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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

Mug Shot

My sister is seven years younger than me.  Yes, she is a grown woman, and the mother of two children, but even so, she will always be my younger sister, and I will always advocate for her like a mother.

I wish we lived closer to each other, and never so much as I did last week when I got this text from her.

That was Wednesday.  On Thursday, I checked in and she had spent 4 hours in the ER on Wednesday night getting fluids and nausea medicine. Did they check for appendicitis?  I asked.  She wasn’t sure.  My gut was telling me something, but I live in South Louisiana, and she is in Austin, TX.  How could I tell her that the ER had been wrong?

What I did tell her was to get in touch with her regular doctor.  She did.  They gave her an appointment for Friday morning.  Are you kidding me?! The mother in me was yelling inside my head.  I asked, “Did you tell them your symptoms? Promise me if the pain gets more severe, you will insist on an appointment today!”

Friday came.  Her husband and son packed up to leave for Louisiana to go to the LSU football game.  Their daughter, my niece, attends LSU.  Beth told him to go ahead with his plans, and she would let him know what the doctor said.

Her appointment was mid-morning.  I got a text at 12:10 PM:

The CT scan took forever.  I didn’t hear from her again until after school around 4 PM.  The diagnosis was appendicitis.  I broke down.  I wanted to get on the next flight to Austin, but I knew that was unrealistic. Instead, I got in touch with her best friend. She assured me she was going to be able to help. I talked to my people (my husband, daughter, and mother).  They all advised that she was in good hands, and there was nothing more I could do.

My brother-in-law turned around and headed back home.  She was alone, but he would be there when she woke up.

My worry turned to anger. I’m still trying to deal with that side of it.  Beth is home and feeling sore, but she will recover.  She told me that I “advocate like a mother,” a slogan a friend of hers uses in her advocacy for her trisomy 18 child.

My sister will be fine, but I’ve realized with this incident how fiercely I care about her, as if she were my own daughter.  And I will always “Fight like a Mother!”

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

I love writing from photographs.  There are many different perspectives to take, as an observer, as someone in the photo, or as description. I shared the National Geographic photo archives with my students.  I asked them to select a photo to write about.  We gathered information first in a T-chart.  “What I see, What I think, What I wonder, What I know, What I feel.”  I found this idea in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book, Poems are Teachers. 

I was attracted to a photo of a lioness in water carrying a cub in her mouth.  Your Shot photographer Connie Bowen said, “We were in awe of her mothering and tolerance.”  I used this as a repeated line in my poem.

Chloe also chose this photo to write about, without knowing I had selected it, too.  Madison is a budding young artist.  She is taking art classes.  She wanted to raise some money to get a laptop so she can do more with her art.  I commissioned her to draw the photograph.

 

Maternal Instincts

We were in awe of her mothering,
how she gently yet firmly
held the cub in her jaws
hanging loosely, trusting.

We were in awe of her grace,
as she swept through the water
knowing her cubs would follow
in her wake, head up, alert to mother’s gait.

We were in awe of her tolerance,
lioness in African grass, patience
in her eyes, confidence in stride.
Mother nature teaches us tolerant, mothering grace.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

A Likely Loving Lioness

by Chloe

A likely loving lioness
loves her cubs with a smile.
And when they’re sad
she makes them glad
by playing with them all day.

Here is a link to Chloe’s poem on Kidblog if you’d like to comment to her directly.

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

 

What a thrill to be a part of this amazing collection of poems from all over our great country!  This honor was made possible by the connections I’ve made in Poetry Friday.  Because Amy Ludwig VanDerwater knows me, when J. Patrick Lewis was looking for a Louisiana children’s poet, she connected us.  The poem I wrote, “Louisiana Bayou Song” became the title poem of my first poetry book published by UL Press this summer.

I also know many of the poets included in the collection, and if you read more Poetry Friday posts, you will find them, too.  Today, Buffy Silverman’s post includes 4 poems from the book.  Last week, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted her poem “A Note from the Trail.”

Here’s Linda Kulp Trout’s poem about Helen Keller.  And Mary Lee has two poems included. Robyn Hood Black shared her poem, “Mural Compass.” If I find more, I will add the links into this post.

My poem sits on a two page spread that includes an amazing heron photograph and a heart-wrenching Katrina poem by the anthologist J. Patrick Lewis.  I feel I am sitting among my poet-heroes.

 

Louisiana Bayou Song

Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound.

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Margaret Simon (c)

 

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

 

Last night was the #TeachWrite Twitter chat on “Facing our writing fears.” Turns out, we all have them.   I’ve heard Kate Dicamillo say multiple times (I’m not a groupie, really!) that she faces the fear of writing every day.  Every. Day.

Writing fear is a real thing.  It creeps into our lives at the worst of times and the best of times.  And publishing a book is no shield from it.  In fact, it may increase it.  Self talk, “Oh, this publication was a fluke.  No one will ever want to read another poem I’ve written ever again.”

Do you get messages from the universe?  I do. And if you pay attention, you’ll understand that everyone lives with fear every day.  What separates us is the way we deal with it.  I am trying hard to get better at holding myself up and away from the fear.  I love what Eleanor Roosevelt had to say about fear. “Do something every day that scares you.”  We must do this because, otherwise, fear is the winner.  But I also believe that if you are not writing in fear, then you are not writing.  The act itself is brave!

