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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Warning: This is another shameless Grandmother post. I received a wonderful gift from a friend, “Letters to My Grandchild”. It’s a little book with envelopes to tuck letters into. I love this idea because those books that you write in intimidate me. What if I mess up? This little book is just envelopes, so I can do multiple drafts before I place them into the book. Thanks, Dani!

I’ve been reading Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. This book will tug at your heartstrings as Nikki overcame a terrible childhood bouncing around in foster homes and facing her mother’s alcoholism and schizophrenia. The memoir is constructed with poems and notebook entries. Each poem is a poem in and of itself. Because of this, I can share poems from the book with my students without having to read the whole book to them. The content can be too tough for my young students.

On Thursday last week, I shared the poem “The Mystery of Memory #3”.

Think food,
and nourishment
comes to mind,
but we all know
it’s so much more.
One bite of pineapple,
and my tongue sticks
to the roof of memory,
gluing me to the last moment
I savored a slice of
pineapple upside-down cake
at my grandmother’s kitchen table.

To read the complete poem, read Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes.

One of my poems came out as another grandmother joy poem.

Think baby,
and crying comes to mind,
that piercing sound
first heard as life.
But we all know
it’s so much more.
So many firsts–
first bath
first smile
first step
first word.

When you send me a picture
or video text, my heart
swells with joy.
Something new,
something yours,
now mine.
A tiny finger
wraps around my finger
tingling with love.

Margaret Simon, after Nikki Grimes
A gummy Thomas smile to warm your heart.

My second grader Rylee is not yet worried about line breaks, but she heard the rhythm and sentiment of Nikki’s poem and wrote this (hands off from me) in her notebook.

by Rylee, 2nd grade

With line breaks by me:

Think
of you
buying a cake saver
for your mom,
and she’s going to open it,
then she knows what it is.
She likes it,
then she is so happy
that she bakes
a cake.

Rylee, 2nd grade

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Joining the link up for It’s Monday, What are you Reading? At Teach Mentor Texts.

I’m a member of our local (as well as national) SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). In this organization, I am able to meet some wonderful authors. A few years ago I met Leslie Helakoski at ALA or NCTE, not sure which, and found out that her mother lives in our area, and she dances to Cajun and Zydeco music. Turns out, I know her mother from our dancing circle. Small world.

Leslie was involved with the SCBWI in her home state of Michigan. Well, lucky us, she is now splitting her time between the two states, Michigan and Louisiana. She has taught a few picture book workshops in our area, and I greatly admire her talent. Not to mention, she is a very nice person, too.

Leslie’s latest release is as sweet a story as she is. Are Your Stars Like My Stars? is a picture book about colors. No, it’s a book about friendship. No, it’s a book about diversity. All in one, Leslie’s rhyming verse asks the question, “Is your blue like my blue?” Leading us to see through the eyes of a child that we can all see things differently, and that is the best thing of all.

With engaging art from Heidi Woodward Sheffield, any child will be entranced by the coloring book collage style.

Do you splash in a puddle
when the world is washed clean?
Are the leaves fresh and bright?

Is your green…
… like my green?

Leslie Helakoski

You can find out more about Leslie’s books here. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, @helakoskibooks. If you are in Lafayette, LA on Saturday, January 25th, come by Barnes and Noble and get a personal signed copy.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I saw the tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts from Michelle Haseltine, and I said, “No!” I don’t need another group to join, another challenge to conquer, anything else to do! Just. Say. No.

That “no” lasted a few days, but the more posts I saw, the more I realized that this was the perfect thing to rejuvenate writing in my life and in my classroom.

Last year at NCTE 2018, I attended a notebooking workshop (wrote about it here) with Michelle and others. I came home inspired to make a commitment to notebooking in my classroom. At the end of the year on a field trip bus, I overheard one of my students talk to another one from a different school. She said, “I love notebook writing. Do you?”

Somehow things got in the way this school year. So the #100daysofnotebooking was just the thing I needed to bring out the notebooks again. We wrote every day last week.

I printed out this page, so we could keep a count of the days.

The notebook writing takes about 20 minutes in each of my three classes. I begin with some sort of prompt. We write to the Insight Timer set to 7 minutes. Then we share. Some of my students post their writing on our class blog, but this is not required.

Watching the Facebook page is inspiring (or daunting, depending on your point of view as some posts are very creative), but there is room for every type of notebooker. I’m enjoying trying out collage, writing to poetry, and word collecting.

As we continue, I’ll know more about how my students are growing their writing skills. Right now the routine of it is working. They look forward to the time to write, the time to draw, and the time to be themselves on the page.

Here’s a gallery walk of some of our pages:

Jaden was inspired by a poem by Nikki Grimes, Journey from Ordinary Hazards.
Notebook time leads to Flow, the concept that time disappears while we are immersed in a creative activity.

Karson’s One Little Word notebook page.
Breighlynn’s poem in response to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem The Pie of Kindness.

