Just look at us, all of us, quietly doing our thing and trying to matter. The earnestness is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Amy Krouse Rosenthal mattered. When she passed away this spring, we didn’t just lose a gifted children’s book author. We lost someone who saw every day as an opportunity to leave kind and whimsical offerings to the world. Amy once left a pinata in a tree at a park where the local little league teams practiced, at just the right height for the kids to discover and whack away at with the bats they’d conveniently be carrying home.
When I read her new memoir this summer, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, I was charmed again by her generosity and creativity. One of the little projects she documented was “penny for your thoughts.” Only Amy could see what the rest of us view as a throwaway coin as a tiny canvas. She would print out favorite quotes, glue them to the pennies, and leave them for strangers to discover. I decided to honor Amy by trying it myself.
This task is harder than it sounds.
A tweet is a novel compared to what you can put on a penny.
I started with some of my favorite quotes from Amy’s memoir, like this one:
Aren’t we all just trying to leave one good, lasting thing behind?
I took two equations she had in the book and put them on each side of the same coin, since they described my marriage perfectly:
(patience + silence) X coffee = Poetry [that’s me]
(patience + silence) X beer = Fishing [that’s Dave!]
At the airport on my next trip, I placed this penny carefully near the airport gate:
It is easy to fall in love with someone who passes the time at the airport gate strumming their guitar.
Then I found some of my favorite quotes from others and printed them on labels to put on pennies, like these:
A year from now you may wish you had started today. Karen Lamb
If you love life, life will love you back. Arthur Rubinstein
When I got tired with fussing with printing out quotes on tiny round labels, I just wrote out the kind of inspiration I would like to discover on a stray penny:
Today the universe is on your side.
Choose kind. Be kind.
What are you waiting for?
I scatter the pennies one by one as I travel through ordinary days (at the post office, grocery store, or in the parking lot at the auto repair shop). I try to imagine strangers picking them up, and reading just the words they need that day to put a smile on their face, or to take a little courageous leap. It’s the perfect tribute to Amy, who lived her life with humor and courage, trying every day to make art and connect with others. The Penny Project distills that belief down to its tiny essence.
This week we look at word work and vocabulary instruction. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Shari Frost has some practical suggestions for more thoughtful word work:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain how two simple word changes have made all the difference in building rapport with teachers:
Jennifer Gonzalez shares some useful strategies for dealing with grammar and spelling errors:
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Stephanie Affinito offers five guiding principles and a template for planning small-group word study:
Gretchen Schroeder finds any vocabulary routine eventually gets stale in her high school classroom. She shares a couple of favorite options for reinvigorating word learning:
In this week’s video, first-grade teacher Bitsy Parks presents a minilesson on figuring out tricky words by recounting a student’s strategy from a recent reading conference, using it to begin an anchor chart:
Andrea Smith uses the sentence-phrase-word thinking routine with her fourth graders to show how potent one word can be in understanding complex themes:
New PD2Go: Katie DiCesare helps her first-grade students “envision” their writing drafts. The lesson focuses on creating mental images to conjure stronger verbs and adjectives while writing:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.L.1.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
That’s all for this week!