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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

On Monday evening, I participated in #Wonderchat on Twitter.  The topic was led by Dr. Mary Howard: Instilling a Sense of Professional Wonder. If you are here reading this post, you are likely a person who wonders, reads, researches, and is always learning.

We are nearing the end of the school year and yet, I am still filled with professional wonderings. Three new books have arrived in the last few weeks, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton, Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, and Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher.

If anyone is interested in a summer book study of one of the books above, let me know in the comments. Wouldn’t it be more fun to read if you have someone to discuss it with? Google docs work well for housing a book study.

Why do I keep buying professional books? You’d think I would know what I was doing after 30 years of teaching. But I am still learning. I want to continue to question what I do and why I do it. I think that is the definition of a professional. When I stop wondering about teaching, I should stop teaching.

During the #Wonderchat, Sarah Eaton posted a padlet for teacher wonders. I remade the padlet wall to house our posts today. (A test run for using padlet for the round up.) Double click inside the padlet to add to it. In addition to voicing our professional wonders here, perhaps we can also post ideas and links to further research. Be sure to put your name and a link to your post, so we can continue the conversation.

 

Made with Padlet

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Find the round up of Spiritual Journey posts at Donna’s site, Mainly Write

Today our spiritual Thursday bloggers are writing about Donna’s one little word, Reach.  This was my word in 2015.  I chose it that year as I was finishing a manuscript that I wanted to publish.  That book is still not a book, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the word Reach.

When I searched my blog for Reach, I found this quote above.  Sometimes wisdom comes to me.  Today I needed to see this again.  I needed to remember that all we can do at any one time is to be present to it.

I switched my classroom Wonder calendar to May and found this quote waiting for me.

Personal Courage Month

Many of us have big things we’d like to do, but we’re too nervous or shy to try them. Try doing one thing this month that will get you closer to the big thing you’d like to do–tell someone about it, ask for help, read a book about it.

I have an idea that I will be sharing with an upper administrator today.  Fingers crossed he gets it, understands my goals, and pushes me forward to meet them.

I have an idea for a poetry book.  I’m reading, researching, experiencing, and playing with words.  It’s about process, practice, practice, and process.

I will revise my works in progress again and again until they are ready for the wider world.  Confidence, patience, persistence.

Reaching is hard work.

Reaching is stretching till it hurts.  Hold.  Then stretch more.

Reaching is shooting for the moon and landing among the stars.  I’m OK with the stars.  I have friends there.

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

 

Cornelius Minor is one of those people who tells it like it is, and you say to yourself, “Oh, yeah.”  I was first impressed by him at NCTE16 in Atlanta when he spoke about the influence of Donald Graves at the Heinemann breakfast.  I captured a quote from him that morning, “We do not teach for mastery. We teach for revolution.”

Cornelius is the kind of man you could walk up to and on the first meeting hug him. He represents what I want to be.  Someone who speaks up.  Someone who loves with all that he has.

This weekend I listened to a podcast with Cornelius on the Heinemann website.  Please take some time to listen.  He speaks of being an advocate for a student who needed him.  In his voice, you can hear his determination as well as his kindness.

I think sometimes we teachers shy away from advocacy for our students for many reasons.  The main one is fear.  Fear of repercussions.  Fear for our own reputation. Fear of failure (or firing).

At that same breakfast we were asked to create our own credo for teaching writing.  (Here is the podcast of that morning.) The statement I wrote encompasses my thoughts about advocacy.  We must listen to our students.  We have to listen without judgement.  Listen to be the best advocate we can be for them.

 

On Thursday evening, Cornelius Minor will be a guest on the Good2Great chat on Twitter.

To join our conversation, please leave a link to your blog post below. To read more posts about advocacy, click the link.

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Poetry Friday is at Teaching Authors.

If you’ve been following my National Poetry Month project, you know I’ve been teaching a poetry form each day to my students. I am learning so much about the benefits of writing a poem each day, but most of all, I glow when my students skip into class each day asking what are we writing today?

Writing a poem each day stretches your writing muscles. Like in a yoga practice, you find new muscles that you didn’t know you had. Word play leads us to discover deeper meanings for every day language.

Today I am sharing two of my poems from this week. The kyrielle is probably the most challenging form we have tried. Noah wrote a Kyrielle about dirt. I know I’ve reached my boys when they can adapt any poetry form to a typical boy topic.

Kyrielle Poem on Dirt

A substance covering the ground.
Laying on the ground all around.
Not making any sound at all.
Tracked by dirty feet down the hall.
Noah, 5th grade

For list poems, I turned to Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard. We read the poems that started with “Things to do if you are…”

My student, Jacob, shouted, “Sky!” Then Madison said, “Always change colors!” and this poem was born.

Things to do if you’re the Sky

Always change colors.
Hold onto clouds.
Sparkle like diamonds.
Water the garden.
Dance with the wind.
Paint treetops green.
Wake up the morning glories.
Invite birds over for tea.
Make every day beautiful.
—Margaret Simon (with a little help from Jacob and Madison)

Yesterday, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes featured Madison’s cinquain on Today’s Little Ditty. Madison wrote her poem after pulling a cadet blue crayon from the crayon box. My students are feeling like “real” poets this month. Thanks, Michelle for the affirmation.

