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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Susan at Chicken Spaghetti.

What is the greatest gift a poetry teacher can ever hope for? A student who keeps writing poetry, even though you are no longer teaching her. You may remember my student Chloe. She’s now in 7th grade and attending another school, but last week she sent me a poem. She told me that she was in Thibodeaux, LA for a gymnastics meet. Her father went to college in the town and showed her the route to where he had lived. He asked her to write a poem about it. And what father do you know encourages the poet-daughter? I was charmed, of course, and asked if I could post her poem here. Please leave encouraging comments for Chloe.

Thibodeaux Turns

Extravagant land that turns your world 

The world that grew with you 

That rested with you

That prayed with you

Never felt alone with this land 

These bodies of water mark journeys in our lives 

And heart

And minds

Traveling tree roots that build our homes and house animals that feed us 

This air that circulates our bodies and arms and legs

Blowing away our doubts and fears 

Bringing us to our pot of gold at the end of our Louisiana adventures 

Our sugar cane grounds desperately reaching for the water we provide 

Thibodeaux turns turn our history 

Our signs 

Our lives

Chloe Willis, 7th grade

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Grab the 2023 Spiritual Journey image for your blog posts.
Image by Henry Cancienne.

Do you select a One Little Word for the year? For years, I’ve been choosing a single word to guide my spiritual journey. Last year’s word was Enough. This word kept me in check. Whenever I questioned myself, I remembered “You are enough.” But as 2023 approached, I thought I wanted a more active word. I follow my good friend’s daughter on Instagram. Faith Broussard Cade has become an influencer under the name Fleur de lis Speaks. I clipped this recent post:

My new word for 2023 is Purpose.

What is my purpose?

Does this activity fit with my purpose?

Can I live each day with purpose?

I have been having mixed feelings about the word, so I talked it over with a friend. She offered me the wisdom that my purpose is with God, to bless others with my own faith.

My daughter got an oracle deck for Christmas. She said, “Just for fun, ask the oracle a question and pick a card.”

I kept the question to myself, but the card I picked was “Dancing Spirit” with a beautiful butterfly as the image. The main tenants were “Honoring Oneself”

*Build self-esteem

*Feeling the sweetness of life

* Sharing your inner light in a centered way.

I believe that purpose will continue to show up in my life. Funny how that happens.

I love to share the practice of choosing a word with students. I found some word beads and elastic string at Target, so my students each chose a word and I made them a bracelet.

Students share their one little word bracelets.

I asked them to write a post about their words by choosing a quote and writing about what the word means to them and why they chose it. It’s a fun way to greet the new year.

If you are joining the link up today, please click on the InLinkz below. If you’d like to join our group and host a month, follow this link to our google spreadsheet.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Michelle Kogan

For the Christmas season, I have decorated my classroom doors (I service 2 schools) with a Christmas tree, but they’re not typical Christmas trees. They’re Grati-ku Poet-trees. Each day since Thanksgiving break, my students and I write a gratitude poem on a paper ornament.

Our Grati-ku Poet-Tree

We are reading daily Santa Clauses (a book of haiku written by the man himself) by Bob Raczka. These poems are inspirational to us and help us see the different ways to create a haiku poem. A complete sentence, a metaphor, a moment in time.

Japanese poems
Santa Claus inspiration
I write haiku, too.

by Avalyn, 3rd grade

Avalyn wanted to invite some teachers to write poems, too, so she asked the speech therapist whose classroom is adjacent to ours to play along. (She calls it a “haiku party”.) Kim wrote:

A burnt string of lights
one bulb out, they all go out.
To the store I go!

By Kim Degeyter

School spirit is everywhere this season as students and teachers participate in dress-up days. I wrote a grati-ku about this:

Reindeer headbands on
little girls’ heads bouncing down
Holiday hallway

Margaret Simon
Other teachers join in the fun!

