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Archive for April, 2014

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

Kendall chalking

Believe it or not, it’s the last day of April and the last day I will be posting Chalk-a-bration with this year’s bunch. I hope they will participate from home over the summer, though. My principal enjoys our chalking-up-the-sidewalks-with-poetry so much that she has asked us to decorate the walkways for the mother’s breakfast, “Muffins with Mom,” next week.

As we continue to work our way through the ABC’s of poetry, we have landed on H, and what better form to use for chalketry than haiku. We should coin the term, “Chalku.” Lots of different thoughts going on today. I was thinking about the humidity that has moved in thick and warm; the cold weather has definitely moved on. Vannisa is thinking about the end of school and summer coming. Kendall responded to music I played. I love the variety of ideas as much as the consistency of form.

This humidity makes my hair curl like wild weeds, all helter-skelter.   by Margaret Simon

This humidity
makes my hair curl like wild weeds,
all helter-skelter.
by Margaret Simon

Playing soft and smooth having a fast-paced tempo. Music comes from you. by Kendall

Playing soft and smooth
having a fast-paced tempo.
Music comes from you.
by Kendall

School is almost out. Summer means no more homework. Summer's almost here. by Vannisa

School is almost out.
Summer means no more homework.
Summer’s almost here.
by Vannisa

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Recently, we took our youngest gifted students (grades 1-3) on a field trip to the Acadiana Center for the Arts. There they viewed an exhibit of portraits called FaceTime. We planned an art and poetry activity to enrich the experience. The gallery allowed us to use a workshop room for this activity. We had gathered magazine cut outs of facial features, different colors and textures of paper, and fabric samples. We used cardboard circles for their portraits and encouraged the students to fill the space.

For young students to write a successful poem, a fill-in-the-blank form works well. I adapted a mask poem form. You can download and use the form here. A Portrait Mask Poem

This was a fun learning experience for all of us. Unfortunately, art and creativity are taking a backseat these days in most classrooms. I am happy we were able to provide this experience for our students.

I am a girl. I am as yellow as a daffodil. I am curved like a cheerleader. I dance. I am feeling cheery. I wonder if I could join cheerleading. I can sing. I am a girl. by Emily

I am a girl.
I am as yellow as a daffodil.
I am curved like a cheerleader.
I dance.
I am feeling cheery.
I wonder if I could join cheerleading.
I can sing.
I am a girl. by Emily

I am big foot. I am as brown as mud. I am round like an apple. I scare people. I am happy. I wonder if I will be found. I scare people. I am big foot.    By Tobie

I am big foot.
I am as brown as mud.
I am round like an apple.
I scare people.
I am happy.
I wonder if I will be found.
I scare people.
I am big foot.
By Tobie

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IMWAYR

In yesterday’s DigiLit Sunday post, I talked about joining in this weekly round-up, It’s Monday: What are you Reading? I dreamt about it all night, so I guess the time is now to join in. The round-up can be found at Teach Mentor Texts.

OneThousand

For my spiritual life, I am currently reading the memoir of Amy Voskamp. I am enjoying her fresh language and her real struggle to find joy in every day. She makes a list of 1000 gratitudes. In making the list, she discovers joy in giving thanks and encourages, through her real experience, us to do the same.

14 Fibs

I am reading 14 Fibs of Gregory K in preparation for a Skype visit with Greg Pincus next month. My boys enjoyed this book. In Gregory K, we have a boy in a family of mathematicians who is a writer. Each chapter begins with a clever Fib poem. Greg Pincus invented the form using the Fibonacci series as syllable counts. This is a great form to use with students. Greg’s debut novel is as clever as he is, but somehow his character just keeps getting deeper and deeper into a fib of his own. I am looking forward to visiting with Greg soon.

My own Fib poem, which is completely true.

We
find
magic
when poems
reveal inner truth
and breathe out a sigh of Ah, yes!

–Margaret Simon

Today, I am the guest blog post at Laura Shovan’s Author Amok. For poetry month, she asked writers to submit a n essay about a source poem. I wrote about a professional struggle that ended in my discovery of myself and Mary Oliver’s wisdom in “Wild Geese.” It was harder than I thought it would be to let this go public. I want to thank Laura for her continued encouragement and inspiration to me as a writer.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I am always on the look out for digital literacy ideas. This week was no exception. Being on spring break allowed me more time to peruse the Internet for ideas to make the end of the school year great. Cathy Mere posted in Choice Literacy about ways to keep students connected over the summer.

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

My students post on a kidblog site. They had a good daily writing habit during the Slice of Life Challenge in March. This month we are writing poems. I’ve even had a former student join in. We are working on a collaborative poem in the comments section of her poem, “Ode to a Cat.”

IMWAYR

My thinking is I will ask students to post twice a week, once on Mondays about their summer reading. There is a meme at Jen Vincent’s site called “It’s Monday: What are you Reading?” My goal is to participate in that round-up myself and to encourage my students to write a blog post on Mondays about their reading.

