Posts Tagged ‘Ethical ELA’

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Ruth at There is no Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town.

This has been an April full of poetry. In between the dreaded test prep, I have offered my students poetry breaks. I pulled out all of my poetry books and let them dig in. We also wrote some poetry. My students, when they hear the word poetry, breathe a sigh of relief and joy. I am lucky they are young and haven’t been stained by the bee that says poetry is hard.

We’ve watched a few of Allan Wolf’s Poetry Month videos. They are all on YouTube. It’s like having him visit my classroom with all his humor, antics, and natural Po-Love. My students loved watching him juggle while teaching them about dactyl meter. Sadie, 4th grade, is writing her own poems using dactyl meter.

My emotional bees

Make me want to have pet fleas!

My emotional bees

They just never seem to ease!

Sadie, 4th grade

My third grade student, Avalyn was drawn in by Marilyn Singer’s reverso poems in Mirror, Mirror and Follow, Follow. I sent Marilyn a message on Instagram, and she sent us a “Tips for Writing Reverso Poems.” Avalyn borrowed a few lines and created a poem of her own. We discovered reversos are really hard to write well.

Very pleasant,
happily ever after.
Luggage is packed.
You sob.
Nobody is there.

Nobody is there,
you sob.
Luggage is packed.
Happily ever after,
very pleasant.

Avalyn, 3rd grade

Each week I present This Photo Wants to be a Poem on my blog and with my students on Fanschool. You can see their Prime Number Haikus this week at this link by clicking on the comment button at the bottom of the page.

Prime Number Haiku

Grows great and strong but
Will not stay for very long
You try to win but you will pop very soon

Adelyn, 4th grade

April has been a wonderful month of poetry. Thanks to all of our Poetry Friday friends who have contributed to the Kidlit Progressive Poem which is still traveling, almost done. Today it’s at Karin Fisher-Golton.

I am keeping all of my daily poems in a slide show. Here’s my own Prime Number Haiku which was a prompt from Ethical ELA.

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This month, National Poetry Month 2023, I’ve been following the prompts on Ethical ELA, a virtual treasure of inspiration. But I keep writing about the same thing over and over. My father, my mother, my own role as a grandparent. I think when we write condensed lines, we push our deepest thoughts up to the surface. I’m trying to let that part of me flow where it wants (or needs) to flow. This week I’ve written two of these kinds of poems to #VerseLove. Prompts can be found here.

If you want to be a poet, I highly recommend joining in with #VerseLove. Just like the hashtag says, it’s all about love. Each day that I write, I feel wrapped in the arms of other writers, tenderly cared for. Putting your writing out there into the world is hard and intimidating. Finding a caring community is rare and special. Like the community of writers at Two Writing Teachers, the teachers at Ethical ELA have become my friends. I am grateful to all the writers there, especially the ones who seek out my writing amongst many and comment like wind beneath my wings.

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon.

I am saving my poems in a Google slide show which allows me to save each slide as an image and share it here. Above is a photo of my father and my granddaughter Stella in the summer of 2021.

Today’s Ethical ELA prompt was given by Jessica, a self-identifying cinquain.

I am a Grandmother

state of being
fertility startled
by faces of me reflected
in you.

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

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I’ve been participating in VerseLove over at Ethical ELA. Today, Fran Haley invited us to write a triolet. This is a form I find challenging because the repeated lines, while they should be easy, make it hard to create an original poem in which the flow doesn’t seemed forced.

I love nature and observing the intimacy of birds. Recently I witnessed a cardinal couple feeding. Such a sweet moment to see the male feeding the female. In case you are wondering, I intentionally changed the last line to play with metaphor.

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I am following #VerseLove at Ethical ELA. A few days ago the prompt was taken from a poem by Clint Smith (linked here). Spending time back in my home town of Jackson, MS always brings up memories. When I was 15, I spent my summer volunteering at a church sponsored camp for underprivileged children who were referred by their teachers as struggling readers. The experience launched me into a lifetime career of teaching. Do you remember why you became a teacher? or whatever your chosen career? Why do we make these choices in life? How do we know it’s the right choice? I’ve always known teaching was right for me.

Something You Should Know
after Clint Smith

I became a teacher the summer I turned 15,
volunteering for “Operation Life Enrichment”

We gathered the underprivileged children
from the dregs of Jackson Public Schools–
children struggling to read and know things
like zoo animals and swimming pools and reciting
the ABC song.

Their skin was the color of cafe ole,
smooth caffeine
that entered my veins in their hugs,
their fingers in my soft blonde hair.

