Archive for the ‘Teachers Write’ Category

Discover. Play. Build.

This has been such a welcomed relaxing week. I am celebrating today with many others in the blogging community. Ruth Ayres sponsors a round-up. Click the image above to follow.

I Celebrate…

1. Easter weekend with family: Here we are trying out a food truck in New Orleans, Taceaux Loceaux. 5 Stars!

taceuax loceaux

2. Writing retreat at Bonne Terre Cottage in Breaux Bridge.

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge.  Photo by Chere Coen

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge. Photo by Chere Coen

3. Dancing at Festival Internationale in Lafayette.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

4. Writing a poem every day. Today is Q, so I wrote a Questionku. The form uses 3 lines with syllable count of 4,5,6 and ends with a question.


5. Teacher poets community. Such a supportive place to talk about poetry and workshop poems. Chris Lehman is a wonderful leader and generous to give his time to nurture our creativity.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

6. Connecting with teacher/writer/blogger Holly Mueller I sent Holly a copy of Blessen. She fell in love with her character. Thanks, Holly, for sharing the love.

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Sunset 1

I have been participating in the Teachers Write virtual writing camp at Kate Messner’s blog. The first few weeks I was very good about doing all the exercises. One of the early quick writes asked us to think about a special place. The details of the prompt can be found here.

I visited my parents this summer and enjoyed daily views of their lake. Usually a bird was in the view. The sunset is always beautiful and different. So this became my special place for my response poem.

The Lake
Sometimes near the lake
cardinals flirt,
flickers of red
darting, clicking.
You’ll hear honks of Canada geese,
a gaggle on the shore pecking grass.
There is the great white egret
sailing above the water
reflecting a shimmer of sparkling sun-kiss.
Sometimes, the tinkle of the wind chime
whispers softly, “I love you.”
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Kate’s model poem was her own Sometimes on a Mountain in April. Hers is a poem in photos, very nice. Hop on over there now.

Thanks, Matt Forrest, for taking on the Poetry Friday Roundup today. Go on over to find more rich poetry links. poetry friday button

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

This summer I participated in the Teachers Write virtual writing camp made possible by author Kate Messner. She had many guest authors teaching and posting writing prompts. From one of the posts, I learned about the young adult character generator. Earlier this year, I introduced this tool to my students. They loved it, and much writing has been inspired by it.

Using kidblogs, my students are working on stories that develop their characters. I am pleased with how motivating this activity has been. One of my students, Matthew, was a reluctant second grade writer, usually satisfied with a few sentences. When asked to elaborate or incorporate figurative language, he would say, “I like it the way it is.”

Now a third grader, Matthew’s writing has taken off in the first few weeks of school. He wrote his whole story in his journal, posted it on kidblogs, pasted it onto paper, drew illustrations, and painted a cover for his book. I don’t know if a summer’s worth a maturity or the young adult character generator was the impetus, but this year Matthew is a writer.

Chapter 1 The Curse
It was a normal Tuesday morning at Denver Catholic High, or was it? Aiden was walking to gym, twitching as usual. Then out of nowhere, it started getting dark, really dark. Then, a giant ghost came out of the dark and said, “Da school curse is a spreading.”

Suddenly, Aiden’s friends came outside as zombies! “What happened?” said Aiden’s still human friend, Jenna.
“I… I don’t know,” said Aiden, frozen. for once in his life. He’s feeling a feeling he has never felt before, fear. He was so afraid, he couldn’t move. He could barely speak and refused to look away from the ghost or even blink.

Chapter 2 The Adventure

“Da only way to stop it is to get da gem of legend,” The ghost said in a country voice.
“What gem?” asked Aiden.

“Here, take da map.”said the ghost.

Aiden read the map and said, “Jenna, we’re going to the beach.”

“OK,” said Jenna.

“I’ll drive,” said the ghost.

“What?” said Jenna and Aiden.

They headed to the beach. As Aiden got out of the car, he said, “Hey, I’m not twitching!” He was happy, but then the ghost pushed them in a cave. They put on headlamps and started walking.