You should join the fun. Write a grati-ku holiday inspired poem in the comments. I’d love to share them with my students.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Friday, we took our students on a field trip to Bluebonnet Swamp in Baton Rouge. Because it is a natural preservation site, we were not allowed to picnic on the grounds. We piled back into the bus to travel a few miles to another park. When we pulled up, a student yelled out, “I don’t see the playground.”

They were right. It was a vast green space with a pavilion, picnic tables, and a track. After we finished eating, I offered a walk to some students. We walked down a hill to a ravine and found a large live oak with its branches draping over the ground and ravine. The branches reached low enough for climbing.

And climbing was what they did. As though the tree herself had invited them on. Despite my little nag on my teacher shoulder, I let them go. Years ago when I was raising young children, I remember my sister-in-law allowing her daughter to climb a tree. I questioned her. She said, “Climbing gives her body confidence.” I was holding onto this as I watched these students in all their confident bodies climb all over the tree like cautious ants. They really did seem to know if they could do it.

No one fell. No one got hurt. Not one of them got wet. I released my held breath and patted my teacher-shoulder. On the way back up the hill to the bus, one of the students yelled out, “This is the best. field. trip. ever!”

Tree climbing, body confidence

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You park in the same spot.
You walk the same hall,
see the same faces, but one day,
a child opens her hands to show you
a butterfly, and suddenly,
you become a part of her wonder.

You invite her to go outside.
“Let’s find a flower to feed the butterfly.”
You open Google and take a photo.
Images pop up identifying the beautiful wings
as “Gulf fritillary or Passion butterfly.”

Other children gather round
and pass the gentle butterfly hand to hand.

In your mind, you know this is not a good sign.
The butterfly is not viable, yet one student squeals,
“I’ve never seen a butterfly so close up!”
Others whisper, “Wow!”
“It’s so soft!”

Wonder continues, grows, swells,
so the poor fritillary becomes a subject
to study, a specimen for children’s eyes.

You decide it’s an honor
to be known as the butterfly whisperer.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

The decorating theme at one of my schools this year is books, so I chose to depict one of my favorite books, The Dot. I celebrate Dot Day every year with my students, but this year I adopted the whole school, sort of. I sent out an invitation to teachers to sign up to send 4 kids to my room at recess time. (I only have 4 chairs around a single table.) I had wonderful participation and have had so much fun working with a variety of grade levels. With the older kids I opened up sets of watercolors and set out paper plate dots. For the younger ones, I gave them a coffee filter to decorate with markers. I then sprayed them with water so that the ink spread for a cool looking result.

With my gifted students, I made Dot Zeno Zines. In the spirit of “making a mark and seeing where it takes you”, we drew a design on plain paper. Then we wrote Zeno poems. Zeno is a form created by J. Patrick Lewis that uses the sequence 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 with each one syllable rhyming. I’m not sure which should come first, the first 8-4-2-1 sequence or the rhyming words. We’ve tried both ways. I let the kids struggle somewhat to just figure it out. Sometimes it’s hard to say what you want to say with so many constraints. It’s a process. Process can be messy and imperfect, but when you’ve puzzled it out, it’s rewarding.

Dot Day Zeno

Polka-dotted wings emerging
color-filled spots
red, green,
blue
orange, purple
polka-
dew
flying homeward
toward
you!

Mrs. Simon with help from Avalyn, 3rd grade

To see more student Dot Zeno poems, check out these Fanschool links:

Brayden
Adelyn

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Poetry Friday is hosted this week Down Under with Kat Apel.

In Dictionary for a Better World, Charles Waters writes about Courage using a cinquain form. “Sometimes courage can be…” The form is simple: five lines with a syllable count of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. Sometimes these simple forms open up possibilities for writing that we wouldn’t normally explore.

I’m listening to The Book of Hope with Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams. I explored the topic with a cinquain to model for my students.

