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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’

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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I’m excited to hear from Tabatha that Imperfect II is almost here. I have a few small poems included. The anthology is ready for pre-order here. The blog for this book is here.

Hardcover for Imperfect II

My blog is featured on Twinkl as a Top 10+ poetry blog for children.

The Kidlit Progressive Poem begins on April 1st. The schedule is ready to go. Irene Latham starts us off. I can’t wait!

Click here to copy and paste the Kidlit Progressive Poem schedule.

I won a copy of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book If This Bird Had Pockets, released March 1st. Amy is one of my favorite poets and people. Her poetry makes me smile. It’s accessible to children and is just plain fun!

Personal signature on the title page of If This Bird Had Pockets

Many poets take on a poem-a-day project during National Poetry Month. I haven’t decided yet if I am creating one or just following along with someone else. What are your plans for celebrating National Poetry Month?

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Last Wednesday I invited Mary Lee Hahn to teach my class. She is a retired 5th grade teacher in Ohio. Her poem Riches is the first poem in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s invaluable teacher resource Poems are Teachers. I wanted to share Mary Lee’s poem with my students and when I emailed her, she agreed to meet with my students. The marvel of technology makes author visits reasonable, practical, and possible.

Mary Lee wrote Riches about a photograph. She told us that the bird bath had frozen over with a myriad of leaves in it. Her husband removed the slab of ice and placed it in the sun, and she photograph it. The play of light in the ice attracted her eye and her poetic self.

Riches by Mary Lee Hahn

Mary Lee talked to my students about all the things that she thought about when she wrote the poem. She included thoughts from a book she was reading as well as loving thoughts about her husband, how he sees things that she doesn’t notice.

Today, I invite you to sit with all that is in your head alongside this photo. What surfaces for you? Write a small poem in the comments or on Facebook or on your own blog (or all three!). Be sure to encourage other writers with comments.

My student Avalyn (2nd grade) came to class today and performed for me a poem she had heard on TicTok. At first I wasn’t really paying attention, but as she spoke on, I was drawn in. She memorized Brown Eyes by Nadia McGhee. The line that was in my head when I composed my poem is “Your eyes carry earthquakes that bring mountains to their knees.”

Your eyes
like the brown of a leaf in winter
glimmer in the sunlight
and smile at me
when you say,
“I love this poem!”

Margaret Simon, draft

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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.

Through blogging communities like this one (Slice of Life) and Poetry Friday, I’ve met many mentors for writing. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is one of those special teacher-poets who generously gives of herself. During the pandemic shut down, she recorded videos in Betsy, her writing camper, every day. These can be found on her YouTube channel. Last year she went back to teaching, so she didn’t blog as much. Boy, did we miss her voice in cyberspace!

But she’s back and each week on Friday, she posts a mentor poem on The Poem Farm with student-friendly (and adult-friendly) instructions for writing your own poem. This past Friday, her poem came up on my Instagram and was just right for our writing time.

Crocheted wool hat by Margaret Simon

One of our kindergarten teachers is having a baby, so I crocheted a little hat for her new child. This was on my mind when I wrote alongside my students. I gifted the poem to Miss Heidi along with the hat.

The Wool Hat

after Amy Ludwig VanDerwater “Circles”

When sheep’s wool
becomes yarn
becomes crochet
becomes hat,
a newborn baby’s head
holds a sheep,
yarn,
hands,
needle,
warmth,
and I wonder
how prayers
offered for a stranger
growing inside a friend
becomes a child
wearing a hat
passed on
from sheep to hand
to heart
to warmth
to love.

Margaret Simon

Jaden, 6th grade, has started a new trend when he writes his gratitude poem. If he makes a mistake, he turns it into a picture. I noticed his little designs and complimented him. He said, “Oh, I made those dots and stars because I messed up.” That sounds like a poem to me. And so he turned his mistakes into stars into a poem.

Recycle Poem

Old mistakes
become rainbows
and new designs
old mistakes 
become new inspirations 
when I look at the designs
will I remember the old mistakes? 
will I think of new ideas?
shapes like stars and squares?
or something new?
what will the new mistakes become?

Jaden, 6th grade

One of the fourth grade teachers is raising monarchs. Katie was inspired by this and wrote her circle poem about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Life Cycle Poem

Out of a small egg
comes a small, slimy, bean.
A bean that squirms
and grows and grows.
Grows into a small
chrysalis where it stays for a while
until it’s ready to fly.
Fly into the real world
with beautiful, colored, wings
and to reproduce
another small egg.

Katie, 6th grade
Monarch hatchling by Margaret Simon

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

Every week I am delighted to visit The Poem Farm. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posts a poem and a student writing activity. A few weeks ago, I borrowed this post, The Real Me, and wrote I am poems with my students.

