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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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

On Saturday I attended a photography workshop about using your smartphone held at The Shadows on the Teche, our resident plantation home.  I have fond feelings for this place not just because of its beauty, but it’s a place where my students participate every year in a play for first grade students in the parish.

After James, our presenter, gave us much technical information (some of which flew right over my head), we were sent out on the grounds to find interesting things to photograph.  Although he didn’t say it, most of us interpreted that James wanted us to look at things with a new eye, a different perspective, and an appreciation for the hidden beauty of the place.

I was drawn to a lace curtain over a window with moss in the trees barely visible beyond.  When I got home, I played around with the effects on the iPhone app and sent the photo off to Shutterfly and ordered cards.  One thing that James pointed out to us is that nothing is more satisfying than seeing an actual, hands-on print of your photo.

I also wrote a haiku to place inside the card:

Through the lace curtain,
moss hangs in soft stillness
whispering a prayer.

James assured us that not every photo we take will be “the shot”. We have to take a bunch, practice moving around the subject for many angles, and give yourself permission to try new things.

Here is a gallery of a few of my favorite photos from the day.

The Shadows on the Teche

Moss hangs over the Bayou Teche.

My photo partner wanders to find a perfect shot of the graveyard.

This workshop helped me feel more confident with photography with the camera I always carry with me. I am now more alert to what may make my next winning shot.

This week I’ll be at NCTE.  Hope to see many of my slicing friends there. I’ll be presenting on Friday morning with a panel of knock-out authors.

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Click over for Coffee and Donuts with Jama and more Poetry Friday.

 

Laura Shovan’s 5th annual February Poetry Project continues with one of us selecting an article each month and pulling out ten words.  This month Kathy Mazurowski selected this article and these words: nostalgia, reflect, interferes, cope, memories, personal, uncertainty, crystallized, bittersweet, science.

One morning I sat at my computer determined to get some words in for the day. I looked at the words Kathy selected, at my reflection in the kitchen window, and this poem appeared.  Every once in a while the muse visits me. I just need to sit here every day.

 

Glass reflects
the shape of things–
shadows of me
sitting here:

a cup of coffee
a vase of daisies
a cat
a stack of books

crystallized in a photograph
nostalgic for
the bittersweet taste
of uncertainty.

News interferes.
Memories flee.
How do we know what
tomorrow will bring?

Somehow we cope–
put on the cloak
of science and move on.
It’s not personal.

I reach over
to pet the cat.
Her fur is soft,
and she purrs.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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Poetry Friday posts are with Linda at Teacher Dance.

Much has been written about this amazing new resource for teachers.

There’s this one at Live your Poem by Irene Latham.

And here is a review by Laura Purdie Salas.

The Two Writing Teachers featured an interview with Amy.

Literacy Lenses includes words of wisdom from a Good to Great (#G2Great) Twitter chat with Amy.

Like many others, I have a personal connection with this book because some of my students have featured poems.  Amy’s book not only teaches in a wonderfully accessible way; it also celebrates teaching poetry.  Lots of student samples sit alongside poems by children’s poets worldwide.  The depth and breadth of the message reaches well beyond the pages.

I am passionate about teaching poetry in my classes, but I am never quite sure how my lesson plans look to the administrators who check them.   Poems are Teachers is the affirmation I’ve been looking for.  In my heart, I know that practicing poetry is playing with language in a way that can inform other writing as well.  Sometimes writing poetry is just plain fun.  Nothing makes me prouder than a student frantically waving his hand in the air to share his poem.  If we use Amy’s book to create active writing experiences for our students, they will rise up and feel the amazing power of poetry, too.

Emily’s poem is in the chapter “Marry Music and Meter to Meaning.” She wrote this poem after a real lock down.

Jacob’s poem appears in the chapter “Let Art Inspire.” Jacob wrote this poem after looking at Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night.

Amy with Heinemann has generously offered a give away for this blog post.  Please leave a comment by November 10th and I’ll randomly pick a winner.  You definitely want this book in your professional library.

 

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Find more posts at Live your Poem.

 

Our Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts are centered around gratitude this month. When I think of what I am most grateful for this week, I think of the many voices in my life.

Sunday:  The voices of the choir up in the loft with me.  I am the only alto, but that’s OK.  I love to hear the harmony of my voice alongside the others around me.  I carry the anthem in my head all week long.  Today I can hear the echo of “even thine altars…O Lord, my king and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house.”

Monday-Friday: The voices of my students ring in my ear.  This week one group is writing mood stories.  A few students are collaborating together.  They hunch over the paper and computer and speak in excited voices about what happens next.  Another group is working on podcasts, so they have written scripts and are practicing and recording and re-recording.  Voices over voices, played and replayed.

