Friday, October 31, 2014

Strolling down Halloween Lane!

Be sure to parade by Linda's blog at Teacher Dance for a taste of poetry love! 

I'm still submerged in poetry!  Tomorrow is our official send-off party for The Poetry Box, and then it travels to Utah.  Percy will be tucked inside perusing piles of poems.   We hope our friends in Utah enjoy him and the Poetry Box as much as we did.  

One of our favorite poetry anthologies when our children were young was Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, and it's still in print!
"Skeleton Parade" by Jack Prelutsky was a favorite poem.  It was one of the first poems my daughter memorized.  I found it in this collection of Halloween poems, right below the poem, "Boo." 

Have an evening filled with delight and hopefully, a skeleton or two knocking at the door!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Little bits and pieces . . .

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by

Two weeks ago I composed a five word ditty for Poetry Friday:
tentacles swirl,
students succumb!

Those tentacles continued to swirl for sixth grade students from rooms 103 and 104 as they joined Janet Wong on Friday for a poetry workshop.  We learned about her journey from practicing lawyer to published author.
We listened as she shared these nuggets about writing poems:
"Little bits and pieces of my life find their way into my poems."  
"The best poems are about specific things that are universal."
Percy poses proudly for this photo op with our visiting poet!
We examined poetry from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, our presenter.  Janet led us in an exercise for writing new endings to poems with this important question:   
"What do you notice?"  
Does the poem rhyme or is it free verse?
Does it follow a specific pattern for rhyming words?
Do the stanzas (little rooms to group ideas) provide a pattern for the poem? 
Does the poem follow a specific rhythm?  
Does the poem provide a predictable scheme?

And then we took out our writer's notebooks and wrote new endings for the narrative poem "Cod" by Holly Thompson.  Listen to Holly's multimedia reading of "Cod" that she created as part of a multimedia unit in this post (it's the second video).

Janet asked us to write a new ending for the poem after this stanza:

"but late afternoon on her walk with the babies
when she strolled past a bar where the captain
sat laughing and from the pier looked down
to the floating dock and the tub full of fish
her cod on top sun bathed and rotting
its dim, milky eye focused on her, she realized"

It was amazing to watch her create three different endings for the poem (a poem selected from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School when a student called out a random page number).  She penned her stanzas on chart paper, revising on the spot with scratch outs and added words:

Version 1:
"she knew it was not enough
to catch the fish, 
but she needed somehow
to capture the heart of the captain too.
She walked into the bar,
a baby in each arm, and said,
'captain, the fish you're going to fillet for me
will fill these babies up tonight  
they thank you too'"

Version 2:
"she decided to fillet the fish herself 
how hard could it be to take out some guts and bone
and she climbed down on the dock,
hoisted it up,
stuffed it like a pillow 
alongside the babies 
and rolled her cargo home"

Version 3:  
"she cried, just sat and cried
so helpless, so hurt
and the babies knew exactly how she felt"

My version, with Janet's final advice to add three new words, (now deleted per Janet's advice in the comments):
"with a sudden stab of sad remorse
she wished to turn
back time and return
the cod to his watery primeval home"

Our time together was splendidly capped off by these new endings shared by several student writers:  

from Marina - 
"she was sad
she was mad
she wanted to show her family
and they would dance happily"

from Peyton - 
"hey captain
didn't you say you would
filet my fish

from Bella -
"one day not far 
from now she would return
the favor to the poor, helpless, 
rotting cod

that next day she went
with the captain again 
she caught another cod and
set it free for it should
have another chance"

from Jamisen
"as she passed the bar
the captain saw her flaw
he left the room
with dreary eyes he walked away
'goodbye,' he said
as he disappeared"

from Xander - 
"to throw him overboard
look at him, monster eyed
I looked down below 
and I saw how he died"

from Hunter - 
"she realized that the captain
was gonna get it
she knew he lied to her
her cold eyes met his and
he knew she was going 
to be the new captain
the babies would be her sailors
this war has just begun"

