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

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

Emerging from 30 days of poetry, words eluded me.  I looked outside for inspiration.  With my camera in hand, I captured the natural meaning of the word saturated.  

Reflections in the flood by Margaret Simon

Reflections in the flood by Margaret Simon

 

After three days of incessant rain, I am saturated.
The ground below is just a shadow.
My words are hiding there.

Resurrection Fern by Margaret Simon

Resurrection Fern by Margaret Simon

Fern glistens in the emerging sun.
Beauty finds me
speechless.

Lizard face-off by Margaret Simon

Lizard face-off
by Margaret Simon

Like these lizards,
face to face
puff up and show their true colors,
I dive back in,
searching for the light.

Bayou Sunspot by Margaret Simon

Bayou Sunspot
by Margaret Simon

When I am not even trying, poetry finds me.  In reflection of her month-long poem-a-day writing, Violet Nesdoly posted this quote from Annie Dillard.

Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. – Annie Dillard

 

I turn to poetry when I feel inadequate.  When I’m not sure what to write, creating a verse moves me forward.  So here I am again, no challenge, no poem-a-day, just me, opening the page,  and giving freely, so my writing will not turn to ashes.  

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

220px-Function_machine2

Last week for DigiLit Sunday, I wrote about form. I was pretty deep into teaching and writing poetry, grappling with form or no form. Julianne suggested that we follow form with function this week. When I googled function, the images suggested one right answer. That answer leads to points on a graph. Points on a graph remind me of testing.

Testing is the necessary evil, in my book. I teach gifted kids, and for the most part, the reason they are in my class is they can take tests well. They’ve figured out the function, so to speak.

So my question is how do I further my students learning beyond what the standardized test is going to require? My students are outside-of-the-box thinkers. I have to find ways to keep them thinking this way while, at the same time, capable of going back into the box come test time.

There is much grumbling in my class about testing. I have had students enjoy this time because it is quiet, and they get to read for long stretches. But one student complained that her teacher-proctor punished her for recess because she finished the session in 20 minutes. I’m sure the logic was “There is no way you can get all the answers right in 20 minutes.” That very well may be true, but my thinking tells me this teacher did not know this child.

The function of a teacher is to know her students. If you were to ask me about any of my students, I could tell you their favorite books, what genre they prefer to write, and their favorite activity to do outside of school.

The only thing about my kids that I could plot on a graph would be their reading levels. Yet their reading levels say nothing about their interest levels. And interest is everything when it comes to reading.

I take my function seriously, but I will never function to produce a right answer or a point on a graph. I strive to make my classroom one of discovery and development, creativity and caring.

How do you interpret function as it pertains to literacy? Be sure to leave a link to your own blog post today.

NPM2016

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This week was state testing week. We made it through. Because I am an extra teacher, I was assigned a small group to test. The routine was changed. I stayed at one school all day.

When on Friday the test was over, I resumed my routine. My students were so excited to see me again. They truly missed me. I think they also missed the flexibility of our days. It was as though they could breathe again.

I celebrate the love I share with my students while I am sad to realize the year is quickly coming to an end. So many activities planned; end-of-the-year picnics, talent shows, and field trips will interrupt my class again and again.

I want to stay calm about it all, so I planned a creative end-of-the-year project. We are making re-purposed books. They will paint the pages of a discarded book and add art and writing to them. They are already excited, and the mess making has begun. I celebrate creativity and mess making.

I am altering a book as well. This inspires the creative side of me. No one sees it, really, so I let go of my inhibitions about my art talent and just do it. Here’s a page I’ve painted waiting for a poem.

kaleidoscope

Pass the scissors
then the glue;
I am pasting poems
in a book.

Make a mess
filling the pages
with happy words.

Anyone can make a book.
Let’s make a book today!

National Poetry Month is at the end. I thought it would never come. Writing a poem a day has been a challenge. I celebrate all the poets out there writing daily and inspiring me and my students to do the same.

I celebrate Irene Latham who blogs here. She generously Skyped with my students on Poem in your Pocket Day. She listened patiently while they shared their own poems and responded with nothing but kindness. She even answered a question about whether or not she felt haunted. (Kids say the darnedest things.) But Irene handled it like a champ. She told my students that she likes to visit graveyards and feel the presence of people who have gone before.

Irene offered excellent advice about finding new words; brainstorm a list of words about your topic. Then mark them all out and start again. This forces you to find new and unusual words.

I also want to thank Laura Purdie Salas whose putrid poetry gave my students permission to write about poop and other yucky stuff.

And what would NPM be without Amy Ludwig VanDerwater? She wondered with us all month long and inspired my students to write about their world.

Thank you to all my readers who stuck with me each day as I attempted to entertain the poetic muse. Here’s to another wonderful National Poetry Month. Do not be mistaken, though. Poetry is made for every day!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

NPM2016

 

dragonfly eyes by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

dragonfly eyes by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

Rest your agile flight
on a sunbeam, look about

with dragonfly eyes.

 

While I was attempting to get a photo of bees that are extremely active in a flowering tree, this dragonfly lit upon an African iris.  I had the telephoto lens on.  I was so excited that I captured such an amazing close-up.  So clear I could see the eyes of the dragonfly.

NPM2016

Most every Tuesday, I wake early to serve at Solomon House, a mission of my church and a food bank.  My self-appointed job is to find the clients’ names on a printed spreadsheet, check their IDs, and have them sign.  During this process, I say good morning, how are you today, and have a great day.  And most times they say these same greetings to me.  I feel blessed by their presence, their love, and this small way to be a blessing to someone else.

 

 

buttercups

There are places where
buttercups bloom
unattended
no one cares
or notices.

They bloom anyway.

Solomon House waiting

There are people
nobody sees
walking alone on the street
clothes in need of  cleaning
backs aching from failure.

The news speaks for itself
but I can help.

My hands are warm and kind;
they reach for you.

My mind is clear and focused;
I think of you.

My shoulder is light and flexible;
I can carry your burden.

I see buttercups.

I see you.

–Margaret Simon

 

NPM16: #26 Oneness

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

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

NPM2016

Here I am again at this blank page.  I click to “add media,” setting the stage for yet another poem.

I find myself looking all day long for inspiration.  Will it come in the opening of a flower?  The words of a child? Advice from a friend?  The pages of a book?

I look and look.

Sometimes I open this page afraid that nothing will happen.

But something always does.  Because when you show up to the page, magic happens.

purple forest

A video posted by “Access Oneness” and shared by two Facebook friends intrigued me.  The inscription read, “So, you lose balance and you fall … but, what do you do next? Stop? Or go on? Make art out of falling …”

Go to this link to view the video.

I was caught off-guard, unbalanced, not knowing what to feel except inspired, exhilarated.

The words flowed.

In the purple forest
one can climb
stand
slip
fall
rise again
All in the moment
of stillness
above the water
A choice
to fall
and fail,
or balance
and dance–
A chance
to fly.

–Margaret Simon

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