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I am linking up today to It’s Monday, What are you Reading on Jen Vincent’s site, Teach Mentor Texts. Click on the image to find more blog Kidlit reviews.

With new grandsons to read aloud to, I have taken an interest in books that have rhythmic, poetic language. The words have to go quickly as Leo’s favorite part is turning the page. Buffy Silverman’s new release is just this kind of book. With quick rhyming verse, she takes us through a snow-melting day.

In my part of the world, South Louisiana, we do not get much snow. Yet, we have chickadees at the feeder all winter long. With lively and sharp photographs and bouncing, rhythmic language, we can learn about places that have a distinct seasonal change. Grand sons can point to the cardinal swooping, the rabbits bouncing, and the foxes pouncing.

On a Snow-Melting Day releases on February 4th, 2020. Hop into a delightful book on a marsh mucking, duck dapping day.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Sally Murphy.

While the news of the world has most of us down and wondering what will happen next, my fellow poets and I turn to nature. Molly Hogan lets her eye find solace in nature in her poem this week. Linda Mitchell has haiku to share. And Catherine Flynn shares “Making Peace”
by Denise Levertov, “The poets must give us the imagination of peace…”

For more links to poetry peace, click over to Sally Murphy’s site. Sally is an Australian author supporting #authorsforfireys on Twitter, an auction to help fire relief in Australia.

I was recently driving to New Orleans on a stormy day, but the closer I got to Nola, the clouds turned red from the setting sun and a rainbow appeared. Who doesn’t love a good rainbow to inspire promise?

But I was driving, so taking a picture was tricky, and writing a poem impossible. Later I tried dictating my idea into the notes app. Some of the words recorded. Enough for the idea to germinate into this draft.

A car wizzes past
going 85 or 90 miles an hour.
Weaving in and out, the driver
couldn’t have noticed the sun
drawing light into the clouds
like a bonfire on a cold night,

Or the rainbow that appeared
streaking more red than any
rainbow I’ve ever seen.
I slowed to snap a picture,

longing to forget the speeding car,
the violent news of the day,
and drive into the sunset
with the promise of a rainbow. 

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

My second grandson was born in September, nine months after my first. The year of 2019 has been a big change for me as I step into this new role. Juggling two daughters requests for babysitting got a bit tricky around the holidays. Luckily it worked out that Maggie wanted New Year’s Eve and Katherine the Saturday after.

On Friday I traveled to New Orleans after an all day rain storm. The drive into the city is beautiful as the highway is bordered by swampland. I can often see herons or egrets soaring above. This time, however, I noticed the multi-color clouds on the horizon. As the sun set, a bright red rainbow appeared. I aimed my phone camera and took this picture.

Red rainbow over Nola

Julieanne Harmatz, fellow blogger from L. A., was vacationing with her husband, so we met up for a lovely dinner. On Saturday, we met at the City Park sculpture garden where there is a new Cafe Du Monde. (Beignets are a must-have on any trip to New Orleans.) By this time, I was in total charge of grandson Thomas. He was the perfect host, smiling and cooing right on cue. Julieanne took this picture of us in the Sculpture Garden.

I’m learning once again (it’s been 29 years since I had a baby) how to juggle a diaper bag, bottles, stroller and carseat, and all that goes along with caring for a baby. Even with the monitor right next to my bed, I wasn’t able to sleep Saturday night. Thomas slept just fine. I wouldn’t exchange that loving smile for anything. Being a grandma is pure joy!

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

My Sunday Night Poetry Swaggers Group discussed the One Little Word tradition and found that everyone had a slightly different take on whether or not it was a good practice. Heidi challenged us to write about whether or not we word for the first Friday of the month. You can read their posts here:

Catherine
Heidi
Linda
Molly

I’ve been choosing a word each year for 7 years. I enjoy the process of trying to find the one right word to guide my year.

I’m a two on the Enneagram. That means I’m a giver, someone who spends most of their time trying to ingratiate others. The good side of a two is being helpful and selfless. The idea is to get better at being who you are. So I subscribe to an Enneathought of the Day. This came on New Year’s Eve.

Present has been my word before, but it continues to fit because being present is a constant goal. For 2019, my word was Grace. Grace goes beyond presence to actually live with the peace of knowing you are loved.

My word this year was suggested by my son-in-law who knows me pretty well. I wrote about Embrace in my Spiritual Thursday post yesterday.

I joined Michelle Haseltine’s #100DaysofNotebooking challenge and wrote about Embrace in my notebook. This challenge is not only a good way to restart a notebook practice, but it connects me to a new community of writers I can “embrace.”

I also received a serendipitous postcard from Irene Latham. The poem just makes me want to embrace her and embrace writing.

Writing in Winter by Irene Latham

Here is a second draft of my Embrace poem:

Embrace says yes to now,
holding on tight to this one moment
finding a heart full of love.

Embrace is a word of grace,
silently listening, open
for the world to fill.

Embrace is here for you
to welcome, knowing nothing
ever stays the same.

Embrace!

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

Do you choose a word? a resolution?

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