Off-The-Page Artwork by Caldecott Winner, David Wiesner

 

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 6.17.43 AM.png
The thought that he was implying violence to a naturalist by drawing glasses lying on the ground near open cages and free crickets made illustrator David Wiesner smile.

“That makes me smile. David Wiesner explained the effect of critics in a blog, “The Beginning“(Wiesner, 2020). 

This account is left right there. That is all Wiesner has to say about it. “That makes me smile”; a four-word phrase that implies quite the opposite of violence…

Unless, the implication was to stimulate a “violence of thought”; Not “violent thoughts”; But, thinking so transformative, so life-altering, so paradigm-shifting as to be jarring–to clash with the cognitive systems already set up, that are comfortable and familiar. 

The beauty, the magic of Wiesner’s work is that it raises more questions than answers. Why does the criticism of his very first professional art assignment cause him to smile? Did David Wiesner smile the moment he learned of people’s misgivings about his illustration? This statement is written in the first person present. Is he still smiling? Is this a constant source of laughter? What kind of smile is it? Condescending? Amusement? Bemusement? I can picture Wiesner’s emotions evolving through many smiles.

David_Wiesner_2011.jpg
David Wiesner
Author/Illustrator

Why do we smile? We are told to smile. I tell my students to smile. My thinking has been that a reason for smiling will surface once you have begun. If we wait for a reason, it may never arrive. Jumpstart the happiness by raising the corners of your mouth. Smiling can be an act of violence, especially, when you don’t feel like it. You are waging war on your soul. 

David Wiesner’s smile is a metaphor for this picture, drawn in 1979 for the table of contents of the September Cricket Magazine of that year. It was his first commissioned artwork. He had all summer to produce it. I bet at the end, after Trina Schart Hyman praised his work, he removed his spectacles, free to smile at his accomplishment. Having just graduated art school the spring before, David didn’t plan to enter the world of children’s literature. Like a cricket, chirping in the corner of the room, it beckoned him.


I first stumbled across David Wiesner when my daughter Scarlet became enamored with frogs. We found the book “Tuesday” (1991) in a used book store. We were drawn to the text by the beautiful cover. This tale of frogs flying through town, managing mayhem and inspiring mystery, was an instant favorite. We “read” it over and over. The word read is in quotes because this is a wordless book. 

bef4859ec8b61e61257b341891c27f98.jpgAt first Scarlet and I were attracted to the artwork and frogs, but as we reread it, many more meaningful lessons were uncovered. How do you “read” a wordless book? I spoke to my emergent reader about what was happening in the images. We took turns asking each other questions and pointing out phenomena. We celebrated one another’s surprises: “Did you see this?!” How many “Oh my goodness-es” were uttered?

The “goodness” is that each reading was a goldmine of conversation between a daddy and his daughter. The lack of text makes the illustrations more open to reader-interpretation. The artwork lies somewhere between realistic and animation, just like the story line. Scarlet and I discussed how plausible it was for frogs to fly. The frog faces show expressions. How much do frogs feel or think? They seem to operate a remote control for a television in one picture. Do you think frogs could do that? Would they want to? 

I use “Tuesday” in my third grade classroom to introduce the reading strategy, Questioning. It is the second day, and I have students write down questions while I page through the illustrations. We discuss the students’ questions along with how important “questioning” is, as a reading strategy. I am still finding details in the artwork that I hadn’t noticed before.

  • BIBLIO: Reprint, 2011, Clarion Books, $6.54
  • REVIEWER: Matt Weimann
  • FORMAT: Picture Book
  • ISBN-10: 0395870828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395870822

Three_little_pigs_-_the_wolf_lands_in_the_cooking_pot_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15661.jpg
A 1905 illustration of the pigs doing away with the wolf makes it look like one of the pig’s feet is stepping out of the story.

A book that I use later in the year that David Wiesner also wrote/illustrated is “The Three Pigs” (2001). This one may have text, but the storyline is much more dependent on the artwork, thus awarding it the Caldecott Medal of Honor. The three pigs discover a way to escape the mean wolf through completely exiting their story altogether! They then explore a parallel universe of nursery rhymes where they find a few other lost souls. The three pigs help extricate the characters in peril from their tales. 

