Posts Tagged ‘LA Writes’

Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids

Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids


Do you enter contests?  I don’t.  But I pretty much insist that my kids do.  I even will go so far as to write it as a goal on their IEP.  At the end of the school year last year, most of my students entered a piece of writing into our state writing contest, LA Writes.  I was pleased to hear in September that three of them had placed.  The awards ceremony was last Saturday at the Louisiana Book Festival at the State Museum in Baton Rouge.  When Madison came to the microphone to read her poem, she introduced herself as “the author.”  What a thrill for this writing teacher to hear her describe herself as an author.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison wrote her first place poem after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All.” In May, we had a Skype visit with Irene.  She wrote about my students’ poems here.

I secretly wished that Irene was there to hear Madison read.  Sometime wishes do come true.  Irene was at the Book Festival.  We met up later in the day.  She presented in the Children’s Storytelling Tent and guess who walked by?

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Reef for All

after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All”

Sharks feast on my citizens;
my restaurant never closes.

Eels hide in my caves;
my shelters provide homes.

Sea worms play peek-a-boo in my tubes;
my tubes allow all ages.

Fish hide in my caves;
my cradle caves are cozy for new fins.

No sea animal can resist my charm:
I am a coral reef.


Tree for All (in Dear Wandering Wildebeests)
Giraffes feast on my leafy crown;
my buffet never closes.
Rhinos doze beneath my broad branches;
my umbrella selters and shades.
Baboons scramble up and down my trunk;
my playground delights all ages.
Owls nest in my hidden knothole;
my cradle cozies brand-new wings.
Skinks sleep in my thick, spotted bark;
my camouflage keeps them safe.
Safari ants trail along my roots;
my roadways help build a city.
No grassland beast can resist my charms;
I am a wild bush willow tree.
– Irene Latham
Contests make us feel famous.  They give students an opportunity to shine.  Thanks to Irene for being such a beautiful role model to budding author, Madison.

I will be presenting with Irene and some other awesome poets at NCTE 2016 in Atlanta:Sat., 9:30 G.12 Writing for a Better World: Poetry Response to World Events B210


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

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

Reading, reading, reading...

Reading, reading, reading…

The unmistakable voice of my daddy checked me out of the Anxious Hotel and back into reality. Elizabeth Tow, 8th grade

In the midst of the stacks of student-written stories about monsters and disasters and parents dying in car crashes, there were a few gemstones.

Monday was the annual LA Writes judging at my home. Teachers gathered around fruit and muffins and coffee to read 622 entries from Kindergarten to 12th grade writers from around our state.

Amidst the state standards and curriculum mandates, we writing teachers hold out hope that someone is cultivated creative writing in their classrooms. Interestingly, most of the best writers came from only a few teachers. Either these are the teachers keeping writing alive or these are the teachers who take the time to enter students in contests.

I have been coordinating the LA Writes contest for a dozen years, and I look forward to this day every year. I get to see some of my favorite teacher-friends and share my home with them. We talk and read, read and talk.

We find favorite lines. My friend, Nettie picked these lines to share.

The radio comes alive like low heeled boots. By Lily Adam

Alone together in a room for all
A kiss meets lips like stroking midnight buds. by Jasper Koelbel

Resting on the back of a goose wing, trying to blend into the cream colored feathers. By Rangasri Narayanamoorthy

When we started this contest, we created an acronym for our judging criteria with the word VOICES.

Originality/ surprise
Imagery/ figurative language
Significance/ insight

As a teacher, I am in tune to these elements and encourage my young writers to reach not only for clear and precise writing, but writing that sings and makes the reader look at something in a new and surprising way. These elements are hard to teach, but we all know good writing when we see it. My students know good writing. They don’t always know how to name it, but they know it when they see it.

Yesterday we culled the stacks and stacks of writing down to 5-10 in each category in each grade-level division. It was hard work. It was good work. We will send these finalists on to our author judges, authors from our state including our new state poet laureate. We hope that they will see the gemstones that we saw and enjoy the looking.

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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.

Another week of summer and I am celebrating…

1. A daily walk with Charlie. One of my outside cats, Buzz, likes to come along, but not for my company, for Charlie’s. Here he’s holding onto Charlie’s leash as if to take him for a walk.

Charlie and Buzz

Charlie and Buzz

2. Visits with friends. Jen lives at Bonne Terre Cottage which includes a pond, a farm, and a yard full of chickens. I sat on her back porch and wrote this little ditty about the chickens.

Can you count the chickens in the yard?
Like a kid on the playground,
Black-n-White pecks under the tree,
trots to the birdbath to join his friends.
A treasure of seeds in this dirt?

Here comes Petite Princess
prancing like the queen of the yard,
Spreading the gossip of the group.

These chickens in the yard
make me happy until…
Big Orange decides my toe looks yummy!

3. Judging LA Writes. I coordinate our state writing contest and every year other teachers from our state join me to judge the entries. This year we read 825 poems, stories, and essays to cull each grade level division to 8-10 to send to author judges. I was disappointed in the quality. (Food for another blog post thought.) But spending time with other teachers talking about the craft of teaching and writing is always inspiring and fun.

4. Taking care of myself. I had a sinful facial this week. I say sinful because it feels way too good to be guilt-free. I’m not sure it does anything for my aging face, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Happy Summer, y’all!

white chicken

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