By John BernhardtWriting is thinking. At Andes Central School we are working hard to help our students improve their thinking by polishing their writing skills. Every staff development program focuses on at least one writing craft skill. English language arts teachers introduce students to the target skill. After initial practice in English language arts classes, content area teachers are asked to assign writing tasks in their classes that require the use of the target skills. In that way, all students and all teachers will be focused on writing improvement in every class.
Modeling that theme before the winter holiday, we asked teachers to take the same risks they ask of their students by confronting the blank page and completing a writing assignment. A booklet of teacher descriptions was compiled to share with students and to use as models in future writing classes.
The results were exceptional. With the wonders of winter in the Catskills all around us, I think it appropriate to share some of the descriptive pieces we received. The first piece was written by our art instructor, Sharon Tucker.
Life is often an evergreen branch weighed down by the beauty of a winter storm…
The branch, like the person, struggles to keep its poise as the weight slowly increases… snowflake by snowflake… task-by-task… The picture is perfect or so it seems … The beauty is there, but the truth, like the snow is overwhelming…
Remember, this too shall pass…
The wind is a dancing friend, powered by the spirit of hope… twisting, twirling, and swirling… lifting the burdens that physically and mentally weigh you down.
Two Andes teachers wrote dazzling descriptions of winter scenes. Our school librarian, Grace Bacon, completed a piece called Winter Magic.
The freshly fallen snow covers the yard like thick icing on a cake. It glitters and glistens as the sun shines down brightly upon it. No tracks or footprints mar the pristine whiteness. Icicles, like crystals, hang from the roof, reflecting the brilliant sunshine. Mighty trees stand stooped, the weight of the snow blanketing their branches. Looking out the front window, I wrap my hands tightly around my cup of tea. The heat spreads through my fingers as soft tendrils of steam rise from the hot liquid like mist off a lake. Sweet scents of freshly baked bread fill the house with tantalizing aromas. The storm that rages the night before seems like just a bad dream.
The house shuddered under the onslaught of blustery winds and heavy snow. Snowflakes raced past the window in a dizzying frenzy as the wind whipped and whirled them about. Gusts of icy wind howled and roared eerily through the trees. Inside, the fire crackled in the fireplace, as it blazed its way hungrily through the logs. Warmth permeated the house as the glowing flames danced in a kaleidoscope of orange, yellow, and blue. The walls were a fortress keeping the icy winds at bay as nature unleashed its ferocity. I was very grateful to be nestled beneath my soft, thick blankets.
Sometime during the night, the storm, its fury spent, had ceased its attack.
Now, in the morning light, the world lays still and quiet. As I savor the spicy sweetness of warm pumpkin bread, I stare out the window and revel in the magic of winter.
The final piece was crafted by Robin White, a fifth/sixth grade teacher at ACS.
It was a vision of magic, sparkling under the early morning sun. The freshly fallen snow glistened in all directions, like a diamond blanket covering the forest floor. Birds twittered in the treetops, slowly waking the forest with their glorious song. The morning breeze gently spread its fingertips over the hidden valley, awakening the animals to a new day of winter experiences. The sun’s warmth slowly roused those deciding to sleep in, spending a little extra time in their safe, cozy, warm ball of fur.
The whitetail slowly made its way down into the valley, sniffing the air every few minutes. This valley, although seemingly untouched for eons, was frequently visited by hunters looking for a prize buck. This buck surely fit that description, with a total of 18 points on its majestic antlers and a broad, wide body covered with thick, protective fur. As it munched on some spruce twigs, the animal lazily rubbed its huge set of antlers on a nearby tree trunk, exposing the fragrant wood below. Suddenly, his head shot up, bushy white tail raised, ready for flight. Steam rising out of his nostrils like a boiling teakettle, he snorted loudly before racing away into the dense understory.
The hunter sighed and replaced her rifle in her lap as silence once again descended on the forest. Not this buck. Not today. ~