Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Visit from George O'Connor

Charming children's book author & illustrator George O'Connor trekked out from 'the vast, dense forests of Brooklyn' to once again visit the energetic children of our elementary school.

His work first caught my attention (or rather the attention of my students) with the American Eagle superhero books Kapow! and Ker-Splash! But it seems that George has been busy since we last saw him as he now has quite a few titles under his belt.

For younger audiences there is the delightful Sally and the Some-Thing and mysterious Uncle Bigfoot. For older readers he has penned (and inked) the graphic novel inspired Journey Into Mohawk Country.

This visit consisted of two sessions. One with the our 3rd and 4th graders and another for the 1st and 2nd grade students. George read us two of his books (Sally and Bigfoot) and in between good-naturedly answered questions that sometimes pertained to his books and at others seemed way off track. Such is the mind of a child (and some adults I know).

George even gave art lessons, instructing the little ones in how to draw his characters Sally, the Some-Thing and Uncle "Bigfoot" Bernie. He is a fabulous teacher because the illustrations created by the children were terrific. Below you can find one student's renderings of...

Uncle Bigfoot


and the Some-Thing

They are pretty good, no?

As wonderful as all this is I must admit that I am beyond excited about his latest project which is in the works and will be published next spring. It is a book series entitled "The Olympians" about the Greek gods and goddesses.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog you already know of my passion for this topic. When George was visiting with the older students he even created an illustration of a young Zeus (much to my disappointment my request to display it in my classroom was shot down by our school librarian who thought it would be best to house it in the library. Am I bitter? Absolutely! - no not really Sara, you know I love ya!).

Thanks George for visiting us once again and I HOPE you will return when the first Olympian book is published. And when you do I want first dibs on the Zeus or Athena artwork you create on your visit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You Are A Wave

There is this notion, and one that I quite like, that if you are feeling the desire for some outside guidance you can simply open up a bible, randomly point to an area on the page and the words contained within will speak to your need.

I have tried this in the past and it has always been right on. It's kind of like reading a fortune cookie or your horoscope. The contexts are so broad that you can fill in the blanks to suit your needs.

Or is it?

Tonight I tried this with the writings of Joseph Campbell (Follow Your Bliss is his phrase, not mine). Good 'ol Joe - or the universe or my higher self - brought me this quote:

The eternal principle, which never was born, never will die: it is in all things: it is in you now. You are a wave on the face of the ocean.  When the wave is gone, is the water gone? Has anything happened? Nothing has happened. It is a play, a game, a dance. 

- Baksheesh & Braham

The past few weeks have seen glorious celebrations, finales, joys & challenges.  The story goes on.  Thank goodness.

When I was young I used to write to my maternal grandmother every week and she, in turn, would always faithfully write me back. I still have her letters safely tucked away with my mementos from childhood.  One particular snippet which has always stuck in my memory (for some reason) was about the innocuous task of washing windows.  I remember thinking that washing windows was the ultimate waste of time.  Windows just get dirty again.

As I grew up I began to realize that washing windows was important. Why? Because if the smallest task is considered extraneous then is it a far leap to thinking that bathing is unnecessary because you'll just get dirty tomorrow?  Or getting up for work means nothing because you'll be doing the same thing tomorrow morning?  Or paying bills, seeing friends, making love, laughing, praying, smiling, etc.  It is all important.  Perhaps not equally important but part of a universal whole that fits together to bring a sort of... completion.  

I rejoice in the prospect of waking up tomorrow and once again driving to church to sing with the choir, mediatate and give thanks for the blessings in life, to go to breakfast, to see those that I love dearly, to ride my bike, to wash my dog, to dust, to check my email, to nap, to eat dinner, to cherish, to talk to my mother and to listen to music. 

I am the wave.

I am the water.  

I am grateful to be part of the dance.

Picture from Wave by Suzy Lee.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Looks Natural, Feels Comfortable

Our nonfiction studies have been sailing along rather splendidly these past two weeks.  

The purpose of investigating nonfiction in first grade is to achieve several goals.  Our objective rests with providing our students with an introduction to features of nonfiction texts (table of contents, diagrams, glossary, index, photographs, headers, etc.) and how to navigate them (unlike fiction, this material does not require linear reading from front to back).

After immersion in the reading of a wide variety of nonfiction texts we begin to explore how to write them.  

These days, as opposed to back when I was a child, there are many, many options related to how information may be accessed. Inquiring students can still search in books or encyclopedias but today's clever lads and lasses also have access to the Internet.  And make no mistake, they learn to click and search with jaw dropping agility.  

In keeping with the thread of using all available resources we could not neglect the importance of interviewing an expert in the field. So, we invited a makeup artist to come speak with our students. Charline arrived fully prepared to 'wow' our class and deepen their understanding.  She created a PowerPoint presentation outlining the purposes of makeup (everyday use, special occasions, to create special effects, performances on the stage), tools (mascara, blush, etc.) and how to apply it.  

A Q&A followed the presentation as well as a demonstration and hands-on experimentation. Kids covered in clown makeup giggled together while others blotted on tissue paper.  All in all it was a fun, educational afternoon.  

A huge THANK YOU to Charline for exceeding our expectations (a PowerPoint!) and for sharing her time and knowledge!


Related Posts with Thumbnails