Growing like Plants

My weekly visits to R’s garden reveal many new surprises. It really is fascinating the way plants change as they grow. New additions are brought in weekly, so no part of the garden ever stays the same.

Hibiscus

My annual March Slice of life, daily writing is no different. I am amazed by what I learn, the different structures of writing, new vocabulary, the variety of feedback I receive and learn from. Like the rich soil the plants in garden receive, I have been exposed to many creative ways of writing. I have been enlightened and this is helping me develop my writing in many ways.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Stacey and the co-authors at the Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to slice daily in March, with other educators. I’m growing as a writer and my goal every year is to carry on writing with my various writing groups. My goal is also to ‘just write’ and to try and pop in to slice on Tuesdays. I appreciate this community, for nurturing and providing me with the sunshine required for my writing growth.

Crossandra

Letter to my Writers

Dear Writers,

I appreciate how well you’ve been working on your essays. I know it has not been straightforward but I can see you are all working very hard to achieve a persuasive claim.

Tomorrow, you will be working on your body paragraphs, and as you have already decided on the reasons to support your thesis statement, all you have to do is to select the evidence and examples that help expand and explain your reasons.

Our next lesson will help you select the appropriate evidence, we will also share transitional phrases that will help you truly convince your reader.

Do let me know if you need help at anytime during the next lesson. There will also be student samples and our selected mentor text available to guide you.

See you during the lesson tomorrow, come prepared to do your best writing.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Juliette

Yesterday’s slice was my thoughts about my lesson. Today I felt the need to write to my fifth grade writers.

Revision

I’ve been sitting here contemplating on what to write for my slice today.

I started a slice about my revision lesson during writing workshop and gave it up as I did not think there was much to report. When I started typing I realised I could share about the uneasiness of my students, as they had to read and revise the first draft of the claim for their persuasive essays. They wanted to carry on writing the next paragraphs of their their draft.

I asked them to spend the first few minutes reading their claim aloud to themselves to determine whether their hook, background information and thesis statement were convincing enough. Had they added reasons to expand their statement?

As I read through their first paragraph, I had questions for them. Had they thought about their audience? Who were they trying to persuade? Conferring with individuals and small groups, I drew their attention to some changes and addition to make and they had the checklist to refer to.

At the end of the lesson, I was really moved by the claims most of the students had coined. I made them aware that they had worked really hard and the work they had done was to help them understand the importance of revision.

At some point during the lesson, I questioned myself as a teacher. Was my initial mini-lesson last week, explicit enough? This is a reflection that is still churning in my head.

A Local Play

I went to watch a local play with friends last night.

This morning, I retold the whole storyline, with its themes and controversies to my sister. The play had several messages, linked to current affairs, the playwright, director always delivers with less than ten actors, also uses snippets of global incidents to connect with the general public. What he does well with in his shows is the application of lyrics from different songs, both local and foreign, to reiterate his message, during the play. The invisible, youthful band plays the selected song at the appropriate time, with the actor dancing and singing perfectly.

The power of using popular music charges the atmosphere and powers the whole theatre. The audience break into song (helping the actor relay the message) whilst jigging in their seats. I guess this is an opportunity or an unlabelled interlude for the audience to soak up the message, at the same time attaching the meaning of the lyrics to the part of the storyline. It is the playwright’s style of delivery and it works so well. He knows the audience will respond.

So the audience is pulled in by the powerful song, humor and the direct links with the part of the story. This actually draws them into the story, the interactive nature of the show reminds me of the call and response in pantomimes.

I have also got to mention the pre-play, show. When the invisible, youthful band play their version of the modern rhythmic Afro beats. This charges the theatre, sets the scene, as the audience walk in to the near perfect beats.

.

My First!

Thanks so much Leigh Anne, for the invitation to this year’s slicer writing retreat. This will be my very first writing retreat. I have been craving one since I started writing seriously. My first slicer party and my first ever writing retreat.

And now here we are, “in a cabin tucked away in a world of lush green fields surrounded by beautiful flowers blooming under blue skies and perfect temperatures.” I will be travelling to this location. I will plan this journey, flights and all. I’m glad the weather will be warm, so I will not need to find extra warm clothes.

I will bring: 

Writing tools – Different colored of sharpie pens, many pencils and my sharpener. The tiny sharpener I travel will with everywhere, lodged in my cross-body bag. I am a pencil lady and read with a pencil in hand, that’s why I like to buy most of my books, as I annotate whilst reading. My steno note books are coming with me, that is where I brainstorm and think. I will bring a few as I am hoping to organise my thoughts and be productive. I have a couple of books I have that I will tuck into my bag, they are; 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Doodling for Writers. They were all recommended by my writing friends from Teachwrite. My Laptop will be with me for looking up synonyms, some research and publishing any pieces, but writing with paper and pen will be my first choice.

Food/beverage –  I guess as I write best through the night, so a jar of my Douwe Egberts coffee will have to be tucked in there somewhere. It’s sure to keep me up for the times I write best. As I am used to my local snacks I will bring a few packets of plantain chips, for my midnight feasts, whilst writing.

