Sparrows #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth

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Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in. 

Day #8: Sparrows

Identification (1)A peek at my process

On April 8, 1859, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “These windy days the sparrows resort to the pines and peach trees on the east side of our house for shelter, and there they sing all together, – tree sparrows, fox-colored sparrows, and song sparrows. (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal XII: March 2, 1859 – November 30, 1859, Chapter II. April, 1859, p. 120)

I confess to being a full-fledged bird nerd. At the moment I am trying to teach myself how to identify my backyard birds by both sight and, in some cases, by song. While I have mastered a decent number, I have many to go. One family that continues to challenge are the sparrows. There are 43 species, and while not all live in my neck of the woods, there are enough to keep me, my binoculars, and my Sibley’s Guide to Birds busy!

To challenge myself a bit for today’s poem, I went to my go-to resource, Poems are Teachers by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Amy is a wonderful guide by the side, and her section on personification spoke to me today.

And now for…

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A week ago, members of the Poetry Friday family launched the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem originally organized by author/poet, Irene Latham. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is taking over this year as the organizer. Many members of the #PoetryFriday family have signed up to provide a line for the 2020 poem. Tara Smith is up today, again offering a line choice for the next host, Carol Varsalona.  You can find Tara’s line choices on her blog, Going to Walden. (I think we might have some inspiration in common?)  I’m excited to provide the 24th line on Friday, April 24th. I hope you’ll join us to see what happens! Here’s the itinerary for the poem.

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at 
Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, 
deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at 
https://kaymcgriff.edublogs.org/
7 Catherine Flynn at 
Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at 
Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at 
Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at 
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at 
Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at 
A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at 
Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at 
Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at 
A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at 
Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at 
My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at
 A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at 
Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at 
Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at 
Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at 
To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, 
thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at 
Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at 
The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at 
Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at 
Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
30 
Michelle Kogan

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Call the Cops! #SOL19

 

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“The Police were involved.” No teacher out of the building for a week-long PD institute wants to receive a text from their sub with those words in it. Especially when they are a Kindergarten teacher!

Here’s what went down.

  • Kindergarten boy asks to use hallway bathroom when classroom bathroom is occupied.
  • Said Kindergarten boy doesn’t return after reasonable amount of time.
  • Sub goes in search of said boy and can’t find anywhere.
  • When returning to classroom to tell co-teacher boy can’t be found, sub finds said boy hiding under coats in cubby area. Said boy find this hilarious. Sub does not.
  • Sub scolds boy and then hauls him to School Counselor’s office. Counselor is running the show while the Principal is with me at PD.
  • Counselor scolds boy. As she is sending sub and boy back to class, she spots School Safety Officer making his rounds and calls him over.
  • Safety Officer scolds boy and then sends him and sub back to class.
  • Mom and Dad aren’t amused when they learn of said child’s inappropriate and unsafe choice.
  • Said boy significantly scared within an inch of his not-quite-6-year-old self.

How was your Monday?

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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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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#OneLittleWord #SOL19

Balloons

Happy New Year! The first day of the new year seems to be the perfect time to share my One Little Word (OLW) for 2019 and reflect on 2018’s word — write. (Click here to see a brief video of how a OLW can be a thread that weaves its way through life’s tapestry.)

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Write I did! As much as I would have liked? No, but does anyone ever accomplish as much as they would hope? Enough to feel good about? Yes! A few highlights included:

  • keeping a daily writing notebook, special projects mini note books, and launching my first bullet journal specifically to capture and nurture ideas for future (or not!) use
  • participating in my first month-long February Daily Poem Project on Facebook, an ekphrastic poetry challenge spearheaded by author/poet Laura Shovan throughout the month
  • slicing daily in my second Slice of Life (SOL) Challenge hosted by the Two Writing Teachers blog, writing 31 straight daily posts
  • writing alongside (albeit virtually) author/poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater during her National Poetry Month Project in April, writing and sharing a new poem every day, each highlighting a different poetic technique discussed in her brilliant Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann, 2017)

That was three straight months of daily writing, creating, and publishing. By May, I was exhausted, but strangely energized, so I also:

Now onto 2019’s word!

