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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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

I recently won a book giveaway (Don’t you just love free books?) from Kidlit 411 of a new book My Monsterpiece by Amalia Hoffman. The illustrations for this book are done with mixed media and photography. The artist-kid wants to create a scary monster but becomes frustrated as each person he shows his art to isn’t frightened at all. They eventually come to understand that monsters don’t have to be scary (and neither are kids). I was excited to read it to my almost 3 year old grandson Leo when he came to visit this weekend.

Sunday morning came early as Leo woke up well before the sun. “Mamére, it’s dark outside.” So while I had my much-needed cup of coffee, Leo located the art supplies and set to work on his own Masterpiece/ Monsterpiece.

by Leo, 2.8

On the Ethical ELA Open Write, the prompt from Anna was to write a 20/20 vision poem, a 20 word poem that sees something more clearly.

Making a masterpiece

comes slowly with

creative attention

to bursts of color.

You look up and say,

“A birthday cake!”

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones
.

Bridget Magee, our Poetry Friday hostess, just released an anthology around the number 10. I ordered it from Amazon and received it yesterday. I jumped right in and read poems from many of my Poetry Friday friends. Here is what Bridget wrote about her motivation for curating and publishing this anthology:

As the TENTH child born into a family of TEN children in the TENTH month, I am fascinated by the number ten. Add TENACITY to that fascination and the idea to create this anthology was conceived.

Bridget Magee, introduction to 10 x 10 Poetry Anthology

Every week I post a photo that begs to be a poem here on Reflections on the Teche as well as on my classroom Fanschool space. This week I was particularly struck by how the photo of a close-up of dragonfly wings inspired metaphors. Stained glass, mosaic art, prehistoric maps are a few that appeared in the small poems in the comments.

I was able to grab the student’s own writing to teach and reinforce the concept. Children can use figurative language long before they have a name for it.

dragonfly wings by Amanda Potts

Avalyn wrote “like a chandelier” in her notebook, and I took the opportunity to teach her about what she had just done. She had created a “simile.” I told her she could use the colored markers to underline it in her notebook and write the word simile in the margins. Her next line was “a clear shower curtain and the outline of your window.” I directed her to choose another color to mark the metaphor. Then I read her my poem and allowed her to mark my poem with the same colors. I was almost giddy with delight to be able to notice and note a gem in my second grade student’s writing.

This experience makes me wonder about photography and writing. Did the writing change if I told the children the photo was dragonfly wings? I told Jaden what the image was before he wrote, so he decided to google “dragonflies” and included a science fact in his poem.

Wings
like glass designs
shedding light
zipping through the sky
30 wing beats every second
bzz-bzz the dragon fly
slips by.

by Jaden, 6th grade

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about retirement. I envy my poet-teacher-friend Mary Lee Hahn who has a poem about retirement today. But moments like these in my classroom writing alongside such gifted and talented writers inspires me and makes me a better person. I think I’ll stick with it a little longer.

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Nature never ceases to amaze me. Amanda Potts shares photos on her Instagram feed of nature through a close-up lens. When I don’t have a photo of my own to share, I know I can turn to hers. Like me, she walks every day. Me in South Louisiana and she in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada…a world apart. Yet there are dragonflies here and there. This week’s photos (I couldn’t pick just one) come from her Instagram feed. Follow her.

Photo by Amanda Potts
Photo by Amanda Potts

Tessellation wing
an intricate map open
to wonder windows.

Margaret Simon, haiku draft

Write a small poem in the comments and leave encouraging comments to other writers. Above all, relax and let words flow.

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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.

#WriteOut sponsored by the National Writing Project in partnership with the National Parks began yesterday with a wonderful video and prompt from Golden Gate National Recreation Area. My students and I had a productive day of writing in response.

As a teacher of writing, I am interested in prompts that lead to creative and imaginative writing. This first prompt did the job. Because there was a way into the story (a character enters a portal), students created a variety of different responses. Each one carried their character through the portal in interesting ways. Avalyn, second grade, chose herself as the character who finds the portal on the monkey bars and travels to the desert, then the rainforest, and back home where she lives happily ever after. Her story is here.

Katie and Jaden, 6th graders, chose to be animals in their stories. I think their chosen animals say a little about who they are. You can read their stories on Fanschool here and here.

Chloe’s story reminds me of a book I read this summer on Netgalley, Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt. It’s a book to grab up if you teach middle grades. It’s a lovely story of a camel who saves tiny twin kestrels from a dust storm. I loved all the characters in this book and love that it weaves in a history of camels in Texas. Chloe hasn’t read this book yet, but the creative magic wand waved over her with these words:

Once in a desert, a camel walked into a purple glowing light. He knew it was a portal. He shifted and swayed until he stopped, opened his eyes and saw a horse running around a castle that had the words “Mississippi Land” on it.

Read the whole story here
Join Write Out!

I wrote alongside my students and may work on my story for a regional Louisiana picture book idea. There, I put it in writing. I know it needs a lot of work, but what do you think about a mosquito and banana spider that take a ride through the swamp on a brown pelican?

The Write Out prompts and resources will be remain available on NWP’s website, so even if you don’t have time to work them into your lessons now, tuck them into a back pocket. They are gems!

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

I am judging the first round of Cybils Poetry this fall. If you have a favorite poetry book or verse novel that was published between October 16, 2020 and October 15, 2021, consider nominating it here.

In her poem “Taking Out the Trash,” the late poet Kamilah Aisha Moon, who died at the age of forty-eight last week, takes a seemingly mundane task and makes the activity profound. Write a poem about a daily chore or everyday task that brings attention to your body. Try, as Moon does in her poem, to take time describing the movements of your body.

Poets and Writers, The Time is Now

I often write poems on my daily walks. Maybe I’m building a collection of these? Today’s poem is in conversation with Kamilah Aisha’s poem Taking out the Trash. It is definitely in drafty draft stage.

Viking Funeral
after Kamilah Aisha Moon

On trash Monday
when the men of the house rush out
to fill the can with white bags bulging 
with detritus of our lives,
I turn my pace against the wind,
watch toilet paper streamers (is it homecoming?) 
grow into ghostlings dancing beneath old oaks.
They mound like fairy mushrooms in a circle around bulging roots.
I gather my dog’s waste into a green bag,
flip it around my hand like a glove. The neighbor
stops her barely awake car, rolls down the window to say thank you
for being a responsible pet owner.
I guess not everyone does this. Some leave their trash
where it lands to rot and rest until the soaking rain washes
it out to sea. Place me
in a canoe for a Viking’s burial
, my husband says.
There will come a time to say goodbye, to lay our bodies
down to fire, but let me be
breathing today, again and again,
not ready to release air into fire.

Margaret Simon, draft
Sign of the times, Trash on my walk photo by Margaret Simon

Ever since I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection Cast Away with poems about trash, I pay more careful attention on my walks. I pick up things I can carry and create my own poems about trash.

Irene has the round-up today. She has an amazing collection of poems about art called Artspeak. I asked my second grader to choose a poem to read today and copy. She chose Why Roses. We copied the form on the board like this:

Why ____________

because…

because…

because…

because…

I am __________________

Here is Avalyn’s debut poem on my blog about the Van Gogh painting Starry Starry Night.

Why Starry Night!
after Irene Latham

because our solar system has stars
because the stars are in the Milky Way
because the moon looks like a face
because stars make constellations
I am the galaxy.

by Avalyn, second grade

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Ramona is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at Pleasures from the Page

For today’s Spiritual Thursday post, Ramona suggested we listen to a podcast by Emily Freeman entitled The Next Right Thing. It’s a new-to-me podcast that I am now following. I listened this morning while walking and wrote my response by speaking into the Notes app on my phone.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book Here and Now, “We are inclined to think that when we are sad, we
cannot be glad. But in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand. But when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.”

Emily Freeman, The Next Right Thing Podcast

I am Here

My daughter gave me an Apple Watch.

It watches my every move and occasionally will vibrate my arm

and tell me something like you need to be moving

or you’ve reached your movement goal

or stand up now.

We have found devices in this modern world that help us to be present.

Present with our steps, each one counted and charted on an app on our phones

which we carry with us everywhere,

everywhere to be present with a friend on Instagram or Facebook.

Daily when I walk, I use an app called Voxer to chat with a friend across the globe in another place.

She calls this her daily podcast with me. Funny and true.

And I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to be present with a friend far away.

But sometimes all I need is to just be here–

Here stepping on fall leaves, listening to them crinkling,

listening to the sounds of birds

in the trees losing the leaves.

I’m just here with myself

And God.

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Today I am cheating and doing this prompt backwards. I wrote a poem that I like from another Taylor Mali prompt. I remembered that I took a picture of the image I conjured in the poem. I am convincing myself that this is fair because I had the image in mind when I wrote the poem. Taylor’s website has a collection of fun prompts for teachers to use with kids. They work even with the youngest students that I teach (8 year olds). The one I used can be found here: Once I was a Flower.

Live Oak Branches, Margaret Simon

Once an owl lifted off
from a tangle of branches;
it rose above me
like a hot-air balloon.
It was fall
and morning chill sprinkled fog
over the bayou.
There I was left
floating alone–
solid, steel canoe.

