Guest Post: Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie is an American blogger. She is a truly inspirational teacher of young children, with a real love of reading, books, and education.
She is not only the teacher I wish I had had, but the one we should all have had.

https://jenniefitzkee.com

Here is her guest post.

How Reading-Aloud Made Me the Teacher and Person I Am Today.

My very first day of teaching preschool in Massachusetts, thirty-two years ago, was both career and life altering. Lindy, my co-teacher, asked me to read the picture books to children each day after our Morning Meeting. Sure (gulp)! I was new, scared, and unfamiliar with many children’s books. I had not been read to as a child, except for The Five Chinese Brothers from my grandmother. I still remember the page that opens sideways, with the brother who could stretch his legs. One book, and to this day I remember it vividly.

The book I read to the children on that first day of school was Swimmy, by Leo Lionni. It was magical for me, and for the children. The story line, the art, the engineering, the words… it was a taste of something I knew I had to have. And, I couldn’t get enough.

The next few decades I consumed children’s books. I realized that the more I read aloud, the more the children wanted to hear stories and be read to. I displayed books in my classroom front-facing, so children were drawn to picking up and ‘reading’ the books. In this way, the children wanted to handle, hold, and turn the pages of books. This was a big deal! It was true hands-on learning, with exploding questions and interest. I was the yeast in the dough, or perhaps the books were the yeast. Oh, our Morning Meetings grew. We had to include a children’s dictionary on the bookshelf so we could look up words that were new. That was fun!

By this time I had become picky about good books. Whenever I read a good book, it sparked so many questions and conversations, that sometimes it took ‘forever’ to get through the book. The first time I read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky, it took forty minutes to finish reading the book. I started with the inside cover, a picture of the courtyard, and simply asked questions; “Where is this?” “Does this look like Massachusetts?” “What is different?”

Reading picture books triggered big discussions. I often stopped to ask questions. Sometimes I would simply say, “Oh, dear…” in mid-sentence and let the children grab onto that rope. Yes, I was throwing out a lifeline, a learning line, and it worked. It was exciting, always engaging.

Before long, I started reading chapter books before rest time. This was unconventional for preschoolers, yet it felt right because children were on their nap mats and needed to hear stories without seeing pictures. I started with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and have never looked back. The first thing children learned was ‘you make the pictures in your head’. This is thrilling, because we now have non-stop reading and multiple discussions, without pictures. Thirty minutes of pretty intense reading-aloud. My chapter books include the best of the best.

My teaching had become language based and child centered. Often there were ‘moments’, things that happened because we were reading all the time. Reading had spilled over into my curriculum. The day we had set up a restaurant in housekeeping, children were ‘reading’ menus and ‘writing’ orders on clipboards. I was spelling out the words to one child and listening to questions about the menu from another child. I doubt these moments would have happened had I not read so often in the classroom.

I wanted to tell families what happened, about moments of learning, and of course about reading-aloud. So, I started to write more information in my newsletters, and include details. I wrote, and I wrote, sharing small moments and relating those moments to the big picture in education.

I attended a teacher seminar, and Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, was the keynote speaker. As he spoke I wanted to jump up and rush over to the hundreds of teachers in the room, screaming, “Are you listening to this man?” “Do you realize how important his message is?” Instead I wrote him a letter and included one of my newsletters to families that spoke about the importance of reading-aloud. That sparked his interest in my chapter reading, and he visited my classroom to watch. I’m included in the latest version of his million copy bestselling book.

My public library asked me to direct a library reading group for second and third graders. This was another new adventure in reading. I read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, among many wonderful books. Again, these were new books to me, and I loved it. This past summer I embraced YA books, thanks to reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I read every Kate DiCamillo book I could lay my hands on. Every one.

My reading and reading-aloud continues to grow. Thank you Read-Aloud West Virginia for getting the message of how important reading is to the public. We are making a difference.

Jennie

I have followed Jennie’s blog for a long time now, and I don’t even have children. But I get inspiration and wonder from reading about her dedication to teaching, and her love of the kids she cares for. Please read her blog. And if you have small children, you will want to follow her heartwarming stories of a life devoted to education, kindness, and compassion.

How It All Began

I am reblogging this important post about female health. If you are a woman, have a wife or daughter, sister, aunt or even a grandmother. A female friend or partner, girlfriend, best friend or a neighbour you know well, then please bring their attention to this. If you are a blogger, please reblog it so more women can read it. If you are on Twitter or Facebook, please share it on those platforms too.
Once you have read this, please follow the rest of Melissa’s story on her new blog. She almost wasn’t here to be able to tell it to us.

My Unbelievable Journey To An Inevitable Hysterectomy

Let me start by saying that this story ends (spoiler alert) with a hysterectomy. If you are a woman in search of alternative methods of fighting your fibroid and looking for stories of success in that area, I encourage you to continue your search but also to continue reading – because, I WAS you. I get it. My story did not end the way I had played it out in my mind but my fate was decided for me. I’ll get into the how’s and why’s of that later.

It all started in February of this year. I went to see my OB for a regular well woman exam – complete with Pap Smear, Mammogram, and Pelvic Exam. I’m a healthy 44 year old woman, proud Mama of a beautiful 2 year old daughter, and lucky wife to an amazing woman. I have always had heavy periods. Oh wait. Let…

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European ‘Roach Trip

I don’t reblog very often, as you know. But I couldn’t resist this fun post from an English blogger who has written a great book for kids, and has taken it on her travels around Europe.
Check out The Little Cockroach.

