Tag Archives: Ethical ELA

Annotations: NPM22 Day 24

Yesterday was day 2 of the SDAWP Advanced Institute that I wrote about in March. On this second day, we moved our work to focus on revision mindsets and building confidence as writers with the help of Chris Hall’s The Writer’s Mindset and Liz Prather’s The Confidence to Write. An identity as writer for a teacher has an important impact on writing instruction. Teachers teach qualitatively differently when they understand their subject matter from the inside out. Teacher-writers have experienced all that makes writing hard. They know how it feels to face a blank page–and then write through uncertainty and fear. And they can support students to develop a writerly identity too.

This morning I awoke to Jessica’s “found annotations” prompt for #verselove over at Ethical ELA. My first reaction was, “Oh no!” I’m not really much into annotating–and it’s not something I do with first graders. I do annotate their observations of weekly poems and encourage them to respond to text, but we frequently depend on oral language for those annotations.

But then I thought about some of the reading we did yesterday and I grabbed my copy of The Confidence to Write, picked a section in the chapter on the fear of the blank page called Breathe Through It, and started annotating. I then went back and let my poet brain wander through the annotations and my thinking. Here’s my poem:

Complexities of Simplicity

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four

Feel the rhythm

the beat

drum drumming

refilling air sacs

lung pillows

calming, slowing,

pushing pounds

immoveable objects

pushing stress




Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three , four

Count each breath

like steps


through the sand

hear the tide

pushing in and out

dancing to the beat

of your heart

study says

breathing deep

increases productivity

by 47-62 minutes

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four

Dive in

swim through

tap the rhythms

find the beat


in salty life blood

in salty sea water


with confidence

and breathe

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four


No Cheese for Me: NPM22 Day 22

The #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA today is All Things Cheese. But, although I like cheese…I don’t love cheese. So today I decided to write my poem about something I do love: ice cream. Just a Haiku to ease into the weekend.

Ice Cream

Ice cold and creamy

dreamy caramel choco-

late. Dinner tonight?


Sidewalk Beach: NPM22 Day 21

Today’s poem emerged from a mishmash of prompts and experiences. Leilya over at #verselove and Ethical ELA shared her poem about a walk and then Mitch at our National Writing Project Connecting the Network call offered two other mentor poems about seeing ordinary things in new ways, and today’s lizard skittered right into my notebook.

Sidewalk Beach

“Hey friend”

where? I wonder as I search my surroundings

expecting the skitter of reptilian feet


Today was not-so-usual

in a far-from-familiar place

killing time with an every-single-day practice:

a walk

Sidewalk warmed under robin-blue skies

looked like spring break beaches

bodies lined up, rumps to the sun

crisping, browning

in perfect synchronization

Instead of sketchy skitters

as I come close, it looks at me

a question like a speech bubble

crowning its head

“Why are you here casting shade

on my sidewalk beach?”

I snap a portrait

and it skitters into the bushes


Leave a Space: NPM22 Day 20

Today I’m feeling the accumulation of too much to do and too little time–so when I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Burning the Old Year as part of today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA, the lines an absence shouts, leaves a space shouted at me about the need for space. It’s rough, but here’s the direction I headed.

Leave a Space

Leave a space

for breath

As I hurry to finish all the things

a list longer

than my memory

tying knots between

my should blades

Leave a space

to ponder

instead of filling my brain

with bad news

fake news

ridiculous new

who really needs

this news?

Leave a space

of contemplation

Another meeting

another committee

filled with decisions

that everyone

and no one

cares about and those who care the least

make the final


Leave a space

to just be

wide open space

Leave a space

where I can be me


Telling Truths: NPM22 Day 18

Over at Ethical ELA, Maureen has challenged us to tell a succinct truth in the style of Lucille Clifton for today’s #verselove prompt. This seems scary–to tell a truth that maybe reveals an ugly underside rather than finding the beauty in something ordinary. But I had a truth to tell–so here it is.

Taking Aim

i wish

the incessant

flow of words

that spew

like an

upturned fire hydrant

could solve

world hunger


establish planetary peace.


they aim

their verbal arrows


day after day

hour after hour

at friends


fraying my nerves

piercing my heart.


Photography: NPM22 Day 17

Today’s #verselove prompt was about choices…and I made a choice that was different from the intended direction (I think). So, today I decided to write a #smallpoem (close to Haiku) to go with a photograph–where I wrote with light.


Today I write with light

images speak my words

exposing sea treasures


Today: NPM22 Day 15

Today for #verselove over at Ethical ELA, Anna invites us to pick a favorite day and write an acronym poem giving the reasons why. Indecisive seems to describe me today–I could think of so many reasons why each day of the week is my favorite. So, to solve that problem, I picked TODAY.


To decide was too much, concentrate instead on the moment, the now

Own each opportunity, observe carefully, orchestrate possibilities

Dance in the light, dust off the doldrums, decide to grab the joy within reach

Abandon burdens, anticipate with every sense, accept the now

Yank back the curtains, soak in the sun, seize this day: Today

Heart Rock Joshua Tree National Park

Shoe Seasons: NPM22 Day 14

To shoe or not to shoe…I’m not so sure that was today’s prompt for #verselove at Ethical ELA, but that’s what tumbled down into my poem today.

Shoe Seasons

In summer

I walk the beach


flip flops shoved

in my back pocket

toes squishing in wet sand

ankles lapped by shoreline waves

Bare means risking


by dying bees

(why do they come to the beach to die?)

globs of jelly

stingray barbs

Relishing the cool

salty sea water

soft sandy footbed

gentle caresses

by our mother


In winter

I walk the beach


sneakers well worn

past their prime

cracked and holey

ready for a briny bath

by misstep

or rogue wave

sand seeps in

filling my shoes

and my home

with ocean confetti

There are only two seasons

for beach footwear:


is best


Creative Joy: NPM22 Day 13

Today’s #verselove prompt over at Ethical ELA gives explicit directions to break rules! Stacey introduced the idea of a Gogyohka poem–a liberated version of a Tanka–a 5 line poem without the restraint of syllable counts. Strangely enough, I had introduced Haiku to my young students yesterday, inviting them to write 3 line poems without strictly adhering to the traditional 5-7-5 format.

To inspire their writing, we headed outside again today, this time with iPads in hand in search of tiny perfect things. (We had read the book by the same name before heading out–looking for tiny treasures so often overlooked.) When you’re 6 or 7, nearly everything is a treasure. They love the poppies that grow along the fenceline, the spiral of the succulents with their variegated greens, and even the gas meter–a metal contraption–that they don’t recognize as having a particular function.

And their joy inspired my Gogyohka today.

Creative Joy

Released from classroom restraint

they search the school grounds

for tiny perfect things

subjects for child-fresh photography

inspiration for unrestrained Haiku

Preset Style = “It’s Technical” Lightness = Auto-Exposure Size = Large Border = No Border

The Buzz: NPM22 Day 12

Today’s #verselove prompt over at Ethical ELA is the news. The news? I feel like there is so much I want to avoid about the news–especially for my writing. I considered all day just what take on the news I might embrace. And then the headline…out of our principal’s mouth during lunch today, “The queen bee has moved in…” That’s the news I am going with!

The Buzz

The queen bee has moved in

and her kingdom is swarming near the classroom door

Announced the principal

during lunch

the buzz buzzed

through the lounge

through the halls

adults swarming


During our read-aloud

a lone bee

was discovered

on Madison’s head

then ushered out with a quick flick

By tomorrow

the queen will be resettled

along with her kingdom

well out of reach

of classroom doors