Playground Uprising

Your Story …
October 26, 2007, 7:27 pm
Filed under: creative writing, Education, writing

Creative Writing

In the coming weeks one of my classes is going to wade – and then sink right down into the world of creative writing in the elem. school classroom.  In anticipation of this event, I have been combing through my books and various websites for refreshing ideas. Below I share a couple of my favs with you  …. And I would love for you to respond with a couple of your own. Until then …

  • Bodystorming:  a student lies down on a large piece of butcher paper and a partner traces a leg, an arm, or the whole darn body … the student then reflects on her traced body part and recalls words, sounds, and any conclusive memories … which she then records in the outlined form (idea taken from a presentation by the Virginia Writing Project).
  • Sausage poems: Poems for vegetarians and carnivores alike. A string of words with matching endings and beginnings. Choose either letters or sounds for the word boundary matches (it gets confusing if both are allowed)”
    Example: Good dogs shouldn’t tell lies”  (taken directly from:
  • Basket poem:  (check out:
  • Message in a bottle: (taken from Houghton Mifflin series) Have children think about a part of the world they are studying in Social Studies and then create a story about their adventure, set  in a specified time period and accompanied by a map of the area. Upon completion – creations are placed in plastic bottles and set afloat in the water table.
  • Seven days of daring deeds: seven groups write one story about an unfolding adventure over seven days. (see:
  • Pass it on: students sit in a circle with a clipboard, paper, and pen in hand. A story starter is given: “It is Halloween night ….” The students write for three minutes and then pass their story to the person on their right … the receiver continues the previous writer’s storyline until it is time to pass again.
  • Interior / Exterior Boxes: You will love this =
  • Given the situation:  Give students a variety of situations and ask them to respond in a paragraph or less. For example: You just got an offer to teach at a school in Japan ….


“Balance” Bar
October 19, 2007, 3:19 pm
Filed under: assistant professors, Life, stress, work

Cry. Bang. Yell. Screech. Eat a banana and a “balance” bar.

Perspective. This is where I am trying to sit now, but dang for me if I don’t keep falling off into the trenches.

The first fall was around 4am – as the alarm clock went off and then again on my way to the downtown /24-hour McDonald’s drive through – where my premonition of danger overrided my Episcopalian affiliation – as I recited a few Hail Mary’s to ward off potential car jackers.

And then we were off (me and NPR) and making good time until the tractor trailer. . .

The ONE that  EACH MORNING performs its daily ritual of driving down 95 north erratically, looking for an environmentally conscious Pruis to herd off the road and into the side rail, calling forth  several emergency vehicles and a traffic backup worth approximately 45 minutes of talk radio.

With this cordial meeting behind … I was off again in search of the Dulles airport exit. That would be the LEFT exit. The one I have taken on more than one occasion but for whatever reason was desperately looking for off  to my right…. until … crap … there is WAS … and here I am about to visit Clara Barton Blvd.

But come 7:30am – I was back on route and pulling into the conference site for check in … just in time to learn that my presentation would be in the “other” building – down the highway and off to the left.  Hmmm … glad I went with the loafers. And so I am here … and you are somewhere and my room is empty.  Let me see if I brought another balance bar.

Forgive Those That Have Sinned Against Me Today
October 15, 2007, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Children, church, Family, parenthood, parenting

 My mother’s fire alarm went off this morning at 2am and again at 4am and just for good measure gave one last boom about 7am. I am just finding out about this last one because it triggered neighboring bathrobes drawn by inquiring noses to fill firemen in on “my mother’s situation,” the one that has taken her away from her non-burning house for the last six months. So upon getting the call from who Mac refers to as “our local community helper” I casted on the pearl necklace, in anticipation for the mad dash to church upon my return from my begrudged excursion to wonderland. In return flight from my “deactivate the fire alarm and unclog the toilet (an added bonus) mission” which brought forth memories of an equaling blaring and disturbed childhood, I attempted to radio the troops and bribe them to suit up for battle. Such plans however were debunked as I spilled coffee on myself while banging on the steering wheel while pleading with a tapped out cell phone. Though never fear … because when I entered the house to retrieve my clan dad assured me that he had done “everything” and I was relieved until slowly puzzling together that “everything” did not include bathroom runs, or belt buckles, or tucked shirts, or explosive diapers, or small details such as shoes. So I did the only thing a good wife could do and yelled obscenities and stomped my feet and sent the two oldest and baddest boys out the door and down the alley to drop one off at the nursery before the other could arrive at the pew to pray for his transgressions … while I battled the nuclear fallout that no good nursery volunteer should have to be exposed. With that treasure complete, I made my own way to the church just in time to sit down next to a boy and his dad that somehow misinterpreted the phrase “take mac to the nursery.” So we wiggled and jiggled and enjoyed communion on a level that made one minister gasp aloud and required hand wipes on the returning trip down the aisle (don’t ask). And then we were home and then we were not … finding our way to the soccer field and then in a blink of the eye it was dark, as if justifying the earlier metaphor, and a dad and a boy were saying their prayers and thanking Jesus for our blessings to which Mac concluded, “And please oh please Jesus forgive ALL of the PEOPLE who have SINNED against ME today.” And so now we are cleansed … already to begin anew.

October 10, 2007, 6:37 pm
Filed under: academia, Children, parenthood, parenting


In the past ten minutes I have written several e-mails, eaten a bag of 100 calorie popcorn (a snack I give the grandest of accolades), and chatted with several student passer byes – and if I had to write down a list of everything I have learned over this passage of time – the list would be –let us say SHORT.  But flash back …. to yesterday … in a car with two boys .… just beginning to figure out their world  … and suddenly the informational input is  startlingly expansive.  For your viewing pleasure a breakdown: 4:30        LM  (little man) Mom, if I tell you something will you be mad.                DS – (hoping he did not make an innocent bystander bleed) It’s unlikely.LM – Well today I was good. In fact I did more gooder than bad but you see there was that one thing when I was sitting in circle time and said butt.. you see we sit too long … it is a struggle (wow good word / he is a genius with a potty mouth) and that might be ok for your college but it makes me say butt (good to know)DS –(suppress laughter and adopt an authoritative tone) Butt is not a school word (as if to imply perhaps it is a good dinner time word or night time reflection) 4:33        LM- It is so hot in this car that I think I am going to pass out.DS – Well it is October and the air condition is on and so maybe you would prefer to walk (we are on our way to dinner with family).                LM- No that will take me 50 days and  I will miss dessert. 4:37        DS – So what was your job today at school?LM – Well I was the calendar person and it is February (Well no but at least he got one of the 12 ) and I got to call on people and I didn’t call on Sheri because she took my sticker and I am thinking of disinviting her to my birthday party  (good point … I will call her mom and revoke the invite when we get home).                DS – So what is the best job?                LM – Well the caboose mom. That is what Tate says (who is a complete juvenile delinquent) because you can stand in the back and make faces and nobody can yell at you and the caboose is the butt and butts are funny (ahhhhh a reoccurring theme emerges). 4:39        DS- OOOOH good song (cranking it up and singing quite loudly in toneless harmony).LM- Mom, you should not sing like that because it doesn’t sound good (mind your own business… at least I can brush my own teeth) and you are not a rock star (newsflash).                DS- (sounding just a wee bit insulted) What do you mean I am not a rock star?                LM – You know a rock star has concerts and you teach kids at college. Now that is some content coverage.