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Archive for December, 2017

Click over to Heidi’s space, My Juicy Little Universe for more PF goodness.

 

When I sit at my computer wondering what I may offer to the Poetry Friday community, I turn to nature. Nature is abundant here in my parents’ home on a lake in Mississippi.  My mother took a picture of six great egrets hanging out on the dock, hunkered against the cold wind.  Playing with the idea of a haiku-a-day from Mary Lee Hahn, I imagine that these egrets wished for warmer temperatures.

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Click over to Buffy’s Blog for more Poetry Friday.

 

I know the importance of reading nonfiction texts with my students; however, I am not a fan of assigning an essay after every reading, especially in December.  I wanted my students to think critically about the text, to absorb it fully, and to demonstrate comprehension.  So I turned to the found poem.

To write a found poem, the writer must make decisions about which text to keep and connect to.  This requires critical thinking skills. For a found poem to work, the words and phrases need to be placed creatively.

We read “Shattered Sky”, a narrative nonfiction story in the November issue of Scope magazine published by Scholastic.  In this story, my students read about a little known disaster in Halifax Harbor in 1917, one hundred years ago.  They were fascinated.  The author of the text, Kristin Lewis used craft moves to heighten the emotions of the story.  I instructed my students to underline phrases and words that brought about an emotional response.

When we had written and were sharing our writing, Faith said, “I am amazed at how different everyone’s poem is.”  And she was right.  Each one was different.  Each student had found a unique voice.  Each poem reflected a different aspect of the article.

When Andrew posted his poem on our blog, he titled it “I like this poem, so you should.”  Mason thought it was the best poem he’d ever written.

This exercise of finding a poem gave my students confidence to recognize craft moves as well as create a unique piece of nonfiction poetry.

 

Poem for Halifax

December 6th
They ring a bell
The image they see
They want to repel

Children getting ready, grabbing their schoolbooks,
Fathers, ready to work, grab their coats, off the hook.
Dartmouth and Halifax, buzzing with activity,
while mothers make oatmeal, hot and ready.

Two boats, Mont-Blanc and the Imo
With explosives and munitions, ready to blow.
There was no saving them, as far as we know.
Neither ship changed course and tore into the other and
put on a dangerous light show

Orange and blue fire ignited the boats
People rushed to rescue, thought they could help.
They succeeded but some retreated up.

Andrew, 5th grade

Shattered

The water had a thin mist of terror of WWI

The chimney swirled of smoke and ash

The people of Halifax were doing their everyday things

From eating to cooking and going to work

Then a sudden rumble and crackle of the two ships of cargo collide

They rush outside as every thing burst into flames and then boom

A sad tragedy will forever live in our hearts.

Mason, 5th grade

See more found poems at our Kidblog site.

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Slice of Hans the Christmas Frog

Slice of Life Challenge

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

 

Every family has their traditions at holiday time.  When I was growing up, my brother laid out a stick manger scene and would move the “three wise men” sticks every day of the twelve days until Epiphany.

Children bring joy to our traditions.  Our youngest daughter is now 27 years old, but we still display “Hans the frog” in the front yard.  When Martha was three years old, she announced with complete confidence that the frog residing in the back flower bed was Hans.  Thus our family totem became a frog.  A few years later, my husband who is quite handy with wood created an over-sized frog in a Santa hat.  He took the design from a child’s coloring book. I can remember him painstakingly transferring the design to graph paper.  IMG_1042

Hans has decorated our yard for Christmas every year for close to 25 years.  It’s just not Christmas without him.

Our children are grown up adults now, so Jeff asked me if he should put up the frog.  “Maybe I can just bolt it to the wall on the front porch?”

“No way!” I exclaimed.  “The magnificence of the frog is the shadow it casts on the castle.”

So here he is, in all his silly magnificence…the giant shadow of Hans the Santa-frog!

 

IMG_1039

I’m sure your family has a silly holiday tradition.  Please share in the comments.

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Click over to Random Noodling for more of Poetry Friday.

 

 

I received a snow poem from Liz Steinglass. I’m not sure how well you can see it, but she cut up the letters in the word snow and made snow letters.  Each stanza begins with snow fall and a line of imagery.  Beautiful!

I thought about how I could share this with my students.  We rarely get snow, but last Friday was one of those rare occasions, so what better way to celebrate than with snow poetry and making paper snowflakes.  Liz also sent stencils and patterns for snowflakes.  We are still working on a display in the classroom.

Thanks, Liz, for helping us celebrate winter, snow, and words on the page.

paper snowflake

Student-made snowflake with an original pattern. Notice the heart shapes.

snow haiku 2

#haikuforhealing  photo and poem by Margaret Simon, 2017

 

 

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

Not every student is made to be a mentor.  A common thought about gifted kids is to encourage them to mentor other students.  As a teacher of gifted, I’ve seen students who work well with other students and I’ve seen those who don’t.  I feel it is important to know a student well before pushing him/her to help other students.

