Archive for June, 2015

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

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

The creative process is nothing if not elusive. As soon as I’ve figured out what direction I want to go in, my other self takes over, and we go somewhere else entirely.

The Clmooc community welcomes this kind of wayward creative thinking. In fact, it depends on it. If you are not participating, you should at least lurk. Twitter is #clmooc. Facebook page here. Google plus here.

This week’s make assignment comes from the University of Illinois Writing Project. They posted a video, and they all look so young. No worries. That was me, once.

The make instructions can be a bit confusing. They ask us to remediate. But the word isn’t what we typically think about in education as remediation. The word comes from re- and media, meaning taking something and changing the media, creativity at its best.

I thought about this while I perused Facebook, a typical avoidance behavior for me. But this time, I was looking for what I thought would make a found poem. On Sunday, I posted a picture of a baby baptized in our church. This post got an amazing number of likes and comments. I decided to remediate the picture using the app WordFoto. The words came from the comments on the picture.

remediated baby

I wasn’t satisfied. So I kept looking. I saw a post that read, “Same sky. Same moon.” That did it. I wrote a poem using these lines as the kick off. I went to Animoto to build a video. Last week was a monumental week in the life of our country. We all know this. I was riveted by our president’s singing of Amazing Grace during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
Amazing Grace has taken on new meaning for me. Always a favorite, I now see it as a song that gathers people together, all of us together under the same sky, the same moon, the same grace.

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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

Six Words

The National Writing Projects’ summer collaborative learning began this week.  So much is going on, it’s hard to believe we are just one week into the CLMOOC.  Read the reflections here. 

If you are here for the first time, I want to invite you to join the DigiLit Sunday community.  Each week we post about digital literacy.  The link up will be at the end of this post.  Leave your link so we can learn together and support each other in this wild digital world.

Clmooc has taught me that there is too much out there.  I get stimulation overload.  I don’t know how the camp counselors can keep up.  They seem to be incredible multi-taskers.

To manage my own participation, I’ve selected only a few games to play.  The theme this week was introducing yourself by not introducing yourself.  Not exactly.  It was more a call to remix the typical introduction.  We also explored what un-introduction really means and says about a person.

Above I’ve posted a slide I created in a Google slide share by Sheri Edwards.

What six concepts shape you as you shape them? Challenge: Consider your beliefs. Using six words, arrange them as phrases read horizontally and vertically to express an essence of your identity.

This week I’ve been attracted to activities that revolved around words.  I posted an unintro poem for Poetry Friday.

I played with images, too.  Here’s a remix of a free graphic of Saturn.

Image made on LunaPic with free graphic of Saturn.

Image made on LunaPic with free graphic of Saturn.

Kim Douillard offers a photo challenge each week.  This week the challenge was #sky.  Where I live the sky is often covered by the magnificent spread of live oaks.  The oaks guard the sky and protect us.  The hot sun is shaded and tamed.  My image is not altered because this is what it is.  Mother oak.

sky with tree

There have been questions about invitations and how we welcome others into the community.  I have not struggled with feeling welcome.  This is a large group.  We are all individuals playing around with technology and creativity.  We express ourselves in unique and fun ways.  I am looking forward to the weeks to come.  I’ll play and stretch and find new friends, but I’ll also tuck away new ideas for my teaching.

How can unintroductions work with my students?  If anything they will add an element of fun and creativity.  But at best, my students, like me, will discover a little more about who they are and how they best interact in this cyber-world.

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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.

Ruth’s round up of celebrations reminds me each week, no matter what, that there is much to celebrate and I should take the time to just do it. So here I am.



Achastity and me



On Tuesdays, I serve at Solomon House, a local food bank and mission of my church. This week, my friend wanted to ride along to do the Starbucks and Cane’s pick up. (These two places donate their day old bread and pastries.) We took this selfie as we enjoyed Cane’s fries. Nothing like the joy of a child to brighten my day.




crape myrtle





Summer is heating up. My morning walks are hot, nearing 90 degrees with high humidity. Much like a walk through a sauna; however, I celebrate the blooming crape myrtle trees. They reach out with bright blossoms like fireworks.



Jack and goldfish



Jack and I went to Bonne Terre Cottage to have a little writing retreat and to visit our friend, Jen. We had a lovely day. I celebrate sacred spaces and good friends.






One of my favorite fruits of summer is watermelon. It tastes even better when someone else cuts it and serves it in a pottery bowl. I celebrate the sweet fruits of summer.


I cannot end this celebration post without mentioning the historical celebration that is moving the earth. I celebrate the freedom of all people to marry. I am approaching my 33rd anniversary with my husband. Now everyone can participate in this sacred bond; everyone is equally entitled to lawfully wed. There is a wave of change. It may cause a high tide, but this wave has washed over many and said, “You are OK.” I am hopeful in the rainbow.




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Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Carol.

Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Carol.

I have joined the summer PD of CLMooc. Feeling my way through, I have found that poetry inspires many. Poetry is a way we can express our identity. The first make cycle prompted us to “unintroduce” ourselves. Some have taken the prompt to unidentify yourself and made poetry. One participant made a black out poem of the initial email. Another instigated a poem in response to Charleston.  This community is responsive, reflective, and real.

Michelle Stein posted this prompt:
“Please follow this link and add your verse if you feel so inclined. My unmake follows these steps. Please do the same when adding your verse.
1. Randomly choose a word for each letter in your name.
2. Add a verse to this narrative poem, using each word you have chosen as the focus of a sentence.
3. Revel in the awesomesauce that is CLMOOC.”

