Tag Archives: students

Feasting on Yellow: NPM 2019 Day 24

Still leaning on paint chips, I realized I had left mine in the classroom.  After my walk, with yellow on my mind, I stopped by the home improvement store nearby and picked up a few paint chips.

Our local beaches are not known for their floral beauty, but I was struck by the abundance of native flowers at a beach a bit north of where I usually walk.

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Feasting on Yellow

I feast my eyes on

lemon meringue

garbanzo paste

English custard

plantain chips

sprinkled with turmeric

So many yellows

shards of sunshine

sprinkled across fields

taking root

dancing on my taste buds

I sip on spring’s energy

fragrant blossoms

bubbling, fizzing

unfolding

in my belly

I leave craving summer

©Douillard

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Between practicing for our state tests, our minimum day, and too many other demands, we didn’t have time for any sustained poetry writing in class today.  Here’s a couple of student poems from earlier in the week.

Rose Colored Glasses

I have my rose colored glasses on,

the grass is always greener.

I am going to the foggy harbor,

it’s a long drive so I need to take a taxi.

I still have my rose colored glasses on,

I will never take them off.

–Leah F.

 

Word Rocket

Poetry is like a rocket

blasting you off to a new world

of poems

and new vocabulary

plus new techniques

The fun thing is

your rocket never runs out of fuel

just keep exploring

in the galaxy of words

–Aspen

 

More Poetry Play: NPM 2019 Day 23

Today we went for it…paint chip poetry, metaphor dice, and Haikubes!  Students picked what they wanted, rolled dice, and wrote.  Poetry is flowing–some silly, some serious, and some simply beautiful.

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There’s something precious about the misconceptions students have about some of the paint chip colors.  Wax seals frolic in waves, pearly gates are beautifully adorned entryways, wisdom teeth make you smart, and blizzards create the icebergs that sank the Titanic.  But I also love the way they make these words work for them, weaving them into their 8 and 9 year old views of the world.

Here’s a smattering of poems that emerged today.

This is Just to Say

This is just to say

I was eating grapefruit

on the way to the pearly gates

I saw so many sunflowers

across the way

This is just to say

that everything that I saw

inspired me today!

McKay

 

Outside

the dappled sunlight

is shining so bright

on the dandelions

in the grassland

Leah P.

 

As you stare at a chalkboard

you move slow

as you see a wax seal

you go closer

it is so detailed

as you start to hear a whale song

you love the slow, loud musical whale song

you keep hearing it

then you see a seal jumping in the waves

it looks like a wax seal.

Brooks

Last night I invited students to write Poetry Is poems.  Here is the one Alice wrote:

Poetry

Poetry is like

weaving

threading words

together

to create something

beautiful

When I listen

to poetry

sounds jumps out

sounds as loud as

a bear’s roar

or as soft as the

fluttering

of

a butterfly’s

wings,

all waiting be heard

Poetry can feel

as smooth

as silk

or as gravelly

as loose

cement

Poetry can taste

like sunshine

on a platter of gold

or like

melted stone

in a bowl

of rubber

Poetry can change

Alice

And my own, inspired by a few paint chips (and a cube I forgot to use!):

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Poetry is

the sweet pop

of purple joy

pulled from the blackberry bramble

key lime so tart

it puckers your mouth

and makes your saliva run

warm sticky honey

that reminds you

of summer days of youth

the blues

played low and slow

lamenting opportunities lost

hinting at possibilities

yet to come

©Douillard

 

Paint Chips and #USvsHate: NPM 2019 Day 22

I finally got the chance to break out the Paint Chip Poetry with my students–and they loved it! I shared a few of my attempts, explaining how the poems don’t have to be about color…they could use the paint chip words with whatever topic they wanted.

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And because there is an #USvsHate deadline for student anti-hate messaging on Friday, I encouraged students to write anti-hate poetry.

I wish I had taken a photo of the paint chips upside down on the back table where students were invited to choose 3 or 4 at random.  Some cheated a bit–giving back chips that they didn’t understand or didn’t like.  And some “borrowed” paint chip words that they saw and liked…from one of my poems or something they saw as I showed the huge variety they would have to choose from.

