Posts Tagged ‘student writing’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio.

Last Friday I posted poems from my two fifth grade girls who responded to Amanda Gorman’s powerful words with their own poems. Their poetry prowess has not stopped. On Thursday, Kaia announced that she had written another poem. She explained to me that she saw Beldam, the Other Mother in Coraline. She googled it and found a poem by John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci. As she’s telling me this, she is writing and googling and writing and asking me about the Queen and how tall she is. Where is she going with this? In the end, it all led to an original ballad-esque poem.

I told her, “You are doing the work of a poet.”

Her face (her eyes, for she was wearing a mask) lit up. “Really, why?”

I explained that as a writer, we seek inspiration and research it and then write from it. Amanda Gorman explained in an interview with Anderson Cooper that she read other inaugural poets and researched inspirational speeches to write her poem, The Hill We Climb. “You are doing this kind of work. You are not just writing from my prompts anymore. You are actually a poet.”

Those words inspired her to write another poem. I will post a stanza here. She said, “I love how in poetry, you can write about anything. I can write about your desk, that pen, the Kleenex box.”

“Yes, you can.” I thought to myself, a dream come true. Or my One Little Word, Inspire, at work.

I’d like to find a place to send some of her work. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

The Work of a Poet

As you pick up the pen, you wonder what to write 
Thinking this way and that way, until you see a light
A shining and glistening rhythm it sets off
And helps you to the end of the paper, as fast as a cough

Kaia, 5th grade
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Shovan.

Like the nation, I have fallen head over heals in love with Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet ever, and a heroine to many young girls just like the ones I teach. All girls, no matter their race, can now dream of being a Vice President someday. As much as I admire Kamala Harris and her accomplishments, the star of Inauguration Day was young Amanda Gorman. I couldn’t wait to present her to my students this week.

We started on Tuesday with her poem “In this Place (An American Lyric)” written for Tracy K. Smith’s inauguration as Poet Laureate in 2017. (This post from the Library of Congress contains the poem and a video from the reading.) As Kaia heard that poem, she was writing. And after class that day, she sent me two more poems. Amanda lit a fire in her, a flame for words.

There’s a poem in this place 
after Amanda Gorman

Not here nor there
But there’s no need to look everywhere
tug and pull on my hair 
Hoping that this poem, has time to spare

There’s a poem in this place 
While i’m in disgrace
Of finding my lyric
That belongs in this place

There’s a poem in this place
Still not being found 
Is it in a dog hound?
No, it weighs more than that one pound 

There’s a poem in this place
While the wind is hitting my face
Being withdrawn due to lack of space
Without leaving any sign of a trace

There’s a poem in this place 
Where could it be?
Wait, I have found it!
It’s in YOU
and ME. 

Kaia, 5th grade

On Thursday, we used Pernille Ripp’s generous gift of a slide show to visit and discuss “The Hill We Climb.” While the message of this poem was powerful, I was drawn to Amanda’s effective word choice, how they sound and how their meanings change with usage. Combinations like just is and justice, arms, harm, and harmony, and tired, tried, and tied. Chloe’s poem below is her good effort to play with word sounds like Amanda.

There’s a poem in sight 
Too bright
To fight
It takes flight 
To the world
of an artist
Who’s never artless
Who just started
to harness
The sharpest words
That bring out
The creativity
With a twist
And a big
Dream to
Feel like
They exist

Chloe, 5th grade

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


Madison came into my gifted class when she was in second grade.  On day one, she wrote 3 blog posts and was hooked on writing.  Now in 4th grade, she came up with an idea for a story writing club.  This was a result of problem solving.  She loves writing stories, particularly fan fiction to Warrior Cats, but she didn’t think many people were reading her blog posts.  She thought if we had a blog that was specific to writing stories, maybe those kids who are interested in writing as well as reading stories could join.


With a new subscription to Kidblog from my district’s gifted program, we teachers are able to have multiple sites with the same students.  Story Writing Club was born. The day after I set up the blog was a Saturday, but Madison checked in and wrote this post.

Hello. This was originally my idea, so.. I guess I’ll make the Welcome – To – This – Blog – Post. 

This is a blog where you make your stories- nonfiction, fiction, or any genre. Chapter by chapter, or just a normal picture book.

Word, by word, by word, we are changing ourselves into authors. Word. By word. By. Word.

Think of your ideas as silk or cotton. Weave them together- make cloth. Now it’s time to put the cloth together to make a wonderful story.

I hope you enjoy making wonderful stories out of many ideas.


