Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Join the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts at Karen’s blog.

Today is the beginning. Each day is, I suppose, but today begins National Poetry Month, my favorite month of the year. The KidLit Progressive Poem is off to a wonderful spinning start with Kat Apel.

It’s Maundy Thursday in another strange Holy Week. Thankfully, the 4 person choir at my church is gathering again and singing (masked) from the loft. Maundy Thursday music is my favorite. Feels holier. Foreshadowing death to resurrection. The solemn act of foot washing reminds us of Jesus’ servanthood and love. We are not quite to resurrection from the pandemic yet, but having had my vaccine, I am feeling a sense of relief and new beginnings.

The first three months of this year I read The Artist’s Way and met weekly with a group on Zoom. Our last meeting on Tuesday night felt sacred. We each shared a creative work. Creativity makes us human and vulnerable, but also celebratory and worthy. One of the tasks from the author Julia Cameron was to write an artist’s prayer. I didn’t write one yet. Jone inspired me when she shared hers. She included her past One Little Words into her prayer. My words are reach, open, presence, grace, explore, cherish, embrace, inspire.

Dear Great Creator,

I am here today
to be an instrument of your work
to explore your world with curiosity, to open myself
to your creativity. I trust your hand
will reach for mine,
guide my pen to something new.
May I be present in this day, embrace nature,
follow the contrail of your vision for me.

May I be filled with grace
so to bless others with my offering,
May I nurture the child within,
accept her imperfections and needs,
cherish her with love and devotion.
Help me to know I am not alone.
By your side, I can be inspired
to breathe your spirit
into each day.

Margaret Simon, always in draft
Bridal wreath, photo by Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan..

The Christmas rush has finally settled, and Charlie and I have found solace in the sofa with warm fleece blankets, a cup of tea, and a guilty pleasure rom com on Netflix. I needed this day of rest.

I did spend some time catching up on Cybils reading and doing laundry. There’s always laundry. But for the most part, I’ve taken it easy.

Thinking ahead to the new year coming, I love the idea that there is space for seeds to grow. On the Smack Dab in the Middle blogspot, Deb Calhoun wrote:

“Two days past winter solstice, when the days inch longer and the nights shorter, this is the time when imagination reignites. All that has been hidden, sleeping and growing in the dark Underland, begins to emerge. Tendrils of light shoot up like tiny seedlings poking their heads from the dark. They find light and see what the wind says.”

Deb Calhoun

Deb suggests we pay attention to the budding of imagination and creativity. Whenever I have the time to relax, I feel the energy of creativity. I wish I could cultivate it every day, but when lessons have to be made and the house has to be ready, I get weary and unimaginative.

Today I am off to visit my parents in Mississippi, but before this winter school break ends, I hope I find another day to rest and wait for new ideas to germinate.

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Over at Smack Dab in the Middle, the authors are sharing gifts.  Nancy Cavanaugh wants to give the gift of wasteful time.  Recently, I’ve seen more written about how when we let ourselves play around, be present, waste time, we become more creative and are better able to handle difficult problem solving. As time draws nearer to the holiday break, I am craving this down time.

I want open space
place for wasteful squandering
permission to be…

(c) Margaret Simon


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Spiritual Journey framed

I thought I might give blogging a rest.  But in this wild world of social media, I have made connections.  Irene Latham is a poet/blogger and the kind of person I will do almost anything for.  She tweeted yesterday.

Here I am again because this is a subject I live with every day.
Be creative.
Be vulnerable.
These two walk together with me as I wander this writing terrain.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert speaks to me.  She writes for 272 pages about “Creative Living Beyond Fear.”  The reason this book has taken on such popularity is we are all battling this dualistic problem: creativity and fear.  On Goodreads, there are 333 quotes from Big Magic.  I could pick any one of them to make my point here.  That creativity and fear (or vulnerability) walk hand in hand.

With my students this week, I have been creating an altered book.  We have taken books that were discarded from the library for repurposing as a collection of writing from this school year.  For the most part, we’ve been making a mess.  But in the midst of the mess, creativity is evolving.

A favorite page using gel printed paper, collage, and a poem.

A favorite page using gel printed paper, collage, and a poem.

This is the freest I have felt about painting and creating in a long time.  I’m just doing it.  I don’t expect anyone but me to ever care about this book, so there is no fear.  And since I feel absolutely safe creating alongside my students, I am not vulnerable either.

When I write for others to read, the stakes become higher.  And yet, in this blog space, I have found a safety net.  I have a group of people I belong to.  I’ve gotten to know you by reading your blogs.  You know me, and you leave encouraging comments.  I may not know your face, dear reader, but I trust you.

Vulnerability is lessened by safety, community, and camaraderie.

