My First Poetry Book #PoetryFriday #Poetry Love

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When setting up my classroom this week, which you can read more about here, I took a little stroll down memory lane. On top of the bookshelf that houses my personal collection of children’s books, I always set up a few picture book stuffed characters (Paddington, Pooh, Piglet, Madeline) and a small set of beginner reader books. These books were given to me by my parents all those years ago — the 60s was a long time ago! One of them was a collection of poetry.

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I fondly remember my mother reading these poems to me, and one in particular was her favorite: “Who Has Seen the Wind,” by Christina Rossetti. It has remained a favorite of mine as well, and I now teach it to my Kindergarten poets.

I haven’t thumbed through this small collection of classics in a while, so I thought I’d share it with you today.

“Star light, star bright” by Anonymous

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.

Star light, star bright

“The Rain” by Robert Louis Stevenson

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

“The Sea” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

“Clouds” by Christina Rossetti

White sheep, white sheep,
On a blue hill,
When the wind stops,
You all stand still.
When the wind blows,
You walk away slow.
White sheep, white sheep,
Where do you go?

“The River” (or “Where Go the Boats?”) by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

“Who has seen the wind?” by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

“The Clouds” by Christina Rossetti

Boats sail on the rivers,
And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
Are prettier far than these.
There are bridges on the rivers,
As pretty as you please;
But the bow that bridges heaven,
And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
Is prettier far than these.

“The Seasons” (or “Autumn Fires”) by Robert Louis Stevenson

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Note: This is the only stanza printed in the book. To read the full text, click here.)

“The Nut Tree” by Anonymous

I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear,
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear.

Note: To read the full text, not included in the book, read here.

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Kay over at A Journey Through the Pages is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love and peace!

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The first thing I do is… #SOL #BTS17

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Like most teachers, my classroom was dissembled in June so the custodians could give it a thorough (term used very loosely!) cleaning over the summer. When August rolls around, it’s time to put it all back together again. This takes me a while. Like a really long while. Like a way too long while. Like an “Aren’t you done yet?” while. So many decisions to make! What should I keep? Pass on? Toss? Rearrange? The room changes every year. One thing doesn’t change, though — the space I set up first.

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As soon as I return to my classroom, and after I re-re-re-re-rearrange the furniture, the same spot gets gussied up first. It’s not a big space, and it doesn’t take long, but it’s always first. It’s not an important, educationally innovative space, but it needs to be first. I’m not sure what would happen if it wasn’t first. It’s kind of a feel-good space, and I’m not sure who benefits from it more — me or my students? Setting it up grounds me, recalibrates me to the rhythms of the school year. It’s a talisman of sorts, I guess. As soon as it’s ready I can move on.

The bookcase with my personal kidlit collection is my zone. The “World of Leo Lionni” mural goes up first. It was painted for me in 1998 by the Kindergarten class I student taught in. It was a post-author study thank you gift that I will always treasure. On the right front corner is a stack of beginner reader books from the 60s.

They are simple texts with just a few words — “Ann likes red. Red, red, red.” I loved these books when I was young and read them over and over again. I would never part with them, but I’m thrilled today’s early readers are greatly improved! Last to go up on the shelf are a few stuffed pals. Some are literary friends from my childhood and others are new additions.

Old friends: Corduroy, Madeline, Pippi, Paddington, Pooh, and Piglet bring back very happy memories of being read to as a child by my mom, dad, and grandfather.

New friends: Pigeon, Elmer, Linnea, Gingy, and Grouchy Ladybug are new pals whose adventures we share in my Kindergarten classroom.

The shelf is ready, so now it’s time to move forward. Do you unpack as soon as you get to a hotel room, even if it’s just for a night or two? Yeah, me too.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving me the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. And for giving me a break from setting up my classroom. Won’t you join us?

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Playing in the sandbox #PoetryFriday

Last week I got to play in a sandbox. This wasn’t just ANY sandbox, but the New Hampshire Literacy Institutes sandbox. My host for this fabulous week-long playdate at UNH was literacy specialist/author Shawna Coppola. (If you haven’t read her new Stenhouse book RENEW! Become a Better — and More Authentic — Writing Teacher, please do!) For an entire week, Shawna nudged and encouraged me and my fellow playmates to expand our understanding and perceptions about composing in new directions. This included a new way of composing for me — non-alphabetically — and playing around and making with new tools, strategies, and modes of composing that were a combination of high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech — emojis, sketchnoting, cartooning, and blackout poetry, to name a few.

A new toy I learned to play with in the sandbox was blackout poetry. As we all know, blank pages, to a writer, can be exciting and scary. Blackout poetry requires the writer/composer to use text that already exists and black out, or redact, words until just a few remain in the form of a poem. Recently I’ve had fun creating found poetry, but that allows the poet to manipulate the original author’s words in any way that they see fit. Blackout poetry requires words to stay in the order they are found in the text. A HUGE CHALLENGE, but a good one! To learn more about the origins of blackout poetry,  read here. To read about Austin Kleon’s newspaper blackout poems, try here.

The Sun Came Out Blackout Poetry

So diving into the sandbox head first, Shawna had us play for a bit with a section of Ray Bradbury’s short story All Summer In a Day. This was hard for me. I’m not going to lie. While blackout poetry often creates a work unrelated to the original text, I struggled to “see” anything other than the themes of sun and rain. Rather than fight or resist the obvious themes, I went with them just to get my feet wet.

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When I returned home with a final project still to be generated, I played around a bit more. This time my text was the Institute’s course description. Again, nothing unrelated to the text spoke to me, so I went with a rallying cry to young writers.

