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Archive for April, 2015

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

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

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

I love this poetry exercise inspired by Bob Raczka “Some Reasons to Write a Poem.”  Stacey Shubitz of the Two Writing Teachers wrote one here that is personal to her mothering a four-year-old girl.  Catherine Flynn’s version is here.  My digital version here. 

I prompted my students last week and told them the form would work well as a Slice of Life poem.  But some child poets are not happy with their first try.  Some of them (actually a rare few) take a poetry prompt home and incubate.  Emily did this last week.  She showed me her poem written in a spiral notebook she carries in her booksack.  I have to share this with you.  You’ll know why when you read it.

 

Because the Earth is round,
not flat

Because the rain seeps into the ground

Because the birds chirp a high pitched melody

Because trees are mossy giants

Because of the polka-dot fawn in the barn

Because the man on the moon is fishing for stars

and caught one
for you!

–Emily, 4th grade

(leave comments directly to her on her blog)

A mossy giant in my yard.

A mossy giant in my yard.

 

Matthew’s version starts off like an SOL then moves into a hats-off-to-writing-a-poem poem.

Reasons to write a poem

Because you ate too much candy last night and didn’t sleep
and woke up early to get donuts.

Because you’re in class with, like, 5 poetry beasts!

Because I took time out of my me-time to write this, which, F to the YI, is a poem!

Because you can be free, and you don’t have to do just one thing.

Because you can’t mess up.

Because you can’t be better than anyone,
or worse.

–Matthew, 5th grade

(comments for Matthew)

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Join the IMWAYR meme at Teach Mentor Texts.

Join the IMWAYR meme at Teach Mentor Texts.

When I think of mentor texts, a wonderful addition to my library is I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Mary Whyte. This book tells the story of two brothers going fishing with their mom. Each wants to be loved more than the other. But this is one poetic mother. She loves one the bluest and one the reddest. The metaphorical language is understandable to even my youngest students.

love you purplest

Why, Julian, I love you the bluest!
I love you the color of a dragonfly
at the tip of its wing.
I love you the color of a cave
in its deepest, hidden part
where grizzly bears and bats curl up until night.
The mist of a mountain.
The splash of a waterfall.
The hush of a whisper.

After reading the story, I ask my students to choose a color. Brainstorm words that would go with that color. We share our lists. Then they choose someone they love. (Most choose mothers. You could make it a Mother’s Day activity.) Using their lists, they write a poem about the one they love using the title, “__________, I Love you the _______-est.”

Matthew won second place in a state writing contest in second grade with his poem.

Mom, I Love you the Bluest

Mom, I love you like the color of the sky.
The shimmer of the ocean.
The color of our cat’s eyes.
My old blue jeans.
I love you with the strongest emotion.

https://youtu.be/IYAl64ng09c

I guess when you have a tried and true lesson, and you’ve been blogging for 4 years, something’s bound to come back around. I did a Google search for images and came across my own Poetry Friday post from 2013. You can read more student poems here.

Emily purplest

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

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Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Lake Martin sunset

Lake Martin sunset

2015ProgressivePoem (1) copy

Today is my turn to add a line to the Kidlit 2015 Progressive Poem. When I volunteered to do this, I chose day 12 knowing that the poem would already have an established meter and theme, and I’d just have to keep it rocking along. This year the poem is free verse which is comfortable to me. It also ended up in the cypress swamp right down the street from me here in South Louisiana. I am posting a few pictures from a fall canoe trip to Lake Martin, St. Martinville, LA, which is a natural bird conservatory and cypress swamp. We can imagine our mermaid here.

Yesterday, Kim gave some grandmotherly advice to our maiden as she glides through the water. I added in my One Little Word and my blog title to complete the metaphorical advice. I was thinking of this photograph by my friend, Marjorie Pierson (cousin to my husband), who is using her fine art photography to promote saving the wetlands. Her image makes dewdrops look like jewels. If you need images to help you when adding your own line, I suggest flipping through the slides on her site.

As I pass this on to Doraine at Dori Reads, I wonder if we will stay in the swamp. Does she have a friend in the trees? Perhaps an egret or a roseate spoonbill? Does she have a friend in an alligator or nutria? I wonder where this poem is going. That is the joy of a progressive poem. You must send her out in the wild like this mermaid.

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.

Follow the progress below:

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Canoeing through the trees in Lake Martin.

Canoeing through the trees in Lake Martin.

Today is DigiLit Sunday, a link up of blogs using digital literacies in the classroom. If you are joining in for DigiLit Sunday or Digital Poetry, please link up your post below.

