Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Playing with poetry has led to a playful poetry attitude in my class.  My first class is reading poems aloud on the intercom for morning announcements from Great Morning: Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud by Pomelo Books.  Each day they pass it to the next-up.  He or she chooses a poem they want to read and go through a quick practice to make sure they know how to pronounce all the words (especially the author’s name).  I am pretty much hands off.  They remember whose turn it is, come by the room to get the book, and just do it.  Their read aloud skills are improving as well as their confidence.  They are also learning that poetry can be fun to read aloud.

In the spirit of playing with poetry, I pulled out the individual white boards and proposed a game of collaborative poetry.  They quickly changed the title to “Friends Poems.”  Each friend wrote a line in the poem as we passed the boards around.  The originator of the first line got the poem back and could add to it if they felt it needed more.  This was fun and playful and built a sense of a writing community.

This one was written by Karson, Daniel, Breighlynn, and Jaden

I love the color of the midnight sky
shining stars
dawn and dusk compete
to meet eye to eye
the night is complete

 

I played along with my second group.  We’ve watching monarch caterpillars in the garden.  One day we counted 11 caterpillars.  I’ve brought some home for spring break, but I’ll share more about this later.  Here’s my collaborative poem with Kaia, Landon, and Jayden.

In the spring-sprinkled garden,
Listen as the bird tweets.
Watch the water run and flowers sway.
Look closely at monarch caterpillars.
Praise this amazing day!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

The shoe showed up in the school parking lot sometime in September.  Someone graciously placed it on the curb, like an offering.  “Here I am.  If I am yours, take me home.”

But no one claimed the shoe.

Every day I park in the same vicinity of the shoe. It became like a parking spot marker.  “Oh, you.  Back again.  I’m still stepping in your path.”

Winter months came.  Lots of rain.  The shoe remained.

One day I asked the secretary when I stopped to sign the ledger, “Have you seen that shoe in the parking lot?”

“Huh?” She looked up from counting money.  The secretary always seems to be counting money.  “No, I don’t think so.”

I tried to ignore the shoe.  Maybe I could pass in peace and not notice.

Well, the shoe heard me all right and decided to do something to show me.  Here we are, almost to April with 7 weeks left of school, and that darned shoe stuck herself right in my path.  I opened my car door about to step out and Yikes!  There it was!

By this time, I felt the shoe was stalking me.  I took no sympathy and kicked the thing underneath another car.

You didn’t think I was going to pick it up, did you?  I didn’t see it today.  Perhaps it’s gone to another parking lot.  One can only wish.

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Carol’s Corner.

Spring is in full swing and weeds are choking the ground.  When we discussed service projects we could do for this quarter, Landon brought up the garden.  He is in the garden club, so he knows it needs some loving care.

I suggested Thursdays. 30 minutes. Keep it a secret.

When Thursday came, the sun was high in the sky with a slight breeze and the perfect temperature to be outside.  The kids didn’t forget.

Landon showed us the stash of gloves and tools, and we went to work on a small patch of weeds.

I was surprised at how excited they were to get down and dirty.  Kaia said, “I have a poem.”  We had also talked about writing secret poems for poetry month and placing them in the garden.

We hadn’t brought our notebooks (note to self for next week), but I had my phone, so I opened Notes and captured her poem.  Jayden laughed when she got the chance to star in our poem.

We are the secret gardeners.
We don’t make a sound.
We are digging weeds
Right out of the ground.

We are pulling and pulling.
Watch out for the bees.
What a charming day!
Jayden’s about to sneeze.
Aaaaah…..Choo!

by Kaia, 3rd grade

Bouquet of flowers from the garden.

Poetry Month is just around the corner. My NPM19 Poem A Day project is Playing With Poetry. I am joining Jone MacCulloch and Mary Lee Hahn. We will be playing with Haikubes, Magnetic Poetry, Metaphor Dice, and Paint Chip Poetry.  Join in if you’d like! We can use the Twitter hashtag #playwithpoetryNPM to find and support each other.

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

“You created a group of kids who advocate for themselves.” My supervisor called me on my way to school.

“I didn’t create them.  They came to me like that. I just encouraged it.”

“Yes, but so often that spirit is crushed by teachers.”

B. called me to tell me good news.  That’s the kind of supervisor she is.  A group of gifted seventh graders had summoned her to come to answer questions they have about their next steps in math.  It’s a pivotal decision that will put them on a certain math track.

These were my kids in 6th grade.  One of them was in my class from 1st through 6th.  They are my heart.  I’ve come to understand how to best respond to these moments of affirmation.  I just say, “Thanks.”

On deeper reflection, however, I think back to how these kids were with me during a vulnerable time.  Their education involved very little choice.  They often came to my class frustrated over one constraint or another.  What I gave them in the safe space of our gifted classroom was freedom.  They could be themselves.  They had choice over what they read, what they wrote, and who they wanted to be.  Acceptance and love permeated the room.

I miss these kids.  They stretched me to be the best teacher I could be.  They trusted me as I trusted them.  They taught me to embrace them as unique individuals, to respect each one’s dignity and voice.  They demanded it.  We made a difference together.  I’m happy to know their wings are soaring.

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Bach Google Doodle screen shot

Did you see the Google doodle on Thursday and Friday?  To celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday, Google had an app for writing music.