Imagine Blackout Poetry

Later in the week, I played again, this time pushing myself just a bit more. My text was an obituary from The Economist. (You may read the full text here.) Each week the editors print one obituary. They are always elegantly written, one-page mini biographies of the most fascinating and influential people who have left us. Sometimes they are familiar names and faces, but often they are less-recognizable. All have one thing in common — they’ve left their mark on the world in one way or another. Maryam Mirzakhani, whom I had recently read about in Rachel Ignotofsky’s brilliant Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, lost her battle with cancer in July at the age of 40. Such a brilliant mind with so much ahead of her. Reading her obituary, I was struck by how curious she must have been as a child, and how lucky we are she pursued her wonders, as I encourage my kindergarteners to do each and every day. While I hope my poem captures the sense of wonder that Maryam had, I also believe it conveys a sense of hope, optimism, and excitement for the future rather than sadness at opportunities lost or cut short.

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Birthday girl Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, is hosting a lovely Poetry Friday birthday party this week. Why not join us there for a poetic slice of cake (or two) and spread some poetry love!

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August=Sunday Night #SOL

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(First draft of a cartoon I am working on. Can you tell what it is about?)

August 1st always makes me sad. As soon as the calendar page turns, it’s time to start thinking about school again — for real. When I mentioned this in a workshop last week, someone said, “August is the Sunday night of summer for teachers.” So true. With just a week or so left before I need to start making my way to school on a regular basis for set up, meetings, and finally the return of students, I’m reflecting on my accomplishments of the last few weeks, and what remains undone.

I’m currently…

  • Enjoying my first batch of homemade healthy-ish granola. I’ve always wanted to try making it, and it really is as easy and delicious as they say! (I used this recipe.)
  • Planning the annual blueberry picking adventure that I go on with my mom and sister every August.
  • Experimenting with my new camera and zoom lens. I’ve been taking lots of pictures of the birds that visit our bird feeders — especially the hummingbirds!
  • Reading (just finished!) Harvey “Smokey” Daniels’ The Curious Classroom: 10 Structures for Teaching with Student-Directed Inquiry. I want to up the inquiry game in my Kindergarten class this year, and I am looking forward to #TheEdCollab’s Twitter chat about it tonight.
  • Practicing sketchnoting, cartooning (see picture above), emoji story writing, and blackout poetry writing, all of which I learned about during my NH Literacy Institute course I took with @ShawnaCoppola last week at UNH. (Her new book RENEW! Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher is pretty fabulous!)
  • Messing around with Padlet and Pic Collage, putting together my final project that is due Friday for the aforementioned UNH class!
  • Reconfiguring my classroom so it is more accessible for my new student who is in a wheelchair. (I’ll be slicing about him this year, I’m sure, as he is adorable and a true inspiration.)
  • Brainstorming ways to use the fossils I collected on England’s Jurassic Coast this summer in my Kindergarten classroom.
  • Celebrating becoming a Wonderopolis Lead Ambassador for the 2017-2018 school year and planning my first posts on the Wonder Ground. 

Writing all of this out makes me feel better. I think I’ve actually accomplished more than I realized!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Poetry waiting for me #PoetryFriday

Note: This is not a book review. 

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Before I left for England in July, I noticed lots of buzz on social media about A Poem for Every Night of the Year which was edited by Allie Esiri. The concept intrigued me, as did the stunning cover art by Zanna Goldhawk. Published in the UK, it was not accessible in local bookshops. I was on a mission — FIND THIS BOOK while in England. Success! I found it in a tiny, but adorable bookshop in Lyme Regis. Sadly, it was too big to put in my suitcase. I’m a huge supporter of my local indie, but in this case I needed Amazon to come to the rescue. (Sorry, Concord Bookshop. You know I love you!)

So this week I’m here at UNH for the New Hampshire Literary Institutes, and you KNOW what arrived at home the day after I left. Torture! My Poetry Friday offering this week is the poem Esiri selected for today, August 4th — If by Rudyard Kipling. I’m looking forward to exploring this book further when I return  home tonight.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream- -and not make dreams your master;
If you can think- -and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

(To continue reading, link here.)

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Donna over at Mainly Write is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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I’m Not Going to Lie #SOL

Many thanks to poetry pal Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise for “auctioning off” first lines for inspiration in her Poetry Friday offering last Friday. (Curious? Click here! to learn more!) I’m not using the one I “bought” at the auction, but I know she won’t mind my using “I’m not going to lie…” instead for a slice. 

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I’m not going to lie. The thought of being a student again this week at NH Literacy Institute at UNH terrifies me. Give me a room of 20 Kindergarteners any day, but sit in an unfamiliar classroom with complete strangers sharing my thoughts and ideas about writing? Scary!

Now I participate in SOL on Two Writing Teachers almost every week, as well as Poetry Friday, so why should this terrify me? After all, I’m sharing my innermost thoughts and darkest secrets with strangers on this blog. Crazy…I know! I confess that I do hesitate to hit the “publish” button when each post is ready, but cyberspace acts as a barrier. It stands between me and potential readers. It makes it OK, because we don’t actually know each other. If I receive feedback, terrific! And I’ll never know who read my work and didn’t feel inspired to comment. It’s all good.

Writing is personal. It’s a bit like insisting a friend or colleague read a favorite book of yours. You force your copy upon them and then hope they love it as much as you do. What if they don’t? What will they think of you?

So I’m two days in and I like it! There are just seven of us and we have varying degrees of experience and student-age expertise. My instructor has made it a safe environment to share, learn, and play around with writing. There’s a nice “we’re all in this together” and “let’s have fun” vibe. Phew! And the dorm living, dining hall eating, and $100 parking ticket in my first hour on campus? Well, that’s just part of the experience. Maybe there’s a slice coming about that! And now to tackle my daily homework. Yes, there’s homework!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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