Original Photo Credit: Shawn Miller/ Library of Congress
I haven't blogged in several months. I have taken some time to step back from social media to simplify life. However, I think writing about "The Book Lady", aka Dolly Parton, is the best place to jump back in.
For most Americans, Dolly is known for her legendary career in country music, beginning in the late 60s. My husband and I were fortunate enough to hear her in concert at Red Rocks in 2016 and then visit the Country Music Hall of Fame that same year. In the CMHOF, her dress, shoes and scratch paper with the words to her iconic song, "Jolene" were on display. Such a treat to see and experience!
However, for millions of Americans age 5 and under, Dolly is known for sending one free book a month (60 all together) to foster the love of reading. Her program, Imagination Library, started locally in her hometown in Tennessee and was started to honor her father, who was never given the opportunity to learn how to read.
This weekend, I once again began searching for a Dolly t-shirt (I have wanted one for a long time) and came across the above quote from her. She may be the queen of country music, but her leadership in business and education for young children sets her apart even more. Dolly knows who she is and lives her life to the fullest. Her purposeful life is not only a gift of entertainment for the world, but a gift of early literacy skills for young children. She dreams big and works to fulfill those dreams.
In my own life, I have many dreams and so many of those involve educating early learners. It is hard work, but it is worth it. I hope all of us can look to Dolly for inspiration.
One final note, it is going to take years for those sweet preschoolers in this picture to realize the event they got to participate in! Oh how I would have loved to have been there myself!!
I have been wanting to start this segment of my blog for awhile. I incorporating a strong piece of literature with a Moffat photograph and a primary source document in as many of my lessons as I can. It's hard to go wrong when you have the primary source and a Moffat photograph!
I love election season. Let me clarify, I love teaching during election season.
It's Friday and I often use the day to put done stamps on projects or do fun stand alone projects. I am tucking election/presidential pieces in all over the place right now.
I love the new series of Fly Guy books by Tedd Arnold. They have a great storyline, while at the same time, tucking in all kinds of crazy facts that the kids just eat up. We were using the fire station one earlier this week.
I purchased the White House books for all of my kids so that we could access the presidential timeline within the book. The math involved with the presidential terms is too good to pass up! We made it through part of the book, discussing along the way and then looking at the timeline.
I decided to wrap up our day with one of my favorite Kid President videos where he get to go to the White House to meet President Obama. It's a classic! What surprised me was the amount of kids in my classroom that had never seen Kid President. WHAT? Never seen Kid President? Clearly, I know what I will be showing during snack time today. The message Obama shared with him was even rather timely for some kindness issues.
As I shared the video, I stopped along the way to show the images of White House photographer Pete Sousa. I am honored to have both a family photo with the President, as well as an individual photo, taken by Pete. They both hang in my classroom. As I discussed Pete's job with my class, they began to wonder if his photographs of the President are some of the ones highlighted in Fly Guy Presents The White House. What a great question! I don't know the answer, but it was an incredibly fun lesson.
If for some reason you have not seen Kid President or the new Fly Guy book, I encourage you to check them out. Also, take the time to look at some of Pete's photographs. The are magnificent!
This summer, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. We were treated like royalty and the learning that we were able to participate in will be hard to be repeated.
During my time there, I spent an afternoon visiting the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. My husband and I have always loved folk art and I had seen the pictures of the collection. The collection did not disappoint!
During my visit, I have to say my favorite exhibit was "Down On The Farm" featuring a collection of folk art farm animals. Prince, the main character of the exhibit, is a carved terrier from the Weill family. The designers of the exhibit set Prince as the main character in a narrative where he travels to a farm and encounters many adventures with the local animals. The setting is brought to life through a series of folk art paintings of rural farm life.
This weekend, I had some long overdue time to do some creative planning. I had purchased the book and stuffed dog from the exhibit, uncertain of how I might use them in my classroom. Time is a magnificent thing! We have been working on narratives during writing and I am always looking for new opportunities to extend our museum studies.
I am not sure where my plans will take our class, but I am excited for the possibilities. The wheels are turning and that always leads to a grand plan.
Today, history educators lost at great man. A man that has changed my life, although I didn't truly realize how much until I learned of his passing this evening. Oddly, my last Moffat book was dedicated to Bill and my TAH cohort.
