Tag Archives: students

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

lrg_dsc00015

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.

img_0142

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!

 

Coming Full Circle: Day 30

It’s been 30 days.  A poem and a post each day of the month of April.  I’ve fallen into a rhythm, finding spaces for the writing, surfacing ideas for poetry and posts.  I know this about myself, the habit of writing makes writing easier for me (not necessarily better, but easier).  So what will happen tomorrow?  Will I write anyway?

I was drawn to a photo of a circle today and the idea of a circle.  No beginning, no end.  Maybe the perfect metaphor for the 30th day of the 30-day poetry challenge.

circle

Circle

 

Never-ending curve

beginning and end

indistinguishable

blended

whole

a hole?

Spots and blots

polka dots

rounded

rounding up

containing

all 360 degrees

Cycle

repeating

birth and death

water

air

never-ending curve

begins

where it ends

Circle

 

Douillard 2018

My students are busily curating their poems, selecting about 10 poems to publish in their own books.  They are working to revise and refine…and the poems are gaining depth as they try out new techniques and experiment with form and line breaks.

Here’s one Stone wrote about an engineer who was an accidental paleontologist!

The Secret Engineer

Deep deep underground was a secret engineer.
He never told anyone he saw a dinosaur
because he built a time machine.
There was a hot and blazing sun with loads of heat.
He was in the prehistoric time
He was the best mathematician, he made the best discovery.
With his engineering mind and his scientific brain his inventions were the
Best!

Stone

Rylan has been writing poems about softball.

Will She Swing?

 

Yellow with red stripes

resting in a leather open oval

waiting anxiously for the umpire to call out

STRIKE!

Fastball

Change up

Drop ball

Will she swing?

Rylan

And Sadie revised her poem about fire’s evil plot

Fire Plot

The fire hisses and cracks in its pen amongst the burnt and crisp logs.

Its angry arms reach up into the umber sky,

then shrivels down.

The fire sneaks up on pieces of marshmallow fluff, thinking of a plot to escape from the charred black pit and leap into the world.

Maybe to a hillside or a house, spreading fiery anger and sadness with it.

When it discovers the perfect scheme, it crackles and reaches into the dark, sending a swirl of smoke into the starry night.

Sadie

As April ends so does National Poetry Month. I know the power that poetry has on writers and thinkers and learners.  The sustained attention that results from 30-days of writing also has power.  I’m thinking about other ways to stoke the fires of writing for my students and myself, establishing a firm practice of writing that will take us beyond the end of the school year.  Wish me luck!

Balancing: Day 29

There is so much to love about the beach.  It is different every day, in temperature and temperament.  It’s a place for meditation, for exercise, for play.  Families have parties, teenagers flirt, lovers walk hand in hand.  Birds glide on the currents, crabs scurry in the sand, and if you’re not lucky rays or bees or jellies sting your tender bare feet.

Yesterday’s beach excursion brought me close to a group of people doing handstand tricks on some handstand devices they placed on the sand.  They carefully placed their hand, jumped up, and balanced into place.  Not content with a simple handstand, they continue to position and reposition, leaning one direction or the other, balancing on one hand, doing splits in the air.

balance

Thinking about all that balancing was the inspiration for today’s poem:

Balance

 

Teetering on the edge

leaning first to the right

and then to the left

shift weight

feel the taut pull of muscles straining

and attention

as eyes narrow their focus

find the delicate balance

first in body, then in mind

Tighten the core

breathe in and out

slowly, deeply

in rhythm with your heart

in rhythm with the sea

in rhythm with the songs of your soul

stretch and reach

inching your way to new dimensions

all the while

maintaining balance

 

Douillard 2018

I’m guessing that Gus was inspired by the books we’ve been reading in class.  We completed The Wild Robot before our spring break and started The Wild Robot Escapes when we returned. (If you’re looking for a great middle grade read aloud–these are great!)

The Robot

I work in a snap

I’m programmed like that.

I do what you say.

I work and I work on something until I’m out of juice,

and then you charge me.

Then I work and I work with a snap,

and I work and I work until my heart’s

content.

Gus

What will this penultimate day of National Poetry Month inspire in your writing?

Finding Faces: Day 28

Some days I make games out of my photography.  To avoid taking the same photos over and over again, I challenge myself to look for letters of the alphabet, a particular color or item…and faces.  Today a face grabbed my attention…and got me thinking about today’s poem.