I introduced the idea to all my classes (I teach 3 groups of gifted students at 3 different schools).  To date, eleven kids have signed on.  And they can’t wait to write.  This is an highly motivating free time activity.  Madison created a story about cats, of course.  She is also very talented at digital art.  This is an image of one of her story characters.

When students writing stories they want to write, they learn the stuff of writers that I could never teach them.  Jacob was writing his second chapter today, and he exclaimed, “You know the berries from chapter one? Well, turns out he needed them in chapter two.  I didn’t know that would happen.”

Jacob wrote, “He took out the berries that Triton saved in his booksack. The creature seemed to love them. Triton tossed the creature a berry, in a second it gobbled up the berry.”

Sometimes writers follow the story and find their way.

I love that my students are experiencing the joy of writing with little direction from me.  We often talk about student-driven learning but rarely do we really have the opportunity to make it happen.  I applaud Madison’s resourcefulness in building a community that would support her passion.  These are lessons that don’t make it into the standards but will support my students in being the best they can be.

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

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

On Wednesday, I was out of the classroom at an enrichment day for 6th graders. While I was away, my students were still writing poems. At the beginning of this National Poetry Month, I told them that they would write a poem each day. I have provided some kind of prompt activity (video, music, other poems), but this day they just chose to write. I checked our Kidblog site and found new poems. These poems were not sing-songy rhyme poems. They were serious poems about real life.

Poetry can be serious. Poetry can be spiritual, but I’ve not told my students about this aspect. However, writing in poems can bring out deep feelings even in the youngest of poets. In an effort to capture this move to deep thinking, I have found a poem in the poetry of my students.

Secrets are hidden,
the rain doesn’t care;
It’s still pouring down.

shining like a precious jewel
is waiting for us.

Many don’t
know the comfort
of last words and hopes.

Rest is impossible
with all this wonder.

A found poem by Margaret Simon from poems by Lani, Tobie, Kaiden, and Erin

Follow the Progressive Poem to Deo Writer with Jone.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Deo Writer with Jone.

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

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



After four days at NCTE, my brain was mush. I made it to the Minneapolis airport just fine with about an hour to spare before my flight. So I moseyed to my gate, stopping off at a cute shop. I decided to buy a squirrel for a new class pet. Not to replace Jack the lemur, or Ernie the penguin, but to add to the bunch. I took this picture outside of the shop. I planned to tell my students that I found the squirrel who needed a home.

Little did I know I was taking my time getting to my seat number, not my gate number. I got to terminal B and realized that my seat was 8B, but my gate was C5. I backtracked and made it to the gate with few minutes to spare before my flight.

When we returned to school last week, I told my students all about this adventure. I challenged them to write a story about the squirrel. Of course, we needed a name, too. Two of my creative writers took the challenge. I want to share them both because they are just too cute.

The Squirrel Anthony and And Bear Mowgli that got Lost at the Airport

One day not too long ago, they had a stuffed squirrel at the airport. The name of this creature was Anthony. Anthony had a friendly bear for a friend. His name was Mowgli. Mowgli and Anthony had been left at the airport for years, desperate for a home. One day many years after they had given up they found a nice, friendly, lost lady. Her name was Margaret. She was trying to get to Minneapolis but she got lost. Desperate for a new class pet for her kids that she teaches, she found Anthony talking to Mowgli in the crack of Mowgli’s arm. She asked Anthony if he would go back to Louisiana with her. Not being hesitant Anthony said yes! She finally recognized Mowgli. With a sorry and a, ”Will you come home with me and Anthony?” Mowgli said no! The reason he said no was because Mowgli was a statue and all Margaret had was a tiny little backpack. The bear also said that he wanted Anthony to be happy and that maybe someday he will get another offer to go home with somebody else. With a shrug and an, ”I wish you could come!” Anthony and Margaret set off into the depths of the airport and finally found the gate and set off to Minneapolis and came back to Louisiana to a nice Thanksgiving break and a room full of happy kids that is also the home of a pet squirrel named Anthony. They all loved him…(Lani)

Meredith, the Squirrel, and Smokey and Bruno, the Bears

Once upon a time there were two bears, a big one named Bruno and a small one named Smokey. And, they were the airport bears.They were statues and they stood there all day greeting people. But, one specific day Bruno and Smokey saw a rushing business lady, running to catch her flight and her bag was half-way open and as she ran a little grey squirrel fell to the cold airport ground. Then, a little girl picks up the squirrel and waits on the bench by the bears, when the child’s mother said that she couldn’t have the squirrel because they don’t know where it has been. So the mother places the squirrel in the crook of the arm of Smokey. Then they left to get on their flight. So, Bruno and Smokey started talking to the squirrel and found out that her name was Meredith. And, over the period of about 5 days they became good friends much better friends than she was with the business lady. And the most special day was when Margaret a GT teacher from New Iberia was on her way to Minneapolis when she found Meredith, and she took Meredith with her. Smokey and Bruno were sad , but they knew that it was right. So Margaret brought Meredith back with her class and they loved her very, very much. THE END (Emily)

Are you smiling?  All the best stories end with “they loved her/him very much.”

