Tag Archives: writing

In the Rain: NPM20 Day 6

Even though today is technically spring break for me and my students, I found evidence of poetry writing in our Google Classroom. I scheduled a mentor poem for each day this week to inspire and support my young poets–all poems we had studied earlier this school year. Today’s poem was The Blue Between by Kristine O’Connell George.

The steady downpour of rain was another influence evident in my poem and my students’ poems. I’m trying to appreciate the much-needed rain and to find ways to make this week feel like a break. Instead I’m feeling cooped up, without the escape of neighborhood walks. I tried to duck out early this morning, thinking I would beat the rain–just to pull the door open to the skies opening up! I rode that stationary bike…but it’s just not the same for me.

For escape, we took a drive up the coast in the pouring rain. The sight of the stormy ocean was a refreshing change from the walls of the house–even if viewed only through the car window.

My poem:

Raindrops

Raindrops fall

dripping dropping

teardrops

across sky cheeks

Gray on gray

blotting out color

a palette

of monochrome

And yet

precious moisture

dampens fire risk

feeds parched

creeks

ponds

rivers

lakes

reservoirs

Look closely at each

raindrop

and find the hope

reflected

inside

®Douillard

And a student poem by E–also inspired by the rain:

Rain

Everyone hates the rain, sulking in their raincoats, 

Hiding themselves under their umbrellas.

I see rain differently,

I see the fun between—

The water to run and splash in

The fun trails to dash across,

Arching up across puddles..

The rain dancing down,

Making gallons of fun,

A river of joy,

Slithering around every house.

In those cloudy days,

I see a different scene.

In those rainy times,

I see the fun between.

And by M (not inspired by rain):

The Gaps Between

Many people see one whole 

I see the gaps between 

               The face standing there

                with only one eye.

                The pigeon flying by

                 The trees in a band 

                 The concrete is Atlas

                holding up the Stones. 

Those rough dark places

I see a different picture

I see the gaps between

What I Keep Learning: NPM20 Day 4

This piece in progress was inspired by What I Learned this Week by Angela Narcisco Torres. While it doesn’t yet feel finished to me, it does have some ideas that I am happy to have captured.

What have you been learning as we all do our best to shelter-in-place? Those of you who are teachers, what are you learning as you work to support students through some kind of remote learning?

What I Keep Learning

What matters when your students are names on a screen

Rather than physical beings that you see and interact with each day?

When you hear the echoes of their voices 

Through typed comments

That pop up continuously throughout what used to be the school day.

Quiet students are still quiet

Rarely leaving a trail of their thoughts or needs

And body language is no longer

A text to be read

The chatterers still chat

Loud and long, filling my inbox

With every possible question, ‘sup, and emoji 

They tap their chat to me, to each other, to themselves

Filling empty ears with imagined sounds of school

Assignments matter now more than ever

I see the ways the mundane

Assignment-for-assignment-sake

Deflates, dissipating energy

Leaving us all unsatisfied and wrung out

Like that washcloth left on the edge of the sink

We need learning opportunities that connect us

Build on experiences and passions

Each student holds close

Allowing ideas to soar and words to take flight

Writing matters, that’s what I keep learning

®Douillard

An Invitation to Connect and Make Poetry: NPM20 Day 2

Last night on our National Writing Project connecting the network zoom call, my colleague and I were asked to facilitate a “making” session–a place for a small group to make something together. And since writing is making, we thought about some way to have our group engage in a small writing piece that collectively made something bigger.

Inspired by the Springtime in Washington Haiku Contest: Poems on a Pandemic article another colleague shared with me earlier in the week, we decided to create a shareable slide deck of our own version of Coronavirus Haiku. We invited participants in our breakout session to create a Haiku (short poem, 17 syllables, 5-7-5 pattern), and then add the poem and an image to a slide in the collaborative deck.

I offered my own as example:

So this post serves as an invitation to all of you. Take a few minutes to write a Haiku or other short poem about some aspect of your coronavirus experience. It can be funny, somber, documentary, whimsical, sad, angry…

You can access the slide deck here: Coronavirus Haiku: Short Poems Documenting Life During a Pandemic. Writing is not only making, it is also connecting. And can be healing as well. A few years back I wrote a post about my response to another blogger and colleague’s invitation to write #haikuforHealing–a balm for the tired spirit. So let’s connect and heal as we write together.

Let the Poetry Begin! #npm20

It’s April 1st–the “official” start of National Poetry Month. But really, do we only “do” poetry in April? Poetry plays a role all year in my classroom, but I love to ratchet up the poetry volume in April by getting my students to participate in the poem-a-day challenge. We warmed up Monday and Tuesday, pretending April had already begun, starting with shorter, accessible poems. You can see day1 and day 2 here.

Today our mentor poem was Words are Birds by Francisco X. Alarcon. The first responses (in the comments on our Google Classroom site) were, oh no! This looks hard! Do I have to write something this long? Had I overestimated what my students could do, especially since they are all learning at a distance from me?