Margaret Simon, draft

Now it’s your turn. If you want to use the prompt, begin with Once and end with an inanimate object. Or just write whatever the photo muse brings forth. Be sure to leave encouraging comments for other writers.

This response to the Once prompt is from my student Jaden in 6th grade.

Once I saw a moth
flew across my face
in the path of others
it was a fall sunset
I stood still
I was a light
Jaden, 6th grade

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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.

Every class we begin with notebook time. My students know to open their notebooks as soon as they walk in. I’ve started teaching some little ones, second graders, and it’s not so well established yet with them, but we’re trying. One thing that Brayden knows already is that on Mondays we write a Slice of Life. But first, we played Mad Lib Poetry, created by Taylor Mali, that I read about on this Poetry Friday post from Denise Krebs.

Brayden answered the prompt, “Name an object that represents your mother” with “butterflies.” This stayed with him, and he wrote his Slice of Life about his mother. “My mother is a butterfly. She is beautiful.”

With my different groups of students, I wrote the Mad Lib Poem 3 times. Here is one of my versions:

I was born in the year of Donny Osmond albums.

My mother was a grand piano
and my father, a pointillist drawing.

Is it any wonder that I grew up to be an amazing cross
between Alice in Wonderland and a great blue heron?

Take a worried look at me. I am weary and feeling old.

Is it any wonder that I still have nightmares
about teaching a whole class
of second grade boys?

Margaret Simon, Mad Lib Slam Poem form by Taylor Mali

Denise shared that Taylor’s Metaphor Dice are on sale for teachers at 60% off. Grab them while you can.

On Friday with my 6th grade writers, we played three rounds of metaphor dice. This is a great game for this grade level. They grapple with the strange combinations and amaze themselves and me by what they write in 2 minutes. I think this is a great activity for critical and creative thinking.

I liked how this next poem came out as a little love poem.

My heart is a burning kiss,
burning like the fire inside
that makes bread rise,
the heat that helps babies grow,
the warmth that feeds the seed
which is to say
your tender kiss
melts my heart
into pure gold
that withstands
the test of time.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

This month, Inkling Mary Lee Hahn challenged the group to write a poem to define or exemplify a poetic device or form. She was inspired by two books, The Craft of Poetry by Lucy Newlyn and Inside Out by Marjorie Maddox. I remembered a set of poems I wrote using the definito form to define a poetic device.

Another Inkling partner Heidi Mordhorst created the definito form which is a poem written for children in 8-12 lines that defines a word. The word appears as the last word of the poem. Today’s poems define alliteration, imagery, personification, and meter.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Poetic Devices Definitos

Letters, linked
and lively,
Lindy-hopping-
Notice how
some sounds repeat
Tongue twister
Word sister…alliteration.

Make a movie
in your mind
Imagine all
that tastes, feels, sounds–
hands gripping,
feet slipping,
Writers show me
how to see
with imagery.

If the wind waves
If flowers wink
If hummingbirds tell a tale.
A thing you know
A thing you love
becomes a person
real and alive
walking across the page
personification.

Can you tap out a beat?
ta da, ta dum, ta dee!
Count the upbeats?
one, two, three
A poem may rhyme
but the rhythm is clear
Iambic, 
dactylic,
pentameter
words for the beat
Tap, tap…meter.

Margaret Simon, 2021

Other poems for this challenge:

Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda @ A Word Edgewise
Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Mary Lee @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone

https://writeout.nwp.org/

Write Out 2021 (#writeout) is getting ready to launch this October 10th and will run through the 24th. This year’s theme—Palettes, Storyboards, and Cadences—is meant to support you as you explore the natural world and public spaces around you, while engaging as writers and creators who share in a connected virtual community.

This summer I worked with the National Writing Project on creating prompts for writing with Write Out. This two-week event encourages you to get outdoors and write. A number of National Parks have created videos for students to inspire writing. You can sign up at the NWP website to receive updates.

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Flowers are fascinating, and their names can be entertaining. I took a drive out to the country on Sunday to visit a friend. She had naked ladies growing in her yard. As I was leaving, she said, “Can I cut you some hurricane lilies?”

“I thought they were naked ladies.”

She may have blushed. “Yes some people call them that.”

When I put “naked ladies” into Google, more name possibilities popped up: Belladonna Lily, Bareroot Red Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily, August Lily, Red Spider Lily, Lycoris Raidanti.

Let’s have a little fun today with these names. Play with one of them in a small poem. Post in the comments. Reply with encouraging comments to others. Happy Hump Day!

Naked Ladies in the country, Margaret Simon

red stamens reach up
resurrected from bare earth
radiant surprise

Margaret Simon, haiku

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