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The Homework Folder

Daily & Semi-Daily Homework

Teaching a student to use a 2-pocket homework folder labeled on the inside “Homework to Do” and “Homework to Turn In” is a vital step in materials management and homework completion.

For students using a three ring binder, a clear homework folder should be purchased and placed in the front of the binder so it is the first thing that is seen.  Staples typically carries these kinds of folders in-store, but not online (as of 2020).

I like the clear plastic folders because students can easily see the work inside.  Work that needs to capture their attention can placed face-up in the left pocket for immediate visibility.  

If the student is using more than one binder for class, he or she should have a homework folder for each binder.

For students using an accordion filer, the first two file pockets in the front of the filer should be designated for homework to do and homework to turn in.

I am not a fan of accordion filers for students past K-5, as they tend to become a catch-all and cause the student to spend too much time looking for the necessary handouts.  In my nearly 15 years working specifically with ADHD students, and those with executive functioning challenges, the accordion filer spells disaster. 

For younger students, however, an accordion filer can be suitable for teaching organization and making sure papers stay put, especially since K-5 students don’t have as many handouts to manage, but students should transition to a 3-ring by middle school.

Longer-Term Projects

I like the clear zip or snap pocket filers designed for 3-ring binders for storing projects that require a variety of handouts. 

Rubrics, blank calendars or long-term project planners I encourage students to keep in clear 3-hole sheet protectors as they do exactly that, protect sheets that will need to be referred to over and over for awhile!

Keeping this work separated from the daily homework and other handouts will help the student manage the many papers that can be associated with long term projects.

Help! I’ve Caught the Bitmoji Classroom Bug!

Which, all things considered, is definitely less problematic than catching another bug that is currently rewriting reality, but I may have to stage an intervention soon because Bitmoji classrooms are honestly turning out to be a little too fun, and I didn’t think I would say that about anything in 2020!

I continue to find silver linings in the current state of the world as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic which has altered each of our lives in numerous ways for better and worse. It might be possible that the teacher of the year will indeed be nature, in the guise of a virus, here to show us just how out of alignment we are on both the micro and macro levels, from our relationships with ourselves and with others, to our relationships with social institutions and the earth.  For certain, there is serious work to be done. But I believe within that work are spaces for joy and play, and it’s my hope that we can find the expansiveness this moment, and every moment, demands so that we may grow in the right directions.

While parents, students, and teachers await word from their districts and individual schools on what the year will look like, we teachers are learning more and more about powerful technologies that can best serve our students in a virtual environment and make learning (and teaching) creative, expansive and fun!

Thanks to one of my close friends, a special education teacher, I have been whisked into the world of the Bitmoji classrooms! Aaaand… I can’t stop creating them.

Linked here is my Bitmoji room designed for teachers, parents, and students needing movement exercises and information to help with the handwriting process. Let me know what you think!

I will be publishing more resources soon for handwriting help!

In the meantime, here is the corresponding handout I created with all the exercises and links to OT resources and articles, including those not in the Bitmoji room: Proprioceptive Exercises for Handwriting

Stay tuned for access to more of my Bitmoji learning spaces and more on how parents and teachers can encourage reluctant writers to use this application to create book reports, lab reports, memoirs, and more!

Wishing you ease, friends!

Great Poetry Books for Kids of All Ages

As a poet and literacy teacher, I am always on the lookout for great books of poetry as well as poetically written stories that encourage kids to explore and play with language.  Poetry is the perfect way to teach phonological awareness, and wordplay is beneficial for all students, but especially those who are diagnosed with language learning disorders.

Check out these resources at your local library or bookstore for use at home or in the classroom!  All of these books have been selected for their wonderful poetry and visual art.

Most can be used for teaching broad language skills such as phonological awareness and phonics.  I’ve included target grade levels for each.

Great Poetry Books for Kids (Young & Old!)