Our efforts at rewriting took just a few minutes, but Janet's workshop gave us new strategies for writing endings for the poems in the Poetry Box and for continuing our journey as poets. 
Thanks, Janet Wong, for a fabulous morning!
A big thank you to Holly Thompson for permission to include the link to her multimedia reading of "Cod" from her blog and to share our new endings for her poem.  Holly's extensive website explores her intercultural world and the writing that has emerged from living abroad for the past twenty years.  While she is usually based in Japan, she is living in the United States (Massachusetts) for the 2014-15 school year and loves to do school visits.  I can't wait to read her verse novel (one of my favorite genres), The Language Inside which was a Notable Book for a Global Society last year and was highly recommended by Janet Wong.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Celebrating in the midst of great sorrow

Join us each Saturday for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

Amid the sorrow, we search for solace to questions that have no easy answers.  
Another school shooting, this one in the Northwest, leaves us yearning for 
safety for our young people.  My heart is heavy, as I celebrate and grieve with you this day.

1.  I stopped to savor the sunset last Saturday at Slater Park.

2.  My "children" turned 28 and 30.

Their birthdays are one day apart.  

3.  Janet Wong presented a poetry workshop to our 
sixth graders participating in the Poetry Box project.
Percy posed with her for this photo op.

4.  I'm bewitched by fall.  
And yes, every picture was taken in the past week.  
Remember, I just retired AND my husband is out of town. 
How will I ever pick just one for Carol's Finding Fall Gallery?

5.  Kathy, my sister-in-law, received good news after her surgery.  
I am grateful for this blessing and continue to pray for the  
comfort and healing of many others who are grieving and suffering.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Percy pens a diamante!

Head over to Cathy's Merely Day by Day
for today's taste of poetry love.
Thanks, Cathy, for hosting!
Percy's ready - he found the book that first linked him to Janet Wong, 
A suitcase of seaweed and other poems,
 in a bin of books I collected for the Poetry Box project.  
To his great surprise, this was the inscription on the inside front cover:  
"To the Kenmore library, 
A suitcase of dreams come true for you -
Janet Wong"  
Wow, tomorrow is a dream come true for Percy, a chance to meet his first poet in person!  
Even though Percy feels that he already knows Janet Wong through her poetry, 
he's over the top excited about her visit to IMS tomorrow.  

I'm almost ready - I found the two books I own by Janet Wong. 
They are bookmarked with favorite poems. 
  Perhaps Janet will autograph my books.  
I'm trying to finish this post and some other things on my list.  
I'm hoping I can sleep when I finally get to bed.  

Since Percy and I are in the same state of excitement, 
he offers up this synonym diamante for Poetry Friday:  

Exhilarated penguin
Flapping, waddling, anticipating, squawking,
Preening poet, jubilant ambassador
Baking, reading, blogging, flitting,
Elated human
Mrs. B.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Percy's Poetry Corner

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
         to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
                        Two Writing Teachers.
I know you think you've stumbled onto Poetry Friday instead of Slice of Life, but I highjacked Mrs. B's blog so I could share MY SLICE OF LIFE and leave a teaser for Friday's post.  Mrs. B. wanted a penguin, or a parrot, or a platypus, or a peacock (get the picture... she's definitely delighted with alliteration) to be a poetic pal in the Poetry Box.  I'm glad that Mallory, Mrs. B's friend, found me at Woodland Park Zoo on Saturday before any of those other animals got the chance to be chosen. After two texts and a picture (Mrs. B can be really picky), the deal was sealed, and Mallory bought me. I joined Mallory, Jared, Lenna, Kilee, and Imory for an afternoon of errands before arriving on Mercer Island where Lenna proudly delivered me to Mrs. B.
That's me, perched on the edge of the computer
where I penned this post!
Enough about Mallory, her family, and Mrs. B.  Let me tell you a bit about myself and how I found poetry.  I'm Percy, a Humboldt penguin from Chile.  I was part of a group of penguins who volunteered for an adventure of a lifetime at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.  Shortly after my arrival at the zoo, I discovered poetry!  A child left behind the book, A Suitcase of Seaweed by Janet Wong.  One of our favorite bedtime routines after a busy day of interacting with visitors is storytime.  Everyone snuggles in for a listen, and we're transported to anywhere the author decides to take us.  It didn't take us long to notice the words in this book had a wonderful rhythm, reminded us of our home off the coast of Chile, and were perfect for settling down after a busy day and sleepily sailing away into our dreams.