Voxer voices:  I have a few friends I keep in touch with using the Voxer app.  I look forward to hearing their messages on my morning walks.  One of these friends is reading aloud a book.  She’s actually reading it for another friend, but she forwards them to me, so I can enjoy the book as well.  I love being read to.  Her soothing, friendly voice makes the experience of listening like a meditation.

As I write, my husband calls and offers to meet at our favorite restaurant.  There, we will catch up on the news of day and just be with each other.  I remember one of the first things that attracted me to him was his voice.  I’ll never tire of hearing it.

November is thanku season, a time for writing thank you haiku.

 

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

In September I received an invitation from Paul Allison of the New York Writing Project to participate in a discussion about a new website for publishing student work.  In 2010, we worked together to create a platform around the Gulf oil spill called “Voices on the Gulf.”  From this experience, Paul created Youth Voices.  My students participated for a little while, but eventually the content became inappropriate for my young students.  I moved away from using this site because it did not meet the needs of my students as younger voices.

When Paul contacted me that he was ready to open a new site for elementary students, I was thrilled.  An authentic audience is extremely valuable in teaching writing.  Many of my students are isolated as one of few gifted students in their class.  When they write, they want people to read it.  They crave a wider audience.

Kidvoices.live is now live! Some of my students have begun posting their creative poetry there.  The platform is similar to blogging at Kidblogs, but different enough to serve a slightly more sophisticated purpose.

Kidvoices.live is open to other elementary classrooms as well.  If you want to join and get your students involved, you can.  You have to provide a unique email for each student.  You can use a gmail + account or a parent’s email address.  Once they sign up, each student will have a user name and password for future log-ins.  I recommend sending home a parent permission letter.  Paul plans to post it on the site, but you can also contact me for a copy.

Last week we read a story from Scholastic’s Scope magazine that was very close to us. The Great Flood of 2016 occurred in our area as well as in the setting of the article, Baton Rouge.  We then read from Here We Go about helpers and volunteering. (PowerPack #8 on page 65)   My students wrote response poems about the flood, and the larger topics of fear and hope.

When students have the opportunity to share writing online, they grow as writers, as digital citizens, and as people navigating this world.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I have to thank NCTE for the National Day on Writing as well as all the many posts on #WhyIWrite and my many teacher-writer friends who inspire me every day to make my class a safe place for writers to bloom.

Michelle Haseltine told me she was writing quotes on pencils to give to her students as inspired by Malala’s Magic Pencil. (Her post is here.)  So early Friday morning, I grabbed some fresh pencils and Googled writing quotes.  Each student received a pencil with a quote.  This was such a simple, yet positive way to garner enthusiasm for a special writing day.

Betsy Hubbard posted last minute ideas on the Two Writing Teachers blog early yesterday.  I grabbed the idea of chalkabration!  Years ago, Betsy led a monthly roundup of Chalkabration posts.  The basic idea is writing poetry with sidewalk chalk.  My students were so excited to be able to go outside and chalk their poems.  I made an Animoto video to share.

Here are some of the wonderful fall themed poems my students and I created.

–Margaret Simon Fall Haiku

Fall The holy winter is waiting. Why keep it away when you could bring it in. Winter comes. –Trace, 5th grade

Fall Mysterious Admiring Happening Turning Winter Every Night Fall –Austin, 6th grade

Autumn Summer breeze turned cold. Bright sun into dim moon. Emerald leaves turn amber. Blue skies now dark. –Madison, 4th grade

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Poetry Friday posts are with Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life

Last week my students and I studied the poem “A Letter in October” by Ted Kooser.  In response, some of us wrote golden shovel poems.  A golden shovel is a poem that uses the line of another poem stretched out down the right hand margin.  The writer then fills in words to create a whole new poem.  This method of writing a poem forces the writer to use enjambment in an interesting way.  Today I am sharing two student responses as well as my own.

 

I lay still in my bed in the moonlit night

A sweet blowing breeze passes in

And out  filling my room with its

soft and warm thick

Scent of snow and hushed winter

Whispers wrapping me in a chilly jacket.

–Erin, 6th grade

 

 

 

 You are sitting. Watching
                          while birds fly around the
trees. The sun going down, light
fading. You hear kids walk
down the street. The sun is down,
everybody collecting the candy the
people are giving out. You look at the hill.
You see something, a pumpkin. You carve it.

–Andrew, 5th grade

Every day I drive by a mighty oak tucked between the frontage road and the highway, Mr. Al.  In South Louisiana, the oldest oaks are named and cataloged and cared for.  Mr. Al has had an interesting journey as he was transplanted by the state highway department about 3 years ago.  He is thriving in his new home.

Mr. Al in October.

 

An oak tree spreads its mighty wings then
beckons us to see
another way the
world can be. Light
dances with the leaves, a casual step,
strong and easy, bouncing out
the noisy beats upon.
-Margaret Simon

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