Tuesdays will be Slice of Life days as they are at the Two Writing Teachers site. My students know how to write a slice of life. This will keep us up to date in the summer.

I teach the same students year to year, with the exception of students moving and 6th graders moving on to middle school. I want to use this to my advantage. How special for me and my students that we can keep in touch over the summer. They don’t have to know that it’s academically good for them. I plan to build it up as an opportunity. Any ideas on getting the parents on board? They will be the ones who will need to provide the computer time and do the reminding.

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers.

On the last day of each month, we join in Betsy Hubbard’s Chalk-a-bration. My students love this day. They’ve come to remind me of it each month. What fun for them to take Chalkabration on Vacation! I’ll encourage them to write poems in chalk, take pictures, and text them to me. I can keep up my blog post with their snapshots. The more I think about our summer literacy, the more excited I get.

Cathy Mere also keeps up a Pinterest board for her parents. I am not very active on Pinterest, but maybe this would be a resource I should try. I think I’ll poll the parents to see how many of them use Pinterest.

What are your thoughts about summer digital literacy?

Add your DigiLit Sunday post in Mr. Linky:

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Discover. Play. Build.

This has been such a welcomed relaxing week. I am celebrating today with many others in the blogging community. Ruth Ayres sponsors a round-up. Click the image above to follow.

I Celebrate…

1. Easter weekend with family: Here we are trying out a food truck in New Orleans, Taceaux Loceaux. 5 Stars!

taceuax loceaux

2. Writing retreat at Bonne Terre Cottage in Breaux Bridge.

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge.  Photo by Chere Coen

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge. Photo by Chere Coen

3. Dancing at Festival Internationale in Lafayette.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

4. Writing a poem every day. Today is Q, so I wrote a Questionku. The form uses 3 lines with syllable count of 4,5,6 and ends with a question.

Slide1

5. Teacher poets community. Such a supportive place to talk about poetry and workshop poems. Chris Lehman is a wonderful leader and generous to give his time to nurture our creativity.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

6. Connecting with teacher/writer/blogger Holly Mueller I sent Holly a copy of Blessen. She fell in love with her character. Thanks, Holly, for sharing the love.

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Poetry Friday Round-up is with Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference

Poetry Friday Round-up is with Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference

Poetry can take you to unexpected places. This was my experience with writing a Pantoum. The form seems simple, yet it complicates things. The form is made up of 4-line stanzas. The second and fourth lines of the first quatrain become the first and third lines of the second, and this pattern continues. Often the last line repeats the first; although, mine did not. Poetry forms can both confine the writer and free her. In my experience, the rhymes confined me, yet the message I thought I was making changed with the writing.

OneThousand

A writing group friend gave me a book this week, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It drew me in immediately. Her writing style is fresh. She writes with intelligence and honesty. I took a line from her second chapter, “How I wrestle with last night’s dream,” and then looked at notes from my meditation journal. I thought I would write about God as a loving center. The poem, however, seems more about my love, my husband, and his ever present trust in my life. You never know where a poem may lead. Sometimes we just have to follow.

How I wrestle with last night’s dream.
The words have all been said before,
nothing new, what can they mean,
written on the stone of this cold floor?

The words have all been said before.
I reach for your open hand so near
writing my love on the stone cold floor
words to erase my fear.

I reach for your open hand so near
like a child reaches for her mother.
Words will erase my fear
with trust in honesty and one another.

Like a child reaching for her mother,
I recognize that look on your face
with trust in honesty and one another,
open to your willing embrace.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

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mint

The master of the ode is Pablo Neruda. Today, being the letter O in my ABC series of poetry, I pulled out Odes to Common Things. This is a lovely book, full of wandering odes and fine drawings of ordinary things from spoons to oranges and even socks. I love to read these odes aloud. To listen to the sound of the language as well as relish the metaphor.

From Ode to the orange

“Orange,
the world was made
in your likeness
and image:
the sun was made round, surrounded
by peels of flame,
and night strewed its engine and its path
with your blossoms.”

To write my own ode, I only had to look for what I love and adore in the ordinary day. And it had to be mint. I brew tea every day with mint. I crave Thin Mint cookies and Dark Chocolate Mint M&Ms. I grow a pot of mint, and I recall the mint flavor of tzatziki on my trip to Greece. Italics indicate lines from Neruda.

Give us this day
mint,
fresh from the garden
overflowing wandering flower,
your scent
waters my mouth,
makes tea
taste of heaven
sent by Greek Gods
churned in the waters
of the Aegean Sea.
I relish your comfort,
basket-brewed
by my side.
The scent of wandering spring
singing your song,
Glory to God; Alleluia for mint
wrapped in dark chocolate
dropped in M&Ms,
green spring
brings to life
my taste buds
and my love
of herbal scents,
freshness
refreshes my wandering mind,
tames this wild spirit,
hallows the good earth.

Today is Poem in your Pocket Day. Find a poem. Share a poem today. pocket_logo2

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