Do You Write?

Writing has been one of the loves of my life. When I was very young, I no doubt overrated my ability as a writer. Therefore, I tackled each writing task I was assigned with great confidence. I was convinced that my poems were better than those of other students and that my stories provided great enjoyment for my teachers. Since no one offered a contradictory view, my faith in my ability kept me writing.

Throughout my career in education, I promoted writing activities that I hoped would foster a love of writing in my elementary, middle level, and university students. My elementary students learned to write personal accounts, short stories, and defend their beliefs. My middle-school students were introduced to sixteen poetry styles and used a self-directed poetry center to improve their poetry writing skills. Students in my college classes, much to their distress, also were required to complete numerous writing assignments including, for some, interactive student/instructor journaling.

I hope that during my thirty years as an educator I passed along some of my enthusiasm for writing to my students. Two of them recently published, so now my bookshelves hold books written by former students. That seems an indication to me that they learned to love writing.

When was the last time you were involved in purposeful writing? Ten years ago, author, John Riddle, founded “I Love to Write Day.” This day is celebrated in schools, bookstores, libraries, and community centers across the United States as children and adults discover and rediscover the joy of writing.  If it has been a while since you wrote something, check out the “I Love to Write” web page at: http://www.ilovetowriteday.org/  Get involved in the fun on November 15!

Clipart by OCAL


Are Teachers to Blame?

Yesterday I, once again, read a letter from one of our fifty state education gurus in which a school (School #1), based on paper-pencil testing, was informed of their “status.”  Of course, blame was assigned to the school district and teachers and parents were given the option of transferring their students to another school (School #2) where the “learning gap” is not as wide.

Educators know that if the low achieving students transfer to School #2, the problem that previously existed in School #1 will become the new problem of School #2. This is because the major causes of students’ learning problems relate to things over which school districts and teachers have no control.

Having taught at a much earlier time in a school that consistently had low achieving students, I learned a few things about the reasons students fail to learn. Those, obviously, unaware people who develop state education rules and regulations apparently do not understand the causes for some children being at a disadvantage with learning tasks.

Whose responsibility is it to read to young children? Should the teachers who hope to teach children reading skills when they start to school travel to homes each evening, tuck the kids into bed, and read stories to them?

I grew up in a home with few luxuries, but we had the “luxury” of books in our lives. My mother made it a point to see that the library was used regularly by our family and gifts we received for special occasions often included books. I was read to every night from the time I can first remember. Some of the first books were Peter Rabbit and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. As I matured, books were chosen that contained more complex plots and concepts. Guess what? When I went to school I was already reading the "sight words" I had seen so often during story time.

Questions I have for those who are unaware concerning learning:
  • Why do teachers need to help children develop large motor skills? Could it be that the reason some children can’t skip, throw a ball, or balance is because those skills do not develop while sitting in front of a TV? 
  • Why might children enroll for the first time in school not knowing how to hold a book, how to use a crayon, how to count to ten, where they live, or how to spell their names?
  • Why is it that children can give teachers the details of television programs that were aired long after what should be bed time for children?
  • Why do children arrive at school dirty and with their hair uncombed?
  • Who is responsible for teaching children polite behavior, respect, and the skill of attending to task?

Michelle Obama has received extensive criticism for her fight against obesity and her attempt to make parents aware of their responsibility concerning nutrition. Good for her for persisting! But resistance to the plan of the First Lady no doubt makes educators even more reluctant to place the blame for the learning gap where it belongs – with the ones who bring those children into the world.

Children probably do not possess skills that will make them good parents. Television sets do not foster learning. Unhealthy meals do not build healthy bodies and minds. My very unpopular belief is that until families are fixed, the hands of educators are tied.


Great Times

During the past two weeks I’ve traveled and shared wonderful events with family members and friends.  Very special times for me!

Grandson, Kyle, was married to beautiful Kristi in Plymouth, Michigan, in a Christian ceremony performed by Hubby. This picture was shared by Kristi when they returned from their honeymoon.

  Kyle and Kristi Donovan

Prior to the wedding we enjoyed visits with family in Kansas and a delicious rehearsal BBQ dinner hosted by daughter, Joanne. The meats were smoked by son, Merrill, and his wife, Nancy.

  Merrill and Nan Setting Up Smokers

The week following the wedding, we went with Joanne to Hidden Lake Gardens in the Irish Hills of Michigan. . .

  Joanne and Her Dad by the Lake

then on to Indiana where we spent time with my brother, David, and his wife, JoAnn. While there, I had a book signing in Marion at Midwest Coffee.

 Signing a Book for Rosalie Fletcher

After the Indiana trip, we traveled back to Michigan for a surprise wedding shower for daughter, Joanne.

 Beautiful Tea Service from Hostesses

Monday evening we arrived back home. Great trip! Great times!


What Ever Happened to Those Kids?

Teachers and students are heading back to school already and it’s only the beginning of August. I have to wonder how we, the students of the 40’s and 50’s, became proficient in reading, writing, and math, learned about history and science, and enjoyed art, music, and PE with school in session only nine months each year. I would have hated the schedule kids have now. I’m definitely in the camp of summer break lovers.

Loving my summers is not limited to my days as a student. As a teacher, I also enjoyed summer break. During summertime, I spent many hours preparing for the next school year, while still having the freedom to travel and spend time with my own children. (BTW, despite what many think, signing a nine month contract and then requesting that it be divided into twenty-four pay periods for the sake of budgeting does not mean that teachers have a three month paid vacation.)

I loved teaching and have often wondered about the lives of the elementary and middle school students who were in my classes. Teachers who live and teach in small towns sometimes have the privilege of seeing former students, but those who teach in large cities or move, as I did, usually don’t know about the successes of their former students.

My brother, Dave Lacy, was a math teacher for many years and then a principal for even more. He often posts entries about his school experiences on his blog. Recently, he posted an entry that brought tears to my eyes. If you teach, or have taught, you will probably enjoy reading this account at: http://vanilla-ststt.blogspot.com/2012/07/fields-bad-boy.html

Happy School Year!