Tag Archives: ordinary

Odes: NPM #16

Today my students were introduced to odes. We began with the picture book, Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse by Alexandria Giardino. The book shows Neruda finding inspiration in an ordinary onion from his garden.

After reading and discussing the book and thinking about the ways ordinary things are often overlooked and under appreciated, my students and I headed out to the school garden in search of the ordinary, knowing we would return to the classroom to write after snapping a few photos.

While Neruda’s original Ode to an Onion was a bit intimidating–it is a LONG poem for 8 and 9 year olds–they were excited to elevate the ordinary subjects they identified. We had poems about a roly poly, a stump, ice plant, a bucket, pea pods, a pine cone, and so much more. My own featured dandelions.

Ode to a Dandelion

Dandelion

ferocious queen of the urban forest

you stand strong and tall

in the face of all who

see you as nuisance

shape shifter

changing from brilliant yellow sun

to bleak crater of the moon

long witch fingers draw me in

after all my wishes

have blown to the wind

Dandelion

your medicinal qualities

have been lost to history

your nutritional benefits

discounted

with the label: weed

But when you polka-dot my yard

I smile

and see hope

in strength and resilience

When you are a giant puff-ball

children can’t resist you

they pluck you

inhale, then exhale

sending you out

planting seeds

of dreams for the future

Dandelion

like stars in the sky

you are too many to count

you thrive where you land

in sidewalk cracks

alongside abandoned buildings

Ferocious queen of the urban forest

grow tall, shine bright

let survival tell your tale

®Douillard

Not Quite Rain: NPM #13

Today was one of those gloomy, gray days. There wasn’t quite rain, but the air was saturated and left a fine mist of droplets on everything…including me. A busy work day left me leaning on a short form for today’s poetry: Haiku (with some literary license).

Not Quite Rain

Extra-ordinary

paper-thin blossoms tipped with

tiny wet kisses

®Douillard

Ordinary: NPM20 Day 25

Yesterday my students used Valerie Worth’s poem Safety Pin as their mentor text.  This is a poem we had studied earlier in the school year–when I discovered that many of my students didn’t know what a safety pin was!  Luckily, I had some safety pins in the classroom to show them.

With this poem in our remote learning environment, students were invited to craft a poem about an ordinary object–as defined by each individual.  I am absolutely loving watching my young poets find their poetic voices!

D chose a spoon as the ordinary object:

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E took on the power of paper:

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And M–although I wouldn’t use ordinary to describe a clam, chose a clam as the ordinary object:

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And I decided to write about my mask.

Mask

Cotton covering

keeping my respirations close

breathing in and out

my own air

warmed by each breath

unrelieved by the breeze

 

straps

rubber band

stretch

pulling

distorting sore ears

to hold the cotton close

 

only eyes peering above

can you smile with your eyes?

I’m learning how.

®Douillard

masks

Ode to Decaf: NPM20 Day 14

I’m definitely feeling the poetic struggle as I reach mid-month.  My mind is on my students and figuring out how to support them in this distance learning emergency.  I’m housebound with little outside inspiration.  My neighborhood is nice–but it really isn’t evoking poetic thoughts right now.

So instead…I turn to thoughts of the coffee I drink every morning.  The coffee I crave…want…need…  And I know it’s not about a caffeine addiction, I switched to decaf more than a decade ago.  So today’s poem is an ode…to decaf.

Ode to my Decaf

 

I swim in its depths

the warm, dark steamy whirls

of decaffeinated comfort

 

earthy aroma

that spirals

from my mug directly

into my nostrils

 

steaming open my brain

loosening thoughts

opening the doors

to today

 

the whir of the bean grinder

echoes

the drip drip drip

a tympanic symphony

within the glass carafe

 

I come up for breath

wrapping my hands

around the ceramic

warming

from the inside out

 

for me

it’s not the caffeine

it’s the coffee

 

®Douillard

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Notice the Mundane: NPM20 Day 9

Today’s poem is an etheree. It is a poem that grows from one syllable to 10, and in this case, inspired by power lines I noticed overhead.

Notice the Mundane

Wires

Above

Lines stretched high

Against the sky

Electricity

Depending on power

Invisible, essential

Ordinary infrastructure

Not taking in what is right above

Look up, look again, notice the mundane

®Douillard

SOLC Day 10: Leaving a Trail

Rain sang me to sleep last night. And I woke to a damp morning. As I headed out the door, overloaded as usual with this bag and that one too—along with my lunch and coffee—I nearly stumbled as I spied the tiniest snail crawling near the doorstep. I just had to stop, pull out my phone and photograph the snail and the damp trail behind it.

As I thought about that snail I found myself thinking about those trails I leave, will anyone notice that I have been here? I hope I leave trails for my students. Those that they can turn to even when I am not around. Can they locate a mentor text for themselves when they have something they want or need to write? Will they remember to start with what they know when faced with an unfamiliar math problem?

Maybe those songs we sing in the morning help. Perimeter Around the Area by the Bazillions is a fun way to keep area and perimeter from crossing paths. And who doesn’t love singing the FBI (fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates) by the Banana Slug Band to learn about decomposition?

Getting to know Naomi Shihab Nye through poems like Kindness or Famous or A Valentine for Ernest Mann helps us explore the power of language. Books like Love by Matt de la Pena and Wishtree by Katherine Applegate help us see our own experiences and those that are different from ours.

Making stuff…from art to slideshows to videos to bridges made of cardboard and construction paper allow schoolwork to slip into the realm of play. Playing together and laughing and those long deep conversations about important topics just might leave those trails I’m thinking about.

And I know for sure that my students leave trails of their own, for their classmates to follow, for younger brothers and sisters and most definitely those etched deeply on my heart. They remind me that the ordinary matters, that caring is more important than any test score or report card and that if we pay attention we can find the pathways that matter most.

Poem in Your Pocket Day: NPM 2019 Day 18

Today is Poem in your Pocket day…and I wasn’t in the classroom with my students today! But, they were all prepared.  Yesterday they picked one of their own poems (they had quite a selection since they’ve been writing a poem a day since April began), revised it, and copied it on a piece of paper to put in their pocket today.  And lucky for me, my teaching partner encouraged students to share their poems…both in the classroom and beyond.

I did collect a few poems yesterday so I would have some to share with you today.  Alice wrote a poem about a crummy old nail…maybe inspired by some of the ordinary poems I’ve written and shared.

Crummy Old Nail

Crummy old nail

served many

purposes

Crummy old nail

dented and

bent

Crummy old nail

proud and

historic

Crummy old nail

brave and

cautious

Crummy old nail

old with

wisdom

upon a

shipwrecked mast,

red

like a

cherry covered

in

rust.

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Her brother, Luca, also played around with the ordinary–using the still life structure we explored the other day.

Stool: Still Life

That small stool

standing in the corner,

sulking throughout the day.

It’s surprising when someone

comes his way.

He stops sulking and stands up straight

and if he is lucky,

they sit.

When they leave

he straightens up

and waits for others.

When the sun sets,

he stoops and sits

and lets sleep overpower him.

Snoooooooooooooooore!

I’m not sure what inspired Caleb’s poem…he wrote it on the still life day after he tried a still life poem.

Rocket

Getting ready for launch

fueling the tank

cold on the outside

warm on the inside

a big heart driving

not a robot!

5…4…3…2…1…blast off

you jump into the sky

like you’re on a trampoline

from day to night

in a single flight

in the starry sky

time to attend to dreams

And I’m still fooling around with paint chip poetry.  I pulled out some in the orange/yellow family today: fresh squeezed, chamomile tea, and yellow brick road.  Here’s today’s attempt:

Oz

I follow the yellow brick road

or in my case

the sandy sidewalk

that leads to the Oz I treasure

Blue skies and blue seas

are a canvas

for the fresh squeezed

dabs

dancing in the breeze

I breathe in and exhale

salt air and wildflowers mix to conjure

the soothing comfort

of chamomile tea

I feel it pulse through my veins

Aaaahhhhh!

©Douillard

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This is Just to Say: NPM 2019 Day 2

Today we turned to William Carlos Williams for inspiration.  Using the book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, I introduced my students to William Carlos Williams.  I wanted to continue the focus on the ordinary as well as show a poet who continued his writing while working as a doctor.  I’ve been working to dispel the myth that poetry has to rhyme…and this book definitely helped make that point!

Once we learned a bit about Williams, we studied two of his poems to use as mentor texts for our own poems.  The Red Wheelbarrow surprised my students.  It seemed so short and so simple at first glance…and then they started to notice.  The word glazed really caught their attention…and made them think of doughnuts rather than rain coated wheelbarrows.  Then we started to play around with how to put our own content into a poem like The Red Wheelbarrow.  My third grade students could hardly contain themselves…they were so excited about writing!  Here’s a couple of their efforts:

With Caleb’s you can see the influence of living by the sea

The Colorful Afterglow

So much depends

upon

a colorful

afterglow

swarming with

bright colors

beside the turquoise

ocean

Luca captured the beauty of the ordinary

The Tree Full of Leaves

So much depends

on

a tree full of

leaves

being a home to

animals big and

small

standing tall over

the dirt path.

And Sloane turned her attention to a rock and strayed from a “so much depends” first line to create her own version of a poem inspired by WCW.

The Rock

So much pressure

is on

the rock by the river

feathered in river water

beside the ringing sound

of the river

We then turned our attention to Williams’ This is Just to Say.  They noticed right away that it seemed like a conversation–that the poet was talking to someone in this poem.  And that he seemed sorry…but not really sorry.  This poem seemed to give them permission to be playful…and even try out teasing their teacher!

Sagan knew I would appreciate this one (can you tell what conversation we have over and over again?):

Oops…

I forgot to show my thinking

in my math homework

again

even though it said to

show your thinking

I’m sorry

but at the same time

it’s way faster

and way more efficient

And Piper stretched to see use how far she could take a bit of teasing, making me the subject of her poem

This is Just to Say

Mrs. Douillard

I have destroyed

your classroom

which you were probably

going to use

to teach kids in

Forgive me

I was just trying

to have a good time

Some students played around with different foods, inspired by WCW’s refreshing sounding plums

Nathalie tried cherries

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the cherries that

were in the bowl

and which you

were saving for dessert

tomorrow

Forgive me

they were so sweet

and delicious

While Aspen imagined ice cream

This is Just to Say

I ate your ice cream

that was in your lunch

which you were probably

saving for after your

chicken

please forgive me

it just tasted so creamy

and so refreshing

We had so much fun on this second day of National Poetry Month!  Here’s my poem for the day:

Feeding Time

So much depends

upon the sea pulling back

revealing shallow

pools

teeming with tiny fish

and crustaceans

beside the hungry white

egret

©Douillard

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Garden Poetry

My students are lucky.  They spend a half an hour in our school garden every week, growing vegetables, learning about bugs, noticing what grows well and what struggles, and tasting!  I often don’t get to go out with them, but today because of a shift in my schedule due to conferences, I joined them…and turned it into an opportunity for poetry writing!

I was drawn to the artichokes, purple and green knots growing strong and tall.  When my students sat down to write, so did I.

artichoke

Artichokes

Globes

like dinosaur paws

clenched

holding a tender heart inside

tiny swords

protect that meaty center

purplish green

beckons…attracting me

and spotted ladybugs

When will they be ripe?

Douillard 2018

I know that photographs and visual images inspire my writing.  It’s true for many of my students as well.  During yesterday’s search for the ordinary, I noticed one of my students arranging jumpropes on the ground and photographing them.  And then this sometimes reluctant writer sat down to write.

Color Brain

Color strings sewing

my brain into thoughts,

ones about madness,

ones about fear,

ones about happiness,

ones about sickness,

ones about coldness,

and ones about love.

On the string of fear

the purple hides

with red,

next to blue and turquoise.

Leah

Leah's photo

How’s your poetry writing coming along?  What inspires your words and thoughts?

Ordinary Inspiration

The weather was gray and gloomy today, but that didn’t stop us from venturing out with our iPads and poetry notebooks in search of inspiration for continuing our poem-a-day challenge. Students were excited about the prospect of exploring the playground as a source of inspiration.  They had 5 minutes to explore and take one photo.  The next 7 minutes were spent drafting a poem.  After some sharing back in the classroom, they had 7 more minutes to revise.

Our school yard is filled with trees, palm trees and pine trees, and the kids love to play under them and around them.  And some were inspired to write a poem featuring a tree, like this one:

Tree

A tree that I’m looking up to

I see it in the distance

I call it my wishtree

It’s as high as the bright blue sky with big bushy leaves

Shining down to me

Calling me

Brayden

My poem for today also features a tree–the iconic palm that stands in the center of the playground.

cardiff palm

The Cardiff Palm

Tall against the thick gray blanket of clouds

that blocks the sun.

Your crown of green fans out:

a home for birds

shade on sunny summer days.

An ever-present sentinel, standing watch

over generations of school children

listening to their playful shrieks

a backrest for tired athletes

a symbol of our coastal community.

Tireless palm

standing tall.

Douillard 2018

Some kids are still refining their poems inspired by William Carlos Williams.  Here’s one inspired by the Red Wheelbarrow:

The Rocky River

So much depends

upon the river.

The fish slither through

the river.

Tadpoles turn into

frogs.

And birds fly over all!

Stone

And this one by This is Just to Say:

Easter Candy

 

I have stolen the Easter candy

that you hid in the cabinet

 

that you were probably saving

for after dinner

 

Forgive me

They tasted so good

 

The chocolate wafers

gave it away

 

Kalani