How do you explain “Out-of-the-box thinking” to youths? Share with them this “Out-of-the-book story” by David Wiesner. Practice the art of thinking this way by “rescuing” a character from a different book. Students could draw comics to illustrate what could happen if a character stepped out of their story to explore the outer world. 

Another use of this thinking is to teach the uses of literary parameters. An author sets up “givens” that help readers interpret actions in a story. Readers won’t be happy if halfway through a story, the historical fiction narrative completely changes to science fiction, with aliens visiting from outer space. Even with our three little fugitive pigs, the illustrations and ideas are consistent throughout the book. They can visit other stories, but they don’t become microscopic and fall through the atoms of matter. In order for there to be “Out-of-the-box thinking” there must actually be a box

Information about other texts by award-winning author/illustrator, David Wiesner can be found on the “Bookshelf” page of his website. 

  • “I Got It!” (2018)
  • “Fish Girl” (2017)
  • “Spot” (2015)
  • “Mr. Wuffles!” (2013)
  • “Art & Max” (2010)
  • “Flotsam” (2006)
  • “Sector 7” (1999)
  • “June 29, 1999” (1992)
  • “Hurricane” (1990)
  • “Night of the Gargoyles” written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Wiesner (1994)
  • “Free Fall” (1988)
  • “The Loathsome Dragon” retold by David Wiesner and Kim Kahng (1987)

 

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 6.20.34 AM.png
Take off the artificial lenses and see the world through cricket eyes.

I leave you with this thought: The more mature a writer becomes, the less drawing fills his/her pages. A five-year-old only draws. Teachers instruct youths to add text. We get children to provide words to describe the settings they see in their minds. Develop character traits through actions. What word choice will perfectly convey the mood and theme of your story? Are we capturing and boxing up these young minds by teaching away the artwork? Perhaps the cages from David Wiesner’s illustrations at the start of this blog were setting the crickets free. Artwork is the music for text penned and sung. Let’s help our crickets sing their song.

 

Sources

Wiesner, D. (2020). Bookshelf. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from https://www.hmhbooks.com/wiesner/bookshelf.html 

Wiesner, D. (2020). The Beginning. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from http://www.davidwiesner.com/work/the-beginning/ 

 

Pedagogical Easter Eggs

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.25.20 AM.png
Search “Easter Egg” on Youtube.

If you search “Easter Eggs” in youtube, you might get some videos of kids running around a field, but more likely your server will be flooded with videos of people sharing stuff that is seemingly hidden in movies. When I was a kid, I remember people going crazy about seeing ghosts mysteriously appear in a few frames of a movie. Supposedly, you weren’t intended to see this, which made it all the more creepy!

Easter eggs are different, in that they are apparently purposefully hidden by directors, illustrators, etc so that cult-like movie-watchers will find them. Could this just be an excuse for watching a well-liked film an otherwise abnormal number of times? Perhaps. And, maybe the producers of these films are aiming to foster this kind of multi-watching phenomena. 

Interestingly, the term may have come from one of the most cult-producing movies of all time: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. According to Urban Dictionary, the guests/prisoners of an alien home participate in a completely random Easter Egg hunt. When the characters fail to find many of the hidden eggs, they appear later on throughout the movie. Viewers enjoy looking for the literal Easter Eggs, which spurred the use of the term for hidden items in films. 

IMG_5411.JPG
It was a “BowtieTuesday” when I taught this lesson.

Easter Eggs in Teaching

The reason all of this came to mind is that I was teaching a lesson that had Easter Eggs in it, and I thought this was a neat pedagogy to explore. What if teachers purposefully hid learning experiences inside lessons, so that students would have to go back and find them? 

My school district is working hard to introduce computer science in elementary school. We used a grant to buy some SpheroEdu kits. A team of teachers was formed. Instructors were brought in to train us in the world of coding. We brainstormed and planned how we might share this information with our district’s students. Each of the teachers on this “tech team” tried out the lessons in our own classrooms, and now we are sharing them with all of the 4th and 5th grade students of the district.

