Tag Archives: celebrate

What Students Love: #writeout

As promised, here are some of my students’ poetry inspired by Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love.  (For more details, check out this previous post.)

Even before pulling out City I Love, I launched the idea of writing about place by reading All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan and Where Am I From by Yamile Saied Mendez.  Students then created heart maps of the places they love (ala Georgia Heard).  By this time students were excited about the places they love, eager to tell each other and me all about them.  But instead of diving right into the writing, I asked students to “map” themselves.  I tried to keep this direction pretty broad, letting students take it in any direction they wanted.  These watercolor and black sharpie marker masterpieces are the result!

This map is a wonderful map creature by H.


And his poem:

Morro Rock I love

Looking at the dormant volcano 

The fish swarm in the water 

The sound of the sea gulls

The smell of the salty sea.

Casting a line

Getting the bait 

catching the fish.

It’s just sitting in place

Day after day

Year after year

For hundred of years.

Walking on the beach

looking at the fish and crabs

and looking at the ocean scenery

Sitting on a dock waiting for a fish

like waiting for a train.


And a pineapple map by I.


And her poem about a very special bench that honors her grandmother:

The Bench I Love

 On the bench I sit at

      Bench I love 

I watch the flowers flowers flow 

As the birds glide slow as they pass by their home

Through the palm tree garden I go 

Past the great sun’s glow

On the bench I sit at

Bench I love 

I sit down and watch the tide curl 

Up & down it will go 

On the bench I sit at 

bench I love

The breeze flies past my hair 

And chases the ocean’s salty waves

On the bench I sit at

 bench I love

I sit down and inhale

Look up and exhale

And a horse map by S.


Accompanied by a barn poem:

Barn I Love

Barn I go to

barn I love.

Horse smelling wonder beyond city.

Gallops of emotion. Races of hearts.

Barn I go to 

barn I love.

Each morning a sweet smell of hay .

Each night a thankful nay.

Barn I go to 

barn I love.

Morning wet covers the arena.

Full of playful horses running.

Barn I go to 

barn I love.

Stardust black mares galloping in the cold moon.

 Sunset colored  butterflies leave at the end of the day.

I told my students that I would use my blog to amplify their voices (our vocabulary word from last week!).  I know they will appreciate your comments.  And know that these are just a glimpse of what my students created as they thought about the places and activities that matter to them.

How are you celebrating writing in your classroom, in your home, in your life?  #writeout


A Place I Love: #writeout

When I learned that the National Day on Writing, the National Park Service, and the National Writing Project would join forces to celebrate writing through #writeout in October, I was all in.  #writeout is meant to help writers focus on stories of place…particularly if there is a national park nearby.  I don’t happen to live near a national park, but I do live by spectacular outdoor spaces where I spend lots of time walking…and that inspire my writing.

As October began, students read and studied the poem, City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  The rhythms and patterns of the poem were friendly to students, they were able to notice many techniques Hopkins employed.  And better yet, they were eager and ready to write their own versions using this poem as their mentor text.

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins


In the city

I live in—

city I love—

mornings wake

to swishes, swashes,


of sweepers

swooshing litter

from gutters.


In the city

I live in—

city I love—

afternoons pulse

with people hurrying,


races of faces

pacing to




In the city

I live in—

city I love—

nights shimmer

with lights


with stars


unknown heights.


In the city

I live in—

city I love—

as dreams

start to creep

my city

of senses





With this poem as a mentor text, I wrote my own version, focusing on a favorite place of mine.  Of course, I had to write about walking on the beach!


Beach I Love


At the beach

I walk on

The beach I love

Seagulls hover

Squawking and flapping

Searching for treats

In unattended 

Beach bags. 


At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Salty waves

Curl and break

Tossing swimmers 

And tempting surfers

Into the cool, refreshing



At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Squishy sand

Sucks at my toes

Tiny grains sanding 

My soles smooth

And sheltering 

Tiny frisky crabs and 

Multitudes of bean clams. 


At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Rhythmic seas

Slow my breath

Warm my heart

And clear my mind. 


Kim Douillard 

So in honor of the National Day on Writing and #writeout, I let the outdoors inspire my writing.  I will include my students’ writing in days to come!




Weekly Photo Challenge: Celebrate

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

As teachers know, the week leading up to winter break is a busy one.  There’s so much more to teaching than reading and writing and math!  Kids heads are filled with the wonder and all the iconic imagery of the holidays, and we have to work hard to make learning relevant and engaging during this week.  And while there was plenty conspiring against us, there was a lot of great learning to celebrate.  Early in the week, kids put finishing touches on gifts they had made for their family and wrapped them up to take home.  I can’t give away what’s inside…there’s still a few days until Christmas!  There’s a lot of learning contained in these festive packages…from the creation to the presentation, each step is a learning opportunity that we, as adults, often take for granted!

packagesWe were also surprised this week with a package from author/illustrator Lizi Boyd.  After reading Flashlight earlier this school year, our students had created Flashlight-inspired art and wrote stories based on Lizi Boyd’s wordless picture book.  When my teaching partner emailed her to share how much we loved her work…and sent some of our student products to her, she responded enthusiastically and sent our students beautiful blank notebooks, inspiring bookmarks, and encouragement to write, draw, and imagine.  She also sent a copy of her new book, Inside Outside, that we cannot wait to read and work with.  And the wrapping was a celebration in itself!

book from lizi boydAnd today, the last day before the break, we did our best to keep students focused on learning. We had a spectacular science lesson on buoyancy with our science teacher…and after working on claim, evidence, and reasoning for a little over a week with relation to buoyancy, students did some outstanding science writing today!  (More on that in another post)  We also continued our study of geometry by asking students to create a holiday or winter scene made up of geometric shapes.  There were some pretty clever geometric scenes to celebrate!

Geometry winter scene

And in my life outside of school there were also indications of celebration.  At my meeting at the local science museum on Saturday, even the dinosaur fossil was getting in the holiday spirit and adding to the celebration by sporting a santa hat!

Dino with hat

And we’ve had rain!  Yes, it’s annoying when trying to drive on freeways with people who don’t know a thing about driving in the rain.  Roads flood, traffic crawls, students are cooped up inside all day, everything is soggy…and we are celebrating.  We desperately need each and every drop right now.  And honestly, the cloudy skies are such a novelty that I can’t resist taking shot after shot.  I fell in love with this seagull enjoying the unusually moist air shortly before sunset.

seagull on a pole

And although my husband brought a tree home on Sunday, it is still sitting bare in the living room waiting for celebratory decorations.  It’s a beautiful tree and I had some fun taking photos and playing with the focus of the foreground and background as I snapped a few photos of my cat, Phil through the branches.

Phil through the tree

What are you celebrating right now?  It might be Hanukkah or Christmas or rain…or even a two week break from your usual routine.  Snap a few shots and share celebrate through your images.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #celebrate for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

It’s time to celebrate!  What says celebration to you?  Can’t wait to see your version of celebrate as you share your world through your lens.