My students loved the activity. Many of them chose to post their poems on our kidblog site. I invited Amy to write comments. You should have heard them reading aloud their personalized comments; the pride in their voices made my heart sing. Amy has a talent for connecting to kids and finding just the right words to say. Thanks, Amy.

I wrote alongside my students. I put together my favorite lines to create this poem:

I am a lionness
set in the stars,
that drumbeat
around a warm campfire.

I am a longing look
from a silent child,
a melody strummed
on his guitar.

I am a secret
scratched on a yellow sticky note.
Don’t tell anyone
who I am.

Margaret Simon, after Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

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

 

What a thrill to be a part of this amazing collection of poems from all over our great country!  This honor was made possible by the connections I’ve made in Poetry Friday.  Because Amy Ludwig VanDerwater knows me, when J. Patrick Lewis was looking for a Louisiana children’s poet, she connected us.  The poem I wrote, “Louisiana Bayou Song” became the title poem of my first poetry book published by UL Press this summer.

I also know many of the poets included in the collection, and if you read more Poetry Friday posts, you will find them, too.  Today, Buffy Silverman’s post includes 4 poems from the book.  Last week, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted her poem “A Note from the Trail.”

Here’s Linda Kulp Trout’s poem about Helen Keller.  And Mary Lee has two poems included. Robyn Hood Black shared her poem, “Mural Compass.” If I find more, I will add the links into this post.

My poem sits on a two page spread that includes an amazing heron photograph and a heart-wrenching Katrina poem by the anthologist J. Patrick Lewis.  I feel I am sitting among my poet-heroes.

 

Louisiana Bayou Song

Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound.

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Margaret Simon (c)

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

 

Students proudly read their poems to Amy VanDerwater.

My students and I spent the month of April glued to The Poem Farm.  What would Orion’s adventure be today?  What technique was Ms. Amy VanDerwater teaching us?

After a month of writing poems, we couldn’t wait to meet Amy in person, virtually. Before any question was asked, Amy asked my students to share poems that they had written.  The pride! The joy! And her amazing responses!

Amy talked about her writing process, showed us her messy notebook pages, and gave us wonderful advice for writing.

Mason asked her how to write rhyming poems.  She gave us all a wonderful lesson on rhyming.  You can use rhymezone or a rhyming dictionary, she explained.  Then she showed us a notebook page where she had written the alphabet.  She works through the alphabet to try to find a rhyming word with the meaning she wants to convey.  She emphasized that the meaning is most important, so if you can’t find a word to rhyme, try a synonym.  After our Skype visit, Mason immediately wrote a poem using the techniques she had taught.

I am holding onto Amy’s advice for my own writing as well.  She talked about how she wrote a sonnet, a form that I have yet to try.  But now I think I will.  Somehow, Amy makes me feel more brave about writing poetry.

One of her last pieces of wisdom came from a poem she read aloud to us.  Her reading was as if she were cavemom and we were here cavechildren whom she was telling to write so our writing will live on.

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

April is National Poetry Month, and even though I believe poetry has a place in the classroom every day, I love this month of focus and attention to the craft of writing. After writing every day for the March Slice of Life Challenge, my students breathe a sigh of relief when I say they only have to post three poems each week. Poetry doesn’t come with the 250 word count minimum. Poetry isn’t about word count. Poetry celebrates voice, choice, and word play.

In my class we’ve been following Amy VanDerwater’s adventures with Orion. She’s writing a poem every day using the topic of Orion. We all have such admiration for her. Sticking to one topic and one that is rather obscure, like a constellation, is pretty amazing. My students are noticing how Amy likes to rhyme, so they are trying it, too. They are noticing more than the structure-of-the-day. Amy is a co-teacher this month, and in a world in which we teachers feel isolated, that is a comfort.

I write alongside my students. Some prompts work for me and some don’t. They watch me and know that they will not catch a good poem every day, but the point is to keep throwing the line back in.

One of the prompts this week was a poem of address. I wrote a poem to my students.

Dear Students,

You’ve written poems every day.
You’ve tried out words in every way.

Metaphor
Simile
Onomatopoeia

Compound words
Imagination
I’m so proud to see ya’

Active as a writer
discovering your voice.

Filling pages begin to end
with topics of your choice.

Keep the faith
as you go forth
to be who you will be;

Writing is a place
that’s safe
to reach for your best me.

–Margaret Simon © 2018

In my ELA classes, my students have been reading books about the Holocaust and creating book talks around them. Jacob, as most of my students, has been affected by the emotion of the devastation and tragedy. He was stuck for a topic for his poem of address, so I suggested writing a letter to Hitler. That was all the nudge he needed.

