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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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

I am a co-moderator with the #TeachWrite chat on Twitter. (Note the graphic on the side bar.) One of my colleagues in this endeavor is Michelle Haseltine.  Michelle put a photo on Facebook of a journal page from one of her students.  The page was filled with the outline of a jar and words and sketches were drawn inside the jar.

I took this idea and presented it to my students with a Brene’ Brown twist from Braving the Wilderness. 

We all have times when we feel lonely.  Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?  Like you just don’t fit in? There’s no one around who sees you or that you connect with.

We all have these times.  But when we do, we can take with us a jar of things that make us feel joy, make us feel safe.  What would be in your jar?

One student jumped up from her seat to draw a jar on the board.  She labelled it “Our Happy Place Jar.”  Her instructions were for everyone to draw one thing from their jar onto our shared jar.  (I love it when kids respond to the lesson with such leadership and participation.)

My students drew a variety of jars.  Some were filled with specific things from our class, Slice of Life, read aloud, computer (blogging), friends.  Others find joy in nature or family or funny memes.  Whatever their choices, they engaged with the idea and filled their jars.

Near the end of the week, Chloe announced, “Even if I have to throw away this journal, I will tear out this page and save it forever!”  That’s what I call Joy!

Mrs. Simon’s Sea

We are fish,
fish swimming through a treacherous sea,

a book,
open and full,

a nest,
a place of warmth,

a pencil and paper
for expression,

and a poem.

by Lynzee, 3rd grade

Austin’s Double E Jar

Andrew’s Rainbow Jar

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio

 

With the start of a new year, I am trying to write a poem a day, or, at the very least, some ramblings in my notebook.  I’m staying away from social media until I write.  But I do check my email.  I receive a poem-a-day from Jane Yolen.  (You can sign up here.)

Jane’s poem begins each stanza with “The lake sings… It sings of…”  Every day the bayou reflects the tone of the season.  This morning as I write, the wind has turned cold, so I hear the echo of the whipping wind through the trees and the wind chimes clinging.  On Jan. 6th when I wrote this poem, the bayou was still and calm.  The trees were reflected perfectly in the water.  The sun was warming the surface of the water.

Bayou Reflections, Jan. 6, 2018. M. Simon

 

The bayou sings of shadows,
reflections of trees
bare and still.

It sings of rising sun
warming a surface
of sky on water.

It sings of herons,
owls, mockingbirds,
a hawk flying high above.

But most of all,
the bayou
sings of peace.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

 

Brenda Davis Harsham posted a ten word prompt in Laura Shovan’s Facebook Project (which is currently open for new members).  The words came from an article in The New York Times about Maria Callas and the opera Tosca.  I sent it to my mother who is a musician and huge fan of opera.  I asked her, “Did I ever see Tosca?” She responded that she had taken me as a child.

 

La_Tosca_poster_by_Mucha_-_detail

I listened to the recordings embedded in the online article, but nothing sounded too familiar.  I did not inherit the same love of opera, I’m afraid.

But the article, the email conversation with Mom, and the ten words that Brenda selected led me to this poem:

 

 

My mother took me to see Tosca
when I was too young
to know tragedy.

I listened with ears of youth
tuning in to the crazy chords
that flowed in and out
like murmuring birds.

How fragile a single soprano note
hangs on a nightingale’s wing.
The song can wake you
alive to wonder about the night.

The night where silence
plants seeds deep into the soil,
where raw buds feign sleep
waiting for the light of dawn.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

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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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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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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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Click over to Mary Lee’s site for more poetry.

 

Fran McVeigh gave me a magnet at NCTE: “Explore new possibilities.”  I’m considering the word explore for my 2018 One Little Word, but for today, it inspired the title for a poem requested by Carol Varsalona for her #AutumnAblaze gallery.  She saw my photograph on Facebook from a recent canoe voyage on the Bayou Teche (pronounced “tesh”).  I loved the photo, too, and was resistant to writing about it.  I want you to know this is still in draft, so you can leave soft critique in the comments.

Duperier Bridge on Bayou Teche, New Iberia, LA. photo by Margaret Simon

Explore New Possibilities

On the water,
the canoe turns
toward a horizon
I do not know.

I paddle-pull
under a bridge,
listen to the rumble-
a passing car

like thunder from rolling clouds.
Under a bridge
where teenagers
huddle close and smoke,

where wooden gates
direct water
as if one could
contain such a wild thing,

a golden sunset
draws me toward
a new destination.

–Margaret Simon

Mary Lee Hahn invites us to join #haikuforhealing. Inspired by the same photo, a haiku:

where road meets water
a bridge, a golden sunset
a new horizon.

–Margaret Simon

 

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