Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#TeacherFriends Tuesday Twitter Chat: Reading Success Stories

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#TEACHERFRIENDS This is your week! 
Teacher Appreciation Week!!! 

What better way to spend your Tuesday night, 
than with your tweeps and chatting about: 
"Reading Success Stories." 

Our weekly 'practice' chat continues with yet another author. 
This time we welcome Rita Wirtz, author of 
READING CHAMPS.


Five of our lucky participants will be winning a personalized copy! 
To be eligible to win, you've got to get your name and email on our Google Doc. 

The Google Doc will be tweeted out, beginning at 8:30 until about 9:50. 
You only need to enter once to win! 


Our official chat begins at 9 PM EST, 
but we have long had an Early Birds gathering 
that starts at 8:30 in an effort to support newbies. 


I am the official 'moderator' of the chat. 
Be sure that you follow me on Twitter, 
so that you're certain to SEE the questions that I ask our guest every week. 
Once you see the questions, 
Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, and Q5.......

then jump right into the chat and respond with your thoughts. 
The only "RULE" is to remember to use our hashtag in every tweet. 
#TeacherFriends 






Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation End of Year Sale + FREEBIE Download Poem



Teacher Appreciation Week! 
The finish line is in sight! 
Coming down the home stretch! 
Time to say thanks to those working so hard on behalf of learning!!!



Teachers are my Heroes Bumper Sticker via Debbie Clement


I wrote a little End of Year Poem that you can download for FREE! 

I have it in pdf format over at our Early Education Emporium. 


I have two songs that are each used for End-of-Year Performances. 
I have YouTube videos to introduce you to the sign language that supports the song. 

This first one is "You're Wonderful" and is available in a digital download at TeachersPayTeachers.



My song, "Red, White and Blue" is especially appropriate to add patriotic flair. It too is in a zipped file and available for digital download at TpT.





I have put my store on sale at 20% off 
in time to have you take advantage of the site wide sale! 

Remember to use the check out code: 
THANK YOU to save an additional 10% off!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Praise Report and Water Lilies Galore!


Gratitude. Thankfulness. Blessings. Praise.

As I sit at the end of a memorable week, 
I am brought back to the very essence of appreciation. 
In the midst of agitation, tumult and turmoil, 
I am attempting to learn to stop myself in my tracks.
Breathe. Look for beauty. Exhale.
Count my blessings.
Back to basics.

The technical term for this sort of week is: cra-cra.
When every aspect of life starts to clamor. 

I've been saying, "things are all clamored up.' 
Another technical term.


This has been a MAJOR week. 
So many developments, nuances, the unexpected and even the deplorable.
A soup. A stew. A royal muck-up of ingredients. 

This has been a week of learning.
A lot of learning.
{Yup. I'm still learning.}
I've been asking myself a LOT of questions. 

Is this latest 'something' under my ability to 'control' or not? 
As I determine that something is NOT under my control, 
I need to learn to 'let-it-go.'
Cue: Disney sound track. 
No matter how upsetting or deplorable.

Easier said than done. 
Trust me. These are skills that can be honed. 
I have had more than sufficient reason to continue to practice.

And just how does one let 'it' go?

Here's one possibility.
Take a walk. 
Yup. I recommend taking a walk.
Profound. I know. 
The faster the better. 
Though a very slow walk is pretty awesome as well. 



Where you walk is up to you, but if at all possible get outside. 
Walking in the great outdoors has so many benefits: 

Fresh air. Oxygen. Pumping-those-ENDORPHINS. 

LITERALLY a change of scenery itself is beneficial.
Choosing a place with a known wow-factor is a no-brainer. 
And when I'm upset, a no-brainer is what I need. 