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2019 is going to be all about moving and moving forward, both body and mind. My husband and I have lots of fun walks and hikes planned, including a special trip in July. Santa brought us snowshoes, so we are just waiting for snow. And those InkJoy Gel pens (0.7mm, please) will keep moving forward, too, scribbling across notebook pages even more than in 2018. Promise!

Onto 2019! Let’s get a move on!

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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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Photo and Poetry Exchange #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is our hostess this week. Last month she invited us to participate in her “More than Meets the Eye” photo exchange. Participants were asked to send a photograph from their own geographic area to their exchange partner and in return their partner would write a poem about it.  Today’s the day! (Click here to read her call for participants.)

Glacier

I was partnered up with my Kindergarten soul mate, Dani Burtsfield. She sent me a stunning photo taken in Glacier National Park. Here’s the message that accompanied it. “After perusing many of my photos, I have found one I think will be fun for you. It was taken in Glacier National Park in the heart of a very cold winter. What looks like a pile of dirt there alongside the riverbank is a beaver lodge. I have been going to Glacier Park for many years, and often took students there in the winter for a day of snowshoeing. Ever since 2006 when I started, the beaver lodge has remained there. We have yet to witness the busy beavers coming in and out of their lodge, but the rangers assure us it is a busy home to many!”

So much catches my eye in this photo. Those majestic mountain peaks! The striking colors. The contrast of the brown of the deciduous trees against the evergreens’ steady green hue. I feel a chill from the snow and icy-cold water, yet the bright blue sky warms my heart. And I can only imagine the activity in the beaver lodge nestled under its blanket of snow. I have never been to Glacier, but it is on my Bucket List, along with many of our glorious national parks. It was fun researching online a bit to learn which flora and fauna make their home in the park, and I wondered if any Native American tribes still had a presence in the area, or if they had all been relocated to reservations nearby.

There is a place

I love the suggested symmetry of the reflection in the water below of what rises above. That was the inspiration for my shape poem. In addition, I wanted to include a cautionary closing. In the mid-19th century, 150 glaciers existed in the park. By 2010, only 25 active glaciers remained. Sadly, climate scientists have estimated that all the active glaciers may disappear by 2030 if current climate patterns persist. There’s a message there for all of us.

WaldenPond

In return, I sent Dani a photo I took at nearby Walden Pond last summer. I love walking in Thoreau’s footsteps and am always inspired to scribble in my writer’s notebook while I am there. I can not wait to see her poem! I hope you’ll visit her at Doing the Work That Matters.

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

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Gifts in the Mail #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, all! Rebecca at Sloth Reads is our hostess this week. She’s got a super review of I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: and Other Nonsense For mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith. I’ve been meaning to get a look at this book, and I’m grateful to Rebecca for lighting a fire under me. It looks terrific!

I’m sure you’ve seen lovely poetry postcards here and there from Jone MacCulloch’s students at Silver Star School in Washington state over the last month or so.  Each year her students lovingly create and send out these works of art during National Poetry Month. April was such a crazy month that I completely forget about signing up. And then these lovely gifts arrived in the mail.

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Having just participated in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s National Poetry Month informal study of her wonderful Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann, 2017), it was only fitting that I receive a poem that does just that — teach! Alexis does a lovely job here of teaching me about the importance of the Mandan people’s permanent villages made from individual earthen homes. Alexis whet my appetite for learning more about the Mandan people!

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And Sarah D’s fun, amphibious poem was particularly appropriate for me as my focus for Amy’s challenge was vernal pools, which found me writing a poem every day for 30 days about vernal pools and their inhabitants. How fun that this particular poem hopped into my mailbox! Well done, Sarah!

I Love Frogs! (1)

Frogs are fun to write about, aren’t they, Sarah D? This is one of my 30 poems that my Kindergarten scientists have been enjoying. Ribbit!

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

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Frog Memories #SOL18 #NationalPoetryMonth #NaPoWriMo

Happy National Poetry Month! This month I am tagging along with poet/author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater during what has become her annual NPM Project. You can click here to learn more about this straight from Amy! This year she is writing and sharing a new poem every day, each highlighting a different poetic technique, but keeping the same subject. Her challenge, 1 Subject 30 Ways, is also a bit of an informal book study, as she’s using her fall 2017 release Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann) as her guide. Join us!