 

Here are two of my favorite Tweets from the chat.

 

I told my students today, truthfully, that writing is hard work, and if it’s not hard, you are not doing it right.  It’s important for us to keep writing (facing the writing fears) so that we can tell our students the truth.  That nothing worth doing well is easy.  Not even the greatest of authors have had it easy.  Take heart, though, because once you have written something good, you know how that feels, so you are more willing and ready to do it again.

 

What are your writing fears?  How do you overcome them?

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone at Deo Writer.

 

Click to Pre-order

Octopus Zeno

Octopuses are amazing
cephalopods
mollusks
beak

8 tentacles
wave on
fleek

looking anywhere
for food
sneak

Breighlynn, 3rd grade

Irene Latham is an accomplished author/poet, and she is a generous friend.  She sent me an advanced copy of Love, Agnes which will be released on October 1st.  Agnes has declared October as Octopus Month. See Irene’s post here. 

With my students, I read Love, Agnes.  We enjoyed logging into this video.

We gathered some amazing octopus facts and words.  And, of course, we wrote octopus poems.

Over the weeks we’ve been together, we’ve explored some different poetry forms.  For this activity, my students chose their own forms to use and two of them even invented new forms.  Madison created the octaiku.

“An Octopus form, or, as I like to call it, a Octaiku ( A combination of Octopus and Haiku. ) The form is 2, 4, 8, 2 ,4 because 2 and 4 can go evenly into 8.”

Eight Arms
Suction Cupped
Cephalopod, Mollusk, Family
Giant
And Beautiful.

Madison, 5th grade

Madison met Irene Latham at the 2016 Louisiana Book Festival.

 

Things to do as  an Octopus

Wear a color changing coat,
call it camouflage.
when you get hurt,
heal up soon.
Something’s going to scare you,
blast streams of black goo.
Time to lay eggs,
protect them till you’re dead.

Landon, 5th grade

 

My life as Agnes

My friend who lives on shore.
I think he thinks I’m a bore.

He sends me a postcard everyday.
He makes me wanna shout “HOORAY!!!”

I protect my babies ’til they go away
And then I pass away.

Kaia, 3rd grade

 

 

 

 

 

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

I’ve been a fan of using heart maps in my classroom for a while.  At the beginning of the year, we made name heart maps.  Later in the year, we may use a heart map to identify an interest area for a research project.  This week, for the first time, I tried out readers’ heart maps.  Georgia Heard’s book about heart maps offers many different styles.  I tend to use the simple design.  Plain white paper. Taco fold. Draw half a heart. Cut it out. Then glue in your journal.

Chloe decided to cut out three hearts.  She made one with white paper.  Then she asked if she could use colored paper.  Then she made a blue one and a pink one.  I suggested that she could layer them one on top of the other.  She loved that idea.  One heart became about her favorite book at home about Ariel.  She’s a Dr. Seuss fan and made her blue heart about Dr. Seuss.  On the big white heart, she chose herself and wrote one of her poems.  Why not choose yourself as your favorite author?

Chloe’s layer of Reader’s Heart Maps.

Madison decided to fill her reader’s heart map with quotes from her favorite books.  Her all time favorite quote comes from Percy Jackson, “I have become one with the plumbing.”  She laughs out loud.

 

Madison’s reading heart map

 

I’ve been reading aloud Kate Dicamillo’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” so my reader’s heart map became about this book.  Edward breaks my heart over and over again.

 

My reader’s heart is broken and healed by Edward Tulane.

I think making heart maps is a great way to honor your students’ individual choices in reading.  They can express what they love to read in a reader’s heart map. We will come back to the heart maps to write about ourselves as readers.  What would you make your reader’s heart map about?

 

 

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Erin at The Water’s Edge.

 

I am in the process of planning a workshop for teachers for the Acadiana Center for the Arts to be held on October 11th. When I met with my teaching partner, artist Marla Kristicevich, we discussed creative ways a teacher/writer/student could respond to my poems in Bayou Song.  I loved her idea of creating magazine collage.  I wanted to give it a try myself and with my own students.  The collages are as diverse as the students themselves.  

From the collages, we then wrote an I am poem.  For this, I offered sentence stems to get the ideas flowing.  Today, I am posting one of my collages and poem along with Madison’s.  Madison wanted to use a unique word, so we looked through what I call “the big whopping dictionary,” a two book set my daughter bought me at an antique store.  Madison found the word reliquary, and we had a discussion about the metaphorical use of a river as a reliquary.  I love what she did with her poem.

 

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.

I wonder where my path leads.
I echo laughter, tears, and songs.
I watch the sun, moon, and stars.
I call your name.

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.
I remember tales of old.
I nurture time and treasures.
I say the heart is true.
I hope you’ll hear my call.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

I am a Rambling River Reliquary

I wonder if I can ever turn back.
I echo the past.
I watch the present.
I call for the future.
I wind a wide bend.
I touch every memory.
I nurture your thoughts.
I want to never stop.
I remember the crashing thunder.
I say ” Swshhh, rrww! ”
I tell the wind my tales.
I hope I can find more.

Madison, 5th grade