I just taught lesson 1; This is the one that had the Easter Egg. The tech team built a slideshow in the Pages app that could function as an independent or whole-group teaching tool. The “pages” (slides) walk students through some instructions on how to use Pages, what is expected, and how to complete the lesson. We chose to use the Pages app, because it forces students to learn a tool on their iPad that they may not be familiar with. Also, it has an easy to use drawing tool. 

IMG_2777.JPG
Students practice using Sequencing Commands

The lesson requires students to move some images, arranging them on a grid. Paired kids, sitting back to back, take turns using “Sequencing Commands” (the object of the lesson) to get their partners to draw a path on an empty grid. Once done, the two partners compare their screens. Would the path land on the squares that images are resting on? They are to take screenshots of their work and a picture of their partner’s grid. This way, they can put the two images side by side to evaluate accuracy. Part of their reflection is to analyze what could have helped them use fewer commands. Also, is there a better route for collecting the images?

Easter Egg Time

As it turned out, moving the images was not exactly easy. It works well to first tap the image, and then touching the very middle of it, you drag it onto the grid. If you don’t get the middle, you’ll enlarge it. “Undo” is our best friend!Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 7.20.34 AM.png

If kids click on the text that is near the images, it becomes “active” and covers the images. When this occurs, there is no way to get to the images to move them! Oh no!!! 

Here is your Easter Egg for the lesson: Students must “Unlock” the text box. Then they can “Arrange” the order of objects, placing the text box behind the images. Now, the image may be accessed again. Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 7.25.38 AM.png

Questions for student reflection:

  1. Why would you want to “Lock” an object or text box? 
  2. Why is it important to know how to “Arrange” the order of items on a page? 

Impressive Learning

This Easter Egg was only found because a student let go of an image too soon. He was getting ready to drag an image up to the grid, but stopped right over the text box. Oops! When he couldn’t figure out how to get to the image, he brought his iPad to me, and we worked on gaining access, again. I then showed the classroom STEM teacher whom I was partnering with on the lesson. I wanted him to know how to remedy this kind of problem if it came up again. 

Something that struck me in that moment was the idea of teachers thinking that they have to have all of the wrinkles ironed out before doing a lesson. Guess what. More often than not, you will create a new wrinkle when you carefully iron out a potential problem. Perhaps locking that text box was thought to help students grab the images and not the text box. But, it ended up covering the image and preventing us from getting to it!

I thought of a way to remedy this for future lessons: make the text part of an image, along with the grid, that is the background for the slide. Then images cannot go behind it. But, then again…

Nooooooooo! Don’t fix it at all! Leave it as is, and even show earlier finishers of the lesson this problem. Here is an Easter Egg in the lesson. See if you can figure out how to solve the problem. Then these kiddos could help anyone who comes across this problem in the future. 

I leave you with this: How can you build Easter Eggs into your lessons? How could you purposefully plan problems that students may not find, but that could give them something to chew on, enriching the learning experience? 

Happy Easter… All year round!Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 6.21.57 AM.png

The Superpower of Naming Things

IMG_8933
My right eye: Can you see the tiny mole?

I have a small bump under my right eyelid. I’ve always had it, but didn’t notice it until a few years ago.  

What is it? Many people have these kinds of tiny bumps on their faces. Sometimes, but not always, they have some color to them. Some people are famous for them. Cindy Crawford’s is iconic (Brolley, n.d.). Did you know that kids can buy these and stick them on their faces? How many movies have teenagers using markers to add them?

My mom called them “beauty marks”. She had many. She was beautiful. She assumed beauty. We recognized it as such. 

The truth about beauty marks” (Brolley, n.d.) explains that they are all technically moles, but the ones on a person’s face are sometimes referred to as “beauty marks.” This incredibly interesting article discusses some historical facts about our beautiful little bumps. Shakespeare had a thing for them, for one. Did you know that beauty marks have been politically active? And, they are not dangerous… just scandalous… if you were to travel back in time to the 18th century, Great Britain. Be careful, Doctor Who!

What struck me, though, is that simply renaming… branding something differently, completely alters your perception of it. “Mole” doesn’t sound nearly as attractive as “beauty mark”. I witnessed this superpower of renaming first hand when I helped my daughter Scarlet re-see her handicap of hearing impairment as a “superpower”. 