Some of the poems were simple…but oh, so interesting.  Aspen pulled “Sahara” as one of the paint chips and wrote this:

As I moonwalk

in the Sahara desert

I look up and see

the magical blue moon

and then look ahead at the

endless dunes

Luca (who broke his arm over the weekend and had to write wrong-handed today) wrote about the Earth on Earth Day.

Earth

It’s the neighbor

to the red planet

but unlike Mars

with its radical red

our world has a verdant green

and heavenly blue

with white clouds

like a blank canvas.

And Hudson, often reluctant to commit words to a page, wrote this piece in about 2 minutes! Clearly paint chips inspired him!

As I cross

those pearly gates

and cross the antique brass

I boarded that old ship

and expected smooth sailing

But soon a blizzard

created an iceberg

and before you know it

a big chunk of ice

sank that old ship that they called

the Titanic

And a couple anti-hate poems.  It was fun to see both the paint chip influence AND the influence of some of our class read-alouds.  We recently finished reading Save Me a Seat about a 5th grader who had recently immigrated from India to a school in New Jersey.  He found himself the victim of a charismatic, mean bully–making fun of him and treating him badly–to the point that he wanted to quit school.  The characters learn a lot about themselves…including the power of reflecting on their own actions.  I see evidence of this book in Elli’s poem:

Her name is Sunset

people think its weird

but I don’t get it

As she watches the bird making a nest

someone out of nowhere said

I hate you and hate the birds

As your wisdom tooth is growing

and the fire is blowing

hate shouldn’t be a thing

but kindness should always be a part of our life

the kindness of our joy

will bring us love

bad names like curryhead or bom bom butt

say who cares because that’s junk

things that do matter

are happily happy things

hate or no hate?

And Henry is thinking about how to make a difference through his poem.

US vs Hate

In a garden bed

with four leaf clovers

A boy makes good luck

turn into real life.

His wish was for everyone

to feel like they’re special.

A tiny change

makes a big change

A tiny change

makes everyone change.

For my poem I pulled four chips: wonderful wisteria, smoke signal, black tie, and lily of the valley.

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Sending Signals

Watch out for words

thoughts’ smoke signals

have fire to burn

causing damage beneath the skin

Don’t let a disguise

of suit and black tie

mask the danger,

excuse the vitriol

Listen carefully to your own words too

smell them

consider how they will affect others

Are you spreading wonderful wisteria,

lily of the valley

or the stink of malice

and stereotype?

©Douillard

 

Exploring Still Life: NPM 2019 Day 16

As a way to help students go deeper with their poetry, we tried on some still life poems today inspired by Work Boots: Still Life by Jim Daniels.  I experimented a bit the other day with my poem about malasadas, and could see ways this approach might help my students. We practiced together using the classroom rocking chair as our subject.  I encouraged students to push their ideas, moving beyond the literal, stretching to unexpected comparisons.  Using the structure described by Go Poems, students then brainstormed a description of an item of their choice (a thing, not a person or animal) and then considered the deeper meaning of the item.  Using Work Boots as a mentor text, they wrote their own poems.

Frankie, who is obsessed with books, wrote this still life poem:

Poem Book: Still Life

On my shelf

just waiting to be read

it is a poem book.

So as I touch it

the hard cover is blank.

Open, close with a snap.

Floating on a river of poems,

feeling relaxed on my boat

taking me to places I have never been.

New words, new poems.

Places like the forest to the sea, on the fields

and in my bed.

Sloane, who was wearing a skeleton key necklace today, took that as inspiration.

Rusty Key: Still Life

The wispy key, sitting quietly

waiting to unlock the door to the world.

With waves swirling at the top

like octopus arms.

There on that silent table

at the end of this wonderful old key are two humps

like a camel

ready to click the invisible switch

behind the clockwork of the door.

That’s where the new world unfolds.

You see, this old silver useful and quiet key

can do so much.

The key finally breathes a sigh of relief.

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And my poem was about my alarm clock:

Alarm Clock: Still Life

Next to my bed

my alarm clock stands guard

silent glowing numbers

mark the invisible

beat of the day, keeping track of

seconds,

minutes,

hours,

days

When the time is right

the tiny bird chirps

insistent

incessant

tearing me from my dreams

as my hands reach and fumble

to press snooze

annoyed yet comforted

knowing it will chirp

again

I drift back to my dreams.

