Archive for April, 2016


Discover. Play. Build.

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

This week was state testing week. We made it through. Because I am an extra teacher, I was assigned a small group to test. The routine was changed. I stayed at one school all day.

When on Friday the test was over, I resumed my routine. My students were so excited to see me again. They truly missed me. I think they also missed the flexibility of our days. It was as though they could breathe again.

I celebrate the love I share with my students while I am sad to realize the year is quickly coming to an end. So many activities planned; end-of-the-year picnics, talent shows, and field trips will interrupt my class again and again.

I want to stay calm about it all, so I planned a creative end-of-the-year project. We are making re-purposed books. They will paint the pages of a discarded book and add art and writing to them. They are already excited, and the mess making has begun. I celebrate creativity and mess making.

I am altering a book as well. This inspires the creative side of me. No one sees it, really, so I let go of my inhibitions about my art talent and just do it. Here’s a page I’ve painted waiting for a poem.


Pass the scissors
then the glue;
I am pasting poems
in a book.

Make a mess
filling the pages
with happy words.

Anyone can make a book.
Let’s make a book today!

National Poetry Month is at the end. I thought it would never come. Writing a poem a day has been a challenge. I celebrate all the poets out there writing daily and inspiring me and my students to do the same.

I celebrate Irene Latham who blogs here. She generously Skyped with my students on Poem in your Pocket Day. She listened patiently while they shared their own poems and responded with nothing but kindness. She even answered a question about whether or not she felt haunted. (Kids say the darnedest things.) But Irene handled it like a champ. She told my students that she likes to visit graveyards and feel the presence of people who have gone before.

Irene offered excellent advice about finding new words; brainstorm a list of words about your topic. Then mark them all out and start again. This forces you to find new and unusual words.

I also want to thank Laura Purdie Salas whose putrid poetry gave my students permission to write about poop and other yucky stuff.

And what would NPM be without Amy Ludwig VanDerwater? She wondered with us all month long and inspired my students to write about their world.

Thank you to all my readers who stuck with me each day as I attempted to entertain the poetic muse. Here’s to another wonderful National Poetry Month. Do not be mistaken, though. Poetry is made for every day!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

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dragonfly eyes by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

dragonfly eyes by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved


Rest your agile flight
on a sunbeam, look about

with dragonfly eyes.


While I was attempting to get a photo of bees that are extremely active in a flowering tree, this dragonfly lit upon an African iris.  I had the telephoto lens on.  I was so excited that I captured such an amazing close-up.  So clear I could see the eyes of the dragonfly.

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Most every Tuesday, I wake early to serve at Solomon House, a mission of my church and a food bank.  My self-appointed job is to find the clients’ names on a printed spreadsheet, check their IDs, and have them sign.  During this process, I say good morning, how are you today, and have a great day.  And most times they say these same greetings to me.  I feel blessed by their presence, their love, and this small way to be a blessing to someone else.




There are places where
buttercups bloom
no one cares
or notices.

They bloom anyway.

Solomon House waiting

There are people
nobody sees
walking alone on the street
clothes in need of  cleaning
backs aching from failure.

The news speaks for itself
but I can help.

My hands are warm and kind;
they reach for you.

My mind is clear and focused;
I think of you.

My shoulder is light and flexible;
I can carry your burden.

I see buttercups.

I see you.

–Margaret Simon


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

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


Here I am again at this blank page.  I click to “add media,” setting the stage for yet another poem.

I find myself looking all day long for inspiration.  Will it come in the opening of a flower?  The words of a child? Advice from a friend?  The pages of a book?

I look and look.

Sometimes I open this page afraid that nothing will happen.

But something always does.  Because when you show up to the page, magic happens.

purple forest

A video posted by “Access Oneness” and shared by two Facebook friends intrigued me.  The inscription read, “So, you lose balance and you fall … but, what do you do next? Stop? Or go on? Make art out of falling …”

Go to this link to view the video.