IMG_0206
Scarlet shares reasons she would use her superpower to a crowd of 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders.

At the beginning of last year, when Scarlet was beginning first grade, she voiced frustration in the fact that she did not get to experience recess the same way her peers did. When rain was imminent or it was drizzling out, Scarlet was kept inside because it is important that her hearing equipment not get wet. 

Recess is a big deal to an elementary-age kid, and Scarlet liking school and being happy is a big deal to me, so I put my mind to this challenge. The winning idea was to spin Scarlet’s struggle into a positive point of view. Yes, she would have to forgo some fun, but she can do something that no one else can; She may not have the same recess as her peers, but she DOES have a superpower!

The moment I named Scarlet’s hearing impairment a superpower, she became proud of herself and her situation. I previously wrote about a cute story of her telling a dentist “It’s Okay, I Have A Superpower” just before she used it to NOT hear the loud air pump he was about to turn on. The success of this experiment led us to compose a little children’s book, “Scarlet’s Superpower”. 

The experience of publishing our story lead to a school contacting us about sharing our “super message” with its students. Beaver River Central Elementary School in upstate New York was launching a “Literacy Celebration”, and they invited Scarlet and I to help them kick it off. They were attracted to our tale because they were using a superhero theme to celebrate literacy. Their slogan was “I’m a reader, what’s your superpower?” 

IMG_6956.JPG
Daddy/Daughter team of presenters; This was so much fun!

In the same way calling a mole a beauty mark readjusts one’s perception of it, this school district was telling its students that readers are super powerful. Here’s a wild fact: Cindy Crawford considered surgically removing her facial mole! Had she done that, who knows whether she would have achieved the stardom she has? The fact is that we don’t always appreciate our greatest gifts. What if Superman wanted to get a little cobweb off of the ceiling, and ended up flying right through the roof! Oh, man! I hope the home owner’s insurance covers that! 

IMG_4150.JPG
Look at the faces of students listening to Scarlet!

Kidding aside, viewing reading as a superpower is a beautiful way to inspire youth to develop this ability. The principal at Beaver River Central told her students that it is a power that no one can take from them. What a powerful message!

In preparation for sharing “Scarlet’s Superpower” with the audience at Beaver River Central, I thought it would be neat to act it out in a short play. In this way the audience would have more to experience, it would involve Scarlet, and I could get kids from the school to participate. I wrote the story into a short skit, complete with stage directions. A group of fifth graders worked on practicing it, and I rehearsed it with Scarlet at home. 

You should know that Scarlet has never spoken in front of a group of people this size, let alone acted out a play! She began voicing her concerns the night before the performance. I could have explained to her that it was natural to feel nervous, and then tried to console her. Instead, I told her that what she was feeling was “excitement”. We get excited about all kinds of things, and it isn’t perceived as negative. Why let Scarlet see this wonderful experience through a negative lense? 

IMG_6507.JPG
Those moles you are feeling are really beauty marks. 

She did great. We did great. The 5th graders from Beaver River Central did great. Interestingly, the students seemed to be much more excited to meet Scarlet, because they were actually part of her story. Incidentally, I didn’t call the drama that I composed a “play”, either. I labeled it a “Readers’ Theater” because I allowed the students to have their scripts with them. This cuts down on nervous feelings. Renaming things can be super helpful!

Thank you Beaver River Central, for inviting us to be part of your literacy celebration. 

What have you “renamed” in order to infuse superpowers?

Source:

Brolley, B. (n.d.). The truth about beauty marks. Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.thelist.com/130854/the-truth-about-beauty-marks/ 

Mountain Biking Text

IMG_0312
A trail Scarlet and I hiked last summer

A person wants to get from point A to point B. Point B is on the other side of a forest. The first time that the person finds his way to point B, it takes a while. He gets scraped up. Some frustration may be involved. There will definitely be corrections in direction. He might use tools like GPS or a compass. Probably, the person will mark his travel. On the way back to point A, he will have an easier time of it.

The next time that the person wants to travel from point A to point B, it will take far less time and work. Plus, the person will not get as beat up, because he will know where the briars and boulders lie, and he will avoid them. He might even cut them back or move them, if he plans to travel this way regularly.

