New Kindergarten Poets #PoetryFriday

Last Friday I shared the poem I would be using to kick off a new year of poetry love in my Kindergarten class — Back to School. (Click here to read that post.) My young poets have been with me now for just three days and they have fully embraced our Poem of the Week routine, as well as their Poetry Folders. When asked what a poem was, one young lady shared that it was “like a very small story” and a young gentleman shared that “they rhyme a lot!” A very small story, indeed, and while we will be reading lots of rhyming poetry, we will certainly be reading and writing lots of non-rhyming poetry as well.

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When we study a poem written by someone else, we spend time talking about how it makes us feel, and what we see in our heads when we listen to the words. Here is just a sampling of what we envision for Back to School.

P.S. Remember the young lady who said a poem was like a very small story? At the end of the day today when asked in front of the class what her favorite thing we did all week was, she said learning a poem and having a special place to put it. When I announced there would be a new poem to study on Monday her face lit up. I think we are going to get along pretty well!

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Matt, our poetry pal from Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love! He certainly has lots of exciting news to share with all of us. Congratulations, Matt, on your successful book launch!Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 6.15.18 PM

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Back to School #PoetryFriday

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Happy September! I am putting the finishing touches on my Kindergarten classroom today, in anticipation of the arrival of my new students on Tuesday.  Our first poem of the year, I believe, sums up the enthusiasm for which we embrace a new year of wondering and learning together here in Room 1.

Summer is over, fall is here.

Back to school for a brand new year!

Pack your things, on the bus you go.

Make new friends and say hello!

Reading, writing, learning more, 

Than you ever did before!

Adding numbers…1,2,3.

So much to do and learn and see!

I’m so glad to meet everyone.

Get ready for a year of fun!

— Candace Quester

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Our poetry pal from down under, Kat at Kat’s Whiskers, is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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It Made Me Sad #SOL

It made me sad.

There he was.

In the cross walk with his family.

I stopped to let them cross — Abbey Road style — safely.

Sunhatted mother charging ahead, map in hand, father, older brother.

He,  mid to late teens.

A glorious mid-August afternoon.

Concord Center bustling with summertime busyness.

Revolutionary tourists, shoppers, kids on their way home from camp.

Suddenly he turned, making eye contact with me.

Such a serious face, scowl-like. Head hung. Troubled.

It made me sad.

Not the face of a joyful teenager on vacation.

It made me sad.

And then I noticed the t-shirt: “Trump for President!”

It made me sad.

Charlottesville just 3 days past.

It made me sad.

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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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August #PoetryFriday

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For the last few weeks, my husband and I have been having fun reading each night’s entry in A Poem For Every Night of the Year (edited by Allie Asiri). As some of you know, getting a copy of this book involved a bit of a journey, which you may read about here. Well it paid off, because we are loving this book. And I do mean WE. My husband insists on reading the poem to me every night. I don’t stand a chance, and that’s OK. He’s a writer and reader of history, so I love that I’ve broadened his horizons with a bit of poetry, too.

One particular favorite thus far has been John Updike’s “August.” Up until now, I had not read any Updike poetry. What a playful nature his children’s poetry has, and he really nails the month of August, don’t you think?

August

The sprinkler twirls.
The summer wanes.
The pavement wears
Popsicle stains.

The playground grass
Is worn to dust.
The weary swings
Creak, creak with rust.

The trees are bored
With being green.
Some people leave
The local scene

And go to seaside
Bungalows
And take off nearly
All their clothes.

Our host for Poetry Friday this week, Jone, threw out an acrostic challenge. I wrote my first one just a couple of weeks ago about July shifting to August (you can read my post here), so there’s a nice connection with Updike’s “August.” Here’s what I had come up with:

And so went July Unending (seemingly) days of peaceful bliss Glorious from dawn to dusk Unbound by time School looms on the horizon Time begins to move again Christie Wyman, 2017

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Jone over at Check It Out is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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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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