Being one who is attracted to poetic prompts, I gave this one a try. I made a private deal with myself that I would use the first word that came to mind. This created a random word list.


Appetite (I must be hungry, as usual.)

In the mystical distance,
an appetite for goodness makes
the reservoir of kindness grow.
Give your heart to life.

Astrology tells us that stars are wise.
Those rings of Saturn resonate light.
Even the universe proclaims pure joy.
No matter the trial, I show up. Ready.

Image made on LunaPic with pixabay free graphic of Saturn.

Image made on LunaPic with free graphic of Saturn.

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

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

Yesterday I bought roses at the grocery store. I placed them in a vase. One broke off the stem. My cat is eating another one. This is not part of the plan. The roses were supposed to bring me joy. They were supposed to open up and shine like the sun in my breakfast room. But no.

I could fix this. I could rearrange them. Take out the messed up flowers. Place them away from kitty’s perch.

Mimi wants to eat my roses.

Mimi wants to eat my roses.

So it is with God’s plan. Roses in a vase that get messed up, fall over, die.

Why do we keep looking for a plan? There isn’t one. Sorry folks. The God that I know and love is not upstairs looking down with his clipboard checking off when I do something that is part of the plan. Nope. Not happening.

My mother gave me a set of CDs of Richard Rohr and Russ Hudson discussing the Enneagram and Grace. What they say about the human condition and God’s part in it makes sense to me. What God is about is transformation. God is already a part of each of us. His spirit is within us all. We are the ones who need to change. We have to sit quietly with God and allow his grace to transform us.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Someone I love dearly is in terrible pain. Her illness is not in God’s plan. I cannot accept that excuse. Pain happens. Tragedy happens. A deranged boy can enter a church and kill nine beautiful souls. There is no plan.

We enter the darkness. We enter the tragedy, the sorrow, the pain. There, we find God. Then we can crawl out on the other side. Then we can shine a light. Then we can be the resurrection.

I must make myself humble, the size of a mustard seed. Plant it deep in the soil of God’s love. Then I will grow. I will spread love. I will be transformed.

with a borrowed line from Kazim Ali “The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.”

Blue Jay sings to the rain,
“See you. See you. Come. Come.”

The sky is a bowl of dark water,
The deck covered in crystal glass.

I step outside in the rain.
Let it rinse my face.

Join the bird in a song
that turns to a sad tune.

No matter. My face is wet
with God’s tears. I am the rain.
–Margaret Simon

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CLMOOC Week One: UnIntro

Sign up for CLMOOC running June 28- August 2, 2015.

Sign up for CLMOOC running June 28- August 2, 2015.

I’ve joined the learning community of the National Writing Project and Educator Innovator Connected Learning MOOC. Week one began with a plethora of emails from the Google+ Community. I couldn’t possibly keep up. Rather than quit, like my introverted self was telling me to do, I selected a few to read and found a new app for making word clouds, Tagul. My first attempt was not worth saving, but I tried again. For this word cloud I copied my bio for all things poetry. I was attracted to the arrow shapes, as though the words point to who I am somewhat indirectly. I think this is the point of the UnIntroduction assignment for this week.

UnIntro copy

Michael Weller, one of the camp counselors support team members, offered this activity: Make an Inquiry. He wrote, “I want to formalize my inquiry process. As a result, part of my goal for the summer is to formulate questions, read what others have to say about those questions, write about the questions, and – I hope – create a research plan for the fall semester.”

I asked myself, “Can I make this a jump start for my own inquiry?” And of course, in typical CLMOOC fashion, here is the answer, “You can do the same, or similar, or you can go in whatever direction your questions and context take you. My hope is that we can support each other in our efforts to use an inquiry approach to improve our practice.”

My inquiry question: How can I create an environment for student writing that encourages individual expression while covering necessary benchmarks?

Michael’s process begins with the question and then goes into a review of the literature. I have ordered The Unstoppable Writing Teacher. Do you know of any other resources I should use? I welcome conversation about this topic here or on Twitter. You can find me @MargaretGSimon. Use #clmooc.

A fun UnIntro activity I tried was a Mad Lib created by Stephanie West-Puckett, another counselor coach in CLMOOC. The result was mad and funny. (Author’s note: I have more than 3 poems.)

Yay! My name is Margaret. I’m the lovely yarn and I joyfully walk with soft shawl. I have 3 poems and am looking forward to speaking with all of you in #clmooc!

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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.

I am sharing my gift of words with you on Tuesday hoping to encourage you to join Poetry Friday. I was nudged by a blogging teacher friend to enter this community a few years ago. I have met some of my favorite people through this link up every Friday. One of these people whom I love and admire is Tabatha Yeatts. Tabatha organizes a poetry gift exchange every summer and around Christmas.

Summer Poem Swap 2015 smaller copy

Once you let Tabatha know you want to participate, she matches you up and sends out a prompt every few weeks. Her first prompt reflected back to Michelle Barnes’ ditty challenge for May, Nikki Grimes’ word play poem. You can read about the prompt here.

Tabatha sent me a poem last week. She chose the word “dance” because she associated that word with me. I love that. I also love her poem.

Zydeco dancing

Zydeco dancing

dance is a word
by Tabatha Yeatts
for Margaret

dance is a word
that flexes brawny muscles

to lift you up in the air
and land you gently on the ground.

dance sweeps and curls,
curves and arches,

giving everything
to sound.

dance matches song
to heartbeat,

pairing the rush of your blood
to the swish of your feet.

Here’s a peek at my gift. I covered a little notebook and placed my poem inside. Sh! Don’t tell. I want it to be a surprise.

little journal gift

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