IMG_9674
These boulders are unforgettably huge!

Now that there is a trail to follow, getting from point A to point B is easy, fast, and thoughtless. You know what to expect. You look forward to the natural outcroppings of rocks and groupings of trees that mark your progress along the route.

Technology has developed to the point that mountain bikes are available and in vogue. You get one and begin using it on your favorite trail.Getting from point A to point B evolves into a recreational activity. While you use the trail to get from one place to the other, the journey has become the entertaining part of the trip. You even invest some time in building parts of the trail to make them more fun. A straight path up a hill becomes a switchback with berms. Maybe you search out gnarly terrain to shred instead of racing directly to the end of the trail. 

Eventually, your passion and excitement is communicated to others, and they want to try your trail. It morphs from a singletrail to a wider path.

IMG_2147
You’ll need to move that fallen tree for convenient travel.

Next, people who don’t mountain bike find that your trail is a convenient path from point A to point B, and they begin using it. Now, there are bikers and hikers. The hikers don’t need the entertaining gnarl of the mountain biking trail. They level portions, clear your favorite bunnyhopping logs, and widen the path.

As more and more people use the path for traveling, the importance of getting from point A to point B in less and less time with fewer distractions becomes valuable. It gets leveled, and then paved. It grows wider and marked. Eventually, your entertaining path turns into a rode.


Why does the last word of the previous paragraph look rong? Wait. What is happening hear?! Why are these homophones being spelled incorrectly?

This entire blog is an analogy for learning to read. These supposed misspellings at the end are obstacles for you to mentally bunnyhop over. If you have made it to this point*, you are a masterful reader who uses sounds, spellings, and can identify common letter groupings unconsciously. 

Hopefully, you didn’t “yardsale” when you red (I just did it again! Ha ha) the word “rode”. It is ironic that the past tense verb for mentally travelling through this text would sound the same as the noun for the symbol of the text itself! Daniel T. Willingham rights (Sorry, I can’t help myself! Last time, I promise) about how our mind translates text when we read in “The Reading Mind” (2017). With wildly entertaining (at least for a geek like me) examples and figures, he explains the way we interpret sounds, decode meanings, and relate commonly used letter groupings. Reading this book shows how technical this seemingly simple task is, as well as how natural it becomes once we figure it out. Chapter 3 “Reading At A Glance” was the inspiration for this blog. 

And now to wrap it up. The point** I was trying to make was that the process of reading evolves in each of us, and we get better at it by doing it. As adults, we read many texts that get us from point A (ignorance) to point B (knowledgeable) with the goal of speedily fixing our ignorant situation. This is often necessary and important. It is the goal of teachers to train students to be able to read well, so that they can also easily traverse the distance between point A and B. Given that this skill is refined by much repetition, wouldn’t it behoove the practicing reader to enjoy the process? 

I am composing this blog to challenge adults to model mountain biking through text, so that others see your example and want to try out the trail for themselves. I suggest you find something fun to read, and make it visible, modeling your performance to inspire others. If you are a teacher, show your students. If you are an administrator, spur on your teachers. If you are a parent, show your child how useful reading is. 

There is an adult reading challenge that I threw together for Twitter users that you might enjoy using. I made this in order to inspire a game/social angle for sharing our mature reading habits publicly. Feel free to join me and other grownup readers as we share our mental mountain biking! 

Screen Shot 2019-12-31 at 7.52.18 AM.png
Include #TeacherReadingChallenge with your tweets.

Source: 

Willingham, D. T. (2017). The reading mind: A cognitive approach to understanding how the mind reads.

*Congratulations on successfully finding point B; the place where all of this is explained.

**Point B, throughout the analogy was never a tangible place, but rather reading, itself. 

The Reading Super Bowl

This blog was originally published under the title “Competition is Classy”. I decided to retitle it “The Reading Super Bowl” as I reblog it because it isn’t actually about the concept of competition being classy. The article is all about a classy competition that motivates students to read.
This past fall I finally read Daniel Pink’s seminal work, “Drive”. This has caused me to rethink the idea of using extrinsic motivations like this competition to impassion attitudes and habits. I’d like to write a blog in the future that explores whether competition is or isn’t classy; or, the classy aspects of it. This one is just about a fun competition The Polite Pirates have been conducting for years. “The Reading Super Bowl”!

