Posts Tagged ‘Lynda Mullaly Hunt’

Poetry Friday round-up with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

Poetry Friday round-up with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

Do you know about the famous Fibonacci Sequence? The ages old sequence that creates a spiral, a shape found in nature? The mathematical sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…Do you see the pattern? More information (including algebraic equations) can be found at Math is Fun.

I had forgotten about using the sequence in poetry until a colleague introduced it to our 6th grade enrichment group. We are working on Unsung Hero projects. Our previous meeting had been a field trip to see and hear about heroes in our own town. She asked the students to recall the field trip by writing a Fib poem. I wrote about the Buddhist Temple in our local Laotian community.

Wat Thammarattanaram, New Iberia, LA

Wat Thammarattanaram, New Iberia, LA

Buddhist monks
humbly giving self,
Temple of golden ornaments,
Temple of sacrifice,
meditate on lasting love.
–Margaret Simon

A Fib poem follows the syllable count as in the mathematical sequence, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. And if you are feeling wordy, you can tack on a line of 13 and 21.

A few years ago I had used this form with my students when we were sharing The 14 Fibs of Gregory K by Greg Pincus.

I tried out the form on my other students. I asked them to write about our field trip to New Orleans, the Aquarium and Insectarium, last week. The exercise was quite a challenge. I, too, struggled. But that’s what writing is all about, right? We made a padlet.

erin's mermaid

Each afternoon, I read aloud another chapter of Fish in a Tree. We usually write notices and wonders to add to the Voxer chat with other classes, but yesterday, I asked Jacob to write a Fib poem with me about Ally, the main character. We started over 3 times. Jacob was being very patient. Each time he’d write the syllable count down the margin of his journal page. Finally we liked what was coming, but we couldn’t quite get that last line. Then Jacob just blurted it out. Some days my young students blow my mind. We recorded it on the Voxer chat.

thinks she’s dumb,
so afraid to tell,
hates being locked up in her brain.

Using strict forms can be frustrating, but when it works, when we discover a winning line, we can say “Boom, Gotcha” to that Fib!

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Poetry Friday round-up with my dear friend, Amy, at The Poem Farm.

Poetry Friday round-up with my dear friend, Amy, at The Poem Farm.

writing secrets

Mrs. Simon, I don’t know what to write.
Oh, no! I don’t have anything to write about!
I have writer’s block today, Mrs. Simon.

These words echo in my classroom regularly. Why? Because we are all writers. And we all know that writing is hard.

I asked my students to write long about a book we are reading. (Global Read Aloud: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly HUnt.) You could hear the sighs. For some reason, that bad word…long…sent them into total fear. So I saddled up to the computer connected to the board. After stumbling over the necessary technology to get them to see what I was writing, I set about modeling a long writing.

I actually surprised myself that I could do this on-demand-in-front-of-everybody writing from nothing. But I realized that it all comes from practice. I just started typing and the words came. My students laughed at my typos as I was trying to type quickly. They noticed that my long writing was only 140 words. The assignment became less intimidating.

Yet, one of my best writers sat in front of her computer not typing. And it seemed the longer she stared at the blank page, the harder it got for her to start. I didn’t have a very good answer for her. It happens. We’re writers. We are going to have those days when nothing comes to mind. So I let her leave class with this instruction, “Think about what you may want to write about and we’ll start again tomorrow.” Some writers need time to think.

I know this is Poetry Friday, and you are asking yourself, “Where’s the poem?” Sometimes with writing, you need to write about what you need to write about.

Kielan is a writer. She is in 6th grade, and I’ve taught her since she was in second grade. She’s had her share of writer’s block, but she is connecting with Ally in Fish in a Tree. This is her long writing about how she was bullied like Ally.

In Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s book Fish In A Tree, Ally’s at the restaurant where her mother works. Her mother is a waitress there. While Ally is at the restaurant suddenly her “friends” walk in. Shay and Jessica walk in the restaurant and start talking to Ally.

Ally tries to resist them, but her mother thinks she should talk with them. Her mother doesn’t know what Shay and Jessica do to Ally. They talk to her about the sympathy card Ally gave to their teacher. Something similar like this happened to me too.

I was in 4th grade when it happened. A girl named Emily was in my class. Every time a teacher was near she was nice to me, but when there was no teacher near she was mean to me. When she was nice to me I would reject her and then I would get in trouble.

She sat right in front of me in class and we were kind of enemies. I had to read aloud in class and answer the question. I read the passage right, but I got the answer wrong. Then she got called on and she got the question right. She looked at me, gave me a mean look, and then rolled her eyes. After school she saw me in Mcdonald’s at Walmart. She called me smart, her friend, pretty, and nice, only because my mother was around, but then the next day at school, she called me dumb, mean, her enemy, and ugly. She made me think I was dumb. Just like Ally felt in the story.

I made my own quote. “Trust no one” and “Never trust a phony with anything”.–Kielan

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SOL #16

SOL #16

Join the IMWAYR meme.

Join the IMWAYR meme.

fish in a tree - final cover

If you do not have this book in your library for middle grade students, then get it now. I read Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s first book One for the Murphys and now again with Fish in a Tree, she has drawn me in to love her characters.

I read for strong characters, characters I can believe in, characters who speak to me. Ally Nickerson and her quirky friends are a group I want to hang out with. I was sorry to reach the end and have to tell them goodbye. In my mind, they continue on and do great things.

Ally is in 6th grade and struggles with dyslexia; although, she doesn’t know that her problems stem from a real disability. She believes she is just plain stupid. She plays movies in her head and draws in her sketchbook of impossible things. Until Mr. Daniels comes along and notices her. He reaches out to her and helps her to understand dyslexia. She believes in herself. Every teacher should read this book to meet Ally’s empathetic, caring teacher and see the power you have to change a life.

I recently read a touching post by Lynda Mullaly Hunt on The Nerdy Book Club about her own relationship with her brother which informed her creation of Ally’s brother Travis. Not only was this an awesome post, but Lynda responded to each comment. I spoke to her of my own struggle to create real characters with a deep relationship.

Nerdy book club comment

Here is a quote from Chapter 48 that shows how Lynda’s books are about more than the characters and their individual problems. They teach life lessons.

And looking around the room, I remember thinking that my reading differences were like dragging a concrete block around all day, and I felt sorry for myself. Now I realize that everyone has their own blocks to drag around. And they all feel heavy. (p. 245)

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