The clickity-clack of walking, pacing and moving  
all allow the mind to change channels.
If you are within proximity of a park or garden, 
head in that direction. 
Then start counting your blessings. 
Literally 'watch' your breath coming and going.
Count. 
Slow down your breathing. 
Take your camera. 
See if you can capture something delightful.
Be on the look out.
Watchfulness. 
Anticipation. 
Look for the smallest of details.
Look for the sweeping vista.
Look for color. Value. Shape. 
Just look. 
Willingness. 

Focusing on beauty takes the fore front of attention.
The frustration, even agony can then recede. 
Perspective is available. 
Breathing makes it all easier. 
Perspective is what you need in that moment. 
Nothing has changed, but perspective has been gained.
Hallelujah.


I reported last week about our recent purchase of a membership to our McKee Botanical Gardens. We ended up splurging and opting for an annual family pass. I promised you that I'd get my water lily pictures downloaded, and cropped. I'm back today to make good on my promise. Water lilies as therapy. Water lilies as appreciative fodder. Water lilies as meditation. Water lilies as perspective. 


Taking photographs of these beauties is not especially challenging. 
Even when you're upset. 
There are a ton at McKee. 
They sit there, posing.
Look for a splash of sunshine.
Point and capture. 
In this land of digital, take a bazillion. 
Something is bound to be in focus. 
Then crop. 
Voila. 
Thank you Creator. 

BTW: the color of the bloom below, was a TON more outrageous.


Seeing the photograph conjures the feeling of the color, 
but from the place in my brain where I attempted to store it. 
You get a glimmer from the photo, 
but probably not the feeling of total JOY that exploded in my heart,
upon seeing it float there suspended as though by angels.
I don't know that there is such a color outside of nature.
If so I don't know the name for it. 
My photography skills are not sufficient to convey the depth. 
But the photo is in the ballpark.
Getting into the beauty-ballpark is a WIN for the home team.
I am determined to rise above.
If you're keeping track? 
I'm claiming this as a victory.


This week there has been plenty to balance. 
Plenty to appreciate. 
Plenty to consider. 
Plenty to practice. 
Breathe.

Since we have an annual membership. 
We have returned. 
MORE photographs. 
More taking-of-the-breath-away beauties to capture.
More reason to focus.
More gratitude. More appreciation. 
More BLESSINGS.
MORE PERSPECTIVE.


How many water lilies can you appreciate in one article? 
Do you marvel at the variety? 

I don't "know" a thing about these. 
I don't know a water lily from a lotus. 

I'm excited at the prospect of learning.


What I do KNOW is their amazing capability to calm me. 
To focus me. 
To excite my senses and calm my nerves, 
all at once. 

I will prescribe NUMEROUS visits here when we return. 
Yesterday we said goodbye.


As I sit here typing, we are in the car. 
For the first GREAT snow-bird migration of 2015. 

Our critical worldly belongings are packed into a variety of containers. 
My sewing machine. 
His golf clubs.
My guitar. 
Clean undies for each--
and plenty of polka dots for the duration. 
The week leading up to our migration is fraught with lots of details. 
This year more so than ever. More on that at another time.


I've got to plan for ALL of the various events on the calendar from here to November. 
If I always did the 'same thing' it would be a lot easier.
Plus I have to select so that he can get it ALL to fit in our car. 

Sometimes I'm with itty-bitty wee ones. 
Sometimes I'm with big, mature, insightful ones. 
Sometimes I'm speaking to teachers of wee ones. 
Sometimes........ 

You get the idea. 
Variations of Debbie Clement require different props.
Packing. Details. Focus. Packing. Details. Focus.


That's not 'all' that has been clamoring for focus. 
So back it was to McKee Gardens. 

Saying good-bye for the season.


Walking the paths at the gardens, 
crossing the bridges, 
coming around the bend, 
to see these fireworks of color?
PRICELESS! 
They are a reminder of purity. 

There is purity in this world.
Find that purity and focus. 
TRUST. 
EXHALE. 
GRATITUDE.

All of the other nonsense will get taken care of in time.
How long does a single water lily bloom?
The things I don't know are astounding. 