Creativity breeds creativity.  Endeavoring to express yourself artistically whether with a paintbrush, a musical instrument, or a pen exposes you to failure.  Yet creating makes us human,  and creativity is meant to be shared.

flowing stream with quote

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.


I’m reading a new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I’m not sure where I read about this book.  I know Leigh Anne is reading it, and so is Catherine.  So here’s the thing: If there’s a group of us reading this book who want to chat, we could start a virtual book club.  We could chat in Voxer or Google Docs.  If you want to join in, email me at margaretsmn at gmail.

Four years ago I jumped into publishing and put out a middle-grade novel, Blessen.  At the time, I found an old diary that told me I’ve wanted to be an author all my life.   Notice my expectation as a teenager that maybe confidence came from someone else.

"I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!"

“I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!”

If growing up has taught me anything, it’s that confidence comes from courage that comes from your. own. self.  No one else can give it to you.

Elizabeth Gilbert says she lives in fear everyday.

Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to understand the distinction.

Fear will always show up when you are trying to be creative.  You can tell it to go away.  But it’s always there.  I love that this great author is telling me this.

I’ve grown to cherish this blogging space because I feel safe here.  Whoever you are, reading and leaving me kind comments, you are my angels.  You help me feel like my words are worthwhile and mean something.

Since my OLW is present, I am showing up.  I’ll listen for the muse, the magician, whatever his name is and answer with a yeah, ok, let’s do this crazy creative thing together.

Being present this past weekend, my husband and I visited Lake Martin for the sunset on the way to our dinner/ dancing date.  It was not the best of all sunsets.  I got my boots muddy.  But we showed up.  With a little magic from the lens and Picmonkey, I created an inspiring image.  On Sunday, I wrote a tanka for the image.  And I am sharing it here.  Kicking fear to the curb!  See ya!


Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I don’t think Sunday morning is the time to launch into a research project, but when I typed “Graphic Intelligence” into the title line, I wondered, “Is this a real thing?” A quick search in Google turned up a book with the title, “Graphic Intelligence: Possibilities for Assessment and Instruction” by Barrie Bennett. Looks like this is a book all about graphic organizers from the least complex to the most.

My use of the term is not related to graphic organizers. What I am questioning early this morning is the presence of an intelligence for graphics. Not the use of a graphic organizer. In my field of gifted education, I am always trying to think outside the box, away from constraints like graphic organizers and more toward creativity. Creative problem solving leads students to deeper thinking at a higher intelligence level. The revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy puts Creativity on the top rung. Create means to put elements together to form a coherent whole; reorganize into a new pattern or structure.

As I continue to explore writing about reading with an online group of teachers, I decided to try out using Canva to express my thoughts. Canva is a poster-making app. The site provides numurous images (many of which cost $1 to use). You can also upload your own image. I decided to use simple images and arrows. I don’t think my canva is a particulary brilliant construction, but I noted during the process that I had to synthesize my thoughts about the characters.

I could have used the well-used and time-tested Venn Diagram to compare the female characters. But if I give my students this tool, they don’t have to think beyond the comparison aspects. If I ask them to define characters in a new way using a graphic of their own making, I have now added the element of creativity to the assignment.

When I start working with my students in the next few weeks, I will show them the graphics I have made for response to reading. I hope to encourage and motivate them to try creative graphics to represent their thoughts about reading.

The female characters (1) copy

Please add your links to digital literacy posts with the button below:

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

computer lab

This week I coached a writing camp. Usually space is important to me. The space we met in and wrote in was an art space, open and inviting, with pieces of folk art all around. The space felt comfortable and inspiring, not the case with the computer lab.

The computer lab was like a cave, long and dark. The AC didn’t work well, so it was warm. However, none of this mattered because once the kids got online and logged into our kidblog site, the space became as quiet as a bee hive, everyone buzzing and busy writing and commenting. When I asked the students about their favorite part of camp, the blog was high on the list. Online space is important, too.

I have not focused this week on the Clmooc make #4. The instructions were: “For this make cycle, we invite you to document, analyze and reflect on the variety of systems that influence your life personally and/or professionally. Use your creativity to document an existing system, access your ingenuity to improve an existing system or use your imagination to develop a unique new system and design a novel way to explain it.”

I decided to go back to my inquiry question, “How can I create an environment for student writing that encourages individual expression while covering necessary benchmarks?” I realized that the very act of content standards and testing is a system. So I am essentially asking about how I can hack the system. But I have to begin with research. Look at this Piktochart created by Christy Ball.

passion projects

I am only on step three, doing the research. There is no rush here. Inquiry is like that. By its nature it’s slow and should be. If I rush into it, I risk losing focus and not valuing the question.

