Sharing the Love

If you have visited my blog this month, you know that I am a huge fan of the Six Word Memoir – distilling a story into a mere six words.

Those six words claim you as an author. A concept done and dusted, an achievement of sorts. The Six Word Memoir is a stalwart friend – solid and dependable – a reliable gateway to the world of writing.

Anticipating the upcoming Student Slice of Life writing challenge, I introduced my students to my dear companion by pulling up my Wordsmithing blog and showing them my sweet little stories. I explained those days I was struggling to create a Slice, I could string together six words. You can too!

I proceeded to provide them with a definition of memoir, had them turn and talk and share their interests and future aspirations. Sent them to their desk to brainstorm a list of their ideas and mine them to craft several six word memoirs.

As students brought up their Writer’s Notebook to me, I asked permission to share their memoirs with the entire class. Each student had their own distinct voice. I could sense the excitement building in my room – EVERYONE a writer.

At end of class I had students sit in a circle and share out either a memoir or a concept they are working on.

A few memoirs stood out to me.

I am a mini Albert Einstein.

I run fast just like Messi.

Not bad for third graders!

At the end of the day at dismissal, a student approached me and said, “ Ms Clark. I have another Six Word Memoir: I love writing Six Word Memoirs.”

My heart melted just a little bit.

I am creating writers, word by word.


Rabbit Hole

When was the last time you went down a rabbit hole?

For me, it was today. I intended to do some baking – make pear crisp with the bruised pears on my counter. They now look sadder than ever, reprimanding me for neglect. I also planned to go for a walk, taking advantage of the burst of sun and blue skies. I did make it out this afternoon to get my hair cut and highlighted.

What befell me today? I logged onto my work email this morning and came across a time limited free offer. Well, free happens to be my favourite four letter word!

Type, type, type. I am in.

Tap, tap, tap I peruse.

Click, click, click.

I download.

And I download some more.

And I download even MORE.

Thanks to Twinkl I now have a library of quality Art teaching videos and PowerPoints at my disposal. I have PowerPoints about continents! I have teaching videos about Diwali, Hanukah, and Ramadan! All the videos are delightful because the narrator speaks with a British accent.

It was well worth venturing down the rabbit hole today.


Classroom Book A Day

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone could start their work day by having a picture book read aloud to them?

Jillian Heise championed #Classroombookaday in schools.

#Classroombookaday promotes the goal of reading aloud a picture book every day of the school year to students of any age, inspired by Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday.  

Every morning we gather on the carpet where I read aloud a picture book. These books later become anchor texts for writing lessons.  After I read a book, I leave it on the ledge in front of the class.  At the end of the week, students vote on their favourite, then I take a photo of the books we read and post it on Teams. 

I focus on specific skills throughout the year: 

  • Identify author, illustrator, title 
  • Identify plot (beginning, middle, end) 
  • Identify setting (where & when) 
  • Identify character traits of main character – both internal and external 
  • Identify fiction/non-fiction & author’s purpose (entertain – fiction; inform – non-fiction) 
  • Identify theme (big idea) 
  • Explore vocabulary 
  • Analyze sentence structure & grammar (use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) 
  • Analyze art and how it supports the story 

I make a point during every read aloud to admire the art and highlight the craftsmanship of the illustrator. I like to highlight how the artist effectively used an element of art, and how the choice of medium impacted the mood of the story.

If an author powerfully used an element of the Narrative Writing Diamond, I would highlight that  after reading aloud (Winning Beginning, Elaborative Detail – Setting, Main Character, Object, Suspense, Main Event, Conclusion) 

During the read aloud I also model reading comprehension skills (connect, question, visualize, infer, transform thinking) and ask students to apply said skills. 

I find that all the discussions we have during #Classroombookaday lays a strong foundation for literature circles. In addition, it prepares students for when I run a Mock Caldecott in January. Students confidently analyze and evaluate the selections.

Not only can kids enjoy picture books, but so can adults. I encourage you to peruse your local public library or bookstore. What gem could you find?


You know how dragons have their hordes?

Well, mine happens to be books. Five years ago when I moved to my current school I installed a wall of a Billy bookcases. I gleefully filled them with books to entice kids to develop a love of reading. Student choice is paramount in creating a positive attitude towards reading, so I mindfully curate a diverse and engaging collection, all at my own expense.

Imagine my dismay, when walking into my room today after an extended medical leave, to find sections missing. My graphic novel section is a shadow of what it once was. Narwhal and Jellyfish series no more. Bye bye Bunbun & Bonbon. Dog Man is done. So are many other series. My heart left a lump in my throat.

Graphic novels are vital in getting reluctant readers hooked on reading. I am now missing an important tool in my reading program.

Students are gone for the summer. We reconvene the day after Labour day in September. The first day back before kids switch to their next grade, I plan to sit kids down and show them exemplars of past student work – One Pagers and Title Acrostic posters – based on missing books. I’ll explain that kids in the upcoming school year will miss out on doing projects on these books unless they are found. I’ll request that students go home and take a close look in case books accidentally made their way home, and would gratefully appreciate their return, no questions asked.

In the interim, I am left with a visual of kids creating their own horde at home, and that books are their treasure.

Change Sings

Books + art = winning combination

Better yet, a poet laureate + talented artist = stunning picture book

The answer to the above equation is Change Sings, A Children’s Anthem.

I love this book so much it was a quick addition to #ClassroomBookADay The book provided a rich springboard for discussion. I informed students we all have the potential to be a change maker, even with something as simple as a smile can make the world a better place.

The next day, I followed up the read aloud with an art lesson. I started by rereading the book and pausing to show how the artist’s use of colour, shape, and line enhanced the story. We then set out to emulate the artist’s work.

Materials Required:

White crayons, water colours or diluted food colouring, brushes, Sharpies, crayons, large sheets of heavy paper, pencil


1. Use white crayons to draw brick background.

2. Select bright colours to do the colour wash over the crayon. (I used diluted food colouring.)

3. Let dry overnight.

4. Use a pencil to write a word that you will do to be a force for change.

5. Colour in word with crayon then outline it in Sharpie.

6. Optional – use Sharpie to draw cracks on wall.



These 3rd Graders are a force for change. Change sings.

Poetry Wrap Up

When was the last time you truly felt satisfied with a unit that you taught? For me, it was the poetry unit that I just finished teaching in my friend’s classroom. Student feedback reminded me of the why I teach – sparking student love of learning and belief in themselves. Students shared with me how much they enjoyed writing poetry and were surprised as they never saw themselves as poets.

Students published their poems and bound them into a booklet including the following self reflection:

Poetry Self-Assessment (Grades2/3)

Name:_______________________              Date:_______________________

   Smile Neutral
I enjoyed learning about poetry.   
I enjoyed writing poetry.   
Poetry can be a source of creativity and joy.   
Playing with language in poetry helped me discover how language works.   
In group lessons I shared my ideas.   
I reviewed my writing and edited for word choice.   

Which is your favourite form of poetry and why?


What did you learn about poetry? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A couple of responses to “What did you learn about poetry?” made my heart melt:

“I learned that it is a beautiful way of speaking about something or someone.”

“I learned that its not just about drawing and writing its about putting your love and care in it and expressing yourself too.”

When was the last time you were reminded of the why you teach? Please share.