I learned how to cradle their heads,
singing to them
the lyrical language
of picture books.

I knew then
as I know now
my passion, my calling, my purpose
is teaching.

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

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A little over a year ago, my grandson Leo, who was not quite 3 at the time, had a conversation with my daughter. He was sleepy and seemed to be recalling a dream about being bitten by a monster.

“He was sleeping,” recalled Leo.

“And he woke up and bit you?” Maggie inquired.

“Yeah, and it was bleedin’,” Leo said. Then he smiled and said, “You love bleedin?”

“Do I love bleedin’?” Maggie asked in a soothing voice.

“That’s rearry scary! And you might cry, too.”

The words “You love bleedin'” have remained since in our unofficial book of family lore.

Yesterday I had to go have a yearly blood test. Not my favorite thing, but I made it through, and the nurse was as nice as could be, but on the way to school, I thought about the Ethical ELA prompt. Stacey Joy had a wonderful post with links to beautiful words she encouraged us to try. I abandoned that part of the prompt and focused on creating a haiku sonnet in my notes app. Sometimes you just have to say what you want to say. And bleedin’ was on my brain.

Bleeding on the Page

I worry I can’t
do what other poets do
bleeding with deep love.

I gave blood today
opening my elbow for
piercing, dark red flow.

A tiny bruise dot
reminds me I’m human–
Blood tells a story.

Hemmingway says write,
it’s easy, open your veins
Bleed the words that flow.

So here I am sharing
my bloodsong with you.

Margaret Simon, #verselove 2023
Today’s post is part of the ongoing Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge at
Two Writing Teachers.
The Progressive Poem is with Buffy Silverman today.

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A collaborative calendar for NPM with Molly Hogan.

Happy National Poetry Month! I’m excited (and a little anxious) to start a new blog journey today. Last month I wrote a post every day in March for the annual Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. You’d think after 31 straight days, I’d be ready to stop. But the practice of writing gets better and in many ways easier the more you do it. I am joining a community of teachers, poets, and bloggers who commit to National Poetry Month.

For starters, take a look at the first line of this year’s Kidlit Progressive Poem with Mary Lee today. She is setting us off on a long road to an amazing collaborative feat, 30 days, 30 poets, 30 lines.

Suleika Jaouad has an email newsletter, The Isolation Journals, in which she prompted “The Open Palm.”

Your prompt for the week:

  1. Close your eyes, and slowly trace the outline of your non-dominant hand on a blank page. Take your time. Pay attention to the physical sensations. The sound of pen on page. The feel of paper against palm, pen between fingers. Surrender any illusions of control. Any attempt at getting it “right” or “perfect.”
  2. Write a creative intention inside your palm. Around it, begin writing things that will invite you back to your practice—encouraging words, activities that inspire you, different ways of approaching your intention, small steps to get you closer to your goal.
  3. Outside the hand: Allow yourself to daydream about what lies ahead. Write about where your intention could bring you. What it could help you discover. Record any new revelations and realizations, dreams or ideas that you want to carry forward.
  4. Reflect on what happened in your mind and in your body at each step of the process, and how that awareness can guide your creative path.
Suleika Jaouad
My Open Palm by Margaret Simon

This open palm feels like my opening up to this new month of writing daily, the practice of being open to what flows, without judgement, discovering the creativity that already lives in me. Thanks for being here. This haibun is from a prompt at VerseLove at Ethical ELA. I decided to abandon grammar rules and Flow.

Write, Just Write

Write fast she says without judgement keep the pen moving
across the page you can do this with one hand tied behind
your back standing on one leg let the flamingo in you blush
with delight until the timer stops ticking then rest breathe in
the feeling of success of soulsearching of secrets revealed
in your own abandon you are in charge here Be Be Be who
you want to be embrace her for she is yours forever.

Find a soft place
to land your soft body
sing yourself home.

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.
Rose Cappelli has the round up today at Imagine the Possibilities

Earlier this week I posted my Pile of Good Things Poem prompted by Stefanie Boutelier at Ethical ELA. Stef encouraged us to use technology and shared a design she made in Canva. I shared the prompt with my students on Monday. My little ones in 1st and 2nd could put together this idea for a poem. I am amazed at how easily they use technology at such an early age. Second grader James turned his pile into the shape of a tree.

I’ve been thinking about my pile of not so good things lately. You might say it’s a gripe poem, a pile of pet peeves.

My Pile of Peeves

Scent of cat pee
Anxiety at 3 AM
Morning cafeteria duty
When I’ve lost something
Hitting Send before proofing
A colleague diagnosed with cancer
An unconsolable child weeping over a mistake
The sound of my alarm when I’m actually sleeping
In carpool line, putting a student back into a toxic environment
The big white truck with extra tires passing me to make a right turn from the left lane.