I was working on my own poem at the same time–I’ve been adding my poem to the Google Classroom site around mid-morning, to support those who need an extra example, but not offering mine up as the only possibility. And I had scheduled a Google Meet this morning as an Open Mic opportunity–instructing students to be prepared to read one of the poems they have written this week. I wondered if students would still want this video meeting if they had to read a poem and not just have a social check in.

At 10am student faces started to pop into my camera screen. At first I couldn’t hear them–but they could hear me (and apparently each other too). After a restart, both faces and voices came into range, a cacophony of sound. With their mute buttons in place we began our Open Mic. 14 students read their poems this morning, some reading an extra just because. I can see their poetry confidence growing and their skills growing too. And it’s only day 1! (Or day 3 if you count our pre-start!)

Here are a couple of student drafts from today:



And here is my poem for today:

Poems are Clouds

Poems

are clouds

that arrive unscheduled

they love

readers

writers

thinkers

lovers

kids

some poems gather

dark and tall

casting shadows

forcing thoughts

to fear

uncertainty

some poems

are light as the shine

of the sun

on the wet sand

reflecting

joy

    contemplation

                    gratitude

and others

clear the sky

leaving the blue

to stand

alone

freeing writers

to create 

their own clouds

cumulous

stratus

cirrus

billowing, stretching, towering

leaving behind

the weather of feelings and

lightning strikes

of

inspiration

Kim Douillard

4/1/20


Will you celebrate poetry in April? Use poetry as a way to calm frayed nerves, express fears, find comfort in words? I hope so…and I hope I will get to read some of your poems too this month.

SOLC Day 29: Tasting the Nurturing

I don’t cook. Lucky for me, I married someone who does…and does it well. And he not only cooks, but uses food preparation as a way of nurturing, a way of showing his love.

Most days, breakfast is a grab your own system. He makes coffee, I grab my yogurt from the fridge, dress it up with granola or fruit or not and eat as I check those early morning emails before I leave the house (back when I left the house). That routine is still in place on the weekdays. But on the weekends, breakfast is always something more special.

This morning was homemade buttermilk biscuits.

I love biscuits. Light and fluffy with a slight crunch, slathered with butter and honey. Perfection. And it takes some work. He starts with a fork and butter into flour, eventually adding wet ingredients until it is ready to roll.

He’s learned this folding and rolling technique that creates space between the layers of the biscuit that contributes to the light and flaky texture. When it is rolled just right, he starts the cutting. with the biscuit cutter we bought on a trip to Nashville (where the biscuits are good)!

Transfer to the pan and into the oven they go until they come our golden brown with just the right crunch on the outer layer.

And to balance out this decadence, scrambled eggs with cheese and turmeric and some orange slices round out the breakfast plate.

In each and every bite, I can feel my husband’s love and care. I hope my students can feel that kind of nurturing in the work I ask them to do. Especially during these remote learning days, when I am not able to teach my lessons through my voice, my body, through the interactions of students with me and with each other, I am carefully constructing and deconstructing my own plans and planning process to convey energy, motivation, and reasons to engage to my students. I want them to taste the sweetness in the writing I ask them to do. I look for ways for us to connect–through video, through images, through words, through text. I want them to taste the love and nurturing just like I did this morning when I bit into that homemade biscuit…with honey dripping down their chins, hungering for more.

SOLC Day 25: Coronavirus Status

I came across a post about Jimmy Fallon the other day–where he asked people to describe their quarantine experience in 6 words. Now his was a Twitter thing…and with adults, so the results were funny. At the same time, I was thinking about ways to give my young students (8 and 9 year olds) space to express their experiences now that school is happening at home and they are mostly quarantined in their homes. So I took the loose idea from Jimmy Fallon and combined it with some ways of working that are familiar to my students.

Here was my assignment to them today:

On our 8th day of doing school from home because of the coronavirus, think about either something you are missing or something you are finding wonderful.

1. Take a photo to represent that thing. Be sure to use a photo technique. You may use minor editing on your photo.
2. Write a 6-word update. These are 6 carefully chosen words to express your feelings and communicate what you’re experience. (You can see my example) Only 6 words…try to avoid words like the, and, it… Type your 6-word update in Docs.
3. Click on the link to access the slide deck. Choose the next slide in the deck and insert your photo and copy your 6 words (you will need to insert a text box to paste) onto the slide. Be sure to include your name on the slide.
4. You may change the font if you like. Make sure it is big enough and clear enough to be easily read by others.
5. You may change the background color of your slide if you like. Please select a color from the theme (choices along the bottom)
6. Once you are done with your slide, please attach your poem and photo in Google Classroom to submit your work.
7. I can’t wait to see our slide deck develop! Be sure to be thoughtful and do quality work!
8. My slide is included so you can better understand what I am asking you to do.

