Tag Archives: rainy day

Purple Beans: SOLC #15

With rain in the forecast (again!), I was thankful to be able to get my morning group of students out into the garden with their iPads. (No such luck with my PM group–but that is another blog post.)

In the fall, we had spent time in the garden clearing out overgrown beds, pulling weeds and enormous carrots that hadn’t been harvested because of our pandemic shutdown. We groomed the soil, sowed some seeds, made sure the irrigation was working–and then my attention turned to other instructional priorities, neglecting the garden.

This is the time of the year when I like to use photography as a tool to teach my students about perspective, about “seeing” the world in different ways, and about the role photos have played as advocacy. We’ve learned a bit about Dorothea Lange and her photographs during the depression and World War II and also about Ansel Adams and his photos of National Parks and Japanese internment camps.

So we headed into the garden to try on a few photography techniques: a bug’s eye view, leading lines, natural frames, and the rule of thirds. A lot had changed since our last visit to the garden before the winter holidays! We were greeted by 4 foot tall dandelions, beets bigger than a your head, and plenty of other surprises.

My students happily explored with their iPads in search of photographs. They laid on the ground seeking that bug’s eye view, looking up and under the masses of plants. They sought frames and lines, hopefully holding their devices still enough to prevent the inevitable blur that so many experience. They used those helpful grid lines to define the focus of their subject and carefully place it for their rule of thirds photos.

And they pointed out all the wonders they found. There was the little girl who worked diligently to photograph the roly poly that was trying to make a quick get away and the one who dug around in the garden bed and discovered that giant beet (above). They photographed flowers and beans, pinecones and weeds…and who knows what all else.

I found myself captivated by the purple beans. Lots and lots of purple beans and the mass of curlicues reaching up and around.

Tomorrow we will examine our photos, evaluating how well the photography techniques work in helping us look carefully. We’ll also do some writing, using the photos as inspiration and subject matter. And maybe we’ll also get back to some gardening. Weed those beds again, harvest our overgrown bounty, and start again with seeds. Seeds that will also help us grow–as photographers, writers, and advocates too!

What to do on a Rainy Day?: SOLC 2019 Day 2

What to do on a rainy day?  If I’d had my druthers, as I woke I would have snuggled back down into my covers and listened to the melodic drip drop pattering of raindrops on the roof until I was lulled back into a decadent lazy rainy day sleep.

Instead, when my alarm went off at 5:30 am, I got out of bed, heard the rain–with a bit of dread–and got myself ready to head out.  This is the day of the San Diego Area Writing Project annual Spring Conference!  We don’t do rain well in San Diego, so when my husband said my phone was buzzing as I emerged from the shower, I worried that people were contacted me to let me know that they wouldn’t be attending.  (That wasn’t the case.)  I made my way through the raindrops and occasional imprudent rainy day drivers to the university.


And as is always the case…there is amazing energy in teachers coming together to learn on a Saturday morning!  Close to 150 educators dodged the raindrops for continental breakfast, coffee, and comradery…along with opportunities to learn together.  And we were in for a treat!  The hardest part of the morning was choosing which sessions to sit in, there were so many good choices!

Storytelling strategies, using mentor text to improve student writing, inserting craft in non fiction writing, amplifying student voice (with students sharing their process and outcomes), harnessing the power of technology to support young writers, and employing thinking routines for social justice in the classroom were all options this morning.  And thirty years into my teaching career and with almost as many years with the writing project I continue to learn and be inspired in this community of educators.

As always, Christine inspired the audience in her opening, reminding us that it is wholehearted connections that make the biggest difference in learning.  I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a rainy Saturday morning in the company of dedicated professionals.


I didn’t get to sleep in this morning, but I am refreshed and inspired by a morning spent learning with colleagues.