I have used this book of poetry for years in my teaching. It’s a delightful collection of all kinds of poems (including some great concrete & personification poems) organized by theme.  Meilo So’s watercolor illustrations are a wonderful accompaniment.  This is a must-have for any bookshelf at home or school! Grades 2-12

 

A gorgeous book of onomatopoeic words that appear alongside wintry scenes that convey the light and wonder and expansiveness of winter.  K-12

 

 

 

Humorous poems for kids who live in the city by renowned poet X.J. Kennedy.  My fourth and fifth graders got a kick out of many of these poems, especially the ones about school.  3-6

 

 

 

 

Wonderful rhymes with a sports theme from Jack Prelutsky.  Humor and hijinks meet on and off the field.  A great way to get the sports lover involved (and maybe in love!) with poetry! 2-6

 

 

Excerpts from poems and shorter poems that can be copied on a piece of paper for handwriting practice and placed in your pocket.  Organized by theme. 2-8

 

 

 

 

 

A children’s book about renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who wrote many gorgeous poems, and a few funny ones, like his Ode to My Socks!  3-8

 

 

 

I love this book for its art and simple rhymes that reinforce long vowel patterns.  K-5

 

 

 

 

 

Lions and tigers and similes, oh my!  What a fantastic book for learning about similes!  The art is wonderful too–what you can do with the shape of a heart! K-3

 

 

A fabulous book full of similes and alliteration.  Perfect for teaching long vowel teams & rhyme.  K-5

 

 

 

This book of haiku is a modern-day compilation of 19th-century Japanese poet Issa Kobayashi’s work that teaches about the cycle of life.  Each poem is accompanied by lovely illustrations that show the year in the life of one family.

 

 

 

 

 

There is a reason why poet Joyce Sidman’s book won so many awards, notably the 2010 Caldecott Medal.  Each color is personified and does sing from page to page through word and image.  Pamela Zagarensky’s illustrations are whimsical and perfect for each poem.  This is a must-read for teachers of poetry, a model of what great poetry for youth can be.

 

 

 

 

 Not a poetry book, but a fun romp of rhyme and mischief with a little mouse who makes a big mess in someone else’s house!  My student and I turned the lines in this story into a rap.  It has great rhythm and rhyme!  Perfect for repeated readings to build fluency.  K-3

 

 

 

This book is an onomatopoeic pull down the tracks with the rhythm of a train moving clackety-clack!  Consonant blends, inflected and derivation endings, rhyme–this book has it all for the student working on broad language skills.  K-3+

 

 

 

 

A simple story perfect for spring puddle stomping! Lots of repetition to practice simple short vowel phonograms like -at, -ip and -op, consonsant blends and rhyme. K-3


Writing Opportunities for Youth

Check out these offerings!

The Richard Hugo House  (Seattle)

Teen Ink: Literary Journal for Teens (online)

Stone Soup: Stories, poems, and art by children ages 8-13 (online)


Goodbye Adrienne Rich

We lost a great poet last month.  Adrienne Rich has been a constant source of inspiration and challenge to me as a writer for almost two decades.  Her poems I turn to time and again, finding there a way to comprehend the world and myself anew.

While I wrestle sometimes with the feeling of poetry’s futility in our complex world, it takes such a reminder–loss–to remember the potential of a poem, the difference a person and her art can make.

What Kind of Times Are These

By Adrienne Rich

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.
I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

“What Kind of Times Are These”. © 2002, 1995 by Adrienne Rich, from The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 by Adrienne Rich.Used by permission of the author and W.W. Norton, Inc.Source: Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1995)

Thank you, Adrienne, and all women and men who share their visions and make art possible.

Mindful of the World


Image Hook, 2020

“I look at the bird before me and imagine how it senses the world, how it feels breathing cold air, how it feels to have its feathers ruffling in the wind, how it feels to always have an eye out for possible food and possible predators. The bird sees me and is a nanosecond from flying off, but it stays. Why? By imagining the life within, the bird I am seeing is alive, no longer a shape and its parts, but a thinking, sentient being, always on the brink of doing something. By feeling the life within, I am always conscious that all creatures have personalities, and so do trees and clouds and streams. To feel the life within, I now imagine myself as the bird that is looking at me. I imagine its wariness, the many ways it has almost died in its short life. I worry over its comfort and safety, and whether I will see my little companion the next day, the next year. To feel the life within is to also feel grief in the goneness of a single creature or an entire species. Imagination is where compassion grows.”

Amy Tan

What’s in your Pocket?

Here’s hoping it’s a poem that pulls at you all day.  If you’ve not yet found one, take a moment, press pause, and sit with a poem before you rush off to life’s next very important calling.

Here’s my pick:

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back       may you

open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

–Lucille Clifton, from quilting, poems 1987-1990

Find poems at The Poetry Foundation, The Writer’s Almanac