And here are some of the results:

As you can see, the kids can see both the benefits and the drawbacks of their time at home. The biggest loss they are feeling is the social aspects of going to school. They miss their friends…and their teachers. And we definitely miss them too.

So my students’ 6-word coronavirus status updates are not funny, but they are honest and sweet, hopeful and very much all kid! I’ll be looking for more ways to allow for expression without being too heavy-handed.

What have you been doing to document your experience as we journey through this global pandemic? Have you done anything to facilitate the process for the young people in your lives? I’d love to borrow more ideas!

SOLC Day 14: Finding a Poem

My face-to-face meeting with directors of California Writing Project sites all over the state became a Zoom meeting in light of the Corona virus pandemic. I was not looking forward to hours in front of my computer screen, I knew I would miss all the informal opportunities for conversation and camaraderie. But I was wrong. Today’s meeting was energizing and comforting and brought much-needed connection and shared experiences with others who can relate in a world that is suddenly so filled with uncertainty.

Our rich conversations had me jotting down phrases, words I couldn’t forget. And during my beach walk this afternoon, they started to become a poem of sorts. So here’s the early draft…not quite done, found in the words of my colleagues.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE

Just Wait

 

In a roiling cauldron of virus brew

we swim

blindly dodging infection

unwilling to get out

sure if we can’t see it, it’s not there

 

The pandemic spreads

morphing from fear of illness

into a pandemic of disappointment:

canceled events, weekend plans, the coveted spring break

we resist–just this once, I’ll be okay

wash your hands, pump the hand sanitizer

 

It’s time for each of us to listen loudly

to hear voices of those at risk

each of us is a single brick, interlocking, interconnected

whether we want to be or not

 

Distance physically

but not emotionally

wash your hands, cough into your elbow

cancel your plans and check on your neighbor

find ways to inject an inoculation of connection

without passing the virus

 

Write more, read more

Facetime with Grandma, phone call to Dad

and wait…

®Douillard

 

(And an image from this afternoon’s trip to the grocery store. Empty shelves are so unexpected!)

SOLC Day 13: In the Upside Down

I could feel this day coming, but there’s still no real preparing for it. Life and all the routines that keep it steady and grounded have been disrupted.

I knew when I heard from my colleague this morning that Los Angeles Unified School District would close their schools beginning on Monday that I would get a similar message before the day was out. And it was literally only minutes later that the email arrived.

Because of my Writing Project buy-outs, I don’t teach on Thursdays and Fridays so I was working from home when the message arrived. I texted my teaching partner to learn that the principal had called a meeting during recess. I couldn’t be there by that time, but as soon as my Zoom meeting finished, I headed over to school. I knew I wanted more information, I wanted to see our students, and I wanted to support my teaching partner in getting materials and information ready to send home by the end of the day.

And while we are prepared…as prepared as possible for an impossible situation, there is no roadmap for closing schools for a global pandemic. It feels like the whole world has flipped over and we’re now living in the upside down.

So…my students will be learning remotely for at least the next two weeks. They went home with their iPads today, knowing that they will find lessons and activities to do at home beginning on Monday morning. And importantly, they know that their teachers are on the other side of their apps…planning for learning and expecting to see evidence of learning coming back to them.

So will this move flatten the curve? Tamp down the spread of the virus? Keep us all safer and healthier? I hope so. And I know I will be ready for the world to flip back upright–knowing that our routines will likely continue to be disrupted even when our schools re-open.

Let’s keep washing our hands and keeping our spirits up, the kids out there need us!

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.

SOLC Day 8: When the Tide is Low…

Springing ahead this morning meant the day was already shorter…and who needs a shorter Sunday?  Luckily, the day was sunny and relatively warm…a perfect day to enjoy the negative tide promised this afternoon.

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When the tide is low the sea pulls back and offers a wide walking beach.  New geography is on display: exposed tide pools, unexpected sandbars, and slippery algae covered reefs.

Egrets feast, using their bright yellow feet to stir up tiny fish.  As still as statues, they pose and wait…until the perfect moment arrives.  And then…mealtime!  The gentle sea breeze ruffles those pure white feathers, revealing the layers of texture.  As I crouch low we come eye to eye…and understand that we are not in competition.  The egret can hunt and I can take photos without disturbing one another.

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Crabs scurry, hiding in the cracks and crevices of seaside rocks and hive like reef structures. Sensitive to the tiniest movement, I stand perfectly still and patiently watch until I get a glimpse of the sideways reach.  A fist fight between two thumbnail sized green crabs suggests that territory may be in dispute.

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Anemones comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and varieties.  Some immersed in shallow pools, others exposed in the wet sand…all adapted for the harsh conditions of the tidal zone.

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The beach is an ever-changing wonder that I explore endlessly.  For me it is my gym, my photo studio, my meditation space, my therapist.  And on days when the tide is low and my schedule is flexible, it is simply a playground filled with delight!