What is it that creates those little ripples around the edge of some of the lily pads? 
I'm fascinated. 
Incredible detail. 

The flower blooming is fascinating, 
but attempting to capture it with nuance makes it more of a game.
The curl of a petal. 
The bud yet to bloom in the same frame?
Requires squatting lower.
The pooling of some water on the lily pad. 
Must be noticed first. 
All while conscientiously breathing.


Today was a seven hour drive. 
From our home in FL to my parent's home in Augusta...... 
with a stop to deliver a keynote in between, 
{thank you Space Coast AEYC for that reception!}
PLUS having a late luncheon send off after that
with a beloved sister-in-law and fam.
Are you keeping up with all of these blessings? 

So now to the cropping and the pondering. 
My mommy gets concerned about my balancing act. 

She knows some of the 'rest-of-the-story' 
and other cats-in-the-bag, yet to be told. 
That's the life-long job of mommies --
to show concern and support, even in the midst of the juggling. 
Eternal cheerleading: 
"I think you can, I think you can, I think you can."

*I took this next picture to be able to add a quote in the corner. 
Seriously. I thought that through. 
While I was selecting THE bloom and posing it.
Darkness of background, lends itself to quote insertion.


Tomorrow is a nine and a half hour drive. 
We will join my parents for breakfast and then on to church together.
Then hugs and a probable few tears. 
I'm already imagining the brevity of that visit, 
as we push on to the WonderPeep Central, 24 hours from now. 
The end goal is Detroit on Monday evening. 
Whew. 

The point of that digression, 
is to share that I will search for a quote to add to the photo above. 

This next one also has room for quote adding. 
Upper left hand corner. 
You'll have to return to see what I come up with.
So now I attempt to snap the photo with background for quote adding.
Bloggers will understand.



Look at this next incredible juxtaposition of bloom against floating polka dots.
I get giddy looking at this one. 
Makes me giggle.
Out loud. 
Did a committee of angels conjure this sensory delight?
FIREWORKS!



Mommy. I told you that I had some photos you would appreciate. 
I took them for you. 
I knew you'd enjoy them -- 
 which would allow me to be enthralled all over again. 

Your word-smithing over their preening for me, 
would be the perfect circle of completion. 

I can hear your descriptive consideration. 
You can start with this next one. 
I think it is my favorite. 

Who knew you could have such variations on pure white petals? 
Or maybe you can use white-ish in your poetic consideration. 
What rhymes with white-ish? 
I'll await your insight. 
As you conjure rhymes for white. 
{Couldn't resist.}



What is that over-sized podium in the middle up above? 
It looks Dr. Seussian. 
Clueless. 
No idea. 
Did I not take high school biology?
Shouldn't I have some lily terminology retention?
Doesn't matter. At all. 
Maybe better that I am so utterly without terminology.
Still calms me.
Makes me marvel all the more. 
Enthralls and delights. 
Which is the win! Yes. I am keeping score for beauty.

As I attempt to learn from pondering the lilies, 
as I attempt to balance the sorrow and the sweet,
I conclude with this final image.  



It is the reflection that first captured my attention. 
The reflection. 
Our actions in this world travel forth. 
Emanating outward. 
Rippling beyond our immediate influence into the wider world. 
Beauty and truth beget further beauty.

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

EXCELLENCE, Inequity, Poverty + Benevolence, Organization & Rainbows

Author-Illustrator School Visit: Debbie Clement goes to "Primary Graffiti"

AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR SCHOOL VISIT
Welcome to excellence! 

If you've ever wondered what excellence looks like at the elementary school level, you are in for a treat. I have at least a glimpse to elevate your Wednesday to the WONDERFUL level! In the process I bet you'll be inspired and delighted at the same time. Without a doubt, you will see excellence-in-action!