©Douillard

When Life Becomes Poetry: NPM 2019 Day 3

It’s hard to top a day like yesterday…at least when it comes to poetry.  Today’s schedule was crunched, another minimum day and my last classroom day until after Spring Break. But we still made space for a bit of poetry inspiration.  Today I read a few poems from When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano.  Interestingly, she titles each poem in this lovely book by the date she wrote it, taking us through the seasons of the year.  We read April 3 (which was eerily a description of a day very much like the one we experienced today…I love this first line: “today the sky was too busy sulking to rain…”), June 15 (a piece about tasting sunshine), and July 10 (the title piece with the refrain “when green becomes tomatoes”).  And in a typical 8 and 9 year old fashion, my students, when they turned to their own writing, wrote about their birthdays!

Isla (who happens to share my birthday) was determined that her June 2nd birthday falls in the summer.  She wrote this piece inspired by when green becomes tomatoes:

June 2

When summer turns into my birthday

The sky is happy!

life is happy

it is the time to get…

everything I want

(more than sad)

(more than happy)

The best

When leaves are green and light is here

no thunder, no lightening

just…

wind blowing and birds chirping

when summer turns into my birthday

And Leah, who’s birthday falls a bit later in the month, gives a more tentative prediction using “I believe” to frame her poem:

June 23

On June 23rd

I believe it will be cloudy

with a hint of sun.

On June 23rd

I believe it will be hot.

On June 23rd

I believe flowers will bloom.

On June 23rd

I believe it will be my birthday.

I took my poem in a little different direction, thinking about how my three precious grandsons have grown from babies to active, sturdy three year old toddlers in what seems like a blink of an eye.  Just where does the time go?

April 3

 

When babies become toddlers

tiny fingers that used to grab mine

build towers as tall as they are

then topple them with belly laughs

When babies become toddlers

goos and gaas turn into words

that turn into stories

of wonder and adventure

When babies become toddlers

reading becomes play

finding objects, chiming in

anticipating

devouring each word, each page

with minds instead of mouths

When babies become toddlers

those once tiny feet patter

running faster than seems possible

running towards childhood

leaving babyhood behind.

©Douillard

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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Fooling around with Poetry! NPM 2019 Day 1

It’s April 1st, the first day of National Poetry Month and a perfect day to “fool” around with some poetry!  Since my students are I are taking a poem-a-day challenge, we needed to generate some inspiration today to get us in the poetry frame of mind.

We started by reading Tiny Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, a book that focuses on the wonder and beauty of the ordinary.  Then we headed outside (it was an almost-summer day, 75 and sunny) with our iPads in search of tiny perfect things to photograph as inspiration for our poetry.  My students found lizards, beetles, and roly polys.  They found apple blossoms shaped like stars, California poppies peeking through the chain link fence, and cotton floating down from the cotton plant in the school garden.  They chased the monarch butterfly across the field in hopes of a viable photo.  And when we returned to the classroom, they wrote.

It’s conference week, so the days are short.  But I’m already loving their first drafts…and their willingness to share.  The variety was impressive…and the playfulness so satisfying! Here’s a couple to give you a taste.

Luke’s first draft poem played around with a repeated refrain:

Rose

You catch my eye

how white you are,

with yellow in the middle

and your pod red.

You catch my eye

on a pointy bush

and a soft flower.

You catch my eye,

you stand out.

Of all the flowers,

you are as white as snow.

You catch my eye.

And Alice couldn’t resist playing around with the idea of April Fool’s Day, inspired by her brother’s prank on another student:

Red Rug of Sap

It can be red,

it can be black,

my little red rug of sap.

It lays upon a tree

resting

til it is the day.

Check the calendar!

What is today?

April first!  April first!

April Fool’s Day!

Time to stain my finger

red or black

with my little red rug of sap.

My own first draft poem was inspired by the rusty chain and lock around the gate on the side of the school.

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Looped and Locked

 

Metal

weathered, rusted, oxidized

days, years, decades

outside

exposed

to fog

to rain

to sun

to briny sea air

still strong

linked like children holding hands

safety in numbers

comfort in connection

looped around the gate

and snapped shut

with a tiny, perfect

Master lock.

©Douillard

I’m looking forward to reading others’ first day of National Poetry Month entries today!