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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.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

My friend, Carolyn (aka Bayou Warrior), invited me to go to a performance of a blues band on Thursday night. I don’t usually do these kinds of activities during the week, but I wanted to experience this group and welcomed the opportunity to spend time with my enthusiastic friend. When we walked into the Acadiana Center for the Arts, a woman about my own age looked at my black cowboy boots and said, “Someday I’m going to be brave enough to wear cowboy boots.” This comment struck me because I don’t think of myself as brave when I wear my boots. I wear them when I am celebrating.

When Carolyn and I sat in the balcony, I pulled out my phone to save the line in my notes. As I typed it, I thought how it would make a good first line of a poem. I passed the phone to Carolyn and said, “Add a line.” She quickly caught on that we were writing a collaborative poem. The performance inspired chair dancing and more lines for our poem.

Chair Dancing to Heritage Blues

One day I’m going to be brave enough to wear black cowboy boots,
black leather skirt too. Maybe a peak of red hidden under lace.
A flower covered scarf around my neck.
A spray of real perfume,
dark winking earrings.

I’ll do some chair dancing
Listening to catfish blues.
Witness watery reflections on the baby grand.

Two dapper hats
Four guitars…
Creole singer flying free

Sunset drummer setting the stride
Remember when you’re walking up to heaven.
Don’t let nobody turn you around.

Sometimes you gotta stand up and dance
Like here … Louisiana crossroads
Sometimes you gotta shake it out.

–Carolyn Hidalgo and Margaret Simon

For more musical fun, go to Amy VanDerwater’s site, The Poem Farm, to hear my students take the challenge to Sing that Poem.

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Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

I had a wonderful mentor years ago who said that good writers are the ones who give themselves the most permissions. In her recent e-newsletter Salas Snippets, Laura Purdie Salas says this about student writers, “When kids write, they are the boss. Whether they’re writing a free verse poem or a five-paragraph essay, they have the power.” I want to show my students that they have the power over their words. I want to show them that they have permission to be who they truly are when they write.

During National Poetry Month, I make poetry an integral part of my classroom. My students become immersed in words in verse with rhythm and expression. I have a huge collection of poetry books. For their April poetry project, I have asked my students to select three books to read. They are finding themselves in these poems. They are being inspired by poets.

I had a discussion with Erin about the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora. She waved over the pages and repeated the words with awe and wonder in her voice. She told me she loved so many of the words, like golden, glimmering, shining. She was falling in love with the language. This is what poetry offers, every time.

I gave Jacob some ideas for writing a poem. He didn’t take any of them. When I walked over to see what he had typed, I read this first line, “Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy and you want to do it again?” Whoa! His words stopped me in my tracks. I sat next to him and asked him to tell me some of the memories he wanted to keep. He went back to last week, then to his first birthday party, then to being in the womb. Jacob needed to be the boss of his words because his words are amazing. He has the wisdom and spirit of a poet at age seven. What a privilege to watch!

Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy,
and you want to do it again?

I want to catch Easter eggs again with my cousin.
I want to stick my face in the cake again.
I want to go back in my mommy’s tummy again
because I want to get close to her all the time.
I love my memories!

Another activity that has my students singing poems is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poetry month project.  Each of my two student groups have tried to guess a song/poem match.  Both guesses were wrong, but we had a great time working on them.  We counted syllables, sang the song choices, consulted YouTube for tunes, and sang Amy’s poems through multiple times before recording and sending our SoundClouds to her.  Please go over to her site, The Poem Farm, to hear her sing and our guesses.  I wrote to Amy that I admired her braveness in recording her voice singing acapella.  She responded that being brave helps others be brave.  With that, I encourage you and your students to be brave and send a SoundCloud guess to Amy.

Join the roundup with Laura Purdie Salas!

Join the roundup with Laura Purdie Salas!

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Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5

We pursue joy,
chase her like butterflies
through the fields–
a futile search.
Like the rainbow over the horizon,
Joy recedes
farther and farther
from our grasp.

When we seek felicity for others,
joy slowly tiptoes in.
She comes in with the wind,
hardly noticeable, always there.

–Margaret Simon

Original image by Beth Saxena.  Altered using PicMonkey.

Original image by Beth Saxena. Altered using PicMonkey.

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

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

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

My writing critique partner and blogging friend, Catherine Flynn, wrote her own version of Some Reasons to Write a Poem by Bob Raczka from the newly released Poetry Friday Anthology of Celebrations. I commented that her poem would make a great mentor text for student writers. Then, of course, I had to try it myself. And with images. I’ve combined my words and images in two videos. One I made with my new favorite toy, Nutshell. The other I used an old favorite app, Animoto. Animoto gave me more flexibility in using my images. But I like the quick creativity of the Nutshell. Whatever video application you use, try out making a poem movie. And share on Twitter using #digipoetry.

