Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Brenda Davis Harsham is hosting Poetry Friday today.

We talked about descriptive poetry, writing so that your reader can visualize your topic.  I have the privilege of working with small groups of students, so I am able to collaborate with an individual student on a poem.  Chloe wanted to write about a swan.  I shared a poem from my book Bayou Song that was about the white ibis.  The poem was in a triptych form.  Chloe and I wrote a poem using the same form writing description from a photograph of a swan.  In the process, she learned the word cygnet, and we both learned that a swan tucks her cygnets under her wings.

Swan Triptych

1.
It’s the way
white wings swim
in the crawfish pond.

2.
It’s the way
mother swan protects
her cygnets
tucked into her wings
softly.

3.
It’s the way
the beautiful swan
is reflected on the water.

by Mrs. Simon and Chloe

With Landon, we used metaphor dice.  The dice turned up “My soul is a silent trophy.”  I suggested changing trophy to garden.  He loved the idea and guess what? The line was eight syllables long, perfect for the first line of a zeno. (See more about zenos here.) I asked him, “What did you see in the garden?” He remembered a praying mantis hiding in a bush.  As we continued to discuss the word choices for this poem, we decided to break the rule about the one syllable words rhyming.  Sometimes when you try to rhyme, you lose meaning.

Garden Zeno

My soul is a silent garden
Praying Mantis
Stealthy
Stands
camouflaging
into
leaves
The small garden
is their
home.

by Landon and Mrs. Simon

Collaborating with students on poems or even having students work together can result in rich conversations around word choice and produce a poem that all are pleased with.

 

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

 

Last night was the #TeachWrite Twitter chat on “Facing our writing fears.” Turns out, we all have them.   I’ve heard Kate Dicamillo say multiple times (I’m not a groupie, really!) that she faces the fear of writing every day.  Every. Day.

Writing fear is a real thing.  It creeps into our lives at the worst of times and the best of times.  And publishing a book is no shield from it.  In fact, it may increase it.  Self talk, “Oh, this publication was a fluke.  No one will ever want to read another poem I’ve written ever again.”

Do you get messages from the universe?  I do. And if you pay attention, you’ll understand that everyone lives with fear every day.  What separates us is the way we deal with it.  I am trying hard to get better at holding myself up and away from the fear.  I love what Eleanor Roosevelt had to say about fear. “Do something every day that scares you.”  We must do this because, otherwise, fear is the winner.  But I also believe that if you are not writing in fear, then you are not writing.  The act itself is brave!

 

Here are two of my favorite Tweets from the chat.

 

I told my students today, truthfully, that writing is hard work, and if it’s not hard, you are not doing it right.  It’s important for us to keep writing (facing the writing fears) so that we can tell our students the truth.  That nothing worth doing well is easy.  Not even the greatest of authors have had it easy.  Take heart, though, because once you have written something good, you know how that feels, so you are more willing and ready to do it again.

 

What are your writing fears?  How do you overcome them?

 

Read Full Post »

Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone at Deo Writer.

 

Click to Pre-order

Octopus Zeno

Octopuses are amazing
cephalopods
mollusks
beak

8 tentacles
wave on
fleek

looking anywhere
for food
sneak

Breighlynn, 3rd grade

Irene Latham is an accomplished author/poet, and she is a generous friend.  She sent me an advanced copy of Love, Agnes which will be released on October 1st.  Agnes has declared October as Octopus Month. See Irene’s post here. 

With my students, I read Love, Agnes.  We enjoyed logging into this video.

We gathered some amazing octopus facts and words.  And, of course, we wrote octopus poems.

Over the weeks we’ve been together, we’ve explored some different poetry forms.  For this activity, my students chose their own forms to use and two of them even invented new forms.  Madison created the octaiku.

“An Octopus form, or, as I like to call it, a Octaiku ( A combination of Octopus and Haiku. ) The form is 2, 4, 8, 2 ,4 because 2 and 4 can go evenly into 8.”

Eight Arms
Suction Cupped
Cephalopod, Mollusk, Family
Giant
And Beautiful.

Madison, 5th grade

Madison met Irene Latham at the 2016 Louisiana Book Festival.

 

Things to do as  an Octopus

Wear a color changing coat,
call it camouflage.
when you get hurt,
heal up soon.
Something’s going to scare you,
blast streams of black goo.
Time to lay eggs,
protect them till you’re dead.

Landon, 5th grade

 

My life as Agnes

My friend who lives on shore.
I think he thinks I’m a bore.

He sends me a postcard everyday.
He makes me wanna shout “HOORAY!!!”

I protect my babies ’til they go away
And then I pass away.

Kaia, 3rd grade

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

I’ve been a fan of using heart maps in my classroom for a while.  At the beginning of the year, we made name heart maps.  Later in the year, we may use a heart map to identify an interest area for a research project.  This week, for the first time, I tried out readers’ heart maps.  Georgia Heard’s book about heart maps offers many different styles.  I tend to use the simple design.  Plain white paper. Taco fold. Draw half a heart. Cut it out. Then glue in your journal.

