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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

My poet-friend and writing group partner, Molly Hogan, is a fine art photographer in her spare time. She lives in Maine and posts amazing photos on her blog and Facebook page. Sometimes her photos inspire me to respond in poetry.

photo by Molly Hogan

Dawn on the Marsh

Dawn on the marsh glows
like embers, like the final flash of a torch
lighting the tiny particles of fog 
rising ghost-like and dreamy.

High in the sky
geese line up
to honk their way south

In the distance, deer graze,
tentatively perk their ears
to your sound.

You do not feel the cold
that numbs your fingers and toes
as you click the lens of your camera

whispering a prayer of thanks.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I have been following the Two Writing Teachers blog for at least 6 years. At NCTE in 2014, I sat next to Melanie Meehan at the Slicer dinner. Melanie was not yet a member of the TWT team. We talked about writing, and she asked me to join her online critique group. At the time, she and I were both writing middle grade fiction.

Fast forward a few years and now Melanie has published a professional book. I won her book Every Child Can Write from a TWT blog giveaway. I’ve been reading and marking it up ever since it arrived. I am so impressed with the attention to detail and practical advice for our most challenged writers. Melanie calls them striving writers. In my opinion, all writers are striving writers.

I teach gifted kids, but that doesn’t mean they are all efficient writers. They struggle with many of the things Melanie covers in her book, idea generating, making transitions, adding details.

When reading a professional book or attending professional development, we look through the lens of our own experience. My students write a Slice of Life each week. I have been grading these posts using a rubric. Melanie made me look deeper at what I was asking my students to do. Were they authentically involved in the process?

Melanie asks her readers to consider designing writing checklists with kids. “Just as we need to understand the concepts, so do our students. Additionally, using their own language is powerful because students are then intrinsically involved in the self-assessment process…Student involvement in creating checklists leads to understanding on their part, and when they understand, the are better able to move along the ladder of mastery.”

I decided today to ask my students what they would include on a checklist for their SOLs. This is the list they compiled:

  • Details: Details help the reader imagine the scene
  • Your story: First person POV
  • Voice: Unique, humorous, new, emotional, have personality
  • Defining unknown words for others
  • Stay on topic
  • Imagery: Use the senses
  • Grammar
  • Paragraphs: Change with new topic or new speaker
  • Spelling

I found a few of their ideas interesting. They have really internalized the importance of using paragraph structure. They also see the value of using their own point of view as well as writing in their own voice. I appreciated that they added “stay on topic.” So often students will not know what to write about so their posts ramble. They do know that keeping to the topic is important to their readers. And their readers are each other.

This conversation inspired by Melanie helped me show my students they are writers and value their input into the whole process. And I’m only on Chapter Four!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Today is National Author’s Day, and my friend and critique partner Linda Mitchell challenged our writing group, The Sunday Night Swaggers, to write a poem inspired by a favorite author.

When she challenged us, I thought of the most recent book I read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. According to The New York Times Book Review, this book is “Painfully beautiful…At once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative, and a celebration of nature.”

The poet in me was inspired by her beautiful writing about nature. I turned to a page and gathered words and lines to put together a poem “after Delia Owens.”

Sandbar

How quickly the sea and clouds 
defeat the spring heat,
how the grand sweep of the sea
and sand catch-net the most precious shells.
How its current
designs a sandbar, and another
but never this one again.

She had long known that people don’t stay.
This fiery current
was her heart-tide
releasing love to drift
among seaweed.

How drifting back to the predictable cycles
of tadpoles and the ballet of fireflies,
Nature is the only stone
that does not slip midstream.

Margaret Simon, found poem from Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Read my writing partners’ offerings for National Author’s Day:

Catherine at Reading to the Core
Linda at A Word Edgewise
Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Karen Edmisten.

I’ve joined in with a group of poets on social media writing to #inktober word prompts. It’s a great way to jot a little poem that keeps creative juices flowing. On Thursdays, Laura Purdie Salas faithfully posts an image prompt for 15 words or less. This week I used her photo of a red blooming tree and the inktober word, dizzy, to create an autumn haiku. Canva is my go-to site for creating image poems. Follow my posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And join in the fun!

My new middle grade novel, Sunshine, is available on Amazon. I can’t wait to open the box of books coming soon. See a review here.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

This fall has been slow in coming. The leaves are changing, the days are shorter, but the temperatures are not cooling off much. It makes it hard to get into the mood of autumn. I got a little help from Georgia Heard. She has a sweet poem from Falling Down the Page called Recipe for Writing an Autumn Poem.

Recipe for Writing An Autumn Poem

by Georgia Heard
One teaspoon wild geese.
One tablespoon red kite.
One pint trembling leaves.
One quart darkening sky.
One gallon north wind.

This is a wonderful prompt to use with kids.

I decided to combine this poetry prompt with the National Writing Project and NCTE’s Day on Writing prompt #WhyIWrite.

Recipe for Why I Write

One teaspoon clean paper
One tablespoon colored ink
One cup imagination
One pint relationship
One quart dedication
One gallon liberation

An empty page invites color, lines, words, sentences
which become an expression of emotion
looking for connection. This relationship
is rocky, requiring dedication. But one thing is certain:
The freedom to write
belongs to everyone!

Margaret Simon, (c) 2019

Jaden responded with a beautiful recipe for writing.

A Recipe for Writing a Poem

by Jaden, 4th grade

One teaspoon of creative minds
One tablespoon of repeating and rhyming words
One cup of a magic image
One pint of dazzled emotion
One quart of comparing things with like and as
And one gallon of my heart

(free image from Pexels)

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

In early September, my middle daughter gave birth to precious Thomas. She asked me, and I quickly agreed to travel with her to Monroe in North Louisiana for a leadership program meeting with the Louisiana Tourism Association. She is still on maternity leave, but she didn’t want to miss this meeting. What’s more important than being grandma? So I took a few days off to go with her.

I thought I would be stuck in a hotel room, that I may get some reading, writing, and lesson planning done. I was pleasantly surprised by a park connected to the parking lot of the hotel. With the baby in the stroller, we headed out to the trail.

The beauty of this fall day greeted me with a cool breeze and sunlight through the trees.

Red spider lilies dotted the path.

Baby Thomas slept through the outdoor adventure, the first of many to come.

A lone egret looked at its reflection in the lily-covered swamp.

I read the kiosk to learn about this beautiful, wild park. For 50 years, the area had been a sand and gravel pit. Later, many residents used it as a dumping ground. What do you do with such an eyesore? The city of West Monroe excavated the trash and created a wild space, restoring the area to wetlands that accomplish a number of goals, controlling flooding as well as providing the community with a beautiful place of nature to enjoy. Not to mention, a place of peace for a grandma and baby grandson.

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Sunshine, a Blessen Novel

Sunshine, the sequel to my first middle grade novel Blessen is coming soon from Border Press. I published Blessen in 2012 and began writing this sequel. I’m excited that her story with Sunshine, her new hen, and Harmony, a new friend, will finally be out in the world. Publication day is Oct. 15, 2019. The cover is a collage by Marcie Melancon, a New Iberia artist.

The Blurb:

Blessen LaFleur’s life is once again taking more twists and
turns than the bayou she lives near. Blessen is growing up
and taking on the responsibility of raising a hen, Sunshine,
who is broody and bothered. In this sequel, Blessen meets
Harmony who is homeless and missing her mother. Blessen’s
caring nature leads her to save Harmony from the despair of a
strange foster home by stealing her away on an adventure.
Together they call themselves “the guardians of nature.” When
an accident reveals Harmony to the grown-ups in Blessen’s
life, they both learn of the strength of family and love.

You can read the first review at A Word’s Worth by Diane Moore.

If you are interested in reading a pdf copy and writing a blog review, please let me know in the comments.

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