I haven’t taught Chloe long, but I knew she would make a great mentor. She is confident without being condescending.  She’s enthusiastic about whatever we are doing in class and spreads that enthusiasm.  So when I asked her if she wanted to teach her regular class about color poems, she literally jumped up and down.

At NCTE I grabbed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano. I also picked up a teacher’s guide which led me to the color poem pattern from Read, Write, Think.  (Polly writes a color poem that her teacher loves.) Chloe wanted to write a color poem like Polly.

First she chose her favorite color, pink, and made a list of pink things.  We talked about figurative language and how she could use it in her poem.  Chloe wrote this poem:

Pink is cotton candy.

Pink is a horn of a unicorn.

Pink is my blanket.

Pink is a flower.

Pink tastes like bubble gum.

Pink smells like a rose.

Pink sounds like a violin.

Pink feels like a pillow.

Pink looks like my mom’s lips.

Pink makes me beautiful.

Pink is magnificent!

When Chloe shared her poem with her classmates, they were ready to write their own.  Having a form helped.  Her friends selected their own favorite colors and used the form to guide their writing in their writing notebooks.  As she walked from group to group, Chloe checked in to see what they needed help with.  She was patient and helpful.  Her classmates were focused and serious about their writing.  Chloe was a proud teacher.

Writing is hard work!

 

by second grader Kelsie.

 

 

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

On my daily weather report app, a snowflake appeared, then disappeared, then appeared again.  On Thursday afternoon, our superintendent cancelled school for Friday.  I was skeptical.  Snow?  Really?

The last real snow I remember was a freak one in early March of 1988.  I was pregnant with my second child, and I remember my coat would not fit around my bulging belly.  My oldest was 3.  Neighbors made a snow bunny.  Since then, we’ve had ice rarely, and snow flurries every 7 years or so.

I woke up a little later knowing I could.  When I opened the door to let my dog out, I was shocked.  Snow!  Real live snow!  Falling and sticking!

snowy camellia

 

Neighbor James makes a snow angel.

The snow fell for hours.  Reports say we got 1-2 inches.  To us here in South Louisiana, that’s a blizzard!

What a gift to open our Kidblog and see that Lynzee had written a poem about the snow!

So cold
No sign of letting up
Only white
White as can be
Falling down
Lonely snow
A white Christmas
Knowing that
Even then
Snowflakes will stay.

And we
Rush to
Eat breakfast

And play in the snow
Music floating in our minds
And snowballs
Zip by
Ice castles
Nothing can stop the joy of a
Glorious snow day

–Lynzee, 3rd grade

Our local news station, KATC, made this video about the 2017 snow event.  Such delight!

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Click over to Steps & Staircases for more Poetry Friday.

 

Inspired by Project 1,2,3 originated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and continued by her daughter, Lisa challenged us to make a metaphorical poem from an object/image.  Many of us took the challenge.  To see more poems, click over to Lisa’s blog to read more posts.

I brought this idea to my students and combined it with a lesson from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book Poems are Teachers, “Make Metaphors” on page 136. We looked at model poems and talked about how an object can become a metaphor.  In one class, I passed around a paintbrush and said, “A paintbrush is…”  In another, I blew bubbles and said, “Bubbles are like…”  Each of these inspired beautiful responses from my kiddos.

  • A paintbrush is your imagination.
  • A paintbrush paints your path.
  • Bubbles are sparkling rainbows.
  • Bubbles are in orbit flying around Saturn.

As I wrote with my students, I grabbed a pink marker and made three swirls on my paper.  Back at home with a little time to craft (snow day!), I cut and pasted pink swirls in an art journal.  Thanks, Lisa, for the fun prompt.

 

Swirl of pink
sparkle-sky
diamond bright
stars of night

Swirl of pink
puffy parting clouds
play peek-a-boo
with the sun

Swirl of pink
licky-lick
sticky-lip
lollipop

–Margaret Simon, 2017

 

Chloe’s Bubble poem

Trace’s pink paintbrush poem

Austin’s wooden flute poem

Lynzee’s angel poem

After we wrote and shared our poems, Andrew had an idea.  “Why don’t we take a line from each of our poems and make a new poem?”  Sounds like a great idea.  Here’s the resulting poem.

To dream it, all you have to do is start.

Don’t erase yourself from the real world.
Paint your true colors.

There is no fright.
Not to lose but to gain.

Flying high above
a swirl of pink puffy parting cloud,

The sea is my world.
The sand is my happiness.

–Caneview GT Allstars

 

 

 

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