Tuesday, October 10, 2006

SOS did the job. After three trips the store without returning home with the scrubbing pads, tonight I arrived home victorious. Of course, the last of those failures I did remember to look for the scrubbing pads, but could not find them. Tonight, I had two bright twelve-year-olds racing around the store to find the items on my list. They even found lemon scented ones!

Whereas the vinegar and baking soda concoction failed to remove the remnants of the burnt corn, the SOS pads, with MUCH elbow grease, did the job. My grandmother's pot is now usable again. If I did not stuff myself overly much at dinner, I would have promptly made some Malt O'Meal in the pan, enjoying its perfect size for the job.

I had thought to start another mother/daughter book club with my writing student's sister since she is now twelve, the same as my student when she began, but it just didn't turn out that way. She had two friends who wanted to read books with us, but not with their mothers. Then one of her friends dropped out after the initial meeting. I had to set aside my disappointment and do some creative thinking because the remaining friend is not a strong reader and her mother has been quite ill.

I decided that instead of meeting at either of their houses, we would meet in a restaurant, that we would have a literacy dinner of sorts. They both liked the idea, and tonight's meeting was a good beginning...even if there was still far more giggling than I would have preferred!

We went to a new Italian restaurant, where the girls investigated the savory delights of calzones. I had a chicken and bacon pizza (or a third of one...yes, I brought home enough leftovers for at least two more meals). All three of us also munched on spinach and artichoke dip with fresh baked bread sticks. They guzzled lemonade while I savored Mr. Pibb, since I have been without Dr. Pepper for four days. The meal was rather fulfilling.

We had read Karen Cushman's Catherine Called Birdy. The book discussion, while not as erudite as I would have liked, was still a good beginning. I introduced them to a way to identify themes in a story. You make a four-squared chart that has "likes" and "dislikes" in the top two squares and "patterns" and "questions" in the bottom two squares. Then, you have the readers fill in each square by listing things they liked, things they didn't like, the patterns they saw, and the questions they have about the story. After doing so individually, you combine the lists. If done in a large classroom, you can break the class into small groups for the first round and then have everyone call out their ideas for the combined chart. Once the chart is filled, you look for patterns/groupings across the four areas, which will highlight different themes of the book. It might be themes of plot or character development or setting. Those patterns/groupings can then be the catalyst for further discussion, especially with searching for other instances of what was noted.

I had asked them both to maintain response journals while they were reading, but the friend did not do so. I believe that she was a bit intimidated by the process. What tickled me is that she had a three page response to the book when she arrived tonight. When she had told my writing student's sister that she did not have a journal, she advised the friend that she had better not show up without any writing. Apparently, my reputation proceeds me with my writing student's siblings. The friend promised to try keeping a journal next time. Since they live down the street from each other, I might have them swap journals so they can see what each other thought before I get them to write responses to their notes before we meet. Both of their writing was a good first effort, reflective of their interests and abilities. They have the best time making home movies together, so I have to figure out a way to incorporate that interest into what we are doing with books.

Over all, I was not disappointed in my altered approach to the book club, and I very, very much enjoyed the opportunity to teach literacy again.

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