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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Not much happened this week.
A layer of ice.
Schools closed.

I stoked the fire.
Carefully added a log or two.
Then let it go out.

Crochet needle looped and looped
a neck warmer for a friend,
prayers for an injured boy.

Ukulele picking.
Hallelujah
From G to E-minor
cramped and challenged
this weak left hand.

Read a book
about Love,
And the face staring back
in the bathroom mirror–
this, too, is love.*

A book about a Fall,
I didn’t look up
I didn’t look down
I just kept on climbing
one step at a time.*

Cooked and cared for
my mother-in-law
recovering from surgery.
“I’m fine,” she insisted.
She’s fine, I know.

Wrote a poem
with only a few words,
lifted it up like a paper airplane,
and sent it out into the world.

* Matt de la Peña Love

* Dan Santat After the Fall

 

 

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Kay at A Journey Through the Pages.

 

I’ve had a lot of time lately to look out the window.  A hard freeze blew through the deep south, and gifted me with time alone at home on the bayou.  The winter bitter winds do not scare away the water wading birds.  They must be covered in some powerful down.  I’ve watched a particular blue heron, an occasional great white egret, and this morning, a family of wood ducks.

Watching the bayou inspires me to write poetry.  If you come by my blog often, you know this is my ongoing topic.  My blog title, Reflections on the Teche, is informed by the Bayou Teche (pronounced “Tesh”)

Taking a picture of a blue heron is nearly impossible.  They respond to any human activity with flight.  I painted a portrait of one a few years ago after a photo by Ralph Fletcher.  This painting now hangs in my parents’ dining room.

Blue heron painting by Margaret Simon

 

Heron Watching

I stand still
at the window
watching.

Take in slow breath.
No need to pray
when seeing this heron.

He perches,
head down,
beak pointed to

water’s surface
where the sun glimmers
like waves in old glass.

Is it a minnow,
mosquito, moth?
I focus on the horizon,

wonder
what his patience
invites me to see?

Margaret Simon, 2018

My One Little Word for my writing life is Present.  I want to show up to the page every day.  I wrote a post for TeachWrite Chat Blog here. I made a Canva image of my goals for being present thinking of the heron in my backyard and his lessons of patience.

 

Slice of a Joy Jar

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

I am a co-moderator with the #TeachWrite chat on Twitter. (Note the graphic on the side bar.) One of my colleagues in this endeavor is Michelle Haseltine.  Michelle put a photo on Facebook of a journal page from one of her students.  The page was filled with the outline of a jar and words and sketches were drawn inside the jar.

I took this idea and presented it to my students with a Brene’ Brown twist from Braving the Wilderness. 

We all have times when we feel lonely.  Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?  Like you just don’t fit in? There’s no one around who sees you or that you connect with.

We all have these times.  But when we do, we can take with us a jar of things that make us feel joy, make us feel safe.  What would be in your jar?

One student jumped up from her seat to draw a jar on the board.  She labelled it “Our Happy Place Jar.”  Her instructions were for everyone to draw one thing from their jar onto our shared jar.  (I love it when kids respond to the lesson with such leadership and participation.)

My students drew a variety of jars.  Some were filled with specific things from our class, Slice of Life, read aloud, computer (blogging), friends.  Others find joy in nature or family or funny memes.  Whatever their choices, they engaged with the idea and filled their jars.

Near the end of the week, Chloe announced, “Even if I have to throw away this journal, I will tear out this page and save it forever!”  That’s what I call Joy!

Mrs. Simon’s Sea

We are fish,
fish swimming through a treacherous sea,

a book,
open and full,

a nest,
a place of warmth,

a pencil and paper
for expression,

and a poem.

by Lynzee, 3rd grade

Austin’s Double E Jar

Andrew’s Rainbow Jar

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

This week as we returned from our break and began 2018, I wanted my students to choose a One Little Word for their year.  To lead them in this, I created a Google slide show.  

My students were very thoughtful about their word choices.  With three choices to creatively represent their words, students rotated from magazine collage to Canva and Animoto. For their writing element, I asked them to write the journey to their chosen word.

This exercise confirmed a belief I have about students and literacy.  A child’s story should be told, honored, and respected.  Then you can reach, teach, and move them forward.

My students worked through their struggles, their heartaches, their goals, and their dreams.

Erin’s word is Value.

Erin wrote: “I chose value because it’s unique like me. To most people it’s the worth of money. But to me, it’s the worth of myself. I could have chosen other words like confidence, determination, etc. But I couldn’t live by those words. I couldn’t try to be confident for the whole year. The first week I would fail. But I can value myself. I can live by this word, whether it’s me trying to have more value in myself, or me knowing that other people value me.”

Austin chose the word Strive.