I started a padlet. Not much there yet. So far I am focusing on creativity. That is what I feel is most missing from standards and from testing. We are creating little boxes for students to fit in to. In reality, creativity is the thing that will lead to innovation and problem solving. How can I create a creative environment for my students? How can I value creativity and project-based learning while adhering to standards? Please inquire with me. You can add comments, write your own blog post, and/or add to the padlet.

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Join the roundup with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

Join the roundup with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.


I am staying true to my blog title and reflecting today. I discovered a student of mine has been writing acrostic poems.  Lani is new to my gifted class, in third grade, and works on math with me.  She knew the others were blogging for the month of March, and she wanted to join in.  Of course, I let her, and her mother welcomed the challenge by allowing her computer time at home to post.  With the crazy number of posts during March, I was not completely keeping up.  I thought I was until I saw this post from Lani from March 25th.

Since today is International Poetry Day for me… this is my poem…..

Hour long punishment
Expelled from school yesterday
Lectures from my mother
Practicality flunked sixth grade

My worst day ever
Everyone knows that I lied to get their attention

I hope that you liked my poem!!

This form intrigued me.  As I said, Lani is a third grader, and none of her lines were true to her, so I assumed that she was writing a novel in verse as a 6th grade character.  Here was another post from the same day.

Crazy unpredictable things have happened
Once I had a pig for supper
Maybe a dog would have tasted better

Inviting you is not a problem
Never a problem because I need a witness

All my relatives have not survived
Nor my family
Dad did not want to come in fearing that he will be finished

Sometimes I do not know how people can lie
Even if they are lying to themselves
Everyone thinks that I am lying and I am!!!

After reading this, I had to have a discussion with Lani.  I was wondering where she was getting her ideas from.  She didn’t have an explanation.  She just wanted to write poems, and she knew she was good at acrostic.  The only time she had written a poem with me was for Chalkabration, an acrostic about March.  I gave her loads of praise because it was a great poem.

I talked to Lani about her fictional character.  She made some notes in her notebook.  I encouraged her to keep it going.  Since this conversation, we have had disruptions with spring break and testing, so I hadn’t checked in with Lani.  These poems seem to get crazier and crazier.  Not everything makes sense, and yet, I think I have a creative writer on my hands.  I hope we can make time again to put aside the math book and write poems.  I love how she gives me credit for “coaching” her.

Ant=my brother
Reading maniac=my sister
Dare addict=my dad
Especially the hard ones
Sardines eater=my cousin
Tardy=my friends

Dummy=my other cousin
Arnold=my brother’s name
Extreme dare

Elapsed time:02 seconds
Ventriloquist people call me crazy (look at them!)
Even my mother! Listen to what she calls it!!!!
Ridiculous lying is what my mother calls it

This a poem for MY International Poetry Month. It took me a few days but I finally finished it. (with a little help from Mrs.Simon and some ”coaching”)

You can leave comments directly to Lani here.


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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Oh, how my students love Dot Day! Do you celebrate? Peter Reynolds is the brilliant creator of this amazing, phenomenal day. This year 1.7 million have registered to participate. That’s a lot of dots!

I wore my Dot Day skirt. We read The Dot (again) and watched The Dot video. This year a new song was released by Emily Dale. What a catchy tune! We sang along and kept singing as we made our dots. There is nothing more fun than painting on a Monday. My students experimented with mixing colors. They tried out new designs. Not one of them said they didn’t know what to draw. I love that about Dot Day. Vashti shows us that even a jab of a pencil is worthy.

You can still celebrate Dot Day. The official day is Sept. 15th but Peter tells us that it is Sept. 15th-ish. I say any day could be Dot Day. Make your mark. Make it matter.

Many resources are available on FableVision.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This morning I have weeded the flower bed, swept the floor, and made spinach balls for tonight’s poetry reading and book signing. I am sitting down now and enjoying the rest. I wasn’t going to do a Celebration Saturday post, but why not? I’m happy in my home and should celebrate that in itself.

Because it’s summer and because I like to connect with other educators, I signed up for the Making Learning Connected Community or #clmooc.
Of course, I already feel behind. I participated in the Twitter chat on Thursday night. It moved so fast. But I got a little encouragement about my first make: a How To. I also learned about some new tech tools that I am saving for tomorrow’s DigiLit Sunday post. The best part of any PD challenge such as this is the connection you make with other teachers and makers. (Julie Johnson is a blogger who is also doing the #clmooc challenge. Check out her blog post here.)

I believe that in order to teach my students to be brave in the tech world, I must be brave. Just do it, as they say.

I waited for inspiration. It came late yesterday evening after my dinner was cooked and cooling off. I thought “How to be water,” inspired by Laura Purdie Salas’ new book Water Can Be. I downloaded the Animoto app on my phone, made a video of my cat drinking from the faucet as she wants to do almost all the time, and uploaded water images. This was quick and satisfying.

Today I celebrate connecting and creating. Have a wonderful summer solstice day!

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