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Donald Graves

Donald Graves

This Guest Book will remain online until 2/8/2016 courtesy of A friend and former colleague, Dr Paul Brock.
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May 23, 2015

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Preview Entry
May 23, 2015

Please don't submit copyrighted work; original poems, songs or prayers welcomed. reviews all Guest Book entries to ensure appropriate content. Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
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October 31, 2010
Donald Graves is my hero. His books have been a constant guide as I try and lead my students to discover the power of their words. He has provided comfort and encouragement to me as a teacher and a writer.
Imagine my surprise years ago at the Iowa State Reading conference to find him behind me in the breakfast line. He joined my friend and myself for breakfast and a chat. I was so taken with his ease and "human-ness." I will cherish that memory and try to carry on by influencing my students similarly to the way he influenced me.
October 29, 2010
I met Don at a conference in Seattle. I was one of 12 lucky teachers who pulled a ticket to eat lunch with him. I will always remember his kind, gentle spirit. No one observing that room would have been able to distinguish the mentor from the mentees. He talked to each of us as if we were family, answering our questions without a hint of frustration. I can imagine he'd answered those same questions a thousand times. I came back inspired to be myself, to continue to learn, to risk change in my classroom, to not worry so much. I actually summon that memory whenever I feel confused or downhearted. As a result, I will teach others as he taught me.
October 18, 2010
He taught me to be a learner/writer and helped me guide my students. What greater gift? His light shines on and on.
October 18, 2010
When I was an adult as a parent, teacher, and learner, Don empowered me to read aloud my writing to a small group of four at a small school in Martha's Vineyard. He did this by being a sincere, genuine, and deeply caring listener. This small moment together changed my writing and teaching and learning life. When we met over the years, he always greeted me with a HUGE and GENTLE hug. I will miss you Don but you remain always in my mind and heart.

Maxine Bone (Toronto, Canada)
October 16, 2010
Donald Graves was a big part of my literacy education at the University of Pennsylvania. I even got a copy of his doctoral dissertation. We have lost a great educator and a leader in our field! His contributions will be greatly missed.
October 13, 2010
The lives of millions of children will be forever touched because he chose to write. He believed in children, but more importantly he believed in the power of the teacher. I continue to spread your lessons.
October 12, 2010
The 3 R's: Red Sox, Running, and 'Riting. I will love him always for those shared passions, for changing my writing, and enabling my teaching and learning with children. I am thankful to him to feel myself one of thousands inspired to carry on his ideas forever!
October 11, 2010
Last Monday, I began my week writing. It gives me energy. Following the insights of my hero, Donald Graves, I shared my writing with my students. I wrote with my students. I shared Don's writing which explained why it is good for me and my students to write together. I got lost in my writing with my students the whole week. Our writing doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be focused, and it certainly does not have to be spelled correctly. Right now it just needs to be written. Our stories are bursting to get out in anyway possible.

At the end of my week, I sat on the carpet with twenty plus 2nd graders as we went around the circle sharing ideas for possible stories about the things, and people we have loved, lost, found and celebrated recording them on our heart maps. I came home enthused and invigorated talking about the great writing we had done.

It was one of the best days I have had in my teaching career. So it was with great sadness that I learned that same night Don had passed away.

In Writing: Teachers & Children at Work Don said, "Children want to write. They want to write the first day they attend school. This is no accident. Before they went to school they marked up walls, pavements, newspapers with crayons, chalk, pens or pencils, anything that makes a mark. The child's marks say, I am."

I had the great honor and joy to meet and chat with Donald Graves each year I attended the annual NCTE conference. His words and writing invigorate my writing and instruction. I treasure the brief moments I was able to spend in his company, his joyous smile, his gracious and welcoming personality, and the wisdom he so freely shared.

I write in honor of Don because writing brings me joy. I write to teach my students how one can continue to live through writing.
October 11, 2010
The Desk

Mother buys
a cheap wooden desk
painted bright orange
with two flimsy drawers
that rattle
when I pull them open.
There are two open shelves
on the side
which can hold
about twenty books.
Mother says, "You can have
this desk in your room
if you want it."

Before the desk came,
I only slept in my room,
made my bed,
picked up my dirty clothes,
and kept only my Sunday clothes
on a hanger in the closet.

I sit at the desk,
rub my hands over the surface,
pull open the top drawer,
and put a box of Crayolas,
and a few pencils inside.
I shut the drawer
and I like the
sound of the thunk
that says the desk is mine.

I stand up beside the desk
and feel the silence of empty shelves.
I pick up the four books I own,
run my fingers down the bindings,
and shelve them in alphabetical order.
Now I have a library in my room.

I sit down, pull open
the next drawer,
bigger and deeper
than the first.
There, I place my maps
of Europe, Asia, and the United States
and my stamp book
with stamps from the whole world.
Now, any place on earth is in my room.

(from Graves, Donald (1996) Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash: Poems About Growing Up, Boyd's Mill Press)

Before Donald Graves came into my professional life, I only stood before my students and hoped they could see what I envisioned for them. Afterwards, I could articulate the vision and help them make their desks their own. My classroom was no longer where they came because they had to, but where they came because their voices were recognized and honored and they wanted to share those voices.

Thank you, Donald Graves, for your guidance and for the possibilities you opened for me and my students. You will be missed, but your work will always light the way for us.
October 11, 2010
Donald Graves changed the way I teach writing, and the way I write. I thank him for his legacy. His influence will continue to touch our young writers. Thank you.
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