Tag Archives: mentor text

Quirky: NPM22 Day 11

Quirky is a word I love, but still, when I saw it as the #verselove prompt by Kim over at Ethical ELA I felt at a loss. What poem will I write that fits this category?

It’s our first day back after Spring Break–and my first April day with my students. We primed ourselves for National Poetry Month before Spring Break at the end of March by writing a collaborative Poetry Is poem. And today, I brought out a favorite Eve Merriam poem, Peeling an Orange to serve as a mentor text for students. (You can see my experimentation on day 1 of National Poetry Month.) We’ve studied a poem each week of the school year, laying down an appreciation for and familiarity with poetry and the interesting language it is known for. And we write poetry regularly–I love short writing forms (for all ages) and the permission to break rules that poetry allows.

I lay out all of this to establish my own quirkiness as a teacher of writing. My expectations for the 6 and 7 year olds in my class are sky high–and when it comes to writing, they seldom let me down. I establish early on my love for egrets–they make a great writing topic that my students come to know and expect. While they didn’t know much about them early in the school year, they are quite familiar with them now.

Finally–get to the point already! When I picked my students up after lunch today they rushed me, so excited they simply couldn’t stay in line. Mrs. Douillard–there was a snowy egret! What?! I was looking around the playground. Really? A snowy egret on the playground? No–it was flying over the playground. I missed it–but they loved it and loved knowing that I would love it. So, inspired by my students and their excitement, my quirky poem is a Haiku capturing this moment.

snowy egret flies

yellow footed pistons tucked tight

playground showoff

@kd0602

And here I circle back to the first grade poets I love and teach and their Peeling an Orange inspired poetry.

B wrote about lizards

Catching a Lizard

skittering like

the second hand

in all different

shapes and sizes

not very easy to see

but they are still very

tiny.

R wrote her own quirky piece

Squirrels

A fuzzy bushy fearless fighter rodent

when he bites you you immediately put your hand on your cut

and you will get rabies

chattering in the trees

gathering nuts for the winter

And C chose turtle as a topic

Finding a Turtle

A turtle’s shell is hard.

But inside it is soft.

It’s slow but

its heart is fast.

Some turtles

have strong shells

some are weak.

Things I Know by Heart: NPM22 Day 2

Imagine my surprise this morning when the post by Ethical ELA was hosted by friend and colleague Emily Yamasaki! I was immediately drawn into both the mentor poem, things I have memorized by Maria Giesbrecht and Emily’s poem, Things I Know. I dove deeply into the cool pool of poems that emerged from Emily’s provocation, reading and feeling, admiring and analyzing as I began to think about my own writing for this second day of National Poetry Month.

Things I Know by Heart

The sleek curve of the egret’s neck

in the tidepool at low tide

The smells of love that fill our home

emanating from the kitchen

The silence of his last breath

matching the empty space in our family

My daily commute, etched in the recesses of my mind,

requiring no conscious thought

My childhood phone number

but not my passwords–they continue to elude me

The sweetness of little boys

now into the second generation

Fear of fire, seared into my memory

brought back by ashes that rain down like snowflakes

Fog’s gray blanket

an indicator that spring has arrived

Each of the traffic spots on the 5 between our house and theirs

no matter how long it takes, every trip is worth it

Sunset’s fiery sky painting

celebrating endings and promising new beginnings

@kd0602

Chasing a Snail: NPM22 Day 1

It’s April! And it’s the first day of National Poetry Month. I don’t profess to be a great poet–but I am able to share my love of words and poetry with my students–especially when I do the things I ask them to do.

So even though this is not a teaching day for me and even though Spring Break begins tomorrow and I won’t see my students until April 11th, I will write a poem each day. I know that I will be better able to coach and guide them if I am doing the poetry writing I want them to try.

I plan to use Eve Merriam’s Peeling an Orange with them when we get back to school after Spring Break, so why not experiment with it as a mentor text today? One of the techniques I notice in this poem is her use of the contrasting words carelessly and meticulously. So, since photos tend to inspire my writing, I took a peek through my camera roll and spotted this one of a snail from a neighborhood walk earlier this week. And here is the poem it inspired:

Chasing a Snail

Hurrying

all feet and shadow

risking the horrifying crunch

or moving in slowly

my phone a wall

as the telescoping antennae

stretch and reach

each centimeter forward

marked with a telltale spot

of drying slime

like invisible ink

in a race against

time and dryness

Taking Our Photos Further: SOL22 Day 16

Back on Monday I wrote about my students and their foray into the garden to explore some photography techniques. We’ve been continuing our project, first by carefully examining each photo, noticing the technique used to take the photo, and then selecting their 3 favorites…one from each technique. Those three photos were then edited. I showed them two main function of the native iPad editing tool: how to crop and/or turn a photo and then had them use a filter to change their photo from color to black and white. (After all, we are studying Ansel Adams!)

Today, the choices got more difficult. They had to select their one favorite of the three edited photos to use as their inspiration for writing some captions–in the form of equations. One of my fellow slicers did a lovely photo essay (I wish I did a better job of keeping track of the blogs I read and leave comments for) where she used Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations as her caption format. I knew this would be an excellent format for my young writers–and after reading and discussing what we noticed in Amy’s book, these 6 and 7 year olds set off to write their own–inspired by their black and white photos.

Here’s a few to share with you (along with the photo inspiration)…please keep in mind that these are first draft efforts!

I absolutely love B’s buckets–there is something perfect about the light and dark of them. Here’s one of his captions (he was quite pleased by this effort!):

Bucket + bucket = Buckets

Our warm weather obviously had an impact on A:

Fun + spring + warm = amazing

Only a few students risked subtraction, I love R’s sentiment!:

Trees – deforestation = Life

You’ve got to love the first grade angles! Here’s H’s view:

Love + joy + garden leaves = plants

This unusual view of sweet peas inspired C’s caption:

Plants + pollination = Flowers

In addition to the photography lesson, the actual photos, and the captions, students used technology to edit and also learned to upload photos to Google Drive, share them with me, and absolutely loved getting to choose from three different black and white filters.

And here is my own–I had to join in the fun!

Smooth stumps + tiny black ants = squirmy kids

Maybe you’ll want to head outside and give this a try! Be sure to share if you do!

Teacher-Writer

What does it mean to identify as teacher-writer?

I write with my students, I write for my students, I write to understand my students, I write to understand my teaching and my students’ learning. That’s probably the definition of teacher-writer.

Today I experimented with a writing provocation I found in a Teachers and Writers Magazine article. It attracted my attention because it began with doing–actually with a blind contour drawing. I love to have students do something as a provocation for writing–probably because I like to DO as a way to instigate my own writing.

So, following the directions in the article, I used my non-dominant hand to draw my hand, keeping my eyes on my hand and not on the drawing. I tried not to lift my pen, keeping my pen following all the lines and shapes I saw on my hand.

After drawing I opened my notebook and began a list of words evoked by my examination of my hand. then I came up with some metaphors. I thought back to memories about what my hands had touched or done, capturing some of those thoughts in my notebook. I went on to express my gratitude to my hands.

The next step was to write about my hand, using the ideas generated before–or not–for about 7 minutes (my favorite writing time!).

Finally, using a different colored pen, I added words to my blind contour drawing of my hand, creating a collage of sorts. I didn’t directly copy my writing, just added some of the words and phrases I had generated.

Students could go on to write an essay or ode about their hands, having generated a plethora of ideas.

Having tried this writing on as a writer myself helps me identify how it might or might not work for my students. My young students might do better studying their non-dominant hand and using their dominant hand for drawing. I know they will worry about how the drawing might come out–I’ll have to show them some strategies and perhaps do a practice or two before we start for real. We may brainstorm words about their hands as a group before they begin their individual lists. But, I think I’ll try this project with my students. I love the blind contour aspect, the close examination, and the way that careful attention leads to more interesting writing.

What strategies do you use to keep the writerly part of yourself sharp? How do you hone your skills as a teacher-writer? Does anyone know a great picture book that focuses on one body part that is not about hands?

List Poems: NPM #20

On day 20 of the poem-a-day challenge, we tackled the list poem. Using Eileen Spinelli’s Creativity as our mentor text, we studied how this list poem was constructed. Students noticed the list of ordinary objects, pointed out the rhyme, saw the punctuation and got ready to create their own lists.

Often, I base my poems on a photo I’ve taken. But today, I decided to write my list poem about poetry…and found myself putting bits of language from my students into it (including that rat from yesterday!). Here’s my first attempt:

Poetry

Poetry

swirls together

sights and sounds

popping like popcorn

then paints on details

like the furry mountain

that was once a rat

you can smell

the tropical sunscreen

slathered on tender skin

and climb the Eiffel Tower

to view the sights

of Paris below

Poetry

links animals and machines

growling and leaping

flowers and candy

sweet, tasty, colorful

blooming in my imagination

quenching my thirst

with cool, fizzy, wetness

that takes my to the seashore

where poetry lives

®Douillard

Planting Seeds: SOLC #29

We’ve been writing in 7 minute intervals. Every day. Sometimes several times a day. There’s something about the timer that seems to help my students focus intently on the writing. And when the timer sounds, someone always wants to share.

Of course, that 7 minutes is only the smallest part of what it means to write. That timer-influenced writing usually follows a stimulus of some kind (often a picture book or poem), conversation as a group and in partners, studying a mentor text and the moves that writers make, and sometimes drawing or some other kind of art.

Today we wrote about a place we love. But first, last week we read My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero. We noticed how she focused on places she loved in her community and on her dad and family. We studied her writing. We marked the action words she used: zigzagged, cruised, revs, and roars. We notice the way she uses senses, including sounds and smells and textures, in her descriptions. We paid attention to her comparison of the experience of riding the motorcycle to a comet in the sky. Then we started to name places we love: Tennessee, Legoland, grandma’s house, the kitchen… We sketched a map of this place. And finally, after a quick demonstration of how I might use the mentor text to get started with my writing, I set the timer.

A hush fell over the room. Pencils raced across the page. And when the timer rang, hands started going up. Unfortunately, there was no time to share today. We’ll have to start there tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear how these much-loved places will be transformed into words on the page.

Writing with students is all about planting seeds. I can’t wait to see what blossoms.

Tiny Perfect Things: SOLC #22

Today students continued their work with photography after we read Tiny Perfect Things. We took the iPads and headed out onto the track around the field to uncover our own tiny (or not so tiny) perfect things. We then used Elaine Magliaro’s poem Things to do if you are a Pencil as a mentor text to get started on a poem to accompany the photo each student selected.

We didn’t get to any sort of publication today, so I don’t have student texts to share with you. That will have to come later.

But, I did write with my students, inspired by this photo and our mentor text.

Write About Hands: NPM20 Day 28

Our mentor text for today was Karla Kuskin’s Write About a Radish, a fun reminder that there are topics that are overused and sometimes we need to think about the mundane, the ordinary, the run of the mill when we go looking for poems.

My students had fun with this.  They wrote about grubs, paper, kumquats, an ant, a carrot and more.  I am reminded that it really does take daily practice and a commitment to trying things that feel hard or uncomfortable to get better at whatever skill you are working on.  I can see my students’ daily improvements, moments of breakthrough, troughs of lack of inspiration.  One of the benefits of the this remote learning environment is that I am writing feedback on the poems that are submitted each day–and I see the take up of that feedback in subsequent poems.

My own poems are lacking that kind of feedback.  But lucky for me, I am also learning from my students.  As I study their poems, I learn about my own.  When I see their fresh, unexpected moves, I imagine what those might look like in my own poetry.  And like them, the daily practice matters.

So my own poem, inspired by Karla Kuskin’s Write About a Radish.

Write About Hands

 

Write about hands

too many people write about diamonds.

 

The shiny gold setting

the faceted cuts

that reflect the sun

creating a sky full of stars

in the moonless sky.

 

These hands

with unrefined nails

and sun beaten skin

wear those diamonds,

a symbol of a love

that endures.

®Douillard

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With a Repeated Refrain: NPM20 Day 22

Today we used a poem by Julie Fogliano called When Green Becomes Tomatoes, from a book by the same name, as our mentor for poetry writing in our virtual classroom.  Two defining features of the poem are the repeated refrain of when green becomes tomatoes” and the use of parentheses to bring in some extra information.

My students came at this poem from some different directions, some picking up on the structural refrain, others on the description of a season or time, while others played with the use of parentheses.  Here are a couple of examples.

Max created this gorgeous piece of digital art and composed a science poem with the repeated refrain:

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E’s poem captures his (and our) sense of this moment when solitude and staying home are our current reality and “busy’ness” is starting to sound good!

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My own poem was inspired by watching some small birds on the tree in my front yard…and then borrowing from Julie Fogliano’s structure to make sense of my thoughts.

Spring’s Song

When chirps become spring’s song

sunlight will flood the sky

and energy will sprout

like greet shoots emerging from rich, damp soil

when chirps become spring’s song

days will stretch

and we will itch

for beaches, parks, and winding mountain paths

when chirps become spring’s song

gentle breezes

will tickle the tree tops

and leaves will dance with the colorful blossoms

when chirps become spring’s song

birds will perch

watching over nests of wide-open mouths

singing songs of promise:

there will be tomorrows

(more happy than sad)

(more future than past)

when the world reopens (even just a tiny bit)

and chirps become spring’s song

 

®Douillard

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