You can read more of my students’ poem on our Kidblog site.

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

Almost every morning, I walk the neighborhood with my dog, Charlie. We set out around 6 AM. I have come to love this time of day watching as the bayou world wakes up.

Almost every morning, I see Kenny. He’s walking, too, but not in a straight line. He picks up a newspaper at the end of a driveway and carries it up to the front door. He carries the trash cans out to the curb. When he sees me and Charlie, he stops, reaches into his pocket and gives Charlie a dog biscuit. When Charlie sees him, he pulls on the leash and cries.

One morning Kenny told me that he used to stop at this lady’s house every morning. He said, “I didn’t know her, but I knew she was elderly, so I’d always pick up her paper for her. One morning there were strange cars in the driveway. A man comes out to meet me and he tells me she passed away, but that she always talked about the kind man who brought up her paper every morning.”  A little act of kindness goes a long way.

This morning as I was walking, I recalled that Linda Mitchell wrote a limerick for her poem of the day.

I thought, “I could never write a limerick.” However, this limerick started humming in my head after I met Mr. Kenny this morning.

Limerick for Mr. Kenny

There once was a man who walked Edgewater Street.
Never a stranger did he meet.
He was kind to his neighbors,
offered multiple favors.
And always gave Charlie a treat.

–Margaret Simon

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I love that we have a whole month of celebrating poetry.  My students walk into class each day and ask, “What kind of poem are we writing today?”  or “I have been thinking about writing a poem about wind.”

I’ve read articles, listened to podcast, and read lots of daily poetry this month.  I don’t want it to end!  Check on the progress of the Progressive Poem.  Listen to Laura Shovan on All the Wonders.  Find a selection of daily poem writers on Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  

Yesterday I got a postcard poem from Jone MacCulloch’s kids poetry group, an ode to cheating.  We will be trying out odes next week, so I’ll share this one with my students.  I love the irony of flying hearts and pencils around this topic of cheating.

 

Here’s my poem for today, a little haiku about our state flower Magnolia.  They are blooming!

magnolia haiku 4

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Poetry Friday is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Nikki Grimes did not invent the Golden Shovel poetry form, but she may have perfected it.  After listening to this podcast on All the Wonders, I pulled out the advanced copy of One Last Word that Nikki graciously signed at NCTE 16.  To share the poems with my students, I copied the original poem written by a Harlem Renaissance poet alongside Nikki’s Golden Shovel poem.  These were high level poems that really pushed the thinking of my students.

The idea of a Golden Shovel is to take a line or stanza of a poem, write the words down the right margin and build your own poem around the words.  I had never done one myself, so I wasn’t really sure how well my students would do.  I gave my students the option to use a line from the poems I shared with them or choose another poem from the plethora of poetry books on the shelf.

Imagine my surprise when I selected No Images by William Waring Cuney that I found in Hip Hop Speaks to Children and realized that Nikki Grimes had tackled this same poem in One Last Word.  I felt a kinship to her with this serendipity.

With her lips, she
speaks volumes but does
only good, careful not
to disturb what they think they know
about her
She does not know her own beauty.

With her eyes, she
looks deeply, thinks
longingly about her
future in brown
skin.

If love has
an answer, then no
one can take away her glory.

–Margaret Simon

No one knows Everything
the world Is
a mystery, but digging deeper shows Everything
has a connection, a purpose, but What
is the meaning of life? Is
it just simply surviving, no! Lives are Meant
to be lived; hearts are meant To
be shared; care is supposed to Be
given. People don’t donate their emotions anymore, but they Will
regret this. Remember no one knows everything, so let it Be

After Lauryn Hill

by Emily, 6th grade

“The line I used came from the poem, For a Poet by Countee Cullen.  The line is And laid them away in a box of gold.” Lynzee, 2nd grade

 

I have hopes and
dreams. I have laid
all of them
my blossoming treasures away.

They are safe in
a box beside my heart; it is a
treasure too, my glittering box
full of
treasure, made of gold.

This is what my student Andrew, 4th grade, had to say about writing a Golden Shovel poem.

“When I was told to do a golden shovel poem I was like, ” Hm. That shouldn’t be so hard.” Then BOOM!! You get punched in the brain. So we have to take a whole line from a poem and use all the words and every sentence that you make has to end with one of the words. For example . The sentence that I chose was, “We move and hustle but lack rhythm.” The first sentence had to end with We. The second sentence had to end with move then so on so on. I have to admit that was the hardest poem I have to make. And it took the longest to come up with. I don’t know the exact time but it was more than twenty minutes. Usually my poems take about 5-10 minutes but this was a lot longer. But I think that might be my best poem.”

Thanks, Nikki, for the punch in the brain.  I think we are all better poets because of it.

 

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