The Captain of Class

Every year, on the first day back to school after the winter break, I initiate a competition between two teams in my classroom. The contest is to see who reads more, but the purpose is to make reading a habit and instill an excitement for text consumption. I call it “The Reading Super Bowl”, and it lasts until the actual football game.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 8.56.16 PMThe class is broken up into two equal groups. I’ve done girls versus boys, odd student numbers versus even student numbers, and broken the class up according to desk arrangements; Doesn’t matter how you do it. The NFL teams that are entering the playoffs are listed on the board. Kids get the lunch/recess time to decide on their group’s team. Then the players are passed out. I usually project a few pictures of each team’s jerseys on the wall for kids to model the coloring of their figure…

View original post 312 more words

Puzzling a Positive Attitude of Acceptance

IMG_9570.jpg
This year’s puzzle, “Cats” (2019)

I grew up working on puzzles with my family during the winter holiday breaks. Every year between Christmas and New Years, every member of my family could be found hunched over a temporary card table set up in the middle of the living room. Never-mind Santa Claus; The main source of magic in those days was waking up to find a gigantic portion of the puzzle completed. Sometimes, feelings of gratitude flooded the soul, since a piece that had eluded me was found and locked in place. Other times, I would feel cheated, because a large portion of the puzzle was no longer available for construction. 

The purchaser of puzzles was my mom, and she wasn’t very picky. She brought home pictures that she liked. They were typical interlocking jigsaw puzzles consisting of anywhere between one and two thousand pieces. 

Mom was the best at finding matching pieces. I remember puzzling over a section for a long time, only to have mom visit the project, survey the available pieces, and pick the most random-looking one out of the mix. Not every time, but often, she’d have flawlessly, and seemingly effortlessly found the missing piece!

IMG_9488
Dawning her new fuzzy, pink coat, Scarlet connects pieces that have words on them.

Now, I am teaching my daughter Scarlet how to assemble puzzles. My wife and I have given Scarlet puzzles for years, but this Christmas is the first time that she is really engaged in puzzling through a 750-piecer, independently. I came downstairs yesterday morning to find her hunched over the colorful enigma, piece in hand. As I began explaining that sometimes it isn’t enough to look at the colors of the pieces; “You have to examine the negative space to find a matching piece;” I thought about the ways people interact with one another. 

When Scarlet and I first dumped out the 750 pieces, I instructed her to turn all of the pieces over, so that the glossy, colored sides were facing up. As we did this, we placed any pieces that had straight edges into a separate pile: Those were the edge pieces. We also began forming a few other distinct piles of pieces during the flip over process. Any pieces with blue on them went into a pile separate from the pile of red pieces. 

IMG_4588
Puzzles prepare people for finding commonalities.

Anyone familiar with putting together puzzles knows that you first assemble the border, so that you have a literal frame. This also provides a frame of reference for where to place increasingly connected groups of pieces. Sometimes you have to open up the border to allow large sections of connected pieces to slide into the middle of it. Other times, you can pick up a handful of attached pieces and drop them into their spot. Then there are times when you work on bringing individual pieces into the frame to fill gaps and complete sections, all the while you are hunting relationships between interlocking, individual, man-made masses of color and shape that are meant to be together

Scarlet, Mommy, and I are only about a quarter done assembling our family puzzle, when it hits me: What if people had the same attitude about other humans that a person putting together a puzzle possesses? The whole time you work on a puzzle, you are only thinking, where does this piece in my hand belong? Who does it connect to? What spot in the puzzle is its home? How does it relate to the rest of the puzzle?

The puzzle that we are working on is tricky, in that the pieces seem to be cut right on the cusp of varying colors. I am working on assembling a section full of poinsettias and looking for an adjacent piece. I first try pieces that look similar to those adjacent the vacancy. None of those fit. Next, I examine the opening that the missing piece forms; the negative space. Are there any pieces in the pile of red that possess a similar shape? Eventually, I go ahead and try sticking red pieces into the gap, just in case there is a geometric abnormality that I am not seeing. Perhaps one will work, even though it does not look like it. That’s happened before. No success. I widen my scope of potential pieces to include ones that share the colors of surrounding pieces; greens and browns. When finally I do find the piece, I notice that the cut followed the line of red color, seeming to purposefully fool anyone relying on that. 