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Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Kimberley.

Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Kimberley.

writing in the museum
This week I have had the privilege to host a writing camp for kids. I have a small group ranging in age from 10 to 17. I have taught many writing camps over the years, but this is the first time that everyone there is truly a writer. I feel like my job this week has been to open up a faucet and watch the water flow. They just know how to do it.

Since I am holding the camp at a school within my church on Main Street, I decided that each day we would venture out to places close by to write. We have written in a bakery/gelato shop, an art gallery, a museum,a church,  a bookstore, and a cafe.

One activity I enjoy doing with young writers is ekphrasis, writing to art. We are holding our meetings in the fine arts building. The art teacher is a folk art collector.  She has left parts of her collection in the building for art inspiration. We used it for writing inspiration. Emery wrote this piece to a painting of a woman holding paint brushes fanned out over her face. The insight of this 13 year old is amazing.

George said that he could paint anything. He said that he could even paint me. I protested, but he insisted. I put my dirty blonde hair into a messy ponytail, my bangs fell to the left side of my face. I asked if there was any way to hide my face. He said,”Hold these paintbrushes in front of your face.” He handed me his extra brushes and I fanned them out. I put my hand to my cheek, for I could feel myself blushing. When he told me he was done, I took a look. I found a beautiful girl in black and white. She had two sides of her face, one light and one dark. The darker side showed where I hid my blush. The lighter side showed my blemish free skin. I saw a beautiful girl with insecurities, hiding behind paintbrushes. George had shown me the way that I see myself, and the way other people see me. He told me to take it home and hang it on a wall. I hung it in my living room. Every time I saw it, I remembered my insecurities and the man who painted me. He showed me how beautiful I really am.

In the gallery, Kaylie focused not on the art but the building itself. She found an old door to write about.

Tall wooden door.
Antique. Riddled with
cracks. Green vine,
hello, creeping up
the wall. Brick
covered by thin
layer of paint, chipping,
like the floor,
patterns of red and
gray. Ancient hinges
on door, probably
can’t even open.
Doesn’t matter–blocked
by drying racks, a
hat stand and a
dusty flowerpot. Not
to be opened, nailed
shut by a rusty bar.
Why? What are you
keeping out? Or
what are you locking in?

I hope you will come back over the next few days as I publish more of their work.  This has been a pure pleasure to be with such wonderful writers.

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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.

I had a wonderful mentor years ago who said that good writers are the ones who give themselves the most permissions. In her recent e-newsletter Salas Snippets, Laura Purdie Salas says this about student writers, “When kids write, they are the boss. Whether they’re writing a free verse poem or a five-paragraph essay, they have the power.” I want to show my students that they have the power over their words. I want to show them that they have permission to be who they truly are when they write.

During National Poetry Month, I make poetry an integral part of my classroom. My students become immersed in words in verse with rhythm and expression. I have a huge collection of poetry books. For their April poetry project, I have asked my students to select three books to read. They are finding themselves in these poems. They are being inspired by poets.

I had a discussion with Erin about the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora. She waved over the pages and repeated the words with awe and wonder in her voice. She told me she loved so many of the words, like golden, glimmering, shining. She was falling in love with the language. This is what poetry offers, every time.

I gave Jacob some ideas for writing a poem. He didn’t take any of them. When I walked over to see what he had typed, I read this first line, “Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy and you want to do it again?” Whoa! His words stopped me in my tracks. I sat next to him and asked him to tell me some of the memories he wanted to keep. He went back to last week, then to his first birthday party, then to being in the womb. Jacob needed to be the boss of his words because his words are amazing. He has the wisdom and spirit of a poet at age seven. What a privilege to watch!

Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy,
and you want to do it again?

I want to catch Easter eggs again with my cousin.
I want to stick my face in the cake again.
I want to go back in my mommy’s tummy again
because I want to get close to her all the time.
I love my memories!