I was caught off-guard, unbalanced, not knowing what to feel except inspired, exhilarated.

The words flowed.

In the purple forest
one can climb
rise again
All in the moment
of stillness
above the water
A choice
to fall
and fail,
or balance
and dance–
A chance
to fly.

–Margaret Simon

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Heading outside for some well-needed Vitamin N; Kim Douillard posted about this necessary vitamin here, and invited us to post photos from our outings. So this post with be a photo ode as well as a poetic one.

To the tune of the lawnmower
and the cardinal at the birdbath,
April harmonizes
and paints the air
with buzzing bees
and wispy contrails.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow flowers

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow flowers

April celebrates Cathy’s birthday;
She shows me how to
stop and smell the flowers.
She names them for me:
“Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
is deep purple yesterday,
violet today,
and white tomorrow.”

pineapple guava

pineapple guava

April holds a pineapple guava
ripe with red nectar
while the cashmere bouquet
hides its treasure
beneath wing-like leaves.

cashmere bouquet

cashmere bouquet

April rains make a gentle waterfall
of a mere coulee, a watering hole
for passing dogs in the park.

flowing stream

April is as I imagine heaven,
bright with new light,
flowing on the breeze
a kite with strings
made of flowers.

Japanese plum tree

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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



In the past several years for National Poetry Month, I focused my teaching on different forms of poetry.  We would learn about a new form every day, usually following the alphabet.  This method gave me a structure to teach within.  I learned forms, too, that I hadn’t tried. Some students would try to predict which form we would learn each day.

I still remember the day I got out of the way, and my students created an amazing kyrielle about kindness following the Sandy Hook shootings.  Form can be a puzzle that leads to deep thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

This year, however, I made a decision to use prompts and free choice for writing poems.  Forms were optional.

What emerged was fascinating.  Each student found a form on their own.  And forms spread from student to student.  The use of form was like a magnet drawing them in.

Tobie became interested in writing list poems.  He read The Popcorn Astronauts and created three different list poems.  He found it fun and easy.  This is my favorite:

In my Room

I cleaned my room
and what I soon discovered
was enough to make you sick

1 rat family

2 family portraits

3 plastic limbs

4 bowls of ice cream

5 pairs of dirty socks

6 ounces of dirt

7 tiger cubs

8 bags of sunflower seeds

9 sticky lollipops

10 rotten oranges

11 empty soda cans

12-year-old candy canes

13 baby teeth

14 overdue assignments

And a 15-foot-pile of garbage


I find myself being drawn to form as well.  I am writing a verse novel, and while most of the verses are free verse, when I am stuck for how to approach a scene, form is a go-to that helps get me through.  I was struggling with how to write about my MC’s aunt in a way that would be endearing but also show her quirkiness.  After a few tries, I turned to the Ode.  Here is a preview from “Hope is our Song.”

Ode to Aunt Dotty

Dearest Aunt Dotty, Mom’s older sister
smells of Jungle Gardenia perfume.
A zest for life
and Never met a stranger
are mottos of my favorite aunt.

Aunt Dotty hugs you like a downy pillow
holding on far too long.
Mom calls her a motormouth.
She talks nonstop.
How does she know just what to say?

Without skipping a beat, Aunt Dotty will pass
you the ketchup before you ask.
With the best of intentions, she crocheted
A prayer shawl, for your sweet friend Simone
To soften her suffering.

The shawl’s as ugly as an old dog’s fur,
with colors found only in mud,
but Aunt Dotty’s gardenia
lingers on each stitch,
so love is the message she gives.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Form can be a savior of sorts, a path to finding the words you want to say in the best way you can. Rather than stifling creativity, form can actually free the writer.  Finding the right form is like finding the right book; each student will find his/her way with the form that is just right.

Please add your links 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.

