Tag Archives: fall

Writing and Photo Invitation: Change

Change happens.  Sometimes when you least expect it.  It’s still warm and sunny and shorts are my go-to weekend attire, but on my beach walk Sunday I was thankful I had grabbed my sweatshirt.  The breeze was chilly…and honestly, it has felt fall-ish all weekend.

On my way to work each morning I drive along the coast.  Lately I’ve been noticing the field of pumpkins, bright orange and framed by the row of palm trees.  I read something today that informed me that these are grown by people at the Self Realization Fellowship (located just to the west) and they become a magnificent display of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns on Halloween each year.


Seasonal change is subtle in San Diego.  I’m starting to see posts and photos by friends who live further east and further north.  The trees are turning and color is dominating the natural landscape.  Instead of brilliant reds and oranges, I am noticing that the beach is wide open with many fewer tourists visiting and maybe many locals occupied by piano lessons and soccer games instead of those long lazy summer days on the shore.  I love this time of year with the sun warming my shoulders, my feet in the surf, and long stretches of open space in front of me.  The shore birds seem to enjoy it too, less skittish as I come near with my camera.


There is lots of change in store decor these days too.  Supermarkets are filled to brim with pumpkin flavored this and that and those pop up Halloween shops are opening.  A trip to Home Depot over the weekend revealed lots and lots of fall flowers.  The bees were happy, flying around and doing their pollinator thing, regardless of the change around them!

fall flowers and a bee

And all change isn’t seasonal.  My teaching life is profoundly changed this year too.  After 23 years co-teaching a multiage class, I am on my own with third graders this year.  I am adjusting to the change in workflow and loving the intimacy of time alone with my students.  The rhythms are different, but the work is familiar and fulfilling.

img_8389What does change look like in your place, in your life?  You might consider the seasonal changes…or not.  There are lots of changes that we experience, some because of the change in the weather and some because of other changes in our lives.


Share your #change this week, in images or words…or both. You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #change.

Take a look around and notice change in your life this week.  Pick up your camera, phone, notebook and pen and document all that you see and experience.  Be sure to share…I look forward to seeing and thinking about your change too!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

October is nearly over and the weather has finally cooled a bit, so I’m starting to feel the fall vibe in the air.  And I’m noticing tones of orange in my photos.

Just yesterday when I took a calming after-work walk on the beach, I saw this guy on a very large tractor creating a big berm along the shore to protect the beach from the fall and winter tides.


And with the sun setting earlier (I know, next week will be crazy dark with the time change back to standard time…it will be dark before I get home from work!), I’m noticing the golden orangish glow of the sunset too.


Over the weekend I was in Alabama (celebrating my mother-in-law’s 89th birthday) and got to spend some time in the local mountains exploring the changing leaves…the reds, golds, oranges…


A visit to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens brought me eye to eye with this wonderful Halloween blossom of orangish and black!  (I have no idea what its true name is, but I love the slightly crumpled look of it.)


Here’s another orange beauty from the gardens.


And we’ve been studying the monarch butterflies that inhabit the garden box outside our classroom.  Like my students, I am fascinated by this beautiful orange and black wonder.  This guy put on quite a performance today, showing off its proboscis as it sipped from the milkweed blossoms…and it posed patiently for me to snap a few shots with my phone.


So as October ends, head out with your camera and take a look for orange.  What will you find?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #orange for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

I can’t wait to see all the orange that you find as you explore your world this week through your lens!

As the Sun Descends

The days are shorter and finally cooler.  The crisp of fall rides the air currents and shoes and socks are beginning to replace weekend flip flops.  Rain (finally!) pelted the parched ground overnight and clouds still gather, hunched over the horizon, adding texture to our often cloudless, pure blue skies.

beachside clouds at sunset

As the sun continued its descent, the seabirds played on the breeze, cruising the currents, darting and dancing with seeming delight at the change in the weather.

clouds near sunset with gull

Dipping into the sea, the sun takes the day away and lets night in.  The smell of bonfires mixes with the briny sea air, the glow of the fires becomes visible as the cloak of darkness wraps the sky.

sunset with gull

I pull my sweatshirt hood up, zip to my chin, and snuggle close to my honey.  It’s cold…at least by San Diego standards.  Finishing its descent, the sun leaves a glow on the horizon and signals time to head home to its watchers.  And tonight will also mark our time change, falling back from daylight savings time to standard time.  We’ll have short days and long nights to look forward to for the next couple of months.  Welcome fall…and daylight’s descent toward winter.