Another activity that has my students singing poems is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poetry month project.  Each of my two student groups have tried to guess a song/poem match.  Both guesses were wrong, but we had a great time working on them.  We counted syllables, sang the song choices, consulted YouTube for tunes, and sang Amy’s poems through multiple times before recording and sending our SoundClouds to her.  Please go over to her site, The Poem Farm, to hear her sing and our guesses.  I wrote to Amy that I admired her braveness in recording her voice singing acapella.  She responded that being brave helps others be brave.  With that, I encourage you and your students to be brave and send a SoundCloud guess to Amy.

Join the roundup with Laura Purdie Salas!

Join the roundup with Laura Purdie Salas!

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SOL #20

SOL #20

Join the roundup with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

Join the roundup with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

This week we talked about form and being innovative and creative with form in Slices of Life and in poetry. We looked at Tara Smith’s call for Classroom Slices in which she shared the poem That was Summer by Marci Ridlon. I had not seen this poem before. I trusted Tara that it would inspire writing.

Have you ever smelled summer?

Sure you have.

Remember that time

when you were tired of running

or doing nothing much

and you were hot

and you flopped right down on the ground?

That was summer. From That was Summer by Marci Ridlon

Today I would like to introduce you to my student, Erin. I wish I could post a picture of her because she is quite adorable. She has long dark hair that accentuates her tan skin (her mother is Filipino.) There is a dimple that appears with every smile, and she smiles a lot. She is small for her age, nine, which only adds to her charm. Erin experimented with two forms this week, the “Remember that time” form and a two voice poem with Spring arguing with Winter.

Spring flowers, Lytes Cary, Somerset  Copyright nick macneill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Spring flowers, Lytes Cary, Somerset
Copyright nick macneill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Can you feel spring?                                                               Remember the breeze blowing and you feel you’re flying.
That was Spring.

Remember the time you played catch with your dog,
and he knocked you down in the soft spiky grass?
That was spring.

Remember the wonderful warmth
of the sun on your skin
after the harsh winter.
That was spring.

I’m spring here to kick you out.
No one likes you with your cold heart and all.
While i am loved by millions all around the world.

Ha you wish.
You bring mosquitoes and bees stinging all about.
I kill and make them pout.
I rule all seasons. While  you are a slave.

Please, you wish.
You give people hatred and make them cry.
While I give them hope and sunshine.

Oh, really?
You make them happy.
I think that all that sunshine
is going to your head.
Now, be a good girl
and go to bed!

Can you hear Erin giggle after that last line? She had a boy in class play the part of Spring. He was a good sport about it. In fact, I think anyone in our class would do anything for Erin. You can click on her name under either poem to leave comments just for her.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Autumn is a wonderful season for writing poems. Donna Smith shared her Fall Poetry Zeno on her blog, Mainly Write, for Poetry Friday. Holly Mueller shared an autumn poem by Bliss Carmen along with her original poem and students’ poems.

On Thursday, I presented the poem Autumn Grasses by Margaret Gibson. My students paraphrased it and talked about the imagery and metaphor. Then they wrote their own poems about autumn. Tyler went back to a picture postcard of Georgia O’Keefe’s Autumn Leaves that he had written about before. I love that he knew where the picture was and felt comfortable enough to grab it again for inspiration.

Autumn Leaves by Georgia O'Keefe

Autumn Leaves by Georgia O’Keefe

On Friday, I showed my students how I had made a poem movie with my poem This Peace. I suggested they might want to try to make their own poem movie using Animoto. I think this was Tyler’s first time to use Animoto. He found the perfect background, and after he finished putting in his images and words and the movie was produced, I overheard a gasp. He was totally enthralled and impressed with his own creation. This is what creativity in the classroom is all about, that Wow feeling.

I encourage you to teach an autumn poem and make poem movies in Animoto. You may use Tyler’s as a model. Please let me know if you do. I love to know when I have inspired creativity in others.

Add in your own Digital Literacy links here:

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Another and another…
This week my students and I wrote word association poems after a movement exercise I learned from Bonny McDonald. See the post about that activity here.

I found it interesting (and so did they) where their original word led them. I wanted to make word clouds with them but am having some technical difficulty.


A fruit
Has cousins
like banana,
orange and
which bloom
in Spring
with cousins
like Fall,
Winter and
Fall has
red, yellow
orange and
brown leaves
falling everywhere
Winter has
ice and
is cold
Summer is
hot and
dry with
people swimming
at the
beach with
sand flying
people surfing
and having
fun all
from the
word apple.
by Tyler

Brooklyn chose a word that she didn’t like.








Join the Poetry Friday Round up at Keri Recommends.  Happy Birthday to Keri!

Join the Poetry Friday Round up at Keri Recommends. Happy Birthday to Keri!

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