At the beginning of the week, someone noticed that we had filled the reading rocket chart. I put this on the bulletin board way back in August. The goal seemed so high then, 175 books! Each square on the rocket counted for 5 books. Every time a student had read 5 books, he/she could cut out a square and place it on the chart. And here we are with 20 days left of the school year, and the chart is full! This called for a celebration, so I bought Halos and powdered donuts and we had a feast.

reading rocket

My oldest student, Kielan, decided we should have a poetry slam to end our month of poetry. (Next week is testing week.) We watched two videos with appropriate poetry performances. I told them that usually performance poets tackle a social issue. Then I let them go. They formed groups, collaborated, practiced, and performed their poems on Friday. I even got into the act by collaborating with Emily and performing with her. I videoed their performances and plan to make each a DVD to keep.  The only person invited to watch was the janitor, and she was so honored to be there.

This is Tobie and Kaiden’s poem. Everyone was so impressed with these boys that we are encouraging them to enter the talent show.


Get up out your chair
you have the power to
do something in this

You have the power to
Stop the racism start
Lower society’s bar try to
Laws are changed just because you’re different, try
You have the power to

Just because you’re different
Doesn’t mean you should be treated differently
lets try to

Tobie and Kaiden

Friday was also Earth Day, so we grabbed our journals and chalk and wrote Earth Day poems on the sidewalk.

Today is Shakespeare’s 452nd birthday.  In celebration, Michelle Barnes is hosting 5 for Friday on her blog here. 

Here’s my Little Shakespearean 5 word ditty:

The Course of True Love

when the eyes



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Poetry Friday round-up  with Jama At Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Poetry Friday round-up with Jama At Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

This week we brainstormed all the poetry forms we know.  The list included reverso, zeno, haiku, concrete, abecedarian, and so on.  But one form that we didn’t have on the list was the palindrome poem.  That’s because Kielan made it up.  This is what she wrote in her post:

The first, third, and fifth lines are free verse. The second and fourth sentences are palindromic sentences. You can have more than 5 lines, though. Below is an example.

Would you rather
Borrow or rob
My best friend, Bob?
Yo, banana boy!
Leave him alone.


Try to write your own Palindrome.

To write a palindrome poem, you first may need to look at a list of palindromes.  We found this one. 

I gave it a try.

The doggone day I slipped in
dumb mud,
I cursed the blooming
lid off a daffodil.
My mom washed my mouth out with soap.

–Margaret Simon

Jacob was writing this one beginning with the palindrome “Do Geese See God?”  Then he told me that he is afraid of dogs.  I replied “I wonder if God is afraid of dogs?”  Warning: this poem contains a putrid word.

Sometimes I wonder
Do geese see God?
I always tell my dog
“Dog! no poop on God!”
Is God scared of dogs?


Now it’s your turn.  Can you write a palindrome poem?  My students and I want to know.  Write it in the comments or send to me by email and I will add it to this post.

Robyn is adding a line to the Progressive Poem today. Click the image.

Robyn is adding a line to the Progressive Poem today. Click the image.

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

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


I love the surprises of spring.  Every year some flower that I don’t expect appears and delights me.  This year there is a clump of iris in my front flower bed.  I don’t remember so many of them blooming at once.  On the back deck, a shasta daisy has popped up out of a pot.  Spring surprises.

purple iris

Holly tweeted a call for Spiritual Journey topics.  She chose the word “rejuvenation.”  We were suggesting words like renew and rebirth.  All of these words speak to these new surprises in my yard.  A synonym poem seemed in order.  I also wanted to play with a repeated word, “there,” because I feel like I am pointing to these sweet surprises of new life.  Look, over there, see what I see.

There the renewal of light in trees
illuminates tones of green.
Outside the store, a sign
“Spring colors are in”

There a refreshing scent
Rain hangs heavy on
jasmine, sweet olive

There renovating time–early rising–
that expectant darkness
when prayers are silent.

There restoring my soul
from under the heavy blankets
listening to the music
spill in from the window.

–Margaret Simon

Jan is adding a line to the Progressive Poem today. Click the image.

Jan is adding a line to the Progressive Poem today. Click the image.

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