“OK,” said Aiden nervously. His head suddenly jerked to his shoulder, twitching again. ”We, uh, go that way?”

They stopped at a pool of…lava! Only a few rocks to jump on.

“Well, let’s get moving,” said Aiden.

They hopped across, rock to rock. Finally, they got to the other side. They walked until they stopped at the end of the cave.

“Look!” shouted Aiden. The gem was standing on top of a cone-shaped rock structure at the end of the cave.

“It’s beautiful!” cried Jenna, leaning back. The gem was a glowing baby blue color in the shape of a diamond.

Swiftly, Aiden grabbed the gem, “Got it!” He held the gem over his head in triumph. Then he heard a loud caw caw!

Aiden looked up and saw a blue-gray falcon swoop in toward him. Before he could draw the gem out of the bird’s reach, the bird quickly grabbed the gem with its talons.

“There goes all our hard work,” said Aiden. Of course, he was right. They had worked so hard.

They went after the bird. They hopped across the rocks. Aiden found a light, sharp stick and threw it at the bird, but before the stick could hit it, the falcon flew down and accidentally dropped the gem.

“Thanks,” said Jenna.

Chapter 3: Lifting the Curse

“Well, let’s get going!” said Aiden. ”It’s been a great day. I stopped twitching, we got the gem, we lost the gem and got it back. Now, we can lift the curse!”

So, they were off. They went back to school.

Chapter 4: Curse Gone

Aiden and Jenna lifted the curse by saying, “I here-by lift the curse of the Hex, and I shall face anything next! I will not say ‘no’ or ‘I’m afraid’ I’ll face anything, alive or slayed!”

But before the magic could work, a half moth half cat flew toward the gem. Aiden’s allergic to cats and hates moths.

“No!” Aiden yelled, then kicked the creature hard. Whack! The creature fainted in pain.

The curse was lifted! They had done it! Aiden said in triumph, “We did it, guys!”

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Friday is feedback day at the Teachers Write virtual writing camp. I am now friends with Gae Polisner on Facebook. She is the author of Pull of Gravity, and she hosts the Friday Feedback on her blog. She gave me a heads up about today’s feedback theme, hooking your readers.

The best first line ever written was written by E.B. White in Charlotte’s Web which celebrates 100 years this year. “Where is Papa going with that ax?” Who could put down a book like that? You are invested in knowing what Papa is going to do with that ax.

Here is the first line of Blessen.

Blue is cackling something awful this morning. That’s how she tells me she laid an egg.”

In the Teachers Write Camp a few days ago, we were asked to find an object in our work that has significance. I decided that object would be an egg. Imagine my thrill at reading Kay Ryan’s poem Eggs in this week’s New Yorker. “We turn out as tippy as eggs.” I would love to use her poem as an epigraph for Sunshine. Because here lies the theme: We are tippy as eggs. We are fragile, and we must have love to nurture us and hold us together.

With all this to think about, beginnings, symbols, themes, and the gosh-darn-hard work of crafting a novel, I place here for you to see the possible beginning and end of Chapter one of Sunshine. Does it hook you? Are you ready for another Blessen adventure?

First part:

Sunshine flutters her feathers on my cheek. She doesn’t wriggle or cackle. She’s still and calm, letting me hold her close and feel the warmth of her down. And on her nest, shining like a diamond in the dust is a light blue egg, soft as the clouds above my head on this new day.

According to my momma, chickens don’t like to be held.

“Why you carry your chicken around like that all day, Blessen? Don’t you know chickens are born to roam, not be carried around like a baby doll?”

Last part

A.J. reaches down to gather up my hen. Surveying her like a sculpture, he turns her all the way around.

“This is a fine chicken you have. Guess who knows how to pick ‘em?”

I smile and say, “You have good taste in chicks.” A.J. lets out a loud laugh at the double meaning. Then he crows like a rooster.

“Have you met Tux?” I ask.

“Don’t know that I have. Who’s Tux?”

“Mae Mae’s stray kitty she rescued. He and Sunshine are working on becoming friends.”
“A chicken and a kitten, that’s an unlikely pair.”

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