Margaret Simon, ongoing draft depends upon the day

The Kidlit Progressive Poem schedule for April is full. You can copy and paste the code found on this post. Contact me by email if you have any questions.

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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.
Art by Leo, left, and Stella, right from “Let’s Make Art” activity at the Hilliard Museum.

On the campus of ULL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) there is a beautiful museum, The Hilliard. Saturday they held a drop in art activity for kids 4 and up. I showed up with Leo, 4, and Stella, 2, and they were the only children there. They had the full attention of the artist instructor.

I was amazed by the focus of both kids on this activity. From the flyers on the table, I realized it was meant to be a quilting activity. There were shapes cut out of various papers. However, Leo immediately grabbed the scissors and started cutting the shapes to his liking and building a 3 dimensional motorcycle. I glued it down for him on the white “quilt piece,” and he continued to add to it a winner’s banner and a man riding (notice the skinny yellow strip sitting on the motorcycle.)

Stella was happy enough to glue and glue and glue. The artist taught her how to put the glue on the back and turn the paper over and press it down. We were also able to freely roam the current art exhibits. It was a great way to spend a rainy cold Saturday morning.

Today, at Ethical ELA Open Write, Stefanie Boutelier is teaching us how to use technology in poetry with a wonderful prompt and model poem “A Pile of Good Things”. You should follow the link and see what it’s all about. Here is my pile:

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Poetry Friday gathering is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Every year around the date of October 20th, the National Writing Project announces the Day on Writing along with the prompt, “Why I Write.” I avoid this question, mostly because it intimidates me. Who am I to say I am a writer? If I make that claim, will I be magically transported to the land of authors? Do I belong? Will I meet the standard? I’d rather stay in the closet. It’s easier to claim to be a teacher, a profession that has degrees behind it, credibility, and many years of service.

The problem is I want to write. I want to share my words with you. I want to connect with you through writing. The value in that connection is gold.

In my email inbox, I receive endless blogs and poems to read. I hesitate to delete them, so they build up, and the whole thing becomes unmanageable. However, I never know what may inspire me to write. One reliable set of prompts for me are Ethical ELA’s monthly Open Write. Each month we write together for 5 days. The prompts are written by people like me who juggle teaching and writing every day.

This last week Carolina Lopez drew inspiration from Richard Blanco’s poem “Since Unfinished,” asking us to steal his first line and write. “I’ve been writing this since…”

When we get right down to it, writing makes us ultimately vulnerable. If we are true to ourselves, we put our feelings all out there. This poem structure led me to more memories of my father.

Since You’ve Been Gone

I’ve been writing this since
I learned to walk
holding onto your pointer finger
since driving the circular block
hearing you warn “turn signal”
“stop sign”
“slow down.”

I’ve been writing this since “slow down”
meant thinking, means remembering,
meant crying when I reach for the phone
to call you with the news.

I’ve been writing this since
you pointed to the clock
(after your stroke) to remind us
to get Mom back for lunch.

I’ve been writing this since
I held your dying hand
your pointer finger blue and bruised
no longer pointing me
in the right direction.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Rose at Imagine the Possibilities.

The Open Write over at Ethical ELA was happening this week. I participated for a few days. On Saturday, Denise Krebs offered this writing prompt: write an ode to a childhood love. I thought about my diary from 1975 which I still have tucked away in my closet. It’s something of a miracle that I still have it because my childhood home was flooded in 1979. I’m not sure how this diary escaped.

Time was that when I looked at my diary, all I could see was the struggling teenager, flip-flopping from I like Robby to I like Bobby. I had tucked slips of paper into the diary, notes from friends and poems. Yes, poems.

Today I’m trying a different perspective of my younger self. I am thinking more kindly toward her. She was developing, in the process of becoming. No one is perfect when they are 14. Actually, I am not perfect now. We are constantly in a period of discovery about who we are, who and what we love. I think this diary may hold a precious girl, one in need of love.

“One Year Diary” circa 1975

“One Year Diary”

Golden pages
wrapped in a keyless lock,
you locked away all my dreams
and screams for truth and understanding.

I was standing at the threshold of who I am.
You honored the me I was
with timeless sanctity.

Notes and poems tucked in
like folds of a blanket, nestling
moments I wanted to keep (and forget.)

Cursive swirls and exaggerated tittles,
my fourteen year old soul remains
buried here.

Margaret Simon, draft

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