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Archive for July, 2014

Poetry Friday Round-up is here today!

Poetry Friday Round-up is here today!

deception pass 1

This summer I have been thinking a lot about images, how images can fuel writing and creativity. I made a six-image memoir in response to a prompt by Kevin Hodgson on the Make Learning Connected site. Kim Douillard’s posts on Thinking Through my Lens make me think about the images I take responding to a theme. This week, Kim wrote about water, “Like water, there is power in writing. Power to connect, to heal, to think and reflect. We sometimes forget that writing in unexpected places creates new urgency and agency for our writing. So go outside, find a place by a river, on the curb, under a tree, or even sit on the car bumper and see what writing comes when you change your lens.”

Deception rocks

I climbed the high rock on the beach at Deception Pass on Whitbey Island, Washington on Tuesday. I took my notebook with me, a little pocket-sized one. Here is my journal entry:

You have to know the tides. Deception is easy looking off at the horizon reflecting on blue water, showing Mt. Baker–snowtopped snowball. The rocky beach offers smooth stones for your collection, stones of every color & size. We don’t have rocks like these at home in the south where the beaches are sand & shells, Gulf, not Pacific. Yet, I can close my eyes & breathe in the salty air, listen to the soft hum of the waves.
Beaches are like this–offering to us along with a sense of adventure, danger, of deception, the feeling of comfort, peace, of all being right with the world. I have my place on top of this huge jutting black rock. I can see Canada from here. I taste the seaweed & salt.
God wants us to marvel every day, to be alert, pay attention. Be still and know. I am grateful for this gift of sea, air, smooth stones, and a space to sit, reflect, write, and know that even though I am a mere speck of sand or a single stone, I have a name.

deception pass 3

This entry became a poem for Carol Varsalona’s Gallery Collection “Reflect with Me Summer Serenity.” This is only draft three, so you can offer revision suggestions.

Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, July, 2014

The clouds always keep us guessing,
so you have to know the tides.

Deception is easy, looking only
at the horizon line. Sometimes masked as a cloud,

the snow-topped mountain in the distance
deceives us, too.

The rocky beach becomes my foot hold,
a path of colorful stones washed smooth

by the constant lapping of the water.
I close my eyes to the salty air, listen

to the hum-swish of waves crashing the shore,
hear in them the possibility of danger.

Guided by the presence of the moon,
the sea gives and takes.

In the grit on my tongue, I can taste
the unleavened bread of sacrifice.

Be still and know is all I must do.
Marvel at the wonders of rock and air and sea.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Join in the Poetry Friday fun with your link. Use Mr. Linky. Don’t forget to come back and check out the links. I hope to comment to everyone (at least that is my goal.)

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Seattle

Today is my last day in Seattle. I have been here for a week with my mother-in-law visiting her son and his family. My sister-in-law Julie is the saint who has been our tireless tour guide. You can see her in the picture collage above delighted by her friend’s dalia garden. This friend offered us a bouquet of dalias, big, beautiful, and colorful to go with her gift of crabs. Each meal we have had here has included fresh vegetables and seafood.

On Sunday after an intimate service at St. Mark’s cathedral, Julie and Greg took me paddle boarding. I mentioned that I had never done this before. “You must try it!” So there I am standing on a windy lake paddling. I really didn’t do half bad. Julie, who rows for sport, paddled far out in the lake. I stayed closer in, but I decided that was OK. I’ll just enjoy being here in this breeze on this clear lake listening to the joyful sounds of fun. I’m not sure if I will get a board for the bayou (as friends on Facebook suggested), but I was happy I did it.

You can see my 5 image story of our trip to Bainbridge Island here. Today we are going to another island. This vacation has been a perfect combination of walks in parks with mountain views, shopping at Pike Place Market, food from the garden and from the sea, and adventure. My only regret is that my husband and children are not with me. I miss them.

The weather has been only perfect with clear skies and daily mountain views. Mt. Rainier is visible, but I cannot get it to show up in pictures. The white snow blends with the sky and clouds.