Chloe decided to cut out three hearts.  She made one with white paper.  Then she asked if she could use colored paper.  Then she made a blue one and a pink one.  I suggested that she could layer them one on top of the other.  She loved that idea.  One heart became about her favorite book at home about Ariel.  She’s a Dr. Seuss fan and made her blue heart about Dr. Seuss.  On the big white heart, she chose herself and wrote one of her poems.  Why not choose yourself as your favorite author?

Chloe’s layer of Reader’s Heart Maps.

Madison decided to fill her reader’s heart map with quotes from her favorite books.  Her all time favorite quote comes from Percy Jackson, “I have become one with the plumbing.”  She laughs out loud.

 

Madison’s reading heart map

 

I’ve been reading aloud Kate Dicamillo’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” so my reader’s heart map became about this book.  Edward breaks my heart over and over again.

 

My reader’s heart is broken and healed by Edward Tulane.

I think making heart maps is a great way to honor your students’ individual choices in reading.  They can express what they love to read in a reader’s heart map. We will come back to the heart maps to write about ourselves as readers.  What would you make your reader’s heart map about?

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

International Dot Day is one of my favorite days of the year.  For years, I’ve celebrated with my students.  This year I tried out a new activity for Dot Day, a Zeno Zine.  We started by reading The Dot and playing the Emily Arrow Dot Day Song.  Then each student decorated a dot on white art paper using markers. Rainbow dots seemed to be the choice of the day.

After drawing a dot, I asked my students to collect words and phrases about their artwork to use in a zeno poem.  We wrote a zeno together using ideas from the book.  Then they wrote their own zeno about their own dot.  We folded their art work into a zine and copied their poems into their zine.

Zeno form: syllable count 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 (Each one syllable line rhymes. )

Our Group Dot Zeno

I can’t draw a straight line, can you?
May I please see
you draw
dot?
I don’t think so
maybe
not
I bet you can
draw a
lot!

Dot Day Zeno Zine by Chloe

 

 

After the rainstorm has happened
Colors appear
rainbow
light
a beautiful
hopeful
sight
flower petals
amazing
bright 

by Breighlynn

Zine by Breighlynn

 

I draw and write alongside my students, so I made three zeno zines throughout the day.  My student Madison suggested that I post this one because, as she said, “The solar system is full of dots!”

Solar System Dot Zeno Zine

Gravitational central sun
spiral orbit
spinning
round
Solar system
planets
bound
Constant spinning
without
sound.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

 

Bayou Song Interview on KRVS:

If you are interested in hearing an interview with me on our local public radio station, click this link and go to “Interview.”

Read Full Post »

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

 

I’ve challenged my students to write a list poem this week.  Before Friday was even here, Madison had taken the bait and wrote a list about the famous Fibonacci series. Madison has an unique style of writing poetry.  She capitalizes all the words.  I once asked her why she did that, and she told me because they are all important.  Who can argue with that!?

Fib-List Poetry

Never-ending
Always Twirling

Since the Very Beginning
It has been Swirling

Green Points
A Real Place to Pinpoint

It will Not Disappoint
At the Right Viewpoint

A Fibonacci
Unlike the Nazi

Madison, 5th grade

Phyllotaxis plant spiral, goodfreephotos.com

My friend Kay continues to use Bayou Song to inspire poetry with her gifted 4th and 5th graders.  Last week they wrote I am poems.  This week they wrote tercets.  I love Karter’s use of B words to express the beauty of birdsong.

Birdsongs
by Karter

Birds are like singing angels
Busting through sadness
Belting out melodies.

 

Pop on over to Linda Mitchell’s post full of poetry love from the National Book Festival last weekend.  Her post helps me remember with joy and celebration!

Read Full Post »

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I saw my students for the first time on Monday.  The first day of my gifted class is traditionally the day to decorate your journal. (Some people call them notebooks, but I have always called them journals.) I bring in decorative paper, magazines, stamps, stickers, and this year, washi tape. The students have full freedom of choice about how they decorate their journals.

I love this as the first day activity for a few reasons.  One is it allows us the time to sit around the table and talk casually. I decorate as well, so we are working together.  I also love how this simple activity tells me so much about my students, how they work on a project, what interests them, and how they handle creativity.  Perfection can be an issue with gifted kids, so this project helps me see these types of characteristics. And also it’s just fun, so kids are excited to come to gifted class every day.

My journal for 2018-2019. I incorporated cards and stickers from friends to make my space personal.

When a sea turtle is too large for your cover, use it on the back and turn it sideways.

Sticky note leaf shapes become a palm tree for this Queen Writer.

Daniel was not discouraged when a magazine cut out didn’t work. He found this cat that he liked much better. There are no mistakes.

Rainbows and washi tape!

If this first day is any indication, this is going to be a good year!

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »