Where I’m From #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! Catherine at Reading to the Core is our hostess this week. She has a wonderful preview of the latest in Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Poetry Friday Anthology series, Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud. I, for one, can’t wait to see this collection IRL and share with my principal. This will be the first year we have Morning Announcements and I think a copy will make the perfect gift for her. Don’t you? Congratulations to Catherine, who also has a poem in the book, “Walking for a Cause.” Hooray!

During the summer months, many educators are reading Sara K. Ahmed’s brilliant book Being The Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension (Heinemann, 2018). In her chapter “Exploring Our Identities,” Sara suggests having students craft their own “Where I’m From” poems, featuring details about their identity. This idea originally stemmed from George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From.” (You can read more about Lyon’s original poetry challenge here.) What a wonderful exercise for students to focus in on what has been meaningful to them in their lives, and has helped shape their identity.

I’ve been playing around with this challenge all summer, digging deep into the memories of my childhood. There are so many! Which to use? These are the handful that rose to the top of the heap.

I_m from
I’m from
Bleacher seats in Fenway Park
Scribbling box scores
On my father’s knee
Sandcastles carefully crafted
On the beaches of
Peaks Island and Dennis
The backseat of an unairconditioned blue 60s Chevy
Crayons melting in the back window
Chugging from coast to coast
On an adventure filled with memories to last a lifetime
I’m from the bottom of a tin bucket filling up
Kerplink kerplunk
With lowbush blueberries
Coated in salty Boothbay air
Drifting across the gut
That secret opening in the woods
Along Stony Brook
Where moss is damp and cool on a hot summer day
And the hope of fairy spotting lives on
A classroom in the basement
Teaching stuffed animals and anyone who’d listen
Rehearsing for today, tomorrow
I’m from roots sunk deep
In Scottish peat
Slathered in haggis and thick cut orange marmalade
A wee dram for good measure

If you’ve tried a “Where I’m From,” I’d love to hear about your journey!



Thanks for visiting and join us for some Poetry Friday fun!

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River Towns #SOL

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photo credit: Dave Griffin

This summer I have been exploring the new-ish Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT) that runs through my small New England town. While much of it is inland, skirting the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, the section within walking distance from my house meanders along a lovely stretch of Thoreau’s beloved Assabet River. The stone marker you see above marks the entrance to Ice House Landing, a popular kayak launch and small picnic area. My husband and I don’t own bikes or our own kayak (YET!), so this natural oasis is unfamiliar to us.

I have intentionally left a camera of any sort behind on all my walks thus far. When I have a camera with me, I find I tend to be constantly looking for the perfect shot and not open to taking it all in — sight and sound. Of course now that I’m writing this, I wish I had photos to share, but honestly, I don’t believe photos would do it justice.

The Thoreau quote, “River towns are winged towns,” conjures up several meanings for me personally. As a bit of a bird nerd, and just having returned from a week-long Bird Sleuth course at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, I think of all the birds who make their home in this riparian environment. (I saw a Great Blue Heron almost immediately my first time on the trail!) Then I also think of the movement of the river and how it flows from one  small town to the next, connecting them with its own parallel trail. Lastly, I believe the ARRT has given the residents of the communities it links movement. It’s exciting to see so many residents of my town running, walking, and biking along the trail. I often see adults with children in strollers who now have a lovely way of introducing their child or perhaps grandchild to nature.

What a treasure, and how grateful I am to have discovered it. Next time I’m bringing my camera!


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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?


Hungry Heron #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry, everyone! File this under better late than never.

Good evening from gorgeous (or gorges, as they case may be!) Ithaca, New York. This week I am participating in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s annual BirdSleuth educator retreat. 50 teachers from across the US have gathered together for four intense days of learning about Citizen Science work from a handful of educators and scientists from the Lab’s 250+ member team.

DSC_0015The setting for the retreat is the Lab’s stunning property in Sapsucker Woods. Some of you may be familiar with the property from watching two of the Labs many web cams, Sapsucker Woods Feeder and Pond Cams. The visitor’s center wing of the Lab, where our retreat is located, looks out upon a large lily pad-covered pond, and yesterday we were greeted upon our arrival by a majestic blue heron. She (or he) stood for the entire morning in the same spot, occasionally dipping her beak down below the pond’s surface for a bite to eat. During one of our late morning breaks, I took a walk over to one of the many lookouts on the banks of the pond for a closer look.


When I reached the lookout, a gorgeous heron sculpture greeted me. Art imitates life, or is life imitating art? In any case the heron inspired two playful poetic offerings.


heron stands watching

waiting patiently until

breakfast is ready

— Christie Wyman, 2018

breakfast is served

on nature’s best lily pad plates

to Sapsucker’s hungry residents

— Christie Wyman, 2018


Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe is hosting this week’s roundup, and she’s got some great ideas to share from her time at Chicago’s Summer Poetry Teacher’s Institute. Join us for some Poetry Friday fun!

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Ten Things Tuesday #SOL

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Ever heard of Ten Things Thursday? Here’s a Ten Things Tuesday.

  1. I am looking forward to checking in and settling into my dorm here on the Cornell campus for my PD this week. I’ve been curled up in the student center happily reading and writing for three hours.
  2. I hope I have the wi-fi situation settled so I can make my TeachWrite online course this afternoon!
  3. I wonder if the groundhogs will leave the new plants in my garden alone while I’m gone? I chose them from a list of plants that they apparently aren’t interested in. I’m done fighting with them!
  4. I wish the way too chatty middle school boys on a lunch break from their math camp would go back to class, so I can hear myself think!
  5. I am curious to see if the woman who was on my flight from Philly, then on my bus here to campus, and now eating next to me in the cafeteria is here for the same PD?
  6. I don’t like unloading all my worldly possessions in airport security lines. The sight of those buckets makes me stressed! So worried I’m going to lose something!
  7. I pray there isn’t water in my basement back in Massachusetts. Thunderstorm and flash flood watch alerts keep popping up on my screen.
  8. I am falling behind in my summer reading. My TBR pile is enormous and I haven’t made as much progress as I wish I had.
  9. I can’t wait to go on the Heinemann Teacher Tour again at the end of the month. It was fun two years ago and I didn’t make it last year.
  10. Yeah! The middle school boys are leaving and it’s time to check in!


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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?


Butterfly Dances #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday the 13th, everyone! Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children is our gracious hostess this fine Friday. Don’t miss her exciting news about the latest addition to the Poetry Friday Anthology series, Great Morning! Poetry for School Leaders to Read Aloud. I can’t wait to gift a copy to my principal for use during our new all-school Morning Mindful Moments and school meetings. So many of our Poetry Friday friends are featured in this collection. Bravo!

My poetic muse up and left me during the final weeks of the school year, but she’s back! She flittered and fluttered her way back into my psyche as I watered one of my garden beds the other morning. I planted milkweed seeds back in the spring in hopes of attracting monarchs, and had completely forgotten about them until I returned from a week’s vacation. Not only were the milkweeds there, but the visitors I’d been hoping for had arrived. Bee balm is also on their menu, too.

The seeds for this tanka came to me as I watched this beauty dance in celebration of summer’s bountiful pollinator feast. Now I’m on egg watch!

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butterfly dances joyfully from stem to stem gathering nectar from midsummer’s bright blossoms if you plant it they will come


I hope you’ll join Sylvia and the rest of us for some Poetry Friday fun today!

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The House By The Pond #SOL

There are so many writing opportunities online for teachers this summer! One of the teacher writing camps I’m participating in suggested writing a Yelp, Amazon, or Goodreads review. I thought I’d give an in-depth review of our Airbnb from last week’s vacation a go! Let me know how I did at selling it!

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“A House By The Pond” is exactly that and so much more. The spotless rental apartment is in a lovely home on woodland-abutting property in an area rich with mid-Hudson Valley history. The delightful host, Doris, grew up in Hyde Park and she knows everything there is to know about the area and its history. The house is private, safe, and served as a quiet retreat. It is perfect for a researcher working in the FDR Library archives (which my husband was), parents visiting their child at the Culinary Institute of America, Marist College, or Vassar College, or anyone looking for a relaxing place to settle into at the end of a long day of hiking or sightseeing.

During our week-long stay, my husband and I were entertained by the wildlife in or near the home’s pond – two adorable sunning turtles, a chorus of call-and-response frogs, a wide variety of bird life, and deer. We were sad the resident fox and her kits eluded us, though!

The garden-level apartment, with its own private entrance, features an eat-in kitchenette with sink, mini-fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. There’s a comfortable sitting area with two couches, a back entrance with large closet and numerous wall hooks, which was served as the perfect mudroom when returning on a rainy day or from a hiking excursion. The bedroom has an en suite bathroom, a desk/workspace, and additional sitting area for reading or watching TV.

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During our stay, we took advantage of the fabulous front porch overlooking the pond. It’s perfect for eating, reading, dozing, or relaxing while gazing out across the pond area. It was shady and breezy on a sweltering summer day and a terrific place to hide out when it was pouring rain. The lovely back deck overlooking the woods and garden, is available, too.

The house is nicely removed from the hustle and bustle of Route 9, the main north/south road running parallel to the Hudson, but not far from the action. The Vanderbilt mansion (a great place to picnic!) and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill are just minutes away. Drive another minute or two and you arrive at the FDR Presidential Library & Museum, the Culinary Institute of America, or Marist College. Charming Rhinebeck village or historic Poughkeepsie and Vassar College are 15 minutes away, if that. Breathtaking hikes (or cliff climbing, if that’s your thing) in the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunk (Gunks) range are just a short drive after crossing the Mid-Hudson (FDR) Bridge. And we even hopped on the train in Poughkeepsie, headed south, and spent the day in NYC. Amazing!

The extras. Did I mention the extras? Doris has thought of everything possible you might need, want, or could possibly forget during your stay. Each afternoon, she leaves a basket of muffins, fruit, and bottled water for the following day. Want to pass on the muffins or fruit? No problem. Just leave her a note in advance. When we arrived, the mini fridge was stocked with orange juice, half and half, and bottled water. The cupboards were filled to the brim with all the paper goods, utensils, and cleaning supplies to see you through your stay. A snack basket, filled with more goodies than we could eat, was a lovely welcome. The bathroom had a basket, too, brimming with everything imaginable. Doris really has thought of everything!

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There are plenty of restaurants (including the CIA!) if you feel like eating out or doing take out and enjoying it on the porch, back deck, or the kitchenette’s bistro table. There’s also a terrific Stop & Shop on Route 9, if you want to pick up a few groceries of your own.

Doris is rated an Airbnb “Superhost,” and that she is! She is wonderful and took very good care of us, but also gave us plenty of space and privacy. We are already planning a return visit to stay at “The House By The Pond.”


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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?


Swap treasures in the mail! #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! I’m back after a bit of a hiatus while the school year finished up. Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is our hostess this week, and she’s showcasing some sweet summer souvenirs!


On the very first morning of my summer vacation from school, our mail carrier delivered a delightful package from poetry swap-mate Brenda Harsham, who blogs at Friendly Fairy Tales. It was bursting with color, ladybugs, and a friendship theme. What a way to begin the season!

the best friends appear when you need them like ladybugs — Brenda Harsham

I adore ladybugs (how did she know?), so I will treasure her creative offering. I also chuckled when I saw Brenda’s return address on the envelope and realized we live SO CLOSE to one another and I know exactly where she lives! Let’s meet some day, Brenda!

And then, a few days later, this arrived.

The True Definition of Vernal Pool
Vernal pools, could just as easily be called poke puddles, observation opportunities or wonders water. These pools typically fill when kindergarteners are indoors missing the outdoors due to seasonal weather. If you’re fortunate, Mrs. Wyman will bridge the gap between vernal pools and lessons with jackets, boots, journals, pencils and a wander plan. Hands will get muddy, wonders will arise, research will begin. Poems about frogs, leaves crustaceans and life cycles will be written. These pools will continue to lure insiders out-of-doors whenever there are learners near a Massachusetts woods and Mrs. Wyman to lead them. — Linda Mitchell

Wow. I’m not going to lie. This left me in a puddle of the-school-year-just-ended-and-I’m-a-bit-of-an-emotional-wreck tears. Some of you know of my fondness for vernal pools. Ok. Let’s be honest. It’s an obsession! I write about them often, in both poetry and prose. Linda Mitchell (we ARE going to meet IRL one day, Linda!), who blogs at A Word Edgewise, followed along faithfully during the month of April, as I wrote a poem a day about vernal pools as part of poet/author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s 1 Subject 30 Ways challenge. My journey began here.  Linda had never heard of vernal pools and…well… “poems are teachers,” as Amy’s book is so aptly titled. Now Linda knows all about them! And her card will be treasured along with Brenda’s.

Many thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, who brilliantly coordinated this summer poetry swap!


I hope you’ll join Tricia and the rest of us for some summer Poetry Friday fun here!

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