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Archive for September, 2019

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.
Waiting for the Harvest, by Mickey Delcambre.
First place in the Sugarcane Festival Photography Contest

Ralph Fletcher’s new book, Focus Lessons, is coming out, so I took advantage of Heinemann’s offer to read a sample.

There are strong links between photography and writing. This is true in substance and process, as well as language. The world of photography provides a visual, concrete language (angle, focus, point of view, close-up, panorama) that is enormously helpful in teaching writing.

Ralph Fletcher, Focus Lessons

When I saw Mickey Delcambre’s photo on my Facebook page, I was compelled to write a haiku.

Equinox harvest–
Slow down days, long resting nights
Autumn changes time.

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

On Monday, I talked with my students about the Fall Equinox. I was surprised how well they know the solstices, but they were less familiar with the meaning of equinox.

In New Iberia this weekend, there is the annual Sugarcane Festival, celebrated on the last weekend of September as harvesting begins. We only have to look out of the window to see the tall cane waving in the fields.

One of the Craft Lessons included in the book sample focuses on Mood. Ralph explains how mood can be expressed in a photograph as well as in writing. I look forward to finding more crossovers between photography and writing Ralph says, “Photography is writing with light.”

I put Mickey’s photograph up and ask my students to do a quick write about it. Our quickwrites are typically 5 minutes. Then we share. Sometimes (it’s always a choice), a quickwrite will become a poem.

Seeing the Days Change

I see the days
changing around me,
going from
day to night
and
night to day
the marks of tires
only
from the day before
seeing the sun go down
getting ready
for the night,
goodnight sun.

Breighlynn, 4th grade

Sugar

Sugar in the fields,
still as a cane.
Growing, oh so tall,
ready for the harvest.
Burning leaves
make the sweet smelling
smoke.

Can you smell
the sugar?
Smelling, oh so
sweet.
Have you ever
eaten the cane?
As pure as sugar
comes.

A.J., 6th grade

This morning on my morning walk I smelled the sweet air that A. J. wrote about. One of the gifts of fall.

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Slice of Life: Fancy

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

She appeared like a tiny white handkerchief waving in the breeze, barely noticeable on the windowsill of my husband’s office, mewing with every strength she had.

Over the course of a week at the end of August, one of the hottest weeks ever, my husband fed her, getting closer and closer, but she always darted back to safety under the steps at the house next door.

Jeff enlisted my help. “Do you want to try to catch her?”

When I was able to get close enough to take a picture, I could see how beautiful she was, with bright blue eyes and a white coat. Three colors hinted that she may be a female kitten. I called her, “Sweet Kitty! Come here, sweet kitty!” She’d respond with a mew, but she wouldn’t venture out far enough for me to grab her. And I was soaked in sweat and covered in mosquito bites. I tried for three evenings.

Peeking out from her home under the steps, no older than 4 weeks.

Finally, we bought a little can of Fancy Feast. She couldn’t resist it, and I was able to grab her. We brought her home and set her up in the “Cat Camp” on our back porch. Named her Fancy, of course.

At her first visit to our trusted vet, Dr. Eric, she was too young for shots. We treated her for worms and fleas and were to take her back in a week for shots.

Unfortunately on her visit the next week, she had a hypoglycemic episode. They revived her with fluids, and gave us instructions to feed her every four hours. Things began to go wrong after that.

At home for another two days, she was eating, but she developed a terrible case of diarrhea. Back to Dr. Eric. He was cautiously optimistic and diagnosed her with colitis. They kept her for two nights treating her with antibiotics, feeding, and fluids. Dr. Eric rejoiced when she went from one pound to 1.4 lbs. He took a special interest in our pretty kitty.

This weekend we enjoyed a new kitty, one who jumped and played and ate and ate. She is getting better. Hallelujah!

Who can resist that face?

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance

My students this year look forward to Poetry Friday when we read a poem and talk about what we notice, then try the form on. A few weeks ago we read Jane Yolen’s poem, “A Word is Not a Poem” that I had saved from her daily email poems. Having the form of her poem in hand, my students created interesting poem responses.


A Laugh is Not a Smile
 
A laugh is not a smile 
but it is a feeling inside you.
You can laugh once
but it’s best to laugh twice.
         laugh laugh
 
A smile is not a frown
but it is a feeling inside you.
used in several ways,
to express love, and happiness.
            smile smile

Jamison, 4th grade


A Book is not a Word
 
A book is not a word ,
but a forest in a tree .
Used in many ways ,
it can even be funny .
 
A book is not a poem
You can only read it once ,
but best to read it twice .
Book , Book .
 
A book is not a song ,
the words you cannot spin .
Won’t know it going in
you will though coming out .
Tone , Note .

A.J., 6th grade

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

One of our favorite days of the year is Dot Day. Created to celebrate the publication of The Dot by Peter Reynolds, Dot Day encourages creativity and playful art.