I didn’t mention my own private attic room. Greg and Julie renovated a century old home and finished the attic. I have to climb narrow Italian stairs, but once I am up here, I can see the sky and rooftops, the mountains and lake beyond. I have enjoyed this inspiring writing space.

photo 2

photo 3

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I never would have expected that I would be thinking about digital literacy this weekend, but here I am in the front yard of my brother-in-law’s house on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington connected to the internet. Next to me is my niece focusing on writing essays for medical school applications. My nephew is shopping for ski bindings. My brother-in-law is working on a grant, and his wife is reading Seattle Times on her phone. We are all connected to the world as we connect to each other.

On the Making Learning Connected site, Kevin Hodgson (who is always thinking about digital literacy) invites us to make 6 image memoirs.

This was harder than I thought it would be. I decided to use Haiku Deck. I perused images and tried to pick out ones that reflect my personal life as well as my professional one. They are so interconnected. When I began blogging three years ago, I did not realize just how appropriate my site name is to the purpose of my writing. Reflections on the Teche does not limit me to only writing about teaching or only posting poetry, but I can do both. My memoir includes my active self (teacher, wife, mother) as well as my reflective self.

It is important in this digital age to encourage our students to not only participate, but to also be reflective and thoughtful about purpose.

Click on the link to view my 6 image memoir on haiku deck:
https://www.haikudeck.com/p/BdTRIF9pjf/6-image-memoir

sunset profile

Link up your digital literacy post or your six image memoir.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

On Kim Douillard’s blog “Thinking Through My Lens,” she invites us to tell a story with images to the word through.

Today, on Celebration Saturday, I celebrate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I am privileged to be here with my mother-in-law a respite from the heat of the south. My sister-in-law is our tour guide. Yesterday she led us on an informative tour of the flora of The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

Here is my five-image story/poem from our day trip to Bainbridge Island.

Through the window of the ferry, we sail away from Seattle.

Through the window of the ferry, we sail away from Seattle.

Through a forest of birches, rhododendron reflect on a passing stream.

Through a forest of birches, rhododendron reflect on a passing stream.

Pacific angels send a breeze of salty healing air through my lungs to lighten my heart.

Pacific angels send a breeze of salty healing air through my lungs to lighten my heart.

Even the root of the fallen hemlock becomes sculpture through God's eyes.

Even the root of the fallen hemlock becomes sculpture through God’s eyes.

Follow me through the Japanese Garden to discover gnomes among the moss and fairies in the trees.

Follow me through the Japanese Garden to discover gnomes among the moss and fairies in the trees.

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Poetry Friday Round-up: Poetry for Children

Poetry Friday Round-up: Poetry for Children

Image created on tagxedo.com by Donna Smith

Image created on tagxedo.com by Donna Smith

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

In the mail last week, I received a poem swap gift from Donna Smith. While I loved the poem that seemed to be written just for me, I didn’t fully appreciate it until I read Donna’s Poetry Friday post last week. I could not get over the amount of time she spent on the process. In an email exchange, I asked her these questions. Her answers are in italics.

Did you select one blog post or multiple ones to get the word cloud?


I selected the blog’s main url, not a single post, but either could be done. I just wanted a larger picture of the overall blog contents, not just one day’s take on it. I was also afraid that some words would go together too much and sound like the actual blog post. I didn’t want it to be just about a post or a poetic rewrite of it, but more a “found” poem.

It was helpful to read through a bit of the blog where some of the words came from. I could remind myself of who I was writing to and discover more about the recipient, in case I could incorporate any information. I did some research on the “Teche”, not having been familiar with that term up here in the north. It was fun learning about another part of our country!

On your blog, you said you printed out the words and cut them up. Why did you choose to do it this way? I would think that you could just look at them and pick out words without the labor intense work of cutting. I wonder if the longer process led you to deeper writing?