Sometimes
poetry
is hiding in plain sight
you can find poetry in your mind
look hard

Brayden, 3rd grade

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Image by Linda Mitchell
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for my lesson on Friday. I really don’t have a good excuse. It just happened, so I opened my desk drawer and pulled out metaphor dice. I wasn’t really sure how this writing tool would work with my young students. This year my gifted classes include third and fourth graders. Do they even know what a metaphor is?

The beauty of Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice is their adaptability across every grade level and writing ability. In fact, they can be the just right teaching tool or game you need on a Friday when you don’t have a poem in your pocket.

After a few rounds of metaphor dice writing, my 4th grade student Adelyn said, “Do you ever get so involved in writing that you forget to breathe?” I think that sums up a successful writing session.

Today I am sharing one of my metaphor dice poems.

My birth is a bright songbird
singing a morning lullaby.

Each new day is a birth–
a chance to discover joy,
to hear the bright song
of the cardinal or chickadee.

Wake up!
Every day is a birth day!

Margaret Simon, draft
My notebook+ metaphor dice

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Today’s Poetry Friday Round up is with Dave at Leap of Dave.

Today was the first Poetry Friday of the new school year. Prompted by Kim Johnson who is writing daily to Dictionary for a Better World, I decided to begin at the beginning with the word Acceptance. Irene Latham wrote the model poem we read today. I have to admit starting with such a metaphor-driven poem was challenging. “I am a word with teeth– a crocodile” At first my students thought the poem was all about a crocodile. We had to work hard to make the connection between the title and the illustration.

From Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.

When it came time to write, I suggested using Irene’s form for an opening line. I am a word with ______. Adelyn chose the word Art. I adore what she wrote for her first poem of 4th grade gifted class.

 ART 

I am a word with imagination

A rainbow over my head

Some understand me, some don’t

Yet I don’t wait for supplies I improvise

I rest in a messy room

Full of markers, crayons and sketch books

As I dream of a

peacock flying overhead

by Adelyn, 4th grade

I am happy to be writing poems with kids again!

Here is my poem after Irene on the word Gracious:

Gracious

I am a word with wings–
a butterfly
landing on a red blossom.

Some want to catch me.
Others let me be.

Yet I do not waste time (as you do)
in the muddy banks
between despair

and hope.
I rest in freedom–
air, wind–
lightly lifting

as nectar fills my soul
with sweet gratitude.

Margaret Simon, draft, after Irene Latham

Consider joining me with my friends over at Ethical ELA for this weekend’s Open Write starting tomorrow through Wednesday.

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Design by Linda Mitchell
Poetry Friday round up is with Rose today at Imagine the Possibilities

Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard is a go-to book for me. I recently came back to it to find an inspiring poetry lesson (page 48) around a stanza of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Valentine for Ernest Mann.

We watched this video of Naomi reading it and telling the story of its inception. Then we borrowed the words poems hide for our own poems. Avalyn says it’s the best poem she’s ever written (in her year of writing poetry with me.)

I was reminded of a resident at my parents’ retirement home. When my father was ill, I stayed with my mother in her apartment and got to know many of her friends. This is a true story about Angel, but after I gave her a copy of the poem, she had to correct me that the cats do trust her and let her pet them.

Poems Hide
in an Instagram image
of sunrise
a small songbird
the trickle of water
over a streambed.

Poems hide
in the calico that lost its tail
in the woman named Angel
who sits on the ground
to feed the lonely cat,
her hand out, longing for trust.

Angel laughs in poetry.

She gives me a Styrofoam cup
of cut roses aflame in her hand.
I find poetry
in the things I touch
and in your forever love.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Poetry Hides
by Avalyn, 2nd grade

poetry hides
in talent,

poetry hides
in your favorite stuffed toy

poetry hides
in the beautiful Robin you saw hurt on the ground

poetry hides
in yourself and all beings

poetry hides
in magnolia flowers

poetry hides
in the things you love most

poetry hides
in the ones that helped you get awards and medals

poetry hides
in the lost and found shared memories

poetry hides
in your life and soul

poetry hides
in the book of quotes that helps you feel grateful


poetry hides  

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