to find here at Literate Lives? How can I be your friend?

*background for image courtesy of Depositphotos_91248272_original_vect

July 2016: My Reading List

This month, I read three, almost four books (but I didn’t finish the fourth until August 3rd, so, much as I loved it, it will have to wait until next month.)

My Reading List

13144870Eva of the Farm by Dia Calhoun: This book was loaned me by a friend because it is written in verse and I am working on a novel in verse. This is a sweet book about a girl, her family, and their struggling farm, and how poetry enriches their lives.

572584Stealing Fire From the Gods by James Bonnet: This is an interesting book that takes a look at story structure, archetypes, and the heroes journey and proposes a new story model based on some of the great stories of all time.

4537The Second Mrs. Giaconda by E.L. Konisburg: I love Konisburg’s historical novels. (A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver is my all time favorite.) This novel focuses on Leonardo DaVinci’s years in Milan and his relationship with his young apprentice Salai and the  Duke of Milan’s externally plain, but internally beautiful young wife. My only complaint about the book is that it ended too abruptly.

Your Reading List

What books did you or your family enjoy this month? And did you find some delightful locations in which to enjoy them?

Please, comment below. I’d love to see your suggestions.