You don’t have to type, sort, print and cut them, but I like the familiarity with the words I get with this more hands-on “direct contact” approach. Being able to move them around physically was good and did help with the deeper thought and connection in writing. Having them set for a bit helped put them in my mind where I could play with them some, too. It became easier to “find” the poem the more I got acquainted with the words. Cutting them apart might not be necessary for everyone. I would still recommend typing them to see them all at once and sorting them by their parts of speech.

Reflections
by Donna JT Smith July 2014

Imagine
the beginning
of a summer
journey:
a personal
mountain
traveled.
Listen
to the clever
chatter of leaves,
Follow
the flight
of
song birds,
Celebrate
old bayou
voices and memes,
Climb
to the stars
in silence,
Know
every life
is connected
to another,
Believe
and love deeply,
Challenge
your heart,
Illuminate
your life,
Spread
joy
in your corner
of the world;
Make
time to write
your
reflections
and
dance
on
the hazel Teche.
–Donna Smith, all rights reserved

Thank you, Donna, for the time, energy, and creativity you put into this poem gift.

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Follow this link to read more spiritual journey posts.

Follow this link to read more spiritual journey posts.

Fragments of sin are a part of me.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me.
Shall they? Shall they?

When this light life shall have passed away,
God shall redeem me, a castaway.
Shall He? Shall He?
–Marianne Moore, public domain

Holly Mueller invites us to reflect on our spiritual journey each week. Today her theme is Follow. I also subscribe to Kim Douillard’s blog Thinking Through My Lens. She invited me to think about containers. So my creative-spiritual being thought about these things while I visited St. Marks Cathedral in Seattle today. We went to Centering Prayer. Sitting in silence in this holy space was a special gift. I let go completely and allowed my mind to rest.

The container of my mind holds many fragments.
Closing my eyes in prayer,
letting the mantra cleanse me, I am freed.
My container is opened.

We are called to Follow as we are called to Be still and know.
Today I looked into the font at the entrance to St. Marks and saw this reflection.
A God-centered mind will reflect only love.

St. Marks font

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I continue to try my hand at creative endeavors. #CLMOOC Challenge for this week is fairly easy, a 5 image story. I got the Tapestry app on my phone (free), so it was easy to upload 5 silly shots of my cat hiding in a grocery bag. It was as though she thought she was invisible. We are a little nutty about our animals. I took some shots of this cat trick and made a 5 image Tapestry story. Unfortunately, wordpress does not embed Tapestry. Click on the link. I promise it’ll only take a second. Can you add the words?

https://readtapestry.com/s/ZDImIgGiA/

Mimi in a bag

Last week I got my brain fried in pre-AP training. I finally had some time to process and work with a frame that my colleague Beth and I came up with. We want to use the theme of Wonder for our year. I tried Wonderopolis with my students a few times last year and they loved it. In my thinking/planning journal we brainstormed what each letter could stand for and began planning to use this format for our daily language lesson. I’m thinking it can guide my whole week.

Wonder frame

I am such a teacher-geek passionate teacher that I spent hours planning out Wonder frames for the school year.

First I selected an interesting Wonder from Wonderopolis, such as Fireflies. Each Wonder includes a video, a nonfiction text passage, vocabulary, links, and interactive quizes. A teacher’s dream website! I mean who doesn’t get excited about learning about bioluminescence?

On Monday, students will read and paraphrase a quote: “All that I know about us is that beautiful things never last, that’s why fireflies flash.”

On Tuesday, they will analyze a Robert Frost poem about fireflies: (Underline the word(s) that fireflies are compared to in the poem and explain how they are similar to fireflies.)
“Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.” Robert Frost

On Wednesday, they will define bioluminescence and use it in a short paragraph.

On Thursday, they will edit this sentence, “Fireflies may be none for there glow power but their knot alone. ”
On Friday, they will read another passage from Mental Floss and make an inference.

I can only imagine how my classroom will be buzzing about fireflies. In the meantime, my students will be able to read their own choices (I am determined to channel Donalyn Miller this year) and will be writing their own pieces during writing workshop. I’m excited to find a way to feel like I am incorporating valuable lessons without sacrificing student choice. Here is a pdf file of the Wonder template for ELA (2).

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