Finding Faces

 

Take a look around

and find

a smile

grinning up from a patch of grass

Look at the sliding door

and find a face staring back

The cliff suddenly comes to life

watching you walk along the shore

unblinking eyes

look over the pier, the surfers, the seagulls

They’re all around

reflecting our expressions

mirroring our emotions

evoking

surprise

disgust

elation

look closely

and

you’ll find

faces

 

Douillard 2018

Today’s student poem is by Siena…a poem of apology inspired by William Carlos Williams.

Runaway Dog

 

Dear Jake,

I’m sorry for leaving the gate open and letting you escape to our neighbor’s house

I was so excited to go

But l just got carried away

Forgive me, l thought l lost you

But then

We found you

 

By Siena

What kind of poem will you play around with today?

The Art of Learning: Day 27

Art is essential to learning.  I like to integrate it into all we do in the classroom.  Art takes many forms: writing (like the poetry we’ve been composing), music (singing and dancing), and of course, the visual arts including painting, drawing, photography…and today, clay.  Art seems to release inhibitions and increase confidence when students have the space to fail…and to iterate.

We’re lucky at my school.  We have access to clay, glazes, and a kiln to fire the products we make.  But as the classroom teacher, I have to have enough confidence and knowledge to teach the skills and processes to my students.  And I am no expert.  I talked with the teacher at my site who is in charge of the clay materials and kiln about working with clay, the ideas I had in mind, and then used the internet to further explore possibilities.

Yesterday I showed my students my ideas for our clay project and a short video demonstrating the techniques they would use today.  And today, I pulled out the clay and the creating began. Students created pinch pot ocean creatures.  The room hummed with creativity and imagination.  They supported each other, they accepted feedback, and they worked independently. They know that disaster might be around the corner as our creations hit the kiln…and they are hopeful.  We’ll try a second iteration on Monday.

clay

Clay

 

Earth offers

her treasures

damp soil

a malleable medium

shaping ideas

creativity

possibility

hands molding

smoothing, crafting

cool earth

warmed through manipulation

giving life

to expression

embodying imagination

forming tangible objects

as earth

becomes art

 

Douillard 2018

And a student poem about earth’s bounty:

The Artichoke

Dragon scales tough and sharp

An artichoke with leafy greens like dragon wings

Flapping high in the wind as it soars

To a new spot with its dragon-like head.

Kai

Art and earth…and of course, day 27 of poetry!

Time’s a Ticking: Day 26

On Poem in Your Pocket Day my students carried an original poem and a published poem they had studied in their pocket to share with friends and adults around school today.  Although I have heard many of my students’ poems, I heard some I hadn’t yet heard as they shared theirs with me today.  And as always, poems inspire poems…and Jameson’s clock poem inspired my writing today.  Here’s his:

The Clock

 
Tick tock

tick tock

moving every second,

every minute

and every hour.

Watching,

looking

tick tock

observing.

Looking at action,

moments

and memories.

 

Jameson

clock

And my own:

Time

 

Time

ticks and tocks

a metronome

playing life’s rhythms

tapping the beat

insistent, urging

march, dance, move!

 

Time

stands still

frozen in terror

disbelief

or the monotony of boredom

clock hands

stubbornly standing in place

 

Time

races

evaporating like morning fog

gathering clouds of seconds

raining down

in the urgency of time lost

 

Time

hovers

nagging at the edges of consciousness

a stern taskmaster

demanding attention

 

Time

lingers

like sweet kisses

or the taste of chocolate

reminders of precious memories

 

Time

slips and slides

tomorrows become

yesterdays

creating a roadmap of the past

made up of everyday minutes

tick, tick, ticking

 

Time

 

Douillard 2018

We’re in the waning days of our 30-day challenge.  What will inspire today’s poem?

 

Sunset Silhouettes: Day 25

The upside to a busy day that keeps me away from home much later than usual is that I was driving home as the sun set.  I drove down along the coast, instead of the freeway, so it would be easy to find a place to park and head out with my camera as the sky pinked and the sun dipped lower and lower.

A volleyball game became a silhouette against the sky’s glow.  I snapped, trying to catch the ball in flight.

sunset volleyball

under the net

Sunset Silhouettes

In the pinks and oranges

of sunset’s glow

the world appears in silhouette

sharp black outlines

against a cotton candy sky

painted clouds

shift and drift

a game of hide and seek

the sun hides

and then reappears

beside the lifeguard tower

under the volleyball net

glowing just beyond reach

I chase it through my lens

playing peek-a-boo

until it splashes into the sea

Douillard 2018

sunset splash

And a student poem:

Poetry is…

Poetry is always threading and weaving into your mind,

Poetry is when I hear the birdies sing to the tune of the wind,

Poetry is a river of words splashing and crashing with joy!

