Tag Archives: quotes

The Gift of Words

Inspired by a blog post on Edutopia by a colleague of mine from the UCLA Writing Project, our class began to explore the idea of gifts.  This is a hard time for young students, this season seems to make them want everything!  There is talk of what Santa will bring, what antics and gifts the elf carries, along with lots of decorating and baking and performances and outings…

So last week we began by reading a beautiful picture book that my teaching partner found at Powell’s books in Portland called Immi’s Gift by Karin Littlewood.  This gorgeous book about an Inuit girl is perfect for setting the stage for expanding the idea of gifts beyond what can be purchased.  And honestly, our students, even before reading the book had many ideas about those “priceless” gifts…of time, nature, acts of kindness…  And this simple book is filled with beautiful language, ideas, and images.

And then we gave the students the invitation to become word-sleuths…to be on the lookout for words, phrases, sentences..that were worthy of gift status.  Words that were special to them in some way.  They collected these words on yellow stickies and then carefully wrote them on some pretty pieces of paper to hang on the “My Gift of Words” board in our classroom.

My Gift of Words

The collections are growing–and students are not only finding words others wrote, they are writing their own too!  This third grader came in on Tuesday with this line that she had written in her notebook on her way to school.  (And I suspect also influenced by another book we read, What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky.)

peace like salt water

Here’s a glimpse at some of the other word gifts hanging on our board.

And suddenly, not only are my students noticing and appreciating words everywhere, but so am I!  At a meeting at school on Monday, one of my colleagues used this Michelangelo quote to call us all to action and urge us to dream big.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.  Michelangelo

A word fairy has been leaving inspirational quotes in our mailboxes at school this week…and a friend of mine just gave me this beautiful necklace with a quote from Albert Einstein on it.  (I love the sentiment!)


And the cherry on top of all these words is that at The Writing Thief MOOC our most recent make is a scavenger hunt for mentor texts!  It feels like I have been bathed in words this week, they are falling like raindrops, gathering in puddles, splashing ideas and inspiration into my thinking and writing and living.

And I see it with my students too.  They are tuned into words, catching them in their nets, and sharing them with each other, their families, and with us.  In this season of giving, the gift of words has been spectacular…and a tradition that I hope carries on into the New Year!

What words are inspiring you this holiday season?  What words have you given and received as gifts?  What are your favorite mentor texts?  And feel free to join us over at The Writing Thief MOOC and share some of your favorite words, phrases, sentences, and books…you’re all welcome.  Come join the fun!

Wise Words Inspire: April’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

It seems like a chicken and egg dilemma: does the picture inspire the words or do the words inspire the picture? I’m never quite sure. I often go out and take photos of things that catch my eye and later go back and figure out how to make it work for the photo prompt of the day. On other days a single photo will bring a flood of words, and then sometimes with a word or words as prompt, my eye is tuned to find photo opportunities I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

With spring in the air (even though we in southern CA haven’t had much of a winter), I find myself looking for signs of the seasons: buds emerging, flowers blossoming, baby animals, warm breezes, rejuvenating rainfall, and all the poetry they evoke. My friend Janis was inspired to find some quotes for us to use as prompts for our April #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day challenge.

So for April, let each prompt inspire a week of photos. Take the quote literally or figuratively. Take some photos and examine them with the quote in mind to find the intersections and connections or read and ponder the quote and then head out to find the images that the quotation evokes. You get to decide if your photo matches the prompt!

After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twiiter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you are game for some extra action, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, try a learning walk, or write some poetry or even a song! (More about learning walks here and here) You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Week 1: April 1-6

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. —Henry David Thoreau

orange bud

Week 2: April 7-13
I had always planned to make a large painting of the early spring, when the first leaves are at the bottom of the trees, and they seem to float in space in a wonderful way. But the arrival of spring can’t be done in one picture. —David Hockney

orange flowers

Week 3: April 14-20
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. —Albert Einstein

purple fist bud

Week 4: April 21-27
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. —Rainer Maria Rilke
Earth laughs in flowers.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

flowers red and pink

Week 5: April 28-30
What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? —E. M. Forster

sun on water

Let these wise words inspire your photographic art in April! Have fun, be creative, explore the limits of your photography…April is the perfect time for new beginnings. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!