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

Poetry Friday is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!  His 76th birthday was on March 22nd.  

I introduced my students to the poetry of Billy Collins with this poem, The Trouble with Poetry.  The poem gives good advice about writing poems.

“The trouble with poetry is…
it encourages the writing of more poetry…
the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.”

I asked my students to steal a line and write their own poem.

The trouble with reading poetry is
that it’s so fun to read you can’t stop.

The trouble with poetry is
that you are to sit in the dark room
and wait for a flame of idea to pop up.

The trouble with poetry is
that Mrs. Simon makes us look for
what the poem means which is super hard.

The trouble with poetry is
thinking about ideas which is like hitting
yourself in the head with a rock.

The trouble with poetry is
that sometimes people steal ideas
and don’t give credit.

The trouble with poetry is
that you think your idea is bad
when it is really good.

The  trouble with poetry is
that you can have a writer’s block.

The trouble with poetry is
that you have to read it out loud to find mistakes.

by Andrew, 4th grade

 

Poetry Fills Me With Joy
Making me Float Above The Clouds
Like A Hot Air Balloon Soaring Above
After Being Filled With Hot Air
Like A Plane Being Filled With Fuel
And Taking Off
Like The First Letter Of Each Of These Words
Trying To Soar Off of The Screen

poetry fills me with sorrow
making me sink below the ground
like a balloon being popped
and crashing in the sea
like a plane crashing and burning
like the letters of this poem
trying to sink off the screen

By Kaiden, 6th grade

Billy Collins sarcastically expresses the feeling I get when I read poetry, and the reason I read poetry with my students.  Poetry breeds more poetry.  And I can’t think of anything better that a poem might do.  Thanks, Billy Collins, for encouraging my students to steal a line and try their own hands at writing poems.  

“ And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.”

 

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Catherine Flynn, who blogs at Reading to the Core, recommended a book for writers, Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke.  I bought the book.  On page 31, one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote a note to the writer.  She writes, “Nothing is too small to notice.” So I take notice.

 

 

I notice the light,
how today
the first day of spring,
the light is brighter

reflecting off the shiny Grumman canoe
propped against the satsuma tree,
reddening the shasta daisies
that just opened today
in time to say “Welcome spring.”

This light
intensifies the green,
illuminates Spanish moss
that hangs like abandoned spider webs.

This light ripples the bayou
in gentle wrinkles.
No rain in days,
so I water.

The spray from the hose
rainbows–

I remember…
how she loves rainbows.

That’s how this light is:
full of itself, showing off,
making love with life.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Some weeks a word will pop into my head for a DigiLit topic. Then I’ll mull over it and wonder why.  This is how it’s been with Innovation. Like Blended Learning last week, I am wondering if innovation is happening in my classroom.

I think of my young students who are writing for the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge every day.  Last year I put together a treasure box of writing prompts.  I decorated it and filled it with little odds and ends I found around my house.  One of these was a wishing rock.  Andrew put his hand into the box and came out with this rock.  I immediately thought of this Harris Burdick image.

“Maybe you could write a story to go with this image?”

“I’ve never written a story before.”

Andrew proceeded to type furiously into his Kidblog post.  The next day when he came in, he said “I can’t stop thinking about my wishing rock story.”

This is creativity working hand in hand with innovation.  You can read Andrew’s story here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My student, Noah, created a list post of “Things I Trust.”  Two of the curators of the Two Writing Teachers blog read his post.  They wanted to publish it to give other students ideas for writing.

Creativity and innovation happen in a classroom that is open to new ideas.  The let-me-try-this-out attitude.  I believe in my students.  They are more capable than I am when it comes to creativity.  Just look at Lynzee’s word cloud she created using the root word color.  She went on to write her post and change each word into a different font color.

 

Sometimes I feel like I just stand by and watch the brilliance of my students shine.  They are gifted kids, but more than that, they are open to the ideas floating around in the universe.  This openness will lead them on to produce wonderful innovations in the future, but for now, they are my little wonders.

To link up your own DigiLit post today, use this button.

 

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Today is a busy day.  I am preparing for a dinner party tonight as well as a backyard wedding in one week.

Currently:

Baking lemon squares: I don’t bake very regularly.  The new mixer I bought at Christmas was still in the box.  Also, I don’t follow directions well.  I expressed my frustration at having to re-read the directions, and my husband said, “You just don’t like anyone telling you what to do.  Even when it’s a recipe.” He’s right, I guess.  Nevertheless, said lemon squares are currently making my kitchen smell fresh and lemony.

Arranging flowers: I love buying cheap flowers at the grocery store.  I feel like I am rescuing them from a terminal life in the garbage bin.  Yellow-orange tulips and white carnations are currently brightening up the kitchen and dining tables.

Cleaning cat litter: I will spare you the details.

Reading blog posts: The Slice of Life Challenge is well on its way, and I am finding so many great posts to read.  I secretly wish I could sit here all day and read and comment.  But the floor needs sweeping and the bathrooms need a once over before guests arrive.

Cuddling Charlie: Charlie is a cuddle-dog, a nine-year-old schnauzer/ poodle mix, a schnoodle.  Currently, he has an infected mole on his face that needs to be surgically removed on Monday, so I am giving him lots of hugs and kisses.