When I arrived at Mrs. B's house, she introduced me to my new home, the Poetry Box. Wow!  There's nothing better for a poetry-loving penguin like me than to live in a box with a plethora of poems written by published poets and children from all over the United States.  I begged Mrs. B to show me my upcoming travel itinerary.  In November I'll travel to Utah, and then I'm off to Massachusetts for the month of December.  I'll be in Michigan during January, and finally, I'll return to Ohio and Kevin Cordi in February where the box began its journey with Julie Johnson's students in February 2014.

Kevin Cordi and J. Patick Lewis dreamed up the idea of the Poetry Box, a box of unfinished poems that travels around the country.  At each destination, the folders are unpacked, the unfinished poems are read, and students draw on their imaginations to complete the poems.  Completed poems are added to the box before it travels to the next destination.  Hey, if you've got to travel in a box, what's better than being in a box piled with pictures of children and poets, and pillowing your head on the poems they've created?

Be sure to stop by on Poetry Friday for the most stupendous and significant event in my life so far. I'm so excited that my feet are barely touching the ground.  Just in case you didn't notice, look back at my picture.

See you Friday!           ~ Percy

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Craft shows, and play dates, and fall, oh my!

Join us each Saturday for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  I went to the craft show with Nancy and Patty. 
 We love this traditional outing to "ooh" and "ahh" over the wonderful creations,
and sometimes we even buy something.  I often purchase gifts, 
but this week I purchased something 
to celebrate my favorite season.  

2.  I had a play date with Imory so her mom could volunteer in Lenna's classroom. 
We are church buddies, but I loved playing with her at home 
where we could squeal and sing and make as much noise as we wanted.  

3.  I savored the fall kaleidoscope of colors.
I try to indulge any urge to stop for a picture.
With our continuing fall showers, 
the leaves won't last much longer.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Students succumb to poetry's spell!

Head over to Michelle's Today's Little Ditty
for this week's Poetry Roundup.
My five word ditty:

tentacles swirl,
students succumb!

Ms. Moore's sixth grade students immerse themselves in poetry and rise to the challenge to read 100 poems in one week.

I succumb to poetry's spell by choosing clothing to complement Water Sings Blue by Betsy Coombs.  I pick up the book this week (Betsy is one of the poets who wrote for the Poetrybox) and immediately know the jacket I will wear for this week's poetry lesson.

Students amaze me with their deep thinking as we read and discuss Ted Kooser's poem "Hands in the Wind."  I recorded this phrase at the poetry reading "... all the people I've loved were suddenly swirling about me..."  I reread Kooser's book, Weather Central, before returning it to the library and discovered the poem.   I can't find it online, but it's worth requesting the book just to read this poem.

We explore Autumn's Way and What's a Poem? by Charles Ghigna, another featured poet in the Poetrybox.  "What's a Poem?' captures perfectly the magical spell cast by poetry.

Stay tuned next week for more of our adventures with the Poetrybox.  For more detail about this project, check out Julie Johnson's post from last January.  Julie's post led me to Kevin Cordi and my participation in the project.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How the Blue Bin Saved the Day!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
         to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
                        Two Writing Teachers.
I grab the blue book bin and circle the car one more time searching for the elusive list of poets featured in the Poetry Storybox.  I make a quick stop at each door, check the errand basket in the back seat, and the bin of poetry books in the trunk. Aha!  There's my writer's notebook, and the list should be in it.  Nope!  Maybe it's on the passenger side with the things I'm taking to school tomorrow.  Not there either.  I must have left it on the kitchen table.  That's okay, I can access it from the library computer.  I grab a pen, click the lock, and walk purposefully toward the library.  My errand list is long, so I promise to stay focused on today's job - poetry books for tomorrow's lesson.  Plus I'm really hungry and I promise myself I'll stop for lunch when this task is finished.  No other book distractions for me.  That's when I slide my hand into my pocket.   Oops, my keys aren't there.  Maybe they are in my other pocket.  Not there.  Maybe they are in my purse, not there either.  I retrace my steps and look in the window.  There, on the front seat are my car keys!