Poetry is whatever you adore coming in and flying by.

Alyson

 

Afternoon Walk: Day 24

I’m a pretty faithful beach walker, often logging miles several days a week out on the shore.  Today, I decided to take an urban walk, exploring a path not far from home.  The first half mile was a pretty steep climb–my device registered it as 19 floors!  I crossed a bridge and headed off a dirt pathway were I had views of the city below.

On my return trip I got the downhill portion of the walk and felt my heart in my throat when I nearly stepped on a snake!  But it did inspire today’s poem.

skinny snake

Skinny Snake

 

Late afternoon

as the sun heads west

is the perfect time

for a walk.

 

The birds chatted

conversing

with squirrels and lizards,

the whitewashed fence

a perfect porch.

 

Drought-stricken trees

strick a pose against

the baby blue April sky.

 

My feet carried me

across the miles

the dirt, the gravel, the leaves

back to the asphalt

where I crossed paths

with skinny snake,

also walking.

 

We froze

in our tracks

scared still

by the sight of the other

until the breeze whispered

and we parted ways.

 

Douillard 2018

bird on a fence

dead tree

And a few poems about poetry written by my students.  It’s such fun to watch their poetry skills grow over the course of the month!

Poetry is Many Things

 

Poetry is a magical treasure of words

in many different forms

hidden away in a jungle
where the birds sing their songs of inspiration

warming the spark in you that makes
you look at the poems in the clear diamonds on leaves.

 

Bryce

I love when a line in a poem catches me by surprise…

Poetry Is

Poetry is ideas floating onto a blank piece of paper

and rivers of words rush onto a page.

Powerful words stick out

like a Ferris wheel at the crowded fair.

Onomatopoeia brings poems to life

and similes crash like waves in the ocean.

After all the commotion

a poem is born.

Koa

And when you can feel emotion…

Poetry Is

Poetry is like the last rays of sun on a sunset

it leaves with beauty and sadness at the same time

poetry is like a song that sings forever

and when you forget

it will always whisper back.

Avi

And one more…

Poetry is…

Poetry flows in my mind like the ocean

Softy and gentle like a breeze

Fragrant like a rose

paints a picture in my mind

When I hear poetry it sounds like nature

When I start a poem it tastes ripe and fresh

Poetry is a feeling in your heart

Cody

Enjoy your walk through some poetry today!

 

 

 

 

Poetry Is: Day 23

Mondays are odd for me…I barely have time with my students as they rush off to their “specials,” leaving me with some precious planning time but also feeling like I have to cram all that I want and need to do into the remaining and minuscule time segments.

Today I read my students Daniel Finds a Poem by  Micha Archer as a way to inspire their poetry as we approach our last 8 days of the 30 day challenge.  In the book, Daniel asks all the animals in the park what poetry is…and they each share an idea which he then combines to create his own poem.  This beautiful book is deceptively simple, yet the language is both approachable and inspiring.  I’ve invited my students to create their own “poetry is” poems–reminding them to use the poetic techniques we brainstormed in class.  Hopefully I’ll have a few to share with you later this week!

We also spent some time in the garden — looking for the letters of the alphabet to photograph. I randomly assigned each student a letter and then we headed off with our iPads to capture those letters in photos to create a “bank” of letters for some upcoming projects.  My students didn’t disappoint.  They not only found all 26 letters, they helped out when someone was having a hard time with their assigned letter.  “S” was hard, “V” was easy.  Now to figure out how to manipulate our letters digitally to spell some words and create some wordy images!  (Any ideas are welcome here!)

My students also inspired my “Poetry Is” poem for today.

Poetry Is…

 

Children’s laughter

bubbling up

and popping in the sun-warmed garden air

 

Skies as blue

as a lizard’s back

as  a jay’s feather

as the blueberries on my morning yogurt

 

a garden

tilled by the smallest hands

with the largest hearts

growing knowledge

and awareness of nature’s abundance

 

paying attention

and noticing

all the world has to offer

 

Douillard 2018

GArden V

And a poem about a favorite topic in the classroom–especially for this student!

People Play Baseball

For a long time people played baseball.
Making contact with the baseball. Single doubles triples and there’s even HOME RUNS!
They are the best!
The ball sails throughout the air over the fence.
Night day people play.

Stone

Are you ready to try a “Poetry Is” poem?  Be sure to share yours in the comments!