I've been doing "Poetry Friday" with the fifth graders at school all year long. Most Friday afternoons, I go into the fifth grades classes for an hour, and we read poetry and share poetry and write poetry. Sometimes we have a theme, e.g. poems about friendship, or poems about Christmas. Sometimes we read poems by a particular author. Sometimes we look for poems where the poet has used a certain poet's tool, e.g. repetition. And sometimes we just read and share poems.
I love connecting with kids in this way. I love watching the fifth graders fall in love with poetry. I love watching them read poetry and perform it. I love when C, a tough gangbanger wanna be, shyly stands at my shoulder to show me an alliterative poem he describes as "kind of a tongue twister. " I love when J, a tiny nine year old who lost his mom last year, stops by my office, writers' notebook in hand, to share a memory poem he has written.
For years, I have talked to kids about how readers prepare themselves to open a book- how they think about whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, and what they know about the author or topic. Recently, I have worked with kids a lot on nonfiction text structure. We talk about how the author "built" the text-- whether it is a house (all about one thing), a duplex or triplex (comparing several different things) or an apartment (a little bit of information about a whole bunch of different but related topics (e.g. all about bears, with one page devoted to grizzlies, and one page devoted to polar bears, and one page devoted to brown bears). All of this prereading work has seemed to really support kids and help them become more active readers.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been messing around with a kind of framework to help the kids think about poetry. I've been calling it "Poet's Purpose," mostly for lack of a better term. I want kids, before they ever start to read, to consider why the poet might be writing.
- Entertain or make us laugh- I started with this one, because these are the poems that kids love first. Humorous poets like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Kenn Nesbitt are a doorway for children to enter into the world of poetry.
- Play with language- Language play is another category my kids love. They love concrete poems in books like SPLISH SPLASH by Joan Bransfield Graham. They love Betsy Franco's MATHEMATICKLES. They also love the language play- made up words and rhyming twists- in Doug Florian's dinosaur poems.
- Story poems- Poems that tell a story are another category that kids seem to find really accessible, both for reading and writing. Don Graves' "BASEBALL, SNAKES, AND SUMMER SQUASH" is a book I revisit again and again.
- Capture a feeling- Sometimes I share a feeling poem or two. Poems about being lonely, or sad, or lost seem to really resonate with the kids. Often, the poems they bring to share with me are feeling poems.
- Capture visual or sensory images- We talk a lot about how poets create images in our heads, or help us smell or taste or feel things. These seem harder and less interesting to the kids, but I keep trying.
- Compare two things- Poets often compare two things that I would never, in a million years, think of comparing. Jean Little's poem, "Clothes," where she talks about the difference between new and old clothes, or new and old friends, has been a terrific for this. Last week, the kids loved "December Leaves," where poet Kay Starbird compares the leaves on her lawn to cornflakes in a bowl. Valerie Worth is another poet who does this all the time.
- Teach a life lesson- Poetry often teaches important life lessons. Some, e.g. those of Shel Silverstein, are easy to pick out, other are much more difficult. I usually just kind of let the discussion go where it may, and the kids often have huge insights. Sometimes, at the end, I'll say, "Some people think…" and show the kids support from the text for this thinking. The fifth graders listen respectfully to my ideas, but don't see these as any more valid or legitimate than their own thinking, which is exactly what I want them to do.
I'd love to hear what people think…
This woman is very popular, and if you look at her work you will see why.
A lot of you might already know of her.
So grab a coffee and be prepared to be inspired... and keep going back through her posts...LOVE her cupcake cards!! I will be trying that one for sure!!
Have a great day!!
My oldest son turned 16 this week. And I am watch in amazement as this sweet guy turns the corner toward manhood. I am so blessed to be his mom…
"To a daughter leaving home"
When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park…
Read the rest of the poem here.
Poetry Friday is at Liz in Ink. In case you didn't know, Liz's book, ALL THE WORLD, which was illustrated by Marla Frazee, won a Caldecott Honor Medal this week. Congratulations Liz and Marla!
I am in the middle of making gift tags at the moment.
I found a fantastic freebie
here and you can download them as a jpeg.
But you better hurry!