Oh well, thank goodness I have AAA.  Recalling an experience from last spring, I know I will wait awhile for my rescuer.  That's okay.  There are plenty of books in the car, and I'll just pop open the trunk and sit there while I wait.  No . . .  I won't be popping open the trunk because I don't have my keys!  At 1:11 I call AAA and wait on hold for six minutes as I watch the power level on my phone drop ever lower.  When they finally answer, I'm told there are still 22 people on hold after me.  It is now 1:17, but someone will arrive by 2:02 p.m.  They inform me that I will receive a call from the dispatcher.  I remind them that my phone battery is low, so please come even if I don't answer.  At 1:38 the phone call from the dispatcher comes through, and at 1:57 my knight in dark tattoos arrives!

This is the first time I've ever celebrated waiting for AAA:
1.  I had my writer's notebook and pen.
2.  I challenged myself and actually recalled 16 of the 20
     poets from the list.
3.  I started writing this slice.
4.  I worked on my "to do" lists.
5.  I was in a covered garage on a pleasant afternoon.
6.  I sat on the blue bin when I got tired of standing
     (with a few breaks to shake out the patterned designs
      on my backside).

Lessons learned;
1.  Lock the car with keys and clicker in hand.
2.  Keep my phone charged.
3.  Stash an energy bar in my purse.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The ordinary bookended by the marvelous & the magnificent!

Join us each Saturday for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  I meet Vivian!
Even though Vivan was the subject for Tuesday's slice of life, I can't look back at the week
without celebrating again this marveous new friend and her parents.

2.  I find my Tupperware pancake/waffle mixing bowl.
You know the one - it has a spout for pouring batter.  It's been lost for months.  
When I hauled out the ladder to search for the Goo Gone on a top shelf,
I found the bowl.  Some giant must have put it there!  

3.  This blue bin saves the day!
Sorry, but it's a future slice!
Yes, it's the same blue bin I later filled with poetry books.

4.  I slow down to take in magnificent beauty on my walks!

Thank you, Ruth, for this weekly time to celebrate with friends!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A book, a bin, and a box!

Head over to Tricia's Miss Rumphius Effect  for this week's
Poetry Friday Roundup and a taste of poetry love! 
A book,
I visited two sixth grade classes on Wednesday in my role as Poetry Ambassador to promote the Poetry Storybox project.   At the time the box was enroute to Washington state from California. I learned about this project from fellow blogger Julie Johnson.  As I perused the links to poets featured in the Poetry Storybox, I discovered these words at April Wayland Halprin's site:
"I am honored that one of my poems introduces the second edition of Sylvia Vardell‘s fabulous resource book, Poetry Aloud Here: Sharing Poetry with Children."  
I loved the first edition of this book and kept it the maximum time allowed each time I checked it out.  When I was selected as a poetry ambassador, I  purchased Poetry Aloud 2 as a gift to myself.  I grabbed the book to read April's poem, "How to Read a Poem Aloud."  It not only asks the reader to savor every word, but also to think about the poet. You can read more about April's process for writing the poem and listen to Carmelo Martino's reading of the poem.  Once you read and/or listen to it, you'll understand why it's a perfect introduction for the Poetry Storybox project.

a bin,
Before meeting with Ms. Moore's students, I checked out poetry anthologies from the school library and our local library.  Our first activity was a scavenger hunt - searching anthologies for poems by participating poets and putting sticky notes with the name of the poet on the note.  Yesterday I traveled to a regional library in Bellevue where I filled a blue bin with more poetry books and maxed out my library card with 100 items checked out.  I'm flooding the classroom with poetry books.  I shared Ted Kooser's advice from last week's lecture, "Read 100 poems for every one you try to write."  I challenged the students to read 100 poems before I return next week with the Poetry Storybox.

When I arrived home yesterday from an afternoon of errands, a box from California was on the front porch.  I haven't opