Posts Tagged ‘Kwame Alexander’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty..

I’ve been reading aloud Kwame Alexander’s Newbery Award winning book in verse, The Crossover. This is a great book to read aloud, but it’s also visually appealing.  I don’t think there is a name for this form of writing when the written words express the feeling of the word.  But my kids got it!  Such a fun way to write about sports.  Of course, I wrote about dancing.  Have some fun with the way the words look on the page, Kwame style!

Karate by Breighlynn, 3rd grade



I kick the ball

and watch it






we yell

cause that’s where it





I take a glance at my team

And realize we look like we’re from a meme

It’s up to me to save the Day

Cause if we don’t win

This is where our







will lay

I Kick

b           u             c               s

It          o            n              e

And I scream, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Will my team really loose?

Will they think we’re fools?


Jayden, 5th grade


by Margaret Simon, 2018

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

My summer has been full to the brim of this and that.

This: Hobnobbing with my fellow wizards at ALA conference over the weekend. I bought a floor pass only and quickly realized it was a bargain. I walked more than 3 miles each day back and forth through the exhibit hall meeting new people and visiting with my author heroes. Luckily I had driven and parked close to the Convention Center because I made a few trips to the car to drop off loads of books I had collected. I got to know the barista serving espressos at aisle 2400. His coffee sustained me.

Top left, meeting Eloise Greenfield. Top right, a hug from Jason Reynolds. Bottom left with Kwame, and bottom right with Marilyn Singer.

A highlight was giving Kwame Alexander a copy of my book, and he asked me to sign it. He saw me a few times after that and always called me by name. Kwame exemplifies who authors are. They care about their readers.

Signing Bayou Song for Kwame!

While passing by the National Geographic booth, I got a peek at my poem inside the Poetry of US forthcoming anthology with J. Patrick Lewis. The page is stunning!

Click to pre-order. Release date Sept. 25.

Another highlight was reading at the Poetry Blast. I was honored to be a part of this group of amazing poets: Marilyn Singer, Margarita Engle, K.A. Holt, and Lita Judge, and Joy McCullough. And afterwards some of us went to Mulate’s. After a delicious blackened red fish, I danced with Steve, Marilyn’s husband. I thought I’d teach him the two step, but he took to the music immediately and we swung all over the dance floor.

That: Research for my work in progress. I took the opportunity on Monday before leaving New Orleans to visit Dillard University. I was met there in the library archives by John Kennedy. He was intrigued by my project and was very helpful in bridging some gaps in my research. I’m surprising myself at how much I enjoy historical research.

Please visit Catherine Flynn’s post about Bayou Song, the blog tour continues. Catherine’s review is beautiful.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

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.

The theme for today’s Spiritual Thursday round-up is love.  At first I thought, “This is easy.”  However, the more I thought about it, writing about love is hard.  What do I have to say that is new and refreshing or inspiring?  When I have a difficult writing assignment, I often turn to form.  Today I turn to Kwame Alexander and his amazing 2015 Newbery Award book in verse, The Crossover. In The Crossover, the character writes definitions in a particular form.  My blogging friends, Michelle and Holly, each used the form (vocabulary poems) this month.  I haven’t tried it with my students yet, but I usually like to practice before presenting them with an idea.  Here’s my definition of love.



a person or thing that one loves.

as in: the curl of an infant’s
new fingers around your thumb.

as in: looking through the open window
of our arms as we dance
the Lover’s Waltz.

as in: let the soft body
of your heart love
what it loves.*

as in: He gave his only
begotten son so that
you and I have eternal life.

© Bratishka | Dreamstime.com - Baby Hand Photo

© Bratishka | Dreamstime.com – Baby Hand Photo


* variation of a line from Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, my all time favorite poem.

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SOL #3

SOL #3

Recently one of my mentors, Donalyn Miller, presented a two part post on The Nerdy Book Club about books that make us cry and why we love them.  I lost my self-consciousness about this years ago while reading aloud Charlotte’s Web for the umpteenth time and crying once again.  I decided it was OK for my students to see me tear up.

Some of you may know about my student Emily.  She is a fourth grader whose mother died unexpectedly this fall.  I wrote about her here and here.  She has been reluctant ever since to read sad books.  She gave up on Love that Dog when she read that the dog died.  She gravitated to funny books like Flora and Ulysses and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I have been reading The Crossover aloud in my classroom ever since it won the Newbery Award.  My boys went crazy over it, hooting and cheering.  No other read aloud has brought on so much enthusiasm.  They begged for more.  The book makes a wonderful read aloud with its rhythmic verse and creativity of language.


Cover of The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

When I found out from a friend that there was a (spoiler alert!) death, I became worried about Emily.  Should I stop reading?  I didn’t think they would let me.  I tried to skip a few days, but I knew I would have to keep reading.  I tried to buy the book at Barnes and Noble thinking I could just let them pass it around, but it was not to be found.  All out on Amazon, too.  The only way to finish Crossover was to keep reading it from my iPhone Kindle app.

I decided to just confront Emily with the truth.  I called her aside privately.  (Actually, she visits me every recess, so that wasn’t hard.) I told her the truth about the book.  I asked her permission to keep reading.  I told her if she got upset, she could leave the room.

Today was the day.  88% left.  Emily knew this would be the day.  She was prepared.  In the cabinet she had hidden a sign, “RIP Chuck ‘Da Man’ Bell.”  She sat close to me, so when I choked and couldn’t get the words out, she read them.  The boys were silent.  It was a profound moment.  As Kwame Alexander wrote in Basketball Rule #10,

A loss is inevitable,
like snow in winter.
True champions
to dance
the storm.


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