Poem of Address to Hitler

Did anyone tell you
that you are horrible?
Have you any clue?
You used to be unstoppable.

We’ve all hated you
for many years to come.
You’ve killed us, gave us the flu.
What have you become?

What made you become evil?
Why did you blame the Jews?
Everything you did was illegal.
I’ll give you 1 star in my reviews.

by Jacob, 4th grade

Austin is a 6th grader who is reading Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, and he loves basketball. I think in this poem, he has voice.  I also love that poetry gives him a way to express who he is.  His poem of address is to Stephen Curry.  I had to Google him.  He’s a basketball player, of course.

Dear Curry,

Your shot is flawless
your handles are tight
and your hops are all right.

You’re a 6’4 shooting machine.
I’m a 5’0 spectator.
I watch you cook
and the way you look.
You been hurt for a little minute
so you might have a limit.

You hardly ever pout
but Anthony Davis says he is going
to dunk on you
without a doubt.

Austin, 6th grade

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

On Sunday I posted about using jeweler’s loupes with my students in science and writing poems.  I felt a little guilty writing poems in science class, like that was somehow not allowed.  But my friend and slicer Dani Burtsfield posted a link to a podcast in her comment.  The podcast from Heinemann featured Amy Ludwig VanDerwater talking with authors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz about science and poetry.

Amy asks, “Is a poem a system?”

She continues, “”Do you feel if a poem is a system … is the reader’s intent and background, when a reader comes to a poem, is that energy that flows through that system?”

Later, Amy brings up genre study. “one of the things I see that happens with writing is that … sometimes writing is divided up into these little genres, and we do this for a few weeks, we do this for a few weeks, and we do this for a few weeks. But what gets lost, and what can get lost, is the bigger idea of how to notice these patterns. How to see how interlocking pieces of words work together in a text beyond genre, like transcending, flying over genre.”

Amy’s ideas led me to my lesson today with my science kids.  I wanted to use the patterns of poetry to notice the patterns in science, to fly over genre.

We were using jeweler’s loupes to look at plants, but today we were looking closely at mold.  Last week we set up mold terrariums using ziplock bags and a slice of bread and apple.  Following the weekend, guess what grew?  Yucky mold!

Mold on an apple

“What does the mold remind you of?”

“An old man’s beard.”

“Whipped cream!”

“Let’s write a poem about it.”

Moldy Poem

Mold is growing on our food.
We know it’s made of spores.
Now it looks like
an old man’s beard,
white and green like sour cream.

Mold is creeping like a fox
preying on a squirrel.
Decomposing apples and bread
like bacteria in my mouth.
A marshmallow made of spores.

Writing this poem helped solidify some science concepts through discussion and creativity, observation and discovery. I think we’ll write poems in science more often. Thanks, Amy, Valerie, and Mark for permission.

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Click over to Steps & Staircases for more Poetry Friday.

 

Inspired by Project 1,2,3 originated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and continued by her daughter, Lisa challenged us to make a metaphorical poem from an object/image.  Many of us took the challenge.  To see more poems, click over to Lisa’s blog to read more posts.

I brought this idea to my students and combined it with a lesson from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book Poems are Teachers, “Make Metaphors” on page 136. We looked at model poems and talked about how an object can become a metaphor.  In one class, I passed around a paintbrush and said, “A paintbrush is…”  In another, I blew bubbles and said, “Bubbles are like…”  Each of these inspired beautiful responses from my kiddos.

  • A paintbrush is your imagination.
  • A paintbrush paints your path.
  • Bubbles are sparkling rainbows.
  • Bubbles are in orbit flying around Saturn.

As I wrote with my students, I grabbed a pink marker and made three swirls on my paper.  Back at home with a little time to craft (snow day!), I cut and pasted pink swirls in an art journal.  Thanks, Lisa, for the fun prompt.

 

Swirl of pink
sparkle-sky
diamond bright
stars of night

Swirl of pink
puffy parting clouds
play peek-a-boo
with the sun

Swirl of pink
licky-lick
sticky-lip
lollipop

–Margaret Simon, 2017

 

Chloe’s Bubble poem

Trace’s pink paintbrush poem

Austin’s wooden flute poem

Lynzee’s angel poem

After we wrote and shared our poems, Andrew had an idea.  “Why don’t we take a line from each of our poems and make a new poem?”  Sounds like a great idea.  Here’s the resulting poem.

To dream it, all you have to do is start.

Don’t erase yourself from the real world.
Paint your true colors.

There is no fright.
Not to lose but to gain.

Flying high above
a swirl of pink puffy parting cloud,

The sea is my world.
The sand is my happiness.

–Caneview GT Allstars

 

 

 

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