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.

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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Yesterday, my student Lani was featured on Today’s Little Ditty with a reverso poem inspired by the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is writing a poem a day about daily Wonders on Wonderopolis.  I love how her website speaks directly to students about the writing process.  On Monday, Amy wrote, “I began thinking about the value of sharing our stories, the sad ones as well as the happy ones.”  Her poem was a before/after poem that held universal truths about the sadness of broken marriages.

There’s a sadness weighing on my mind.  It’s not my loss, but even when others suffer a loss, we grieve.  It’s the way of the world.

My writing friend, Catherine Flynn wrote a poem about Crystal Rapids in the Grand Canyon, but the poem was about so much more.  This stanza speaks to that deep grief that comes back over and over.

The path is altered,
a chasm opens.
Never fully healed,
full of fissures that can crack
without warning,
bringing us to our knees.” (Catherine Flynn)

Sometimes writing poetry is about diving into the sadness, entering in, and letting it all go.  Inspired by Amy’s and Catherine’s poetic honesty, I wrote this poem for B.  She’s probably not ready to read it.  But I needed to write it.

A Tree Grows near the Pier

when the sun rose,
so did he,
fishing pole in hand,
tackle in a box.
His heart full of hope.
His mind full of lures.

the boat lost him,
so did we,
as a tree grows
near his tackle box;
Its branches open wide
for resurrection fern.

–Margaret Simon

resurrection fern

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

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During this monthlong survey of poetry, there is trouble.

So many decisions to make.

What should I teach today?
Line breaks,
literary elements,

I want to say stop to
sing-song rhymes
and simple forms.

Then one turns to another and says,
“Let’s write a rap abecedarian.”

Like the messiness of art class,
the instructor must allow
for paint splatters and stains,
for stalled-out cinquains
and skip-to-my-loos.

Poetry is hard.
Poetry is easy.
There are rules in poetry.
There are no rules:
Let the poem find its way.
This is the trouble with poetry.
This is the joy of poetry.

–Margaret Simon

Follow the Progressive Poem to  Charles Waters.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Charles Waters.




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One thing that helps me during this month of poetry discipline is forms. When I have something to say, words to use, form can help me with a placement that sometimes leads to wisdom or a nice image. Amy Rudd linked up to DigiLit Sunday yesterday reminding me of the Fib poem. This form is based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence which begins with 1,1,2,3,5,8.

I came home from a quick weekend trip to find African iris blooming in the courtyard. I did not plant these. The prior owners did, so they delight and surprise me each year. I gathered words from a Google search and wrote two fibs.

African Iris Fibs

Open only a day
Walk across the garden to you.

African irisNew
wings, African grace
welcome me to this rainforest.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Irene's site Live your Poem.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Irene’s site Live your Poem.

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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 my world of teaching and writing, revision is a constant companion. I look at my teaching and revise. Rarely am I following the lesson plan I wrote. I revise based on the direction my students need to take. And last week revision was something we needed to talk about.

I believe that revision is a mature behavior. Revision is having the confidence in a piece of writing to take the risk of changing it. Without even realizing it, I write in constant revision. As I write this post, I backspace. I save and read. Go back. Rephrase.

My students do this, too, as they type their pieces into the blog. Many of them are resistant to the two steps of rough draft in their notebooks, then typing into a final draft. But as I watch them, I see that revision becomes organic to this process.

Sometimes, revision comes from talk. We read the piece together. Discuss what we like. And look at where the words can be stronger.

I sat down with Kaiden to revise his abecedarian about wonder posted here. For the most part, this was an excellent piece of writing. The repeated word, wonder, was intentional and served a purpose. Yet there were a few words that weren’t quite working. So we looked at a list of Shakespeare words. This elevated Kaiden’s poem. There we found kindle. What a great word for K and for wonder! Engaging in this work with him was fun for both of us.

Ralph Fletcher tweeted:

revision by Ralph Fletcher

Let’s relax about revision. If a piece of writing is a stepping stone to another piece, let it be. Use revision strategies on those gems, the ones you want to embrace and hug a little longer.

Revision canva

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