Woodchuck #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #SOL20

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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. 

Today, because it is Tuesday, I also welcome Slice of Life visitors! My post is both poem-ish and Slice-ish!

Day #7: Woodchuck

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A peek at my process

On April 7, 1859, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “I saw a hole (probably of a woodchuck) partly dug on the cast side of the hill, and three or four large stones lay on the fresh sand-heap thrown out, which the woodchuck had pushed tip from below. One was about six inches long by four or more wide and might weigh four pounds, and, looking into the hole, whose bottom I could not see, I saw another nearly as large about three feet down, on its way up. I have seen their holes dug in much worse places than this. (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal XII: March 2, 1859 – November 30, 1859, Chapter II. April, 1859, p. 118)

We dread the return of the woodchucks, or groundhogs as we refer to them, every year. Their elaborate tunnel system makes its way through a slope between our uphill neighbors and our backyard. As my poem/Slice mentions, they tear their way through the garden every year, but this year we are going to fight back with coyote urine recommended by our local garden center and by choosing from a selection of flowers and vegetables they apparently resist. We will try anything! Click here to see the suggestions.

In other news

I am also excited to share that I have joined the Teach Write blogging team and will be writing a Poetry Ponderings blog post for them every month. My first offering is Finding Your Poetry Secret Decoder Ring. And last week my blogging teammate, Paula Bourque, offered up Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet In All of Us for her first Teach Write Think & Ink post. I hope you will take a peek at our posts!

And now for…

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Last Wednesday, 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. Catherine Flynn takes a turn today, again offering a line choice (it’s now officially a thing) for the next host, Tara.  You can find Catherine’s line choices on her blog, Reading to the Core. 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, 
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at 
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, 
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
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

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Snowflake Crystals #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, all! Catherine Flynn is our hostess this week and you can find all the poetry joy on her blog, Reading to the Core. Join us! Catherine wrote lovely haiku during December’s #haikuforhope. I am so glad she is sharing some of them for her post today, as I had missed a few along the way. Hope you are feeling better soon, Catherine!

My offering drifted down from the sky in a brief snow squall earlier this week.


We’ve been doing a bit of word collecting in my classroom this week, so I gathered up all the words that came to mind when snowflakes begin to tumble.

Many thanks for hosting this week, Catherine. Now let’s bring on the poetry!


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A Hat Trick of Poems and a BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT! Giveaway #PoetryFriday #BalanceForBetter #IWD2019

I am leaping into Poetry Friday this week for several reasons, most importantly because my cyberspace friend Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core (honestly, when are we going to meet IRL, Catherine?) is hosting this week’s gathering.  Won’t you join us there? I’m bringing a hat trick of poems to the celebration.

Catherine threw out an International Women’s Day poetry challenge to everyone a few week ago. I love a challenge, so I turned to Wonderopolis (as one does) for a bit of text to craft a blackout poem with. I found Wonder of the Day #401: What is Suffrage? and uncovered this blackout/list poem.

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If you are teaching students how to write blackout poetry, Wonderopolis is a great text source!


Next, and the reason why I am leaping is that the amazing Georgia Heard’s new collection of poetry for children, BOOM! BELOW! BLEAT! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices (WordSong/Boyds Mills Press) is about to celebrate its book birthday and I am not waiting until March 12 to talk about it. My Kindergarteners and I have been having a blast reading these fun poems together. I’m joining Georgia today for a celebration of #FrogFriday!


While many members of the animal kingdom are represented in the book, our hands-down favorites are the frog poems. Many of you know that in my district we study our campus vernal pool and the frogs that make their home there. I love taking my students out to the pool in the late winter when the spring peepers begin to let us know spring is on the way. We want to see them SO BADLY, but can only hear them. I’m pretty sure Georgia wrote “You Can’t See Us, but You Can Hear Us” just for us. Thanks, Georgia!


Aaron DeWitt’s gorgeous artwork does a great job filling us in as to what we are missing visually in the forest. I think we are going to have to add a performance of this to our spring celebration for parents. Don’t you?


And “We Don’t Say Ribbit!” is proof positive that poems are teachers. Frogs and toads most definitely don’t say Ribbit!


We love the back and forth dialogue between our amphibious friends in this poem. Another gem!

And now for the best news! Our good friends at WordSong/Boyds Mills Press have generously donated a copy of the book to give away to one lucky Poetry Friday reader. To enter, just leave me a comment referencing BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT! I’ll let you know if you are the lucky winner! Thanks, Boyds Mills!

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And lastly, to close out the hat trick, changes are starting to happen outdoors and in my classroom, and I suspect other classrooms, too.  I love this time of year!


Thanks to Catherine for hosting this week’s celebration! Happy Poetry Friday, all!


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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