Quote – “Life is such a gentle, treasured thing. I learn about it every minute. I think about it so deeply,”
by Bessie Head, a writer I have discovered recently. This resonates with me so much, especially post -Covid and looking at the world around us. As we write, we are are learning and thinking about life and our lives now.

Thanks Leigh Anne for this opportunity to write with a focus. I’m glad I am getting to meet many writers for the first time! Maybe one day there will be a ‘real writing retreat,’ somewhere warm.

Here I go again!

I really like this weekly reflection format, from Erica’s blog.

5 things that made me smile

A conversation with a student

Meeting parents face to face, at school

Discovering new information from my book

Students naming our special class plant (in my class)

Jokes at our team meeting

4 words to describe my week

Enlightening

Exhilarating

Exhausting

Hurried

3 plans for the weekend

Complete my 10km walk

Read a chapter or two

Write a chapter or two

2 things I learned this week

About Bessie Head, a South African writer

To remind myself to listen more

1 goal for the weekend

To Rest

Meet Mayo, our class plant

Time to Write

I have a few stories lined up, ready to be drafted properly and rewritten.

Like a tortoise I am writing and inching towards a manuscript or two. Whenever I have time to write many other writing pieces pull me. I actually have a schedule for writing my stories and interestingly other pieces seem to have more power and drag me away from it. Thoughts of my stories are always lingering and sometimes bothers me as I have a timeline but I’m not sure when I’ll get to the finishing line.

This evening, I thought of a new scene and will take the opportunity to write it here;

Trotting towards the mango tree, Ama and her three cronies skipped, clapping towards their daily after school meeting place.

” Pa pa papa be ba, pa pa be ba,” they sang in unison.

This was not only because they were excited but it is also a signal of their time together. It had become part of their routine, for the neighborhood adults to be aware of their arrival.

It was Nuna’s turn to choose the first game. She had a plan. She wanted Ama to win, as she had not won any game for a while. Calling the name of the members of the team, she drew Ama to her. They were planning to play a game of Ampe, when Ama suddenly heard her mother call.

“Ama bra ha!” her mother’s voice was very faint and distant.

Maame whimpered, “Ama, Ama come home now! “

Ama seemed surprised as she had left Maame cooking the evening meal. Maame did not mind Ama playing with her friends under the mango tree, there was enough shade and space for them to run around. When Ama run hurriedly, barefoot into their tiny cottage she found Maame crouched on the kitchen floor.

“Maame what’s wrong? Did you fall? How can I help?”

Ama tried to drag her up, but Maame is a heavily built woman. Ama tripped backwards, trying to help. Should I ask for help? Ama thought. She did not even wait for to answer herself and darted out to call her three friends.

“Come in all of you, hurry please, Maame has had a fall,” Ama sobbed.

They all looked frightened but rushed towards Ama and quickly found their way to the kitchen, where they found Maame bent over.

She could not lift herself up.

They held each of her hands and legs and pulled her up. Maame, with her eyes shut asked them in her feeble voice to run and call Papa from his carpentry shop. Before Ama turned Nuna and her other friends were speeding to call Papa.

They shouted,” Ama, Papa will be here soon,” and were away.

Ama quickly poured Maame some water and prayed silently for Papa to get back quickly.

Just when Ama decided to sponge Maame down, Papa entered panting and sweating profusely. With his muscular arms, he helped Maame up and asked for help from his apprentice, who had tip toed behind him to the house. Papa rushed Maame to the village clinic which was a few streets away.

Ama had tears in her eyes but was glad Maame was being taken away, to be examined by Mr. Kobo, the elderly doctor, the only doctor in the village.

Ama had many questions and always worried about how hard Maame works. This has got to be a new beginning, she was planning to encourage Maame when she felt better, to come with her to see Grandma in the neighboring village, during the school holidays.

Ama sat, chin in hand, watching her friends play, whilst she waited to hear from Papa.

She knew Maame would be well. She just believed that.

A Useful Resource

How timely it is when you are teaching a topic, and find out about an issue on the news that teaches exactly what you are trying to share with students. Our unit of inquiry at the moment is about innovation.

On the news this week, I found out about the winner of an Architecture’s highest honor that fits in perfectly with our inquiry. Students are also inventing an item and are charged to think about ways innovation impacts the development of societies. A connected line of inquiry is, ways in which innovation can change societies.

Presenting students with this Architectural genius was just the perfect way to share an authentic example. It is perfect because he comes from a country just above Ghana (where we are), so close. Some of his projects are in Burkina Faso, his home country, where the terrain is similar to Ghana.

As our students are being taken through the ‘design cycle’ by our STEAM teacher and are writing persuasive essays during writing workshop, about their innovation, sharing a real life innovator, who has won an award this month, is so timely.

Similar to going on a field trip, my students experienced some of the architect’s amazing structures around the world.

That Morning Breeze

Warm breeze

Brushes my face

Like a full feather

Satisfying

Completely needed

Here

In this warm climate.

Covers you like an

aura of mystery,

A never ending spray

of freshness,

Hits your ears as if

whispering sweet

nothings to you.

Keeps sharing

that freshness

seemingly cool

in this much

needed space,

filling the vehicle

with hope

To start the day!

Green Cane Palms, from my sister’s garden