They are free until Wednesday, on Thursday they get the watermark treatment (bear in mind time differences.. we might have a few extra hours up our sleeve)
They are TRULY gorgeous!!!
Have a great day..
I'm off to finish my tags.. will post a picture of the finished products a bit later
Hope you have a great day!!
I believe that one of the most important roles of government is to create a fair playing ground for everyone, regardless of background. It shouldn’t matter if you were born to parents living in a mansion by the lake, or a shack in the Hood. All should have the same opportunity to make it in this country! If that makes me a Liberal, then I am a Liberal!
I believe that the US Constitution provides the same rights to all the People of this great land, regardless of whether or not I agree with anyone’s position on an issue! I may not like what someone is doing, or I may not agree with how someone lives his life, or who someone loves, but he is entitled to the same rights to life, liberty, and happiness as I am! If that makes me a Liberal, then I am a Liberal!
I believe that this country needs to take care of the less fortunate! I do not believe in simple “hand outs,” but if someone’s situation has placed them in a less than optimum position to succeed, we need to give whatever assistance we can! If that makes me a Liberal, then I am a Liberal!
I believe health care in this country is a right, not a privilege of the few! I believe every US Citizen is entitled to affordable, or free, healthcare! There is no reason whatsoever that a country as rich as the US does not provide the necessary health care for it’s people! If that makes me a Liberal, then I am a Liberal!
I have read a lot recently that mainstream America is more like the Sarah Palin’s Rush Limbaugh’s, and and Dick Cheney’s of the world, than the Ted Kennedy’s and Bill Clinton’s, but I say that the majority of Americans believe in justice and equality for all! I believe the majority of Americans feel disenfranchised and have given up hope that what they feel means anything. The majority of Americans doesn’t think they can make a difference.
Yes, I have to admit that I AM A LIBERAL! And I am DAMN PROUD of it too!
But I have actually scrapped a layout!!!!
I am not 100% happy with this layout.. didn't turn out like I envisaged
But it will do...
I did this layout as an entry for a challenge over at Escape2Create (yay a short link!!! thanks Sam!!)
When I first started scrapping I was very short of confidence... but this little blog has helped my confidence grow and grow and I think my scrapping has improved because of it.
There is a very positive vibe there, some challenges, and some VERY very inspiring work there as well.
Pop in and say hi... and maybe try a challenge or two.. you'll be sure to get a warm welcome.
Well bye for now, but in the mean time
Take Care of You.
WARNING: This post may be offensive to some people. It doesn't represent the views of anyone but me.
It's the eve of MLK Day. I know we are supposed to celebrate the accomplishments of this great man, but I think it's also a time we should take stock. I'm not quite sure we are quite as far down the road as we think we are. Here are three quick stories:
Every Sunday, our newspaper, has a feature they call "Student Athletes." The paper recognizes two kids, one boy and one girl, who are outstanding athletes, and also have outstanding grades. I read this feature every week and I think it's great that the paper honors kids in this way. However, 95% or more, of the kids that they honor are Anglo kids. I can't help but believe that there are other kids-- African American, Hispanic, Asian, etc., who also meet the qualifications. I wonder why they aren't honored. Then there's the Constitutional Law team at the boys' very diverse high school. Although well over half of the student body is non-Anglo, the Con Law team is 95% white. And I wonder, are we really as far along as we think we are?
My sons attend a high school that has open campus at lunch. This means that every day, at 11:30, approximately two thousand starving teenagers leave the school grounds and descend on a two block strip of restaurants, convenience stores, etc. On Friday, my son, an athletic, handsome (ok, I'm biased, but he really is cute) African American teen and his best friend, who is Hispanic, were stopped by a man with a video camera, who asked if he could interview the boys. His questions, or at least the ones my sons could remember, were all about teen fathers*. He asked the boys how they would feel if they found out that they were going to be dads. My son said he would be surprised and that he knew he would be in big trouble with his mom.
I gotta tell you that these questions offend and concern me more than a little. First, although my preferred method of birth control is definitely abstinence until marriage, I'm not so naive as to believe that my boys feel the same way. We do talk about safe sex and pregnancy prevention on a regular basis. My boys also know that in the event that they got a girl pregnant, they would be responsible for providing for the child emotionally and financially for the next 21 years. Mostly, I want to know why this man, whoever he was, picked my kid out of all the kids at East. Did he talk to kids of all different races, or did he assume that because my son was black, he was sexually active and also irresponsible? And where is that film going to show up? I'm not excited about having my son's face smeared across You Tube as the face of teen fatherhood. And I wonder, are we really as far along as we think we are?
One more story. This weekend I got some really disturbing news. On Friday, January 8, a family that we know, lost their house and all of their possessions in a fire. We are not super close to this family, but my boys have played football with them, their dad is a terrific coach and athletic trainer (my younger son says, "All Coach E has to do is touch whatever is hurt and it feels better) and we've spent countless hours together at practice fields and games. Their middle son is a nationally titled Junior Olympic boxer. I found out about the fire yesterday, and only then because another coach posted a request for clothes and shoes on his Facebook page. To the best of my knowledge, this fire has not been on any news channel, or in the newspaper. We see human interest stories like this all the time, and I wonder why this family's story has not shown up. Is it because the family is not Anglo? Is it because they live in a lower working class neighborhood? And I wonder, are we really as far along as we think we are?
Maybe tomorrow, a day when we stop to honor an important American, we all need to stop and think about whether we are really as far along as we think we are.
Nothing to do with scrapping sorry,
The girl who plays the Harmonica in this video just rocks
I have this song on disc and EVERY time it comes on the kids go WILD.
Seriously the car just jumps along the road... (hehe I think I might be guilty of jumping along a bit too :))
I crank it up and we go for it. Usually we are on the open road travelling to Lincoln, so less chance of being picked up "doof doof" noise pollution! lol
Just thought I would share.
Some kings rule their kingdoms sitting down,
Surrounded by luxury, soft cushions and fans
But this king stood strong
And when some spit out hate
He stood there smiling
Until it rolled like the sea across the land
Sweeping away Jim Crow
Breaking down the walls
Ringing the bell
The rest of the poem is here.
POETRY FRIDAY is at GREAT KIDS BOOKS.
A while back I made this clock for DH, a few of you have probably already seen it.
Firstly sorry for the shocking quality of the photo. I tried every room in the house, tried every angle and even tried outside.. but still ended up with a terrible photo!
A photographer I ain't!!
Speaking of photographers, (lol nice segue way hey?) I originally got the idea to make these clocks from this clever scrapper and photographer who also happens to be a good friend ;)
Her clocks are amazing I recommend taking the time to have a peek
can anyone tell me the secret of replacing that long link with just the one word???
My friends are always telling me to "Get back in your corner" (and then throw me a couple of crayons to keep me amused. lol. )
Hence the title. ;)
I have totally forgotten how to do all the bits and pieces associated with a blog.. so bear with me while I play and try and get it right.
The reason why I cancelled my last blog was that my DH was a bit concerned about all the personal content that I was putting in there... I don't blame him really.
But I missed having my own blog.
So I compromised..
I will have my blog but no posts that are tooo personal, well not too personal anyway ;)
and I have a place to show my work (which is not much lately!!)
I LOVE trawling through all the wonderful blogs out there and I am always on the lookout for inspiration, new ideas, freebies, tutorials.. well you get my drift.
My friends always ask me where I get my ideas from (unfortunately I never seem to put a lot of them into practice grr) and I thought the easiest way to share them would be to put the links on my blog.
So here is my first link
This is where I got my blog background from.. she has soooo many to choose from!
I am sure my background will be changing quite often lol
This blog is run by the same girl who runs the free background blog
If you love vintage images this is the place for you!
All free to use and just some lovely lovely images there.
Be sure to go to the Brag Monday links and see how other clever girls have used her images.
I made these cards using a free download from
I basically copied her idea on how to use them.Be sure to browse her blog.. she has heaps of other goodies!
Well there it was, my first blog back after a long hiatus.
I hope you take the time to check out the links..
Please leave a comment and say hi... and I will be sure to pop into your blog and say hi! And probably get some wonderful ideas in the process!
I have heaps of other links and ideas to share with you please pop back and take a peek :)
Brian Kinchen is teaching his fourth period class at Parkview Baptist Middle School when he gets a call from the New England Patriots. They are two weeks from the playoffs and their long snapper is hurt. They want Kinchen, a retired 13 year veteran of the NFL, to try out for the position. Kinchen wins the position, and ultimately ends up as the snapper for the Patriots game-winning Super Bowl field goal.
In the six weeks in between the tryout and the Super Bowl, however, Kinchen goes through a horrific slump. During his 13 years in the NFL, he was known as a perfectly accurate and dependable snapper, but now, all of a sudden, his snaps are going everywhere but where they need to be. Kinchen does everything he can- watches himself on film, consults coaches, other players, practices every night at his motel, prays. He is terrified that his inconsistency will lose the big game for his team, and at one point, three days before the Super Bowl, even goes so far as to call the coach who brought him in for the tryout to tell him that he needs to find another long snapper.
This is a great story about passion and purpose and self esteem. My favorite lines from the book actually come from the movie Cool Running, about the Jamaican Bobsledding team. In the movie, it is the night before a big race, and the coach is talking to his team's driver. "A gold medal is a wonderful thing," he says. "But if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."
It's funny how sometimes books you read for other people end up speaking loudly to you…
I got to know G. last April. when our school piloted a literacy intervention program for first and second graders. I told the second grade teacher that I needed three of her lowest readers for half an hour each day. G's name was the first one out of her mouth. "He cant' read at all," she said. "And he's very shy. It's really hard to know what he knows, because he doesn't talk. And he is really resistant to working with anyone. I don't even know if we will get him to go with you. " In the first few weeks that we worked together, all of those things were true. G scowled when I walked into the room each day and protested coming across the hall to our group. He read only the very simplest kindergarten level books. His writing was almost unreadable. He talked only when spoken to, and even then his voice was so, so, so quiet I often had trouble hearing him.
Eight weeks later, when school ended, G was starting to make a little progress. I had to take my sons to football conditioning three afternoons a week, so I asked his mom if I could continue working with him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon, I drove to his apartment, waded through the 15 or 20 students shouting my name and begging to ride in my car, knocked on G's apartment door, and took him to the tiny public library a few blocks east of his home.
I had anticipated that G and I would spend most of our time in the easy reader section of the library. There were lots of great easy reads- Dr. Seuss and crew, David Shannon, Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggy series, Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series, etc. G had other ideas, however, "Do they got any books about lowriders?" he asked that first day. We made our way to an area I came to call "Car Corner" and G paged through car book after car book after car book. He couldn't read most of the the words, but he picked out the important ones- Chevy Impalas, hydraulics, chrome, classics, and custom interiors. When we had exhausted our branch library's supply, we got on the computer and borrowed thirty lowrider books from other libraries. We read cars and talked cars and drew cars (OK, G drew cars and I mostly admired the cars he drew). G wrote his own lowrider book and illustrated the book with pencil and crayon sketches, supplemented with color photographs we printed off the internet.
Although cars, and specifically lowriders, were definitely his topic of choice, G also had other interests. He loved books about the Transformers, and drew on extensive background knowledge, probably gained from hours spent in front of the television, to read words like Optimus Prime and Decepticon. He loved pop up books and returned to them again and again, carefully examining how they were put together, and fussing if anyone had mistreated them. He liked reading about jaguars and sharks and snakes.
G grew and grew and grew over the summer. I wasn't sure, however, how much of his growth would translate to the classroom. Would he talk at all? Would he even try reading? Thankfully, he has an amazing third grade teacher. That very first day, Mrs. D made sure that the book tub on G's table was full of easy books about cars, and Transformers, and sharks. She made a special time, even in that craziness of learning names, meeting parents, and sorting school supplies, to pull G aside and read his Lowrider book. She seated G next to his best friend and encouraged them to work together and help each other. I continued to support G with a daily 30 minute intervention group. When it came time for our school-wide special interest classes, G and I taught a class on lowriders. We read his book to the kids the first day of class. He taught them how to draw lowriders. He was in charge of the display at our lowrider celebration in December. And somewhere along the way, his reading took off.
Shortly before Christmas, I began hearing rumors that the family was going to leave. G's stepfather didn't have the right papers and needed to return to Mexico. It would probably be permanent. When G was at school the day after winter break, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Yesterday, however, G told me that he and his family- his mom and stepdad and four younger siblings had their bus tickets and would be leaving for Mexico this weekend. I was heartbroken. I packed a bag of books, gave him a hug, and went back to my office and cried. I will miss that little guy.
Teaching G to read (or maybe it would be more accurate to say accompanying him as he taught himself to read), has brought me back to some of my most important truths, the ones that are so easy to forget in our test-crazy, measurement-crazy world. First, G reminded me that it's so, so, so important to take time to listen to kids, to learn about their passions and their interests and to use those as a doorway into literacy. Before I started working with him, I had little or no interest in learning about low riders. I would never have thought of using lowriders as a tool to teach a child to read. And yet lowriders are the topic that has brought G into reading and writing.
Second, G reminded me that we have to be willing to enter kids' worlds, not just ask them to enter ours. I have never been a teacher who bought books about Transformers or Hannah Montana or other pop culture icons. G reminded me, however, that learners start where they are, with what they know best. Fortunately or unfortunately, for most of the kids I teach, that is stuff from the world of television and pop culture. It's ok to have that be a starting place for their journey into literacy.…
Finally, G reminded me that teaching is always, always, always about believing in kids, caring about them, establishing relationships with them. These truthsseem so basic, and so stupid, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in finding mentor texts and figuring out minilessons and monitoring progress and assembling bodies of evidence that I forget to take time to notice new tennis shoes or hair cuts, inquire about sick grandparents, or acknowledge things kids are doing well. When I forget to do those things, kids forget to learn.
Never underestimate the power of a low rider…
A found poem from C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, after a long hard week of bitter cold, long and icy commutes, and difficult teenagers…
As the winter in my heart
slows from the cold of pain,
the sun still shines,
and reminds me,
that He is coming
and He brings Spring,
and so I thank Him for the winter.
I don't understand
of my snow-frost
maybe it is to dull the pain,
or maybe this blizzard
is the last stand
of an Enemy
for an unforgiving
that is soon to come
it is for us
who has sustained us
being so far
and so I thank Him for the winter.
I'm immediately drawn to the pale blue, sprinkled with white sparkles cover of MY LITTLE POLAR BEAR. I open it and know that I have found a new favorite. This book, a dialogue between a mama polar bear and her cub, works on a lot of different levels. First, it's a really sweet RUNAWAY BUNNY kind of story about the love between a mama and her child- it would be a terrific baby present. I'm guessing that could quickly become one of those bedtime ritual books that young children would ask for again and again. The illustrations, all done in shades of blues and grays and whites, are quiet and soothing.
There was a kids' author named Scieszka
For two years he served children's lit-cha
Our case he did plead,
These kids gotta read,
Today we're saluting this Ambassada!
There was a young boy named Jon,
Who grew up with five brothers to pick on,
They did five person vomits,
And off roofs flew like comets,
"Knuckleheads!' said their dad when he caught em.
There was a young teacher named Scieszka
To be an author was all that he want-a,
He wrote THREE LITTLE PIGS,
That book sold really big,
And changed kids' lit for a whole lotta ya.
There was an author named Scieszka
And books he has written a-plenta,
Whether it's science or math,
Kids just gotta laugh,
In his books that happens, you betcha!
There was a kids' author named Scieszka
For two years he served children's lit-cha
Our case he did plead,
These kids gotta read,
Today we're saluting this Ambassada!
Thank you, Jon Scieszka, for your tremendous efforts to connect kids and books!
A round up of all of the posts is at YEAR OF READING. Thanks Franki and Mary Lee!
And of course it's Poetry Friday! I googled January poem and found one I had never read. I liked the middle best, so that's what you're reading.
…The unattended resolutions of the past are rushed
to the door, like an unwelcome guest who stayed
over a little longer, House needs a cleaning now.
Every year a battle is lost unfought, unthought
a select and delete all command works well
on a forgotten past, just as it did the last year.
I wish no questions were asked about the past
no grades to be given, no scores to be kept.
A new slate, new pen and a new poem to be written…
- Nikunj Sharma
The rest of the poem is here.
Poetry Friday is at A YEAR OF READING.