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Join the IMWAYR meme.

Join the IMWAYR meme.

Today I am joining the roundup of kidlit books at Teach Mentor Texts. Click on over for more reviews.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

I am the guest writer on Laura Shovan’s blog today, Author Amok. I wrote about Ellen Bass’s poem The Orange-and-White High-Heeled Shoes.

handfulofstars

When Cynthia Lord offered an ARC of her latest novel A Handful of Stars on Facebook, I commented and was added to the list. A copy came this week, just in time for Spring Break reading.

I was immediately drawn in to this story when Lily chases her blind dog into a blueberry field. Lucky is stopped by a migrant girl, Salma Santiago, who becomes a new friend to Lily. Salma is artistic and wants to help Lily raise money for an operation for Lucky. She joins Lily in painting mason bee boxes. The two become fast friends.

Lily is a complex character. She lives with her French Canadian grandparents who own a general store. You get the sense that the family is still grieving the death of Lily’s mom even though Lily does not remember her. The dog Lucky is her connection to her mother. Lily is also dealing with the change in a childhood friendship. Salma brings hope to Lily. Salma opens up Lily’s mind about art, migrant workers, and friendship.

Cynthia Lord creates a story that not only touches; it also teaches. I learned a lot about blueberry harvesting in Maine (which is different from blueberries in Louisiana.) Through Pépère, Lily learns life lessons. I’ve been wanting to experiment with black-out poetry and Zentangle. I made a copy of a page in which Pépère speaks to Lily about how Lucky (dogs) can teach us. I highlighted words to create a poem and drew Zentangle designs to black out the words. Zentangle can be meditative. Kind of like doodling.

Lucky
wants to see.
He seems happy to me.
We learn from dogs.
They don’t ask ‘why me?’
They find a new way to be happy.

Setting something free
takes faith.

Handful of Stars Zentangle poem

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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.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Since this is Easter weekend, and I will be celebrating with my family, I am combining my weekend posts into one. Continuing my April commitment to digital poetry, a weekly celebration link up, and DigiLit Sunday all in one.

I think I am getting the hang of Nutshell now. You have to take the pictures on the spot because that’s how the app knows to take video. You have to keep in mind that after you take the picture, the phone is still capturing video.

I did not go on an exotic trip to Laos, but very close to my own town, there is a Laotian village complete with a Buddhist temple, Wat Thammarattanaram. This weekend they celebrate Songkran, the Laotian New Year. Yesterday we attended the opening prayer service.

For us in the Christian tradition, it is Holy Week. I began the week with Palm Sunday and a procession led by bagpipes to celebrate Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem. This video I took while participating in the procession of the palms at my parents’ church, St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson, MS. I uploaded it into iMovie and wrote a simple haiku using the title slides in iMovie.

There is stark contrast here in these two traditions. We felt uncomfortable seated on the floor in the Buddhist Temple; however, Bea, a Laotian woman with good English, welcomed us to sit with her and turned to tell us the story of what was happening throughout the service. This kindness made us feel more comfortable.

Today I celebrate the many religions of the world.
I celebrate that traditions are passed on generation to generation.
I celebrate resurrection and renewal.
I celebrate celebrations.

Link up your Digital Literacy posts. Happy Easter!

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Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Join the roundup with Amy at The Poem Farm.

Join the roundup with Amy at The Poem Farm.

An invitation:  Many bloggers in the kidlitosphere are celebrating National Poetry Month with all sorts of special projects.  Jama has a roundup of them here.  I invite you to post on Twitter with #digipoetry.  What is digipoetry?  Well, anything poetry.  If you write your poems on a blog, that’s digital.  If you use an app, digital.  If you post on FB, digital.  So anyone is welcome to join.  The hashtag came about because of a tweet from Leigh Anne (@Teachr4) who simply asked me and a few other Slice of Life bloggers, “What are your plans for April?”  We didn’t want to be any more specific with this invitation.  No challenge involved.  You don’t even have to write a poem every day.  You can post student work, your work, or somebody’s inspiration.  All passionate poets welcome.

Thistle bee

Thistle bee

I have been playing around with taking video and writing a poem.  Yesterday I posted a serious poem.  Today, it’s lighter with a little bee dance.

Pollinate
Propagate
Cultivate
Bees buzz in
Carry dust into the wind
So Life goes on…

-Margaret Simon

 

 

 

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