I go to a lot of schools over the course of the year. I get to see a HUGE variety of settings in my travels. Here's a gen-u-ine truth. 
All schools are NOT created equal. 
It pains me to say that. There are bus-loads of children being dropped off to buildings that are from a by-gone era. There are children walking in the doors of buildings that have had to cut their budgets down to bare bones. There are students spending their school lives in less than optimal settings.  

What does school look like on the 155th day?

My author-illustrator visits are often underwritten by the hard work of a PTA/PTO. It is usually through parents working together that there is sufficient fund raising effort taking place to ensure that extra "frills" are still available for enrichment. [Don't get me started about ART being a frill that must be sacrificed during these economic times. That's a different rant altogether.]

What if a school doesn't even have a parent's organization? What happens to field trips and assemblies when families can no longer "pay-to-play" on behalf of their children? What becomes of those once in a lifetime memories that stretch the boundaries of the classroom? What happens when the majority of the building falls into gen-u-ine, documented poverty status? 

How is it that some schools are taking 5, 6 or even more field trips a year and others can offer ZERO? My heart aches for those kids. The ones who never have a field trip. No pumpkin patch, no zoo, no museum, no theater, no symphony, no ballet. The ones who never get an assembly. No exploding science experiments from the guy with the crazy hair. No life-size marionettes visiting in the gym. No African drum ensemble after recess. 

What about those kids? There are so many great divides left in this amazing country of ours. The ache for "those kids" and "that school" is real. What opportunities are cut off, because dreams were never lit early on? When does someone organize a sit-in for that school? When does someone lead the demonstration that points out the obvious? Schools are different from neighborhood to neighborhood. Opportunities too. 

I don't know exactly how we got to this point. I'm not pretending to be bright enough to know what to do about it, either. BUT, I can still make a difference! Little ol' me. It is my personal mission to offer my own visits to the marginalized, whenever I can. As our time in Florida this season trickled away, I realized that it was time to contribute my energy. Cheryl of the ubber-popular blog, "Primary Graffiti" was willing to reach out to her principal for permission and then do all of the heavy lifting of getting an entire building organized. All I had to do was drive there and do-my-thing.

Here are the smiling faces that greeted me on her classroom door.  



I have to say that Cheryl's principal deserves some extra cheers. 
In my efforts to offer my "gift-of-benevolence" visit, 
I had two different building principals turn me down just this spring. 
Same thing happened last year: different state, same rationale. 
All have thought that any 'distraction' in the midst of testing 
would throw a monkey-wrench into the critical rigor of this high stakes evaluation-time. 
That's yet another rant.

Let's just be grateful that Cheryl's principal was delighted at the offer 
and knew that singing, dancing and interaction with a 'real' author would be beneficial -- even in the spring time!

I know that my readers like to look over my shoulder and see how other classrooms are organized. 
This earlier article continues to climb my Top-10 list.  

185 Ideas to Organize your Classroom NOW! {RoundUP at RainbowsWithinReach}

Though my time for taking photos was at an all-time low, 
I entered Cheryl's room with an eagerness to share what an organized room can look like. 
She probably has at least 185 ideas in her own room! 

Here are just a few of her classroom vignettes, 
captured while doing my utmost NOT to disturb her teaching time. 
Ready? Set...... GO! 

Visit an Organized Classroom: Debbie Clement goes to Primary Graffiti


{Egg on face: I just realized that in attempting to give Cheryl 'credit' on the photos below, I have spelled the word Graffiti wrong repeatedly. Please forgive me.}

Take a look at the shelves immediately opposite the classroom door's entrance.

What a 'calming' sense washes over me,
when I walk into a classroom that has DESIGN at the forefront! 
Organization award for REALZ!


There's a place for everything...... 
and everything's in its place. 



We may have been separated at birth. 
When I taught Art, I had bins for my parquetry blocks per table, too! 


Now walk around the rest of the perimeter of her room. 
There is excellence and classroom organization pouring out of every corner!





