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

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

 

 

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

My husband and I are very different readers. He stays up late and reads mystery novels. I, on the other hand, go to bed early with middle grade realistic fiction. He reads news on his tablet while I read blogs.  He reads The New Yorker, and I read Oprah magazine.

But yesterday, he handed me The American Scholar. (He’s the Phi Beta Kappa.) The Editor’s Note was about the writings of Brian Doyle. One essay mentioned was “Joyas Voladoras.” I was able to say, “I’ve read that!” It’s the first essay that Katherine Bomer analyzes in her book, “The Journey is Everything.”

Then Jeff said, “Have your read ‘Leap’? You have to read it.” He handed me his tablet. I finished with tears in my eyes.

Then I read “How Did You Become a Writer.”  This is just what I needed to read. For all of you in this Slice of Life Challenge, we are on day 20. The writing is getting harder. We are feeling like everything we put on the page is garbage. So this is for you and for me, Top Ten Things a Writer Must Do as taken from Brian Doyle’s essay.

  1. Be honest with yourself.
  2. Expect no money for your writing.
  3. Listen.
  4. Energize your verb choice.
  5. When in doubt, cut it out.
  6. Make writing a regular part of your day.
  7. Delete mere catharsis.
  8. Find the right title.
  9. Be a witness to the world.
  10. Submit.

 

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

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.

 

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

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

Last week I wrote a post about a mural being painted downtown by Mary Lacy from Vermont. She has made great progress on the alligator; nevertheless, an invitation was sent out for a painting party. I was excited about this event. I wanted to leave my own mark on this city icon.

The newspaper showed up and lined up some volunteers along the wall with Mary in the middle. She’s the tall one laughing.

My friend Charleen was already painting when I arrived. I asked her, “How do I get to paint?” Not five minutes later she had the artist at my side handing me a paintbrush.

I painted with a father/daughter team. The daughter was eight years old. I have no problem talking to eight year olds. We had a nice conversation while we painted.

There was a group of students from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania helping out. They are spending their spring break volunteering for local nonprofit organizations around town. They were a fun group of energetic kids.

What is a party without food from a nearby cafe and boxes of cheap wine? The mayor stopped by to put his handprint on the project.

Mary predicts that she will be finished by Friday.  I predict that our stop may be her favorite on the 10 location tour.  She loved the food, the fellowship, and friendliness of New Iberia.  I will drive by the gator daily and think fondly of my afternoon.

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

Yesterday I posted about the SCBWI conference in New Orleans this weekend. Dr. Mary Howard wrote this message on Facebook, “I’m dying of curiosity about the revision techniques.” So I looked back at my notes and created a poem.

Why are you writing this?
Do you know?
What kind of story do you want to tell?
Do you know?

I need to make some decisions.
Whose story am I telling?
What change does my character make?

Purpose will inform your premise.
One sentence tells the whole story.

Start the stitching,
word by word,
you will make something beautiful.
Readers will thank you.