IMG_7177.JPG
The important thing to understand is that the entire time you are putting together a puzzle, you are being inclusive and accepting.

This story goes to show that while it may be advantageous to categorize puzzle pieces into separate colors, initially, this reliance on related pigments can eventually cause frustration. I would have found my missing piece faster, had I looked at the picture of the puzzle on the box, and included any piece that had red AND leaf colors/designs in my pile of poinsettia pieces. And, really, if you want to get really figurative and technical, poinsettia petals actually are leaves that turn red! 

The important thing to understand is that the entire time you are putting together a puzzle, you are being inclusive and accepting. Every single one of the 750 pieces is a potential fit for any opening. They all belong somewhere. I think it was the experience of this particular puzzle’s play on color that brought this to my attention. Time after time, I found myself needing to open my mind to accept the possibility that pieces I never would have imagined going together actually did! 

A coping strategy for dealing with frustration when assembling puzzles is to step away from working on a difficult relationship, in order to focus on another part of the puzzle. When I am not finding the elusive connecting pieces between poinsettias and chipmunk, after searching for tens of minutes, I must move on to the yellow section of flowers on the other side. Often times, I will eventually stumble across a piece that I recognize belongs to a foreign part of the puzzle. The satisfaction felt when dropping it into its home is immense. 

Each piece has a home; Has a purpose; Has a special function. The piece that you hold in your hand belongs somewhere, even if you aren’t sure where that spot is at the moment. You can put it down, but don’t lose it! It has immense value. They all do!

IMG_7507.JPG
One missing piece ruins the whole puzzle! Every single one is important.

The most important dangers of a puzzler include: Do NOT lose even one piece! In fact, if you lose even ONE, you may as well throw the whole thing away. Or, if you are creative and graceful, you could make a substitute piece, but if there are more than one or two missing, it does not matter how creative or full of grace you are, the puzzle will look wholly unfinished; not holy. Never force a piece. If you do this, you could ruin its shape, so that it won’t fit nicely into the relationship it was meant for. Also, if you leave a forced piece in place, it warps the whole puzzle. You might attach a few more pieces to this wrongfully placed piece, but eventually there will be a line of unrelated-ness, like a saltwater tide infringing on brackish water in a bayou. 

IMG_2929Before I leave you to chew on this metaphor, I must mention some of its limitations. First of all, Life has no borders; It has a beginning and an end, but there is no ceiling or floor. Sore as high as you can, and be careful of exploring its depths too far. Understand that experiences, places, and people are all part of your puzzle. Also, it is more like a three-dimensional puzzle. Build out wide on either side to support potential experiences that could attach to your life. Then, watch piece after piece fall into place, grow, and assemble. Finally, but not conclusively, it is ever changing. The piece you hold in your hand may not fit now, but in a few minutes, it could be exactly what you need! Life is like a coral reef; a puzzle of plant, animal, and rock… Living rock

 

Appreciating the Past is Classy

Now that I have the Nutcracker read alouds posted in the Willow Lane Read Alouds Youtube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgo7q67pdVRkW2utB6Nnh8Q), I can have students work on this more independently. They can do it from home, and catch up easily if they miss a class. Also, I can differentiate by reading leveled books of the Nutcracker to some kiddos, while others listen to the original.

The Captain of Class

Appreciating the past is classy. That sentence was worded carefully. Being stuck in the past is not classy. In fact being stuck in general is not classy. Glorifying the past is not classy, either; It says, “Those times were far better than today.” With advances in medicine, technology, and transportation, no time in history can compare to modern times.

To appreciate something is to recognize its worth. 

The opposite of “Appreciating the Past” is when a person thinks that things are the way they are because of his or her efforts alone. If you make a scientific breakthrough, that is great, but I guarantee that there were hundreds, if not thousands of scientists and scientific works, not to mention your teachers, parents, and even environmental situation that all lended to you being able to perform your accomplishment.

On the other hand, while age isn’t everything, the older the wine or…

View original post 839 more words