She will have to tell you where her various bins and buckets came from. 
You need to go to her blog on a regular basis anyhow! 
The woman has a HUGE heart for children and knows how to set the bar, 
so that they can achieve their best....
even BEYOND predictions! 


Which just goes to show you that there are incredible teachers doing amazing work, 
in schools that are sitting in the midst of economic blight. 
There is always a possibility of excellence. 
No matter the 'location.'
Personal excellence has long been possible. 
Think of the movies you've seen where the teacher triumphs on behalf of the kids.
This team provides just such an environment! 

I had the opportunity to meet other educators in the building and they too were happy to welcome me. How I wish I had time to visit in other classrooms. True to a Floridian school design, every classroom opens onto a courtyard, and alas, there are no central hallways filled with art to capture and share. 

Here are the first grade preparations for Mother's Day. 
Integrating science, seeds, delayed gratification and flowers!


Cheryl wanted to see the "Wobble Seat" that we distribute in person.
So I brought an example of the 14" Kids Seat to take a test drive. 
We both felt that the white option might NOT be the best for heavy duty 
classroom usage over the course of time: wink-wink. 

But the driver of the wobble had a great time!
I am always amazed to see how soon the extreme wobbling settles into quiet rocking. 
This time was no different. 

Wobble Seat in the First Grade Classroom via WobbleSeat.com

We are now processing purchase orders. 
You ALWAYS get free shipping when you order a dozen. 
My hubby can figure out an exact quote, with specific shipping if you give him a call. 
Here's the tag for ALL of my earlier mentions of WobbleSeats 
and especially how you can write a Donors Choose project! 


Here are the two of us BEFORE all of the fun in the library gets underway. 



Those of you that have visited here before, 
KNOW my adoration for color. 
To be greeted by hand painted rainbows, on a raining day, 
really did make my heart go pitter-patter!
LUV LUV LUV LUV LUV LUV LUV LUV





Here we are..... all gathered together in the library. 
I enlisted NUMEROUS teachers to help.
They hold my books and turn pages, 
while I teach the sign language to support the song's lyrics/book text.  

Cheryl wore her official "PHOTOGRAPHER" hat well!
I don't have a photo of the two of us in action together. 

Author-Illustrator School Visit: Debbie Clement goes to "Primary Graffiti"

Author-Illustrator School Visit: Debbie Clement goes to "Primary Graffiti"

One of my favorite parts of every presentation, 
is when we compare my fabric quilts 
to the finished book's illustrations. 

The kids literally GASP when we compare the two --
and I never get tired of that!
This is my favorite quilt from my first picture book
"You're Wonderful." 


I integrate 'crossing-the-midline' in all choreography, whenever possible. 
I have written earlier about wiring the brain through movement in previous articles. 
Here's a favorite from the archives.

Author-Illustrator School Visit: Debbie Clement goes to "Primary Graffiti"

Author-Illustrator School Visit: Debbie Clement goes to "Primary Graffiti"



My three picture books are over at TeachersPayTeachers
Or get them DIRECTLY from my website

Picture Books Based on Song Lyrics by Debbie Clement


I rushed 213 miles directly BACK to our front door, 
since it was Tuesday, 
that meant Twitter Chat with my #TeacherFriends. 

How cool to see Cheryl's tweet arise in real time in my notifications
while we were busy chatting! 


She's right! That image will remain a FAVORITE for ages to come! 
Those kiddos are freezing their funny faces, fantastically, 
as part of the second verse in my crowd pleasing, 
"Jumpin' Jiminy." 

Two of my three books will be used repeatedly as teachers prepare to wind up their year with a performance for Mother's day or graduation. 

I have the songs in Mp3 format, available for digital download. 

End of the Year Performance Songs for Kindergarten and ECE Graduation by Debbie Clement

Would you be willing to pin from this article? 
That's how people discover me! 

I would be so grateful for your social network share of choice! 

Wobble Seats: Alternative Seating for Young Children


Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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