Opening the doors: The spring air is fresh and warm.  The sun is shining.  The trees are reaching out for green, green, green.  We’ve added more plants to the deck in preparation for the wedding.  They make me happy.  A shasta daisy that I thought died in the freeze is pushing out red blossoms.

Writing and thinking about writing:  This SOL challenge has my mind always thinking about writing. Ideas float around like butterflies.  Every day I look forward to opening the blank blog page and writing.  After 6 years of this practice, I am finally feeling like I can do this.  (Tomorrow may be a different story.)

Celebrating: Each week I join Ruth Ayres blog round up of celebrations.  Having a practice of looking for celebration nurtures a positive, grateful outlook.  Here are some pictures from my week.

Time change means dark morning walks with the moon lighting my path.

The “big whopping dictionary” an antique two-volume dictionary that we used to find root words for fractal poems.

 

Found this watching minion rock at a local restaurant.

My neighbor fed a group of visiting students from Arcadia University. She invited friends to help teach them how to peel crawfish. They quickly got the hang of it and dug right in.

I decided to go all out for St. Patrick’s Day, all the way to green eyelashes.

 

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Poetry Friday is with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

 

Do you know what a fractal is?  I had a vague idea, but certainly didn’t know enough to teach my students about them.  Nonfiction books are wonderful ways to introduce new concepts to students.  At the SCBWI MS/LA regional conference last weekend, I ran into Sarah Campbell.  Her most recent book caught my eye and my curiosity. I knew it was be a favorite in my classroom.

Sarah describes fractals through photographs and simple descriptions.

Every fractal shape has smaller parts that look like the whole shape. Fractals are everywhere in nature, and can form in different ways. A tree is a fractal. It starts with one shape that changes in the same way over, and over, and over again.

–Sarah Campbell, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractal in Nature

 

 

dill flowers by Sarah Campbell

I wondered aloud with my students if there would be a poetry pattern designed after fractals, as we have Zeno poems from J. Patrick Lewis and Fib poems from Greg Pincus and others that come from mathematical patterns.  We did a quick Google search and a poetry exercise evolved.

Fractal poem: Choose a root word.  List words that use that root.  Create a poem that uses one of your words in each line.

Frag

By Madison

A frag of hope
in the fragment of
a diamond,
sparkling
and flaring
like a
fragile
piece of
orange glass
a fragrance
of a delicious
orange.

Enlighten Poem

by Andrew

There is lightning in every storm
which is a light
of hope
and in every lighted room
there is faith.
And in every room is a child
enlightened by a night-light.
And all the moonlight that shines
on this Earth, there is life.

Hope

by Margaret Simon

Hope is in the seed
Food of hope within
Hoping light will shine
Enter my hopeful seed
Hopefulness, dance with me
Take hopelessness away
Grow more hopeful in each day
Hope is in the seed.

Click here to read my students’ posts on Kidblog.

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Raising three daughters is a challenge. Now that they are adults, I try to forget the tough times. I like to forget that Maggie hated the dresses that I smocked. And that Katherine wanted to wear Sunday shoes to school. Martha wore the smocked dresses, but did not like matching her sisters. Each girl had her own personality, and in truth, I had a hard time keeping up. “Mom, don’t you know I Hate baked fruit?”

This weekend at the first SCBWI LA/MS regional conference, I met picture book author and illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy. Who knew when she sat at my table that we would connect in so many ways? She now lives in Oxford, MS, but she grew up in Jackson, like me. Later in the evening we sat next to each other at dinner and found out more things we have in common; we both have three daughters.

Sarah hilariously depicts the individual likes and dislikes of girls in her latest picture book, Puzzled by Pink.

Izzy’s sister Rose loves pink, but Izzy wears black, has a black cat, and carries a monster doll. It’s Rose’s birthday and Izzy refuses to wear a pink tutu. Izzy makes a party of her own in the attic complete with an invisible friend. This book speaks not only about being unique and accepting every one as they are, it also speaks to creativity and imagination. I am especially attracted to the details in Sarah’s artwork. All the way to the creepy spiders.

Sample page from Puzzled by Pink. Can you find the spiders?

On Sarah’s blog site, there is a post about making a birthday party celebration based on the book. There are links to fun crafts, too. Consider having a Puzzled by Pink party in your classroom. What costumes would each student wear? Let’s celebrate differences!

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Poetry Friday is with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

 

 

I am blessed to have a group of friends who chat through Voxer.  This poem came out of a conversation on our chat.  It’s a found poem.  But the words were found from spoken words.  Their arrangement here is changed to make them flow together as a poem.  Creating a poem is a puzzle to be pieced together.  Creating a life is a puzzle to be pieced together.

 

My Presbyterian husband did his best
to make me feel guilty
about this irreverence,
this moving on.
I’m having a hard enough time
finding my voice,
finding a new perspective.

We all know things can change
in the blink of an eye.
I’m ready;
I’m creating a new story for myself
welcoming this grand adventure.

It’s all about revision,
another draft.
I want to learn something new
Maybe that’s asking too much.

We are all inching our way to that something–
who we are, who we are meant to be
So many things get in the way.
No one path will be the path.
Ultimately, we do the best we can.
I am making my way
as you are making yours.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

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