Today’s writing technique chosen by Amy is be inspired by a memory. My subject is, and will be all month-long, vernal pools. A memory that returns to me at this time of year is saying goodbye to the wood frogs we head-start in my Kindergarten classroom. Under the watchful eye of a conservation biologist, we head-start these tiny creatures from our campus vernal pool. We first meet them in March or April when they are an egg mass, a raft floating on the surface of the water. Over the next two months or so, we marvel at their metamorphosis, knowing that they must be returned to their home soon. While we are sad, it is comforting to know that the head-starting program gives these gentle creatures, no bigger than a thumbprint, a better chance of survival. Our classroom tanks are a safer environment for them in many respects than their natural habitat. They have much to teach us.

Tiny frog (1)
Tiny frog
Still so small, fragile
The time has come for you to go
Released back into your native habitat
The vernal pool
The place of your birth
Room to grow
An abundance of food
Creatures to learn from, play with
Your brief time with us
Has given you a better chance
To survive and thrive 
Has taught us 
Conservation 
Wetland ecology
Landscape history
With gratitude
Tiny teacher

 

I also hope you will stop by Live Your Poem daily to follow along the journey of the 2018 KidLitosphere Progressive Poem, a fun annual collaborative project lovingly begun in 2012 by poet/author Irene Latham. The poem will magically, and quite literally this year, be growing right before our eyes daily during the month of April. This year we are following along the journey of Jasmine and her companions Moon and Owl. Jasmine, from a long line of poet’s jasmine, began has begun making her way in the world, and has at long last found her poetic voice! The process has been fascinating to follow and I was excited to dive in for the first time with line eighteen. I hope you will follow Jasmine’s journey for the remainder of our Progressive Poem month by clicking on the blogs in the list below. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us? This post is also part of my personal National Poetry Month celebration. I hope you’ll join me in sharing your favorite poetic gems throughout the month of April whether they are written by you, your students, or another poet.

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On that log we sit together #SOL18 #NationalPoetryMonth #NaPoWriMo

Happy National Poetry Month! This month I am tagging along with poet/author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater during what has become her annual NPM Project. You can click here to learn more about this straight from Amy! This year she is writing and sharing a new poem every day, each highlighting a different poetic technique, but keeping the same subject. Her challenge, 1 Subject 30 Ways, is also a bit of an informal book study, as she’s using her fall 2017 release Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann) as her guide. Join us!

Today’s writing technique chosen by Amy is to start with setting. While this is a poetry challenge, starting with setting is certainly a wonderful way to begin many forms of writing. My subject is, and will be all month long, vernal pools. In between two sections of our magical vernal pool is a finger of land — a tiny cape, geographically speaking — with a perfectly placed log. I’m not sure if nature placed this downed limb there, a habitat unto itself, or if the Forest and Trail Association who maintain the trails leading to the pool did, but it’s perfect.

On that log we sit together (no photo)

That log is a favorite spot of mine and my students. When sitting on either side of it, we face water, have water behind us, and water to one side. It’s the perfect place to stop and rest for a while, to become part of the vernal pool habitat if only for a few brief moments.  We sit and listen, watch, wonder, and sometimes sketch in our field notebooks. Do you have a picture in your head of our special place?

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Does it look something like this? If only you could come with us and experience it for yourself.

I also hope you will stop by Live Your Poem daily to follow along the journey of the 2018 KidLit Progressive Poem, a fun annual collaborative project lovingly begun in 2012 by poet/author Irene Latham. The poem will magically, and quite literally this year, be growing right before our eyes daily during the month of April. This year we are following along the journey of Jasmine and her companions Moon and Owl. Jasmine has now safely landed, begun wrapping herself around a trellis, and is beginning to grow. The process is fascinating and this year I am diving in for the first time with a line right in the middle of the month — April 18th.  I’m up tomorrow and nervous as all get out!

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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 here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us? This post is also part of my personal National Poetry Month celebration. I hope you’ll join me in sharing your favorite poetic gems throughout the month of April whether they are written by you, your students, or another poet.

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