Tag Archives: writing

Self Love: NPM22 Day 28

Today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA is just the kind of challenge I tend to resist with poetry: a formula and rhyme. But I pushed myself to give it a try anyway…and maybe learned some things about myself in the process.

When I’m by myself

and I close my eyes

I’m breathing in the quiet

looking for the perfect pic

walking miles and miles

thinking all the while

playing with words

trying to make myself heard

hitting my pace

making peace with this place

I’m here and now

still learning how

to be

and when I open my eyes

what I care to see

is me


Beach Re-Encountered: NPM22 Day 27

Today’s #verselove prompt, hosted by Shaun over at Ethical ELA invites poets to “re-encounter the familiar.” I’m guessing it will surprise no one that I chose to re-encounter the beach. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny spring day…until I got to about 2 blocks from the beach. There, a heavy, dense, thick fog stretched along the coastline, nestled next to the blue sky, so close…but also so far away.

Beach Re-Encountered

Revealing itself one step at a time

under a veil misty wet, thicker than it seems

bare feet navigate water’s edge

air like a shower without drops

swirling, coating every surface

turning technicolor to monochrome

Landscape etched in pencil

blurred in the distance

the world slows


forces focus

stay in the moment

Breathe in the quiet

punctuated by waves

ebbing, flowing

wash away the day

let bare feet lead the way


I Feel it in my Bones, a Found Poem: NPM22 Day 26

Today I went in search of a found poem, a poem where words are borrowed and arranged to create something new, something fresh, something meaningful out of the words collected from others. I printed the article, The Power of Teaching Poetry: A Conversation Between Renee Watson and Linda Christensen from Rethinking Schools and as I read, I marked words and phrases that spoke to me. Later, I typed those words and phrases into a document and then started arranging, rearranging, repeating, excluding until I came up with a poem that says something that matters to me.

Many thanks to Amy over at Ethical ELA and #verselove for today’s prompt and the inspiration to find my own poem in my own way.

I Have it in my Bones: A Found Poem

Writing is not a competitive sport

Everyone has their own voice, different stories

Who have you touched with your hands?

What are the stories of the scars on your knee?

Our memories, the recipes, a space to enter

I have it in my bones

Poetry can be a container for emotions

We’re angry

We’re sad

We’re confused

All of me was welcome

My joy and my pain

My frustration, my questions

I weave poetry

A raft of poems

Eerie medley, location-notes, love calls

Whistles and grunts

Sounds that all melt into a liquid

I have it in my bones

I’m not perfect

Courage is contagious

Joy is resistance

Play with language

Eyes of poetry

Outrageous verbs

Repetition, listing, repeating

Writing is serious

It kind of explodes

Planting seeds, fanned the flames

Feel free

Wild and risky

Nurtured me

I have it in my bones

Cormorant: NPM22 Day 25

I love science! I think in another life I must have been a scientist. Questions are always my entry point–so today’s #verselove prompt was perfect. Linda at Ethical ELA listed steps in the scientific method and then encouraged us to use all or part of them to craft a poem for today. Yesterday as I walked on the beach, I saw a cormorant in an unusual place…on the beach. In the past, cormorants on the beach have signaled illness for the bird, so I was concerned when I saw this one. I turned my cormorant sighting into fodder for my scientific method poem today.


I see you sitting on the beach

alone, on the sand

are you lost? are you ill?

Most days you fly against the horizon

like a jet plane, pointed due north

wings in constant motion

Today you are still

feathers like midnight

eyes like stars

unperturbed by my approach

Is it avian flu?

Bird dementia?

Or just a relaxing day on the beach?

Relief pulsed through my veins

when I saw you later

floating in the surf

looking for a snack

before blasting back into the sky

continuing your coastal journey

Thanks for stopping by

and posing

for a portrait


Annotations: NPM22 Day 24

Yesterday was day 2 of the SDAWP Advanced Institute that I wrote about in March. On this second day, we moved our work to focus on revision mindsets and building confidence as writers with the help of Chris Hall’s The Writer’s Mindset and Liz Prather’s The Confidence to Write. An identity as writer for a teacher has an important impact on writing instruction. Teachers teach qualitatively differently when they understand their subject matter from the inside out. Teacher-writers have experienced all that makes writing hard. They know how it feels to face a blank page–and then write through uncertainty and fear. And they can support students to develop a writerly identity too.

This morning I awoke to Jessica’s “found annotations” prompt for #verselove over at Ethical ELA. My first reaction was, “Oh no!” I’m not really much into annotating–and it’s not something I do with first graders. I do annotate their observations of weekly poems and encourage them to respond to text, but we frequently depend on oral language for those annotations.

But then I thought about some of the reading we did yesterday and I grabbed my copy of The Confidence to Write, picked a section in the chapter on the fear of the blank page called Breathe Through It, and started annotating. I then went back and let my poet brain wander through the annotations and my thinking. Here’s my poem:

Complexities of Simplicity

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four

Feel the rhythm

the beat

drum drumming

refilling air sacs

lung pillows

calming, slowing,

pushing pounds

immoveable objects

pushing stress




Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three , four

Count each breath

like steps


through the sand

hear the tide

pushing in and out

dancing to the beat

of your heart

study says

breathing deep

increases productivity

by 47-62 minutes

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four

Dive in

swim through

tap the rhythms

find the beat


in salty life blood

in salty sea water


with confidence

and breathe

Breathe in

one, two, three, four

Breathe out

one, two, three, four


Sniff In: NPM22 Day 23

I rolled the virtual metaphor dice inspired by Stefani over at Ethical ELA coming up with the words poetry, well worn, and brand new toy. Combined with my afternoon lagoon walk, words tumbled and fell into today’s poem.

Sniff In

Sniff in beach funk

salty fishy

tickling nose and imagination

feet moving over well worn paths

buzzing bees pollinating images

a flash of yellow

stomping above a blossoming of white

birdsong on a post

and balanced on overhead wires

playing with words each day

a brand new toy

nature and poetry

holding hands


No Cheese for Me: NPM22 Day 22

The #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA today is All Things Cheese. But, although I like cheese…I don’t love cheese. So today I decided to write my poem about something I do love: ice cream. Just a Haiku to ease into the weekend.

Ice Cream

Ice cold and creamy

dreamy caramel choco-

late. Dinner tonight?


Sidewalk Beach: NPM22 Day 21

Today’s poem emerged from a mishmash of prompts and experiences. Leilya over at #verselove and Ethical ELA shared her poem about a walk and then Mitch at our National Writing Project Connecting the Network call offered two other mentor poems about seeing ordinary things in new ways, and today’s lizard skittered right into my notebook.

Sidewalk Beach

“Hey friend”

where? I wonder as I search my surroundings

expecting the skitter of reptilian feet


Today was not-so-usual

in a far-from-familiar place

killing time with an every-single-day practice:

a walk

Sidewalk warmed under robin-blue skies

looked like spring break beaches

bodies lined up, rumps to the sun

crisping, browning

in perfect synchronization

Instead of sketchy skitters

as I come close, it looks at me

a question like a speech bubble

crowning its head

“Why are you here casting shade

on my sidewalk beach?”

I snap a portrait

and it skitters into the bushes


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


Leave a space

to just be

wide open space

Leave a space

where I can be me


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.


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


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


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