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

On Poetry Friday, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted on The Poem Farm a slide show created by teacher/author Emily Callahan. Her 4th graders have been writing proverb poems after Amy’s. I shared the slide show with my student Chloe. She was inspired to write a prequel to Ms. Callahan’s students’ prequel poems. Here is her Fanschool page, Prequel Crazy.

Here it sits
covered from the rain a chess board
broken into pieces.
I allow access to
the board.
He has found a new home. 
I glue it,
I wash it,
I rinse it,
I dry it,
I wrap it up
and drive along a bumpy road
the perfect gift 
to my daughter
She asks, ” Where did you dig this up from?”
“One man’s trash is another mans treasure
Maybe you can do the same
Like with a blanket?”

Chloe, 6th grade

I wrote alongside Chloe. A poem about my sister’s plan to create a quilt from my father’s shirts. I left the last line blank so I could make it a prequel to Chloe’s. We enjoyed this playful poem making. Thanks, Amy and Emily!

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

The girl sees patterns,
pictures in her father’s shirts,
gathered,
sorted,
cut,
stitched
into a quilt of many colors,
into a memory of many hugs,
into a dream of everlasting rest.
She sees more than anyone
a life lived as a husband, a father,
a doctor, an artist, a friend.
She touches every day what he wore,
a treasure in her hands.
Maybe you could do the same.
Maybe with a chess board.

Margaret Simon, draft

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It’s festival season and most of them are back from a long Covid break. All week I introduced different poetry forms to my students. They could choose their own topics. Coincidentally two chose to write about upcoming festivals using the dodoitsu form. Dodoitsu is a Japanese form that uses the syllable count of 7,7,7,5. Avalyn, 2nd grade, wrote about the Lao New Year Festival. Avalyn’s family belongs to the Buddhist Temple located in Coteau, a suburb of New Iberia. In the 70’s Laotian immigrants were aided by Catholic Services to purchase land to build a temple. Every year around Easter, the community celebrates the Lao New Year. Avalyn is looking forward to it with enthusiasm. She wrote a cherita here. I’m sharing her dodoitsu.

My Lao New Year

First we go inside to pray

next we go outside to play

food and fun and lots of joy

spend money on toys

Avalyn, 2nd grade
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lao_New_Year,_flour_throwing.jpg

The Spanish Festival queen is a substitute teacher at our school, so she and her cohort visited the school to promote the Spanish Festival happening this weekend in New Iberia. This beautiful crocheted canopy is on display downtown.

Crochet Canopy in downtown New Iberia

Chloe was prompted by the queen’s visit to write her dodoitsu about the Spanish festival.

Spanish Festival

Crochet ceiling, knit till dark

staying up with family 

Everyone’s culture matters 

As dawn sets down day

Chloe, 6th grade

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Thirty-four days. Our wood duck hen sat for thirty-four days. We were losing hope, afraid the freeze back in March did it. On Sunday morning I got a text from a bayou neighbor, “Today is jump day for one of our houses!”

“Our duck has been sitting for 34 days. No hatching yet. I’m not sure we should keep waiting.”

“Mine sat for longer than usual.”

So I flipped over to our RIng app. Did I hear cheeping? Mother hen was eating a shell. They were hatching!

You probably want to know how many, but it’s nearly impossible to count when they are little blurry black blobs wiggling.

Monday was Jump Day. It was also a school/work day. We had to rely on the camera. Jeff set up a new Ring camera outside of the house in order to record the jump. Around 10:00, I checked the cameras. Gone. All the ducks had jumped. I missed it, but the camera did not.

As I showed the video to my student, Avalyn, she named the little ducklings. “Come on, Tiffany, you can do it!” she urged as one of the babies hesitated to jump. Avalyn also wrote a poem-song (impromptu) to celebrate Jump Day!

Wood duck, wood duck
open your shell.
Come out, come out, come out now!
Little duck, little duck,
quack with your snout.
Little duck little duck, little duck
don’t you frown
Come play in the bayou
and make no sound.

Avalyn, 2nd grade
Jump Day, 2022: Watch the lower right corner to see Momma Duck come back to get a wayward duckling.

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What a full weekend! The Books along the Teche Literary Festival was held in New Iberia. On Saturday, my friend, artist Paul Schexnayder and I led a children’s workshop. He taught the art part and I led the poem part: Poem Portraits. The kids wrote a bio-poem and decorated a cardboard face with Picasso-esque facial designs.

Student portrait

Outside in Blue Dog Park, there was a children’s authors area, but I decided not to sit and sell books this year. I had a good time supporting my SCBWI friends, hanging out at their tables, chatting and selling their books.

It certainly helped that the weather was probably the best we’ve had all year.

Blue Dog Park was the location of the Children’s Author Tents

For Ethical ELA, Gae Polisner and Lori Landau led the prompt with a suggestion to choose a line from another writer’s poem and create your own poem. They called it Collaboration Inspiration and it was probably the most prolific day for writing so far. Pop over to read the amazing poetic responses and to be inspired yourself. I borrowed my first line from Stacy: “Yesterday I wore only a sweater.”

Yesterday I wore only a sweater
Cream-colored comfort
in the morning chill.
I left it on a folding chair
in the children’s authors’ tent
where we joyfully greeted
a couple from Ohio
who loved children
and storybooks
and the craft of illustration.

A book festival can be an inadequate space,
sitting for hours
no sales in sight
pondering imposter syndrome.

Yet on this April day
I dropped my sweater,
tossed my discomfort to sunshine
and a circle of writers
who fed my soul
and warmed my shoulders–
no sweater needed.

Margaret Simon, draft

Progressive Poem is with Mary Lee today.

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Last week I took my students out to the playground to find photos. I wrote about the activity yesterday. I was surprised by the variety and interest their photos generated. Without any direction, Adelyn straddled the drainage and folded herself in half and took this photo upside down. When I asked if I could use her photo for the poetry prompt, she said, “Be sure to give me credit.” Of course. She wrote this equation poem: Investigation = question + adventure.

Now it’s your turn. What do you see? Write a small poem in the comments. Support other writers with your comments.

Follow your curiosity.
Landing among the stones,
Explore a mystery.

Margaret Simon, draft

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