Tag Archives: writing

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

decision

Leave a space

to just be

wide open space

Leave a space

where I can be me

@kd0602

How to Be a First Grade Poet: NPM22 Day 19

National Poetry Month is such a perfect excuse to focus classroom reading and writing on poetry. For the last several years I’ve challenged my students to write a poem a day–for every day in the month of April. This year, with first graders and a month that began with Spring Break, I decided to have students write a poem each day they are with me in the classroom.

We warmed up at the end of March with a plunge into defining poetry in poetical terms, creating a collaborative Poetry Is poem as well as individual pieces. (I wrote about that process here.) We’ve explored the schoolyard through our senses and iPad cameras, learning to pay attention. We’ve read books and studied poems and written and written and written.

Yesterday we read The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith and then worked together on a list of wild words that we love. Students added words like waterfall, dragonfly, moonlight, turtle, and dolphin. Words swirled through the classroom as we borrowed from each other, built on ideas from each other, and delighted in the feel of words in our mouth.

Today we built poetry dice. Using a generic fold-a-cube pattern on cardstock, students cut out a flattened cube, wrote their favorite 12 wild words (they made 2 dice), and then folded and taped their finished cubes together. Then came the best part–playing with words and poetry. They rolled their dice, recording the 6 words they rolled in their notebooks. Then they considered those words, how they related (or didn’t) to each other, and wrote poetry. As a teacher of writing, there is nothing more satisfying than watching students transform into confident poets, easily playing with words, experimenting with form and ideas, and bursting to share their poems with me and their classmates.

Here’s a small sampling of poems that emerged from the roll of our student-created poetry dice:

A wolf found a hollow tree.

the wolves sleep at daytime with

very big waves.

A small clown sells big old lemons.

Relax

In spring laying on a Hawaii beach,

watching a cloud float by like

a koala climbing a tree or a

dolphin jumping out of the

water and a coati walking

in a jungle.

Under the sea there was a fish

under a rock

There were a lot of other fish

in the green coral

and the coral was as green as a cactus

and it was as wiggly as a snake.

In the trees, in

middle of nowhere,

there’s a field of poppies.

In the sky there’s an

egret flying overhead

with yellow feet like sticks.

At the beach it’s time for the dolphins to play

in the waves.

And serendipitously, the #verselove prompt over at Ethical ELA was to write a “how to be” poem. Inspired by my students, I wrote mine about them.

How to Be a First Grade Poet

Immerse yourself

in words

from books

and poems

and songs

Open your eyes wide

look carefully

using ALL your senses

Feel the roly polys

under your fingers

Smell the cilantro

from the garden

Hear the hawk

calling as it

swoops above the classroom

Taste the sweet red

strawberries

taking root just

beyond the field

Dance with the words

as they

tumble and roll

calling you to pay attention

Write your world

your thoughts

your feelings

and read them

back with

love and pride

@kd0602

Phew! I can’t wait to see what poetry will emerge tomorrow!

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

and

establish planetary peace.

instead

they aim

their verbal arrows

indiscriminately

day after day

hour after hour

at friends

classmates

fraying my nerves

piercing my heart.

@kd0602

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.

Photography

Today I write with light

images speak my words

exposing sea treasures

@kd0602

Sea Song: NPM22 Day 16

Verselove over at Ethical ELA continues to be bounty of poetic forms–that all seemed designed to bend or break the rules I had previously learned. Today Tanka, a form I had learned as 5 lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic pattern was transformed by Cara to a 3 line, 31 syllable meander.

I’m combining #verselove with some #beachlove today in several approximately 31 syllable Tanka.

Sea Song

One squishy step after another

pulls me into the noisy silence of the sea

where worries slip like water off a duck

Tides ebb and flow revealing an upside down world

tiny crabs, anemones, silver darting fish

dance of predator and prey

Like seabirds, thoughts take wing

breath calms, an echo of water’s rhythms

lullaby sung by the sea, perfect harmony with me

@kd0602

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.

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

@kd0602
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

bare

flip flops shoved

in my back pocket

toes squishing in wet sand

ankles lapped by shoreline waves

Bare means risking

stings

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

Earth

In winter

I walk the beach

shod

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:

bare

is best

@kd0602

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

@kd0602
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

considering

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

@kd0602

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.