I come from a musical background.  My mother has her masters in piano and taught lessons for many years.  My brother got the talent in his fingers and still makes a living as a professional musician.

Me? I gave up piano after high school, but I can still read music and sing in the church choir.  But I’ve never written music before. That is, until Thursday.

In my last group of students, Madison and I played around with the doodle and discovered we could save a link and return to the song we created.  Of course, we also had to write words to go with our songs, all of which proved to be harder than you would think.

I introduced this idea to my first group on Friday morning.  We had to borrow headphones from the computer lab because all that composing going on in one room was enough to drive you crazy.

I was fascinated by how challenging this was for my kids.  They spent at least an hour on it and would have gone longer, but it was a gorgeous spring day, so I shooed them out for recess.

Here is a link to a tune I created for the words “When I sing this lovely song, I feel a sense of pride.

My students posted theirs on our kidblog site here. 

Who would think that you could build a whole class activity around a Google Doodle? Technology never ceases to amaze me.

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

“Today is Pi Day,” My husband greeted me Thursday morning.

“Oh, no!  I forgot.  I always like to do something for Pi Day.”

“I know that. That’s why I’m telling you.”

So once again, flying by the seat of my 31 years of experience, I opened up our class time together with “Guess what today is?”

Some kids knew, but didn’t know why.  I wrote on the board, “Pie Day or Pi Day?”

We discussed the meaning of Pi, the irrational number 3.14 and so on, and the relationship between diameter and circumference of a circle.

Then we got to the fun part.  Each student chose a piece of colored paper, and we brainstormed ways to make a perfect circle.  Then the hunt for possible patterns- the pencil cup, my coffee cup, the lid of a game.  Kaia suggested using a paper clip.  If I had once known how to draw a circle with a paper clip, I had forgotten.

Place a pencil inside one end of a large paper clip. Hold the pencil point in place on this sheet of paper. Place another pencil inside the other end of the paper clip. Ask your helper to hold your paper still while you draw a circle by moving the second pencil.

I asked the students to use their imagination to create something with the circle and use it as the topic for their Pi-Ku.  A Pi-ku takes on the syllable count of Pi, 3.14159….

While we didn’t produce great poetry, we did have a good time playing with circles, wacky drawings, and syllable counts.

I combined this activity with the daily poetry prompt in Laura Shovan’s poetry project.  The prompt for Thursday was honey.

Bumblebee
You’re
My honey sweet
Tea
Pouring all you have
Into joy-light for my morning cup.
3.14159

Karson’s elephant Pi-Ku:

Elephant
eats
cabbage and trees.

Karson, 4th grade

Jump! You feel
light.
You hear music,
a
bird. You think nothing lives
here
Tweet, a moon bird singing is soothing.
by Landon, 5th grade

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Happy Book Birthday to In the Middle of the Night by Laura Purdie Salas!

I met Laura a few years ago at NCTE and have followed her ever since.  She is gentle, kind, and generous, everything a children’s poet should be.  I am inspired by her every week on her blog.  On Thursdays she posts an image with an invitation to write a 15 words or less poem. It’s a great space to show up in each week to read other poems and interact with the children’s poetry online community.

Laura is also a pretty awesome presenter.  In November, 2018, we presented together on a panel at NCTE, Writing Poetry in the Wild.  Here’s a link to the slides.

In her presentation, Laura encouraged us to look around and write about what we see.  Well, that’s not exactly what she did to write this latest book.  In the Middle of the Night requires more than just observation; it requires an imagination.  The poems are all written in the point of view of some object doing something during the night.

Twenty-six poems share the wild adventures that toys, food, and other household objects have at night while you sleep. Everything from stuffed animals to clothing to writing utensils comes to life under the cover of night. An overdue library book searches for the perfect place to hide. A paper clip skydives with a tissue parachute. A fruit snack unrolls to create a tricky racetrack for toy cars. Come sneak away for some moonlit adventures!

In my class, I wanted my students to experience this fun idea and Laura’s poetry. From the Table of Contents, my students selected a few poems they wanted to hear. I always start with “What do you notice?”  They noticed that the poems were written in first person (Cha-Ching! for that concept), and I reminded them that they are called mask poems.  They noticed rhyming and rhythm patterns.  With a little more prodding, they found alliteration and imagery.

In addition to working on close reading skills with poetry, we stretched our writing muscles.  We used this activity sheet from Laura to write our own poems.

Laura has a Padlet for contributors’ poems here. We placed links on the Padlet to our Kidblog site.  If you have a minute, stop by and place comments for my kids.

Made with Padlet

Click here to go to Laura’s web page.

Monday, 3/11           Mile High Reading

Tuesday, 3/12           Reflections on the Teche

Wednesday, 3/13    Poetrepository

Thursday, 3/14        Check It Out

Friday, 3/15              Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Sunday, 3/17             Great Kid Books

Monday, 3/18           Simply 7 Interview/Jena Benton blog

Tuesday, 3/19          My Juicy Little Universe

Wednesday, 3/20   Live Your Poem

Thursday, 3/21         Reading to the Core

Friday, 3/22              KidLit Frenzy

                                    Beyond Literacy Link

In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House Author: Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrator: Angela Matteson
Publisher: Wordsong (3/12/19)
ISBN: 978-1620916308

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »