Tag Archives: writing

Lifeguard Towers: NPM 2019 Day 25

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Lifeguard Towers

 

They rest on their haunches

waiting out winter

tucked away

in suspended animation

until the warmth

of summer’s sun

(along with the the assist of a tractor or forklift)

entices them to water’s edge

 

Spring teases

with bright skies

swimmers tiptoe

into chilly seas

but the towers know better

and will wait

for the border of

May gray and June gloom

to make their way

to their perch

along the shore

©Douillard

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

 

Purple: NPM19 Day 21

For today’s offering an exploration of color.  A work in progress…doesn’t feel finished yet.

Purple

At the intersection of blue and red

purple blooms

breathing color

onto hillsides

hope into hearts

Sometimes

purple pains

spreading beneath

tender skin

until yellows pushes back

Purple sings

morning songs

trilling through dreams

til my eyelids

find the violet of daybreak

And whispers in shadows

hesitant, hidden

under cover of darkness

until light beckons

@Douillard

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Decadent Dessert: NPM 2019 Day 20

Some days are made for giving into temptation–this was one of them.  Dessert before dinner, yes please.  Where do you find the perfect banana split?  The places from our childhood memories no longer exist.  The local Dairy Queen went out of business over a year ago.  As we drove toward the beach for a walk, we caught a glimpse of the Handel’s ice cream place on the corner.  A quick internet search as we drove by confirmed, that yes, they do make banana splits!  So we added a walk to our walk.  After the beach walk, we walked to the ice cream place for a decadent dessert–before dinner.  The perfect topic for an ode!  (And yes, this is a quick draft…one that requires some more work!)

Ode to a Banana Split

Three sweet creamy mounds

strawberry, chocolate, vanilla

shoulder to shoulder

surrounded by nutritious

delicious (and healthy)

banana slices

more fruit runs down the hills

strawberry and pineapple

mingling with

night-dark chocolate

airy clouds of whipped cream

cling to the mountaintop

a ruby read cherry

shines like the sun

 

I succumb to this sweet temptation

happily shared

two plastic spoons

in perfect synchronicity

shovel in the sweet coolness

each bite

a tiny vacation

right here at home

©Douillard

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No Snow Day: NPM 2019 Day 19

In between conference calls and other work today, I squeezed in a beach walk.  My attention was immediately drawn to the kids using their boogie boards as sleds, sliding down the sand hill near the lifeguard tower.  Whenever I see that, my mind goes to a line in a poem (that may be mis-remembered, I can’t find it online) that goes something like…”Where I live it doesn’t snow.”

Today I went looking for some paint chip colors to help me with my poem.  No random draw today, I searched for words that I thought might be interesting…and then added one I came up with on my own: persistent gray.

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No Snow Day

Conjuring the blank canvas

of snowy banks

would-be sledders

venture to cliff’s edge

riding

boogie boards

down the rabbit hole

of slippery sand

in this place where

no snow falls

and persistent gray

doesn’t result

in a snow day

©Douillard

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Paint Chippin’: NPM 2019 Day 17

After watching Molly and Margaret playing with paint chip poetry and writing amazing poems, I gave in and ordered by own box of paint chips (and some metaphor dice too). They arrived this afternoon…too late to use with my students this week, but just in time for me to experiment on my own.  I picked three paint chips and got started.

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I squeezed in a quick walk this afternoon between my late-running meeting and an appointment to get my hair cut.  As I walked along the beach, seagulls caught my eye…and my camera lens.  They became the inspiration for today’s poem draft.  (I suspect I will come back to tinker with this–I already have a couple of other versions, none that I am completely happy with!)

Moon Spotting

Through the looking glass

of my camera lens

I spy them:

a gaggle of gossips

black and white wings against

the puddle of sky

Without warning they rise

pounding the air

like the rushing waters of Niagara Falls

I hear them and look up

the almost-full moon winks and smiles back

©Douillard

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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

Playing with 3 Words: NPM 2019 Day 15

Back in the classroom today it was time to play around a bit with poetry.  I asked my students for three words…and then read them some poems that featured three words from the book I am Writing a Poem About… by Myra Cohn Livingstone.  All of the poems in the section included the words blanket, ring, and drum.  They were unique in content and style and all used the words in completely different ways.

With those poems as inspiration, we took the three words I collected: candy, cat, and park and worked on our own poems.  The first attempt felt more like stories about cats and the park and candy…even my own was focused on a cat.

Royal Cat

She slinks, graceful

a cat with a calico coat

as shiny as hard candy

Parking herself on the

windowsill

in a pool of light

she oversees her kingdom

©Douillard

After our first try, we took some time to brainstorm ideas about candy and cat and park, thinking about ways to incorporate imagery using the words.  Then the challenge was on…write a poem using the three words that is NOT about cats or candy or parks.  This was much more difficult!  My second attempt was about recess.

Recess

The bell rings

and they rush out

like candy raining from

a busted piñata

a herd of cats

running this way and that

each following an invisible path

playful

fierce

full of energy.

Exhausted,

I park myself on the step and watch.

©Douillard

Painted in Waterlogue

Wyatt (who had seen a bear over his spring break) tried his hand at a guessing poem…about what else?  A bear.

I sometimes eat things as sweet as candy

but I can be bitter and scary.

People leave treasures in the car,

I take that as an opportunity

to leave the car scarred.

Cats are no match for me.

I live in a place something like a park,

vast,

and you see the same things

over and over again.

I can see that we all need to play around more with the idea of layers of meaning…I think that will be tomorrow’s lesson.