Each day has a color, a smell.
Chita Banerjee Divakarumi
The calendar turns to March, and everyone longs for spring. Here in Maine, we expect to be buried in snow for at least another month. But the mind is powerful, and one thing more than almost anything else can instantly trick it into believing sunny days and fresh flowers abound.
That thing is a scent. Diane Ackerman says this about scent in A Natural History of the Senses:
Our cerebral hemispheres were originally buds from the olfactory stalks. We think because we smelled . . . Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines, hidden under the weedy mass of many years and experiences. Hit a tripwire of smell, and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.
If the learning feels a little tired and stale in classrooms this time of year, could it possibly be that the scents surrounding kids and teachers are part of the problem? After months of being closed in and surviving the flu season, it’s likely time for a scent reset. Lewis Thomas explains the connections between smells and memories:
The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connections.
What memories do you want to conjure up in your school today? Linens fluttering on a clothesline outdoors, cinnamon in hot cider, coconut oil on a tropical beach? Spring may be a few weeks away (or more) from appearing outside your classroom windows, but bringing the freshness of spring inside is just a plug-in away.
This week we’re celebrating the fun of March Madness with different takes on literary bracketology. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Here are two features from the archives to help you explore the many possibilities for book brackets in your classroom.
Tony Keefer describes the March Book Madness process with his fourth graders, and how it bound them together as a reading community in new ways:
Gretchen Schroeder has suggestions for bracketology with adolescents in Madness, the Spring Slump, and High School Readers:
The Book Riot blog has a fun twist on book bracketology. Teddy Steinkellner’s bracket pits favorite characters against each other:
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Mary Lee Hahn uses bracketology to help her fifth-grade students explore determining importance in short texts and close reading:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Max about the drama of losing his dog, and the value of using two-page spreads to tell a story:
Is there room for fiction writing in middle schools in the age of the Common Core? Katie Baydo-Reed shares eight compelling reasons why fiction writing is still essential in her eighth-grade classroom:
Heather Rader concludes her series on sentence combining with a four-step process to help teachers explore the sentence combining craft on their own:
That’s all for this week!