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Posts Tagged ‘Ethical ELA’

Poetry Friday round-up is here! Scroll down to add your link to Inlinkz.

Finding safe online spaces for writing is invaluable to me as a poet-teacher in a small Louisiana town. During the pandemic shut down of 2020, writing kept me sane and real and present. Sarah J. Donovan, Ph.D. directs the website for teacher-writers at Ethical ELA. She is assistant professor of secondary English education at Oklahoma State University where she turned the writing we did during April 2020 into an oral history project.

With the help of colleagues, each volunteer was interviewed through a Zoom meeting and our contributed poems have been curated into a collection entitled Bridge the Distance, Teacher-Poets Writing to Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems. You can click the link to read the manuscript or order a hard copy.

I ordered a copy. No one profits from the sale of this anthology; you are paying printing costs only. I wanted to have this collection in hand to read and use with my students as mentor texts.

order on Amazon

My contributed poems can be read here:

The Duplex of Virtual Teaching.

Magic Bean

Eight Reasons to Take a Walk on Sunday Morning

8. Bells chime a call to worship
to empty pews echoing the song of trees.

7. I’m sorry I keep taking the same path,
the same images do not grow weary of me noticing.

I pick gardenias from CeCe’s side yard.
If she came out, she wouldn’t mind.

6. I stop by Anne’s to view her century plant as it reaches
skyward. A century plant waits 25 years to blooming,
blooming only once in a lifetime. A lifetime
I took for granted only weeks ago.

5. I can take my time.
No one will call to check on me.

I’ll check the feeders:
the hummingbirds like sweet water.

I’ll get to it in time.

4. I walk and walk
wondering if it will always be this way.

Hollow bells pealing for no one.

No one venturing out to see anyone.

3. It may rain tomorrow. Today,
the sun shines, the birds sing,
and I don’t have to join the chorus.

I’ll keep singing to myself.

2. A link was sent by email
to a video church service, one priest, one reader.

The organist plays
as though the cathedral is full.

Full feels scary now.
Full carries weight.
Who wants to be full?

1. I close this book,
heat another cup of tea,
and find my shoes,
find my way,
fill my day,
and perhaps…

Bloom!

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved
Bridge the Distance, 2021

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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.

Last weekend with grandkids in tow, my daughters and I traveled to Mississippi to see my parents. Mom celebrated her 85th birthday on Friday. We had an amazing dinner together, all four generations.

Pop with great grandchild, Stella, 6 months.

Over at Ethical ELA, it’s Open Write time. Denise Krebs posted a prompt that pushed me to write a poem for my father. Her poem prompt was based on Langston Hughes’s poem I Dream a World.

He Dreams a World
(for my father, John Gibson)

He dreamed a world where hope
would be our North Star guide,
a world where we could care,
embrace each other’s side.

But dreams read daily news
on print as small as stars.
His weathered hands held fast
so futures could be ours.

Today he watches them
and wonders where they’ll go,
more treasures to be found
and promises of hope.

Margaret Simon, after Langston Hughes
John Gibson, Pop, watches toddler artists Leo and Thomas.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Matt at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme.

This week I was humbled and surprised to have one of Sylvia Vardell’s students create an amazing poem video of Zen Tree from Hop to It: Poems to Get You Moving. Garrett’s soothing voice, the calm music, and the amazing images all came together to show something beautiful. I am honored by this creative expression of my words. Thanks to Sylvia for organizing the project with her students. See more at Poetry for Children.

Michelle Schaub has been posting poetry videos all month on her blog Poetry Boost. My video of “Peep Eye” was featured this week.

Michelle Kogan finished up the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem with a final line as well as a delightful illustration. The poem will be archived here.

I’ve been writing poems each day in response to prompts on Ethical ELA. I share these prompts with my students. On Wednesday, I struggled over the prompt. I shared the struggle with Chloe. She started writing me notes with topic suggestions. One of these notes said, “Me.” Then the pen flowed.

Fifth Grade

She comes in the room
with an attitude
that testy mood
of preteen silliness
and suggests I write a poem
about her. 

As if I know her well enough
to write her down in words.

What I know is she grins loudly in braces.
She writes notes on paper
and crumples them like the crunch
of a chip bag in the trash–
Schwoop! Perfect shot! 

But this poem will not be a perfect shot. 
There are no shots left on her page
of excuses–the “not my fault”
dissolves into “I just can’t.”

I wonder aloud “When will you believe in yourself?”
When did I believe in myself?
Have I ever?

This poem can’t end like this.
I must write something encouraging
to make all this white space worth it.

This I know…she’s worth it! 

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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

On Ethical ELA this month, teachers and authors are offering intriguing poetry writing prompts. Padma Venkatraman wrote on April 14th that she has created a team of authors dedicated to diverse verse: “Diverse Verse is a website and a resource for educators and diverse poets and verse novelists.” This week they launched using the hashtags #DiverseVerse and #AuthorsTakeAction.

Padma invited teacher/writers to write a 4 lined rhymed stanza beginning with “Hope is.” I thought of how I made origami cranes last summer and organized a gathering of cranes to hang downtown. My first draft of this poem was this:

Hope is an origami crane
hanging in a tree
twisting with the wind
longing to be free.

Draft #1

In the comments, someone pointed out the words hanging, twisting, longing. “There is beauty but also struggle with “hanging”, “twisting”, “longing”. Much truth here.” A positive comment, I know, but I wanted to revisit the verse and see if I could make more of a connection from the hands creating the crane to the idea of peace. This is my next attempt with a line from Chloe, “Is perfection too much?” We’ve tried origami together. She pointed out how our attempts are imperfect at best, but we keep trying. Like hope. Like peace. It’s in the attempts, not the perfection.

Chloe wrote a verse, too. She received a comment from Padma herself and was thrilled.

Would you like to try to weave a metaphor about hope? Share one in the comments.

Photo by Prashant Gautam on Pexels.com

Hope is space between the clouds

the light shining through

the sun’s smiling face

who knew?

Chloe, 5th grade

Our Kidlit Progressive poem is rolling along nicely. Check out the next line choices today with Janice at Salt City Verse.

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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.

I’m inviting you to find inspiration today at Ethical ELA. I wrote the guest prompt of the day for National Poetry Month. My inspiration came from a National Geographic email that I subscribe to. In the newsletter, there were selected photographs chronicling the pandemic across the world. I chose to write about a photograph of undocumented workers making masks.

Writing to photographs is inspirational as there are so many ways to approach the task. With students you can ask questions that lead them to wonder and response. Who do you see? What do you think you know? What can you discover?

Building a sense of empathy is vital in our world today. Finding a world view can open up empathy. Consider joining the community at Ethical ELA and writing a poem in response to a photograph.

Undocumented

“How can you say we don’t belong here
when we are working so hard
to heal this country’s communities right now?” Veronica Velasquez

I think of the mask makers,
side-by-side on an assembly line
cutting, threading, sewing
white cloth
To keep us safe
while they live
in the shadow
in plain sight,
essential now.

Belong
or don’t belong?
Our survival
depends on
their survival.
Undocumented
saviors.

Margaret Simon
Photo by SKYTONER on Pexels.com

The Progressive Poem is moving along. Check on it today with Jan at Book Seed Studio.

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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.

I discovered Ethical ELA a year ago. This community has been such a blessing to my writing life. Today begins another 5 day open write and the prompt is from Kim Johnson. I highly recommend you check it out. It’s another community, like TWT, that supports a writing life of teachers with encouragement.

A year ago today, life suddenly changed. At first none of us believed that the virus would shut us down for more than a year and take so many lives. But my memory doesn’t go there. My memory of last March was a quiet announcement, a budding new life, my granddaughter (who is now a smily, healthy 3 month old). My daughter had a miscarriage before having two beautiful healthy births. That loss clouded her joy over a positive pregnancy test. This is the memory that rises for me today. This is what I wrote for the Ethical ELA prompt, still very drafty.

Impending

On a March wind,
a virus swirls
much like an impending hurricane.
After my morning walk
and weeding, coffee in hand,
my phone vibrates.
Her voice, shaking, quiet,
“I’m pregnant.”
No ultrasound photo wrapped like a birthday present.
“I don’t know if it’ll take.”
New life is fragile
like the wildflowers, newly budding, blowing.
Gripping the phone, tears welling,
I am inwardly in prayer, fervent and furious.
Calmly, with a mother’s voice,
I say, “Congratulations.”

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

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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.

This month’s Ethical ELA Open Write began this weekend. Jennifer Guyor-Jowett led us in writing prompts. On Sunday, she asked us to consider a journey. See the full prompt here. I spent Saturday walking our neighborhood with my 2 year old grandson, Leo. It was a journey of discovery.

A walk with a two year old
is a journey of discovery.
Take the wagon with you.
Pose with your nose in the air
like the reindeer on the lawn next door.
Pick up sticks, a few gumballs, fall leaves.
Stir with a stick–“Cooking bumbo” like Da Da.
Smile when Mr. Jim waves through the window.
You will never get lost.
There’s always a hand to hold.

Margaret Simon, draft
Leo reached up and said, “Hand.” I turned around to see this. My husband, Jeff, known as “Papére” hand in hand with Leo. My heart melted.
At five in the morning, Leo asked to paint. With a set of dot paints and glue stick, he created this masterpiece.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance.

Earlier this week, Sarah Donovan once again invited teacher-writers to join an Open Write. One of her brilliant inspirations came from this poem by Joseph Bruchac. I am so grateful for my daughters, the oldest of whom will soon deliver a daughter of her own. I am pleased with how the simple form worked to express the connection I feel.

Expectant

When I place
my fingers
on the swell
of her womb,


like combing waves in an ocean
softly lapping 
to shore,


her skin
gently moves


as our time
ebbs & flows
mother to daughter
to daughter
together
in our own sea. 

Margaret Simon, 2020
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

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Slice of Life: Magic Wand

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

This is the week of five days of open writing with Ethical ELA. Sarah Donovan has created a safe place for teacher-writers to “play” with poetry. One of her prompts this week asked us to consider what we give. Along with many of you, I give instruction for writing every day, but it’s not every day that I witness success. But when I do, I find Joy. This poem celebrates all teachers who wave their wands every day, whether or not there is magic inside.

Magic Bean

How a writer is made
some think comes from a magic bean–
it just is
this writer can’t help but write & write,
but I know better.

I know a writer comes from the magic wand
of a teacher who told her
she was.

A teacher finds magic
in the light of a child’s words,
rubs the lantern again & again.
She knows the power of waiting,
of how a seed of an idea
can sprout
if you give it
nourishment
& time.

I love most
the smile of realization
“Wow! I wrote that!”
Pride from my wishing
which, in the end,
is me working magic,
still unknown,
still a mystery. 

Margaret Simon

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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.

Temperatures are high in these parts, and the virus doesn’t care. I haven’t seen my parents in person since Christmas. My mother sent me a Portal that works like Facetime through Facebook Messenger. The screen props up on the counter in the kitchen. Every time Leo (20 months) comes over, he points to it and says “Pop!” That’s my dad. That’s how he knows them, through the Portal.

My father has not been big on social media, but in the last month, he’s posting almost daily reports, “Reports from an independent retirement home.” They have been on lockdown for two weeks and were finally released on Saturday (Covid tests negative) to go downstairs for meals again. Here is one of my dad’s posts.

What does one look forward to when you are in quarantine? It’s different I imagine for everyone. As days go by, the options diminish. It gets down to such things as the next nap, the next meal, the next unexpected package, even the mail. Then there’s TV, which ends up being a search for the never found good program. My solace is a good book, which often ends up being the next nap. And so the circle goes on and on. The challenge becomes the acknowledgment that where you are is where you are and you’d better adjust to it. Part of the adjustment is to occasionally posting my thoughts. I hope you don’t mind.

John Gibson

Dad doesn’t know it, but I’m collecting his posts. I started doing this thinking I’d make a found poem, but now I like the way they speak themselves, full of his unique voice.

Andy Schoenborn posted the #OpenWrite prompt on Monday’s Ethical ELA. (Click the link to see the full prompt and read some amazing poetic responses.) Here is my poem draft:

My dog, Charlie

Weather Report

The dog lies at my feet
on the cold floor because
Heat is unbearable at 91
in dog years, the age of Mac
in human years, when the virus
took him.

Heat doesn’t care
if you are young or old
or if you have people
who love you. I see my parents
through a screen.
Their weather changes daily
with temperature checks, sticks up the nose.
(It was reported that my dad yelled from the pain.)
Funny
if we didn’t care so much
about isolation, the comfort
of a friend to eat ice cream with.

Hurricanes come in late summer
when we’ve let our guard down,
when masks fall to our chins,
when we just want to hug
because another person, human,
grandmother, friend has died.

The weather channel
broadcasts
24 hours
a map covered in red.

Margaret Simon, draft

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