last minutes of sun

Looking for Signs…

Six weeks into the school year with unseasonably warm temperatures…I find myself looking for signs of fall.  Southern California is not known for spectacular fall colors: the changing leaves, colorful gourds, and orange pumpkins decorating doorsteps.  Instead, I notice things like the orange and red kelp washed up by hurricane Simon off the coast of Mexico,

orange and red kelp

the orange beach umbrella near the lifeguard tower,

orange umbrella

and the golden sun highlighting the surfer atop the bigger than usual waves.

golden surfer

And I’m starting to see some even more exciting signs of fall…and of the writing community growing in my classroom.  Some signs are subtle, like students settling into writing without any urging from us and sticking with the writing for longer and longer periods of time.  There’s a willingness to share writing with one another and with the class as a whole…even from our shyer students.  And then there’s the risk-taking…trying out new strategies for revision and composition with independence and confidence.

This third grader uses her reflection notebook to write about a tool we use in class to help with revision.  It’s clear that she sees the value of revision for improving her writing…knowing writers, even good writers, have to work at improving their craft.

elke's reflection

It’s also fun to see students bring their voice to informal, reflective writing.  They are writers whenever they put words to a page…like this student describing something learned from reading a Scholastic News magazine,

reflectionand the student who began her reflection on a writing and art project with, “It all started when Ms Boyesen read us a book called Flashlight.”

Like the more obvious brilliant crimson leaves, sweet apple cider, and crisp autumn evenings that signal fall, these subtle signs in the classroom represent our growth as a community of learners and writers.  We are ready to dig in, to stretch ourselves as learners, and to learn from and with each other throughout the school year.

I have to look carefully for signs of fall in my place…they aren’t easily recognized by those looking for the gorgeous iconic images we see represented in the media.  The same is true in my classroom, looking carefully uncovers signs that might be overlooked otherwise.  The signs are there and I’m looking forward to the journey with these young writers.

What signs of a developing learning community are you seeing in your place?


San Diego Fall: The Hue of You

Living in a place like San Diego, seasons are all about subtlety.  Rather than piles of fluffy white snow or icy winds in winter, we have chilly mornings and nights and mostly sunny, cool days.  Spring is our rainy season (note: 10 inches of rain per year is our maximum!), the nights and mornings are a bit warmer than winter and most days are cool and sunny–although late spring brings the dreaded “May Gray,” that marine layer that pushes the sun away from the coast.  Summer in San Diego starts slowly.  June is characterized by “June Gloom” (just like May Gray), with the sun appearing for a cameo in the late afternoon before the fog rolls in again.  And fall in San Diego is gorgeous!  It’s warm and sunny, often well into November and even December.  But it can also be scary with dry Santa Ana winds that whip up the fire danger in our arid, desert-like climate.

Today we decided to trek up to a local mountain town about an hour east of my house in celebration of fall.  Julian is known for fall…filled with apple pies, apple cider, and other iconic fall features.  But those vivid red and orange and yellow leaves that shout fall in other regions, whisper fall in San Diego.  And even in Julian where San Diegans go for fall, the autumn hues are subtle.


And they’re positioned between the greens and browns and reds of the pines and manzanitas and California live oaks that are native to the region.



And then there are the iconic fall images we know so well…pumpkins, scarecrows, apples.




So, the hues of you for me as a San Diegan in fall are a rich, but subdued, palette of oranges, yellows, greens, browns, and reds.  And I can feel them and smell them and taste them as much as I can see them.  Warm and dry and spicy…and yummy.  Like this apple dumpling I had today.


What hues evoke fall for you?


In our classroom we like to give students lots of ways to process information.  They listen, they speak, they sketch, they observe, they write, they read, they move, they sing, they paint…

They are saturated with learning experiences.  Today we painted.  But it was just a part of a series of experiences to help students look closely, notice details, and then learn to sketch roundness by using curved lines and shading with their sketch pencils.  They started with pumpkins harvested from our school garden.  They moved to tomatoes, also harvested in the garden. They studied Vincent Van Gogh and learned about the concept of still life.  They arranged their own still life composition and photographed it using their iPads.  They used the photo as a guide for sketching their unique composition–and also learned some techniques for showing the overlapping of the fruits and vegetables.  And then today they tried the same techniques using watercolor paints.


These six, seven, and eight year olds saturated their compositions with the brilliant colors of fall based on their experiences with the actual objects.


In this photo you can see the gorgeous sketch (that the student made earlier this week) that guided this careful painting.  Saturating students in a variety of experiences related to a topic allows for deeper and more meaningful learning.  This learning is not just about art–although the art is beautiful–it’s also science and history and math and reading and writing…and so much more.

And conveniently, this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is saturated.  It talks about color…but there is so much more to saturation than color, in my opinion!

How do you saturate yourself and your students in learning experiences?