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Poetry Friday is with Karen Edmisten.

Poetry Friday is with Karen Edmisten.

As we continue our journey through Here We Go, the latest Poetry Friday Anthology book from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, we encountered a totally timely poem by David Bowles, “Border Kid”.

You’re a border kid, a foot on either bank.
Your ancestors crossed this river a thousand times.
No wall, no matter how tall, can stop your heritage
From flowing forever, like the Rio Grande itself.

(from Border Kid by David Bowles)

We looked at similes and played with using them in our own poems. Emily wrote this sweet poem about Home.

Home
by Emily

Home is like a safe haven
where you are watched over and protected.

Home is like a nurturing mother
always taking care of you.

Home is like a vault,
holding all of your secrets.

Home is like a best friend
supporting you when you need it.

Home is like an answer
to your echo is a lonely room.

Home is like a book
with memories and stories to tell.

Home is like a gentle hand
reaching out to help.

Home is more that just a house.

I am learning more every day about writing poetry. As I participate in Laura Shovan’s daily challenge, I realize that poetry can be elusive. I try to follow the stream of my words, but sometimes they go astray. I am trying to be brave, write brave, and bravely post. The community is gentle and kind. Even when I bash my own poem with qualifiers like, “I am no good at rhyme,” someone finds something positive to say. I know the importance of critique groups. But when we write, especially poetry, we are vulnerable. The intentions of Laura’s challenge are different. We accept that it’s a drafting workshop. I try to apply this learning to my own classroom coaching. You are not going to hit the mark with every poem, but I encourage my students to give each exercise a shot and to post on our class blog. Writing can only get better with more writing.

I posted a poem that I wrote for #tenfoundwords to Today’s Little Ditty padlet. This month’s challenge from Jeannine Atkins is to write a personification poem about an emotion. I wrote this ditty about Mindfulness.

Mindfulness

Make an active mind, non-active
Re-awaken your innermost self.
Seek a word of peace,
Blow away resistance, fear, and dread.
Engage your attention to now,
Hold on with compassion and understanding.
The space left open is for love.

love-space

Slice of Seuss

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

It’s Dr. Seuss week at one of my schools, so each day is a different dress-up day. Last week I was sick for a few days and then there was the Beta convention, so I missed out on seeing some of my students all week. I wanted to plan better. I got so far as to order yellow mustaches and a used copy of The Lorax. I didn’t put together a full costume, but I let each student choose a mustache style. The rule was you had to wear your mustache while we read The Lorax. Little did I know the thing would tickle every time I spoke. But it made for a festive way to celebrate, nevertheless.

Mrs. Simon's Loraxes

Mrs. Simon’s Loraxes

Following this selfie, we got down to the real business of criticycles. I want my students to be ready for the March Slice of Life Challenge. They’ve been writing a slice each week, but their writing lacks elaboration and interest. I pulled out the sticky notes. I projected a student’s recent post and asked that student to read aloud his/her writing. On the sticky notes, we made symbols for critiquing (+ for something positive, ^ for something to change, and ? for further questions). Following the criticycle session, my students were motivated to return to their posts and edit.

I had forgotten how powerful peer review can be. For whatever reason, we hadn’t done it in a while. My students were receptive to their classmates’ ideas and were motivated to make their writing stronger. I just stood by and watched as they discussed their writing in a meaningful way. I need to remember that sometimes all it takes is a yellow mustache and blue sticky note to turn readers into writers.

DrSeuss_Lorax

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Years ago, my colleagues and I created a monthly enrichment day for our gifted 6th graders to combat underachievement. This year we selected the theme of Communication. Each student or group of students were charged with asking a question about something they were interested in communicating. Emily asked if elderly in resident homes are lonely. She assumed the answer was yes and followed her research to discover that loneliness can actually lead to death. She was moved to do something about it.

Emily decided to set up a field trip to a local retirement home. With a little direction, she called the retirement home activity director, contacted our gifted supervisor for permission, and created a Valentine’s Day activity. I have never seen her so empowered and so excited. The night before the field trip, she hand made 34 Valentines to give to the residents.

My colleagues were more than cooperative in getting their students to the retirement home. The students quickly found an elderly resident to spend time with. As I circled around taking pictures, I was pleased to see these young kids talking freely with their new friends.

garden-view-1

jaci-and-junie

On Wednesday at our monthly Wow (Way Out Wednesday) meeting, Emily compiled the surveys. She also put together a video of one of the residents talking about her life and how she liked living at Garden View. Emily’s presentation about this experience is coming together, but it’s taken on a new direction. She discovered that the elderly at Garden View are not lonely. They live in a community there. Activities are planned for them. People visit often. They are well cared for.

Beyond the original intent of Emily’s project, she has discovered that relationships at any age are important. She discovered that she can influence others and spread kindness. When we as teachers take the lessons out of our hands and put it into those of our students, they can be difference-makers.

If you are joining the DigiLit conversation today, please leave your link below.

Poetry Friday is with Jone at Check it Out.

Poetry Friday is with Jone at Check it Out.

With apologies to William Carlos Williams, who probably had little idea where his sweet plums poem would lead writers of today. On day 7 of Laura Shovan’s ten found words poetry challenge, my friend and writing group fellow Catherine Flynn wrote an apology poem. I immediately grabbed it as a mentor poem for my students. I also grabbed my copy of Joyce Sidman’s This is Just to Say Poems of Apology and Forgiveness.

this-is-just-to-say-book

This is just to say…
I broke the glass dish
so thoughtfully placed
on the tank of your toilet.

A large spider,
camouflaged in
a clump of flowery
soaps, surprised me
as I washed my hands.
A cryptic tan blotch,
shaped like the head of a shovel,
covered her abdomen.

Forgive me, but
she rattled my nerves.
She scurried away
when I tried to scoop
her into a tissue.
My hand upset the dish,
sending it crashing to the floor.

I didn’t want to kill her.
I wanted to return her to the garden,
where she’d be free to snare flies
in her shimmering web.

printed with permission from the author, Catherine Flynn

Catherine’s poem was written to the same selection of words I wrote snake cinquains last week. Lynzee remembered this and my story of being fearful of snakes, so she wrote this poem (in the voice of Mrs. Simon).

This is just to say,
Your lawn mower has a snake in it,
I was trying to kill it so
I ran it over.

It was a garden snake,
Slithering along the grass
Like a tiny green rope,
TERRIFYING!

Standing out against
The wheat colored grass,
Like a moving weed.

So I panicked,
And grabbed the first thing i touched,
The lawn mower.

I will buy a new one,
If you want.

–Lynzee, 2nd grade

We talked about whether you have ever eaten anything you weren’t supposed to eat. Andrew remembered sticking his finger into the butter. He grinned, “I love butter!”

This is just to say…

I ate the butter
out of the container yesterday.
It was delicious
like caramel chocolate

It was your fault
you left the top
open. Who doesn’t
take that chance?

I hope you have
some left for your
toast. I am so sorry.
I’ll try to buy more.

All I did was
stick my finger
in the butter. It
was out of control.

–Andrew, 4th grade

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Last week I wrote about an idea I had for digital vocabulary using Tagul. I tried the idea with my students this week. I explained that they could use Tagul to make a word cloud about a vocabulary word. I asked them to explore the meaning of the word by using Thesaurus.com to find synonyms. I wrote a model blog post to show my expectations for their writing around the word.

In their writing, I wanted my students to find a way to connect to the word. Then I asked them to choose a favorite synonym and tell why it interested them. By interacting with a vocabulary word, it will become more integrated into their lexicon. The activity also spurred on some interesting class discussions.

This is Kaiden’s response to the word remarkable.

Created in Tagul.com

Created in Tagul.com

I put remarkable because so many things in life are remarkable. Think about it. Dreams, for example are completely extraordinary. We are able to make simulations while our brains are only half functioning . Even the human brains are remarkable. We are capable of so many things. We can travel almost anywhere on earth. We can travel to places miles and miles and miles into the sky, and break the sound barrier.

My favorite word is incredible, because it is INCREDIBLE. It is enthusiastic, but it can also be used in a sad and sarcastic way. Which I guess is me. Some days, I am enthusiastic and jumping all over (Which happens about 2/5 days). Other days, I am grumpy/sarcastic, quiet, and sad. Sometimes separately, sometimes at the same time.

Please leave your links below:

Poetry Friday is with Katie at The Logonauts.

Poetry Friday is with Katie at The Logonauts.

I hate snakes! I always have for as long as I can remember. I grew up running around the piney woods of Mississippi and now I live on a bayou in Louisiana. Snakes are a part of my world, but they terrify me.

This week one of the news stories that we poets responded to was about a snake coming out of a toilet in Texas. If you want to never look at a toilet the same way again, read this article.  I decided against posting a picture on my blog.  It was bad enough that I had to see it repeatedly on my Facebook feed.

The day this prompt was posted for Laura Shovan’s February ten found words writing project I was teaching cinquains to my students. They were writing them about their names. I chose to write about this snake menace. I enjoyed sharing the frightful article and resulting poem with them.

The rules for a cinquain are 5 lines with 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables in each line.

rattle
in the toilet
camouflaged cryptic sign
surprising an innocent boy
Nightmare!

shovel
slamming down hard
killing snake in a clump
unknowing den of twenty three
silent

cellar
perfect hiding
for slithering secrets
wondering when their diamonds
will shine

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

if-you-were-the-moon

Before you begin to read If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, turn this music on in the background.

Illustrated in dreamlike images by Jaime Kim, Laura takes us on a journey of discovery about the moon. In the beginning, the young girl muses on how easy the moon’s job is, but the moon explains. “If you were the moon, you would…” Along with delightful metaphor are embedded facts from how the moon was formed to Neil Armstrong’s iconic walk. Artists are inspired by the moon. Hence the musical piece, “Clair de Lune.” I remember listening to my mother play this on the grande in our living room.
A glossary and further reading section make this book teacher-friendly.

I often use picture books to lead my students to their own writing. I can imagine prompting my students with the words “If you were _________.” Students could research their favorite planet or natural disasters (my students love them!). Then they could write and illustrate their own books including interesting facts along the way. Finding a way to tie a book to writing enriches the classroom experience.

Laura sent me this amazing teacher’s guide written by Randi Miller Sonnenshine. This guide includes activities across the curriculum.

If You Were the Moon releases March 1st, 2017. Get your copy today!