My students and I drew dots and wrote Zeno poems. The Zeno form was invented by J. Patrick Lewis. The form uses a syllable count of 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 with each 1 syllable line rhyming. This is a playful form. We folded paper into a zine. To see how to make a zine, go to this post from last year.

Imagining the brightest knot

see the colors

of the dot

colors of the

rainbow

spot

Brightest of the

ones I’ve

got

Breighlynn, 4th grade

It is true that you have talent
you are so high
in the
sky
you should always
attempt
try
you are in clouds
try to
fly
 

Chloe, 4th grade

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With my gifted kids, I’ve been using Linda Rief’s Quickwrite Handbook. She offers mentor texts and prompts for writing. These mentor text quickwrite prompts give a jumpstart to a blog post. I write with my students. Today I want to share a few responses to “When I was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant. Linda Rief wrote “When I was Young at the Ocean” and included many sensory images. We were able to see how using senses in our writing creates strong imagery for the reader to understand. Karson took us to his eye doctor appointment.

When I was young at the eye doctor, I was very nervous. I did not know what I would look like with glasses on. I did not know if I would even end up with glasses! We went to the eye doctor at Lens Crafters in the mall. They called me,” Karson, we are ready for you.”
        When I was young at the eye doctor they had to check my eyes. The room was really small.  The light was dim.  I sat in a rolling chair like my teacher’s. They made me look at a farmhouse while they took pictures. Then they made me look at a green light. That scanned my eyes. 
         When I was young, I cried and cried because I did not want to do the thingy where it blows air. The doctor was a woman, and she was so nice, she let me skip it. 
When I was young at the eye doctor, I thought I had to dilate my eyes but I also cried and cried and I had tears dripping with sweat because I was scared. But because I was crying, I did not have to do that either. 
          When I was young at the eye doctor, I eventually got glasses.  I was okay with it because I look so cool.  My glasses are my friends.  They still are. 
         

Karson, 5th grade

This summer I had to say good-bye to my parents’ house on the lake. The memories are bringing me back, and writing helps me process them.


When I was a Daughter at the Lake

When I was a daughter at the lake, I swung on the porch swing pushing off from a little plastic stool and listening to the squeak of the chains. Sometimes my father sat near me with his newspaper and a bowl of cereal. He’d look up to tell me a bit of news.  “Listen to this!” he’d exclaim, and I’d laugh internally at his total exasperation at the world.

When I was a daughter at the lake, I’d sleep late with no alarm set, waking to the scent of coffee and pancakes, maple syrup, melting butter.  Mom in her robe stood near the griddle and greeted me with a smile. “Good morning, sleepy-head.” 

When I was their daughter at the lake, worries melted away like the sunset on the horizon. We’d talk and talk.  Sometimes we’d sit silently watching the heron fishing. Their presence was enough. It still is. 

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

Shaelon remembered his vacation to Florida this summer. Using the form helped him describe many details of the trip. This is just one of his four paragraphs. The repeated line is helpful in creating a framework for writing.

When I was nine at the beach, we got to the beach.I ran and felt the nice soft sand on my toes.I ran to the water and touched it.It felt warm and soothing.I ran in until it was to my waist.Now it felt cold.I hurried back to the shore and look for my mom.My sister and I sat down on the sand next to my mom and attempted to try and make a sand castle.We had made good progress until the tide came in and washed it away.I gave up and walked along the shore, picking up shells and looking at their beauty.I tried to see if I can hear the water lapping in the shell because my sister had told me I can.I ran back and showed my mom all the shells I had collected.

Shaelon, 6th grade

I will continue to find inspiring writing prompts in Linda Rief’s book. When we study other authors, we discover our own way to writing.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Sylvia and Janet at Poetry for Children

Our Sunday Night Swagger Writers Group has decided to post poems from a prompt on the first Friday of the month. Last month Heidi Mordhorst challenged us to definito poems. This month Catherine Flynn prompted us to write about a box:

  1. Who was the owner of the box? 
  2. How did what is inside the box transform him or her?

Having acquired some things from my parents’ home this summer, I knew what box I would write about. My grandmother whom I called Nene died when I was young, between 8 and 10. I remember so much about her, her white-white hair, how she sewed beautiful Barbie clothes and even made doll furniture from cardboard, and how she loved butterflies. She had a pinned collection in a shadow box. But that isn’t the box of this poem. I had never seen this box before. It was tucked inside a cardboard box of mementos from my father’s childhood.


This is Her Box

that touched her hands 
so many years ago.
A small brass box
that fits in the palm of my hand. 
What did these things
mean to her?

a tarnished silver spoon,
jeweled pin,
wire-framed butterfly,
silver post earrings–

I put on the charm bracelet;
Grands’ names in birth order
become my connection to her.

All tucked into her box
for me to find 
fifty years later
and remember
her touch.

(draft) Margaret Simon

See other box poems from my writer friends:

Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise

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