Austin wrote: “I got my one little word from basketball. Since the beginning of Christmas break, I have been playing the game a lot. I still have been going outside, but not as much as I usually do. So when it was time to get on the court, I was not ready. I was not ready to run a lot. I was not ready to dribble the ball. I was not ready to put the ball in the basket. We lost both of our games. My mom and my dad told me that if I was not on my game the whole time, I would have been ready for this moment. That is when I decided that I needed to strive to be what I want to be (basketball player). I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing and wait until it was time to do something. I decided to limit my ps4 time. I would work more, hustle more., and especially strive more. I decided to go to the time, not wait till the time came to me.”

Faith’s One Little Word is Gratitude.

Faith wrote: “My journey to get to my one little word all starts when the hurricanes and fires and floods all started. When hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the devastation was horrible. Watching the news and all the houses and building destroyed, it made me feel thankful and grateful for everything I have.”

Trace made an Animoto video about helping.  In his post, he wrote, “My One Little Word is Helpful. The way this train of thought all started was when my Mom had told me  ‘Maw-maw has a problem where she is starting to forget so we will need to help her more often. Also she is starting to forget to eat so she really needs our help.’ So now I go there almost everyday to help. ”

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio

 

With the start of a new year, I am trying to write a poem a day, or, at the very least, some ramblings in my notebook.  I’m staying away from social media until I write.  But I do check my email.  I receive a poem-a-day from Jane Yolen.  (You can sign up here.)

Jane’s poem begins each stanza with “The lake sings… It sings of…”  Every day the bayou reflects the tone of the season.  This morning as I write, the wind has turned cold, so I hear the echo of the whipping wind through the trees and the wind chimes clinging.  On Jan. 6th when I wrote this poem, the bayou was still and calm.  The trees were reflected perfectly in the water.  The sun was warming the surface of the water.

Bayou Reflections, Jan. 6, 2018. M. Simon

 

The bayou sings of shadows,
reflections of trees
bare and still.

It sings of rising sun
warming a surface
of sky on water.

It sings of herons,
owls, mockingbirds,
a hawk flying high above.

But most of all,
the bayou
sings of peace.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

 

Brenda Davis Harsham posted a ten word prompt in Laura Shovan’s Facebook Project (which is currently open for new members).  The words came from an article in The New York Times about Maria Callas and the opera Tosca.  I sent it to my mother who is a musician and huge fan of opera.  I asked her, “Did I ever see Tosca?” She responded that she had taken me as a child.

 

La_Tosca_poster_by_Mucha_-_detail

I listened to the recordings embedded in the online article, but nothing sounded too familiar.  I did not inherit the same love of opera, I’m afraid.

But the article, the email conversation with Mom, and the ten words that Brenda selected led me to this poem:

 

 

My mother took me to see Tosca
when I was too young
to know tragedy.

I listened with ears of youth
tuning in to the crazy chords
that flowed in and out
like murmuring birds.

How fragile a single soprano note
hangs on a nightingale’s wing.
The song can wake you
alive to wonder about the night.

The night where silence
plants seeds deep into the soil,
where raw buds feign sleep
waiting for the light of dawn.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is gathered here today. We are writing about our chosen One Little Word that will guide our year. Choosing a one little word is supposed to be easier than making resolutions.  I suppose the theory is you will break your resolution in a month or so, but a word can be revisited time and time again and bring about new meaning and purpose to your life.

Placing the weight of inspiration on one little word seems daunting, but the fun and marvelous thing about language is that words can have many meanings and purposes.  And every word’s meaning is up to interpretation.

I believe in trusting that a word will find you, and once it does, you must resist the urge to flick it away.  Like the buzz of a mosquito, it will find its way back to you anyway.

When I was at NCTE this fall, my friend Fran passed around a stack of magnets with words on them.  She didn’t hand us one; she asked us to choose.  The word that chose me was Explore. The magnet said Explore new possibilities.  I decided not to question why the word found me.  I just placed it on my fridge.

Then I received an invitation on Facebook to join a group of writers to “Explore your Natural Creativity” for the #30for30Challenge. Anastasia Suen posts a check-in every day, Did you create for 30 minutes today? 

A student gave me a new journal for Christmas.  The cover says “Do one thing every day that inspires you,” and each day there’s a different creative prompt.

Once I head back to school next week, my exploration into my own writing and creativity will be more difficult to make time for.  I also have to squeeze in ukulele practice (see this post) and exercise.  Oh, and reading, and crochet, and cooking, and walking the dog…

Years ago when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I was enamored of the idea of an artist date.  She said you should make a date with yourself once a week to explore a museum or gallery.  She believed in feeding the artist soul.  That is where I want to take my word Explore...out into the world to see where it will take me.

 

 

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