A few days ago, I posted about change and how teaching is like a closet. New things come in to make change.
Seven years ago, TAH and Bill Virden entered my life. At the time, I appreciated history more and more. At the time, my husband was unemployed and the TAH grant was an option for classes. I vividly remember coming home to my husband proclaiming that I could get paid to go to to history class. REALLY?!?!?!?!? It was a new day!
The TAH (Teaching American History) grant class was both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. At the time, I taught Kindergarten. I was sitting in a room with middle and high school teachers. Again, I taught Kindergarten. I was happy to teach my kids about basic landmarks and the current president.
Bill Virden was our leader for TAH, accompanied by his incredible group of expert teachers. For the next four years, I was engaged monthly with an enlightened group of passionate history educators. Friendships were made, knowledge grew and a bond was established. It was amazing. Yet again remember, I was a Kindergarten teacher among jr/hs teachers.
Over the years, I grew and apparently, Bill realized that time in class had changed me. He believed in my work with young kids and was invested in my career. I remember the day when he and his wife took the time to drive down from Denver to see my first graders (I moved up) present their American history reports. It meant a lot to me to have he and Jo make the trip.
My time in TAH opened many new doors. in time, I had the confidence to apply for NEH and Gilder Lehrman courses. I was accepted. Yet again, I was changed. I began writing curriculum for various establishments. A more significant shift happened in my classroom teaching. History was the root of my curriculum. Everything could be taught through it.
I vividly remember the summer of 2013. The previous summer, I had to bow out of the week long TAH class. I was beginning my masters courses at Colorado College. I had to make a choice. However, history was alive and well in my mind and I managed to get excused from a week of my master's class to attend the TAH summer course. Bill had an a line up for the elementary teachers that was amazing! Again, I was changed.
I am the educator today because of a change in my closet. This change was Bill Virden. Many of us are the educators today because of Bill Virden. He opened new doors in my life and created change. I am better for it. I am thankful for it.
Rest in peace. You will be missed more than you know!
As the National Park Service is celebrating their 100th birthday, we are just getting back to school. I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year with a grand celebration to open the door to new learning for my young students. We enjoyed S'More style birthday cupcakes to compliment the Junior Rangers we made in class.
Youtube is such a wonderful addition to the classroom as we were able to enjoy the very creative birthday song as well as an overview by Finley Holiday. Many of the students were familiar with some of the more prominent National Parks, which led to a very engaging conversation about the parks. One of my students even brought in her collection of Junior Ranger badges (I had mine to show off as well).
Over the years, I have grown to LOVE the National Parks (my husband thinks I am crazy for the Park Rangers). I was not exposed to the NPS as a child and feel like I am making up for it now. The diversity of the system leads to learning about science and social studies and can be differentiated for any grade level. Many of the parks have well developed lesson plans online that can be used for extended learning. My biggest challenge is going to be to limit the number of parks that I share with my students. I want to create a balance between the beauty and conservation efforts of the National Parks with the historic value of the memorials, battlefields and monuments. It is impossible to go wrong with any of my choices.
I am looking forward to the new year for many reasons. It excites me to bring the NPS into my classroom as an educational tool and I am looking forward to more travels to National Parks that I have yet to enjoy. Our studies will be a fun-filled adventure that I am excited to embark upon! More updates down the road!
It was so much fun to spend time with a great colleague planning for the NPS's Centennial Celebration. I am really looking forward to Thursday and the beginning of the activities for the next several weeks in conjunction with the 100th birthday.
It is hard to decide which parks to highlight and share with the students as the choices are so exciting. I am thankful for the collection of NPS brochures that I have collected over the years to share with the students. I do think that is important to highlight the diversity of the park system and the many sites that the NPS protects.
The stories that come from the NPS are inspiring for students of all ages. These stories and the wealth of online resources are going to be an inspiration for learning in our classroom for the upcoming year. Because of the diversity of the park system, the cross-curricular opportunities are a teacher's dream. In my grade, I focus on the social studies and my teammate focuses on the science. The diversity of the NPS offers a fantastic umbrella to focus on both subjects, not to mention art and writing opportunities.
If you have not already seen the NPS WebRangers Program online, please take the time to explore the website. This site offers a great variety fun learning activities applicable to all ages and abilities.
Can't wait until Thursday!!!