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/42870890-the-little-cockroach

The Little Cockroach

Whoop whoop… off we go. The van is packed, excitement is high & Pedro is ready. European vacation here we come!⠀

Pedro has made it to Amsterdam!! I absolutely love this city. The first time we came here with the kids it was Pride and there were parties every where. Elsie couldn’t believe adults could be so fun & silly. It set the bar high and although they both still love it … it will never be as bright, colour and fun as that first weekend.

On our way to Stuttgart we noticed Backnang was only 25 minutes away from where we were heading, so we decided to swing by. It’s beautiful. I’ve seen ‘Twinned with Backnang’ so many times on the ‘Welcome To Chelmsford’ sign. I always wondered what it was like and I never thought I’d visit…. but here I am!! ⠀

We went from Backnang to Stuttgart…

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Guest Post: Shaily Agrawal

I am very pleased to introduce you to an Indian blogger, Shaily Agrawal. Here is a link to her site. https://fishinthetrees.home.blog/
Shaily is very engaged on my blog, and I am happy to host her guest post here.

Here is what she has to tell you about herself.

‘Shaily Agrawal: I am an Instructional Designer (Content Developer in Adult Learning). I am a ‘Social Introvert’ with countless ‘friends’ but still lonely. I am an inefficient mother of a two-year old and a working house-wife. Yup! Irony!’

And here is her very short post.

TINY STORY: THE APOLOGIES

He looked at the tears flowing down her blackened eyes.
He pulled her in his arms and, once again, said, “Sorry, Love! Just don’t make me angry again.”

Check out her blog for other Tiny Stories, and lots more.

Guest Post: Marina Kappa

Marina is a blogger from Greece. I have followed her blog for some time now, and enjoy the artistic and cultural aspects, as well as her writing and paintings.
She has chosen to feature her sketches and paintings of horses in this guest post, and I think you will agree that they are excellent.
Here is a link to her blog. https://athensletters.com/

Equine art series.

I like to do as much sketching from life as possible because, although often imperfect, it helps capture movement and spontaneity. And I do find nature is a great inspiration.

Plants, trees and flowers are easiest, because they don’t tend to move around much, and humans can be persuaded to pose. Animals are a lot trickier. Dogs are best when they’re asleep, but mine sadly is so small and dark that from above she just looks like a black blob; I would need to get down on floor level, but, when I do, she wakes up and starts jumping around like a flea.

A nice field of cows having a siesta in the sun is not too bad, but horses are a nightmare. No sooner are you set up that they decide to come over and see what you’re doing, eat the paper, chew your clothes, etc. Even if you’re on the other side of the fence, you get a load of snorting nostrils, bug eyes and, if there’s a few of them, shoving. And then they gallop away…

The famous 18th century painter George Stubbs used to hang cadavers of horses in his barn to be able to study their anatomy. The smell must have been unbearable—and the flies! Ugh…
Nowadays we have manuals and photographs to study from, and videos that can be put in slow motion to break down movement.

Horses are fascinating, expressive creatures, so I’ve been making a whole series of paintings, incorporating my previous work with layers and collage. Under some of the paintings I used pages from an old book, primed with gesso—amusingly, the book is an old French manual of equitation (you can see it most clearly in the first painting.) I also used tissue paper, silver foil and eco-print paper for the collage, and charcoal, pencil, graphite powder, watercolor, and oil pastel for the images.

I did not aim towards photorealism, but made the horse the center of a dreamlike, abstract landscape. The background could be water, or snow, or an indistinct field, or clouds of dust.

Horses are prey—that makes them nervous and fleet, because of the flight response. However, when not threatened they are serene, and enjoy being in their natural environment.

I’m also drawn to horses of myth, who play a big part in many legends, and are especially prominent in Greek mythology. Immortal horses drew the chariots of Zeus, the sun god Helios, and Achilles in the Trojan war. They were gold-bridled, sometimes fish-tailed when they belonged to Poseidon, and often winged, like Pegasus.
So I had to have winged horses in my series.

And finally I added the human form, since men and horses have been linked since the beginnings of civilization. The painting below is entitled The Red Trousers. A girl on her horse, bareback and bare footed, standing in water.

Please visit Marina’s blog for a great variety of artwork, photos, and much more.

If you are in New York…

My blogging friend Felicity Harley has a daughter, Sarah. She has her own company, based in New York City, USA.

Sarah is putting on a play she wrote. The theatre is called Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Astor Place, New York. NY1003

Here is a link to the theatre, and some information about the play.
https://publictheater.org/productions/joes-pub/2019/a/as-much-as-i-can/
On the 14th of September, the play opens, and tickets are $25.

Here is a clip showing an interview about the production, which is called ‘As Much As I Can’.
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/templates/nbc_partner_player?cmsID=559744912&videoID=6U280sskx5ER&width=600&height=360&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnewyork.com%2F&ourl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnewyork.com

If any of my readers are going to be in that city on the 14th, try to get along to support the play.

The Indie Writer’s Handbook

A great resource for writers, brought to you by Nicholas. And only $3.99 too!

Nicholas C. Rossis

I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC for The Indie Writer’s Handbook by one of my favorite authors, David Wind. David has included a kind mention to this blog in his book, which is specifically aimed at Indies, hence the ARC.

“A great primer for new Indie authors (as well as ones who have been around and are wondering if they are doing everything they can to succeed). The easy, conversational style makes the fact that it is packed with information painless, the screenshot walk-thru’s of how to fill-out and accomplish various tasks online were a great idea – I’d definitely recommend!”

USA Today and WSJ Bestselling Indie Author Amy Vansant

David Wind

David Wind is a Hybrid author with 40 books of fiction published both Traditionally and Independently. He is a member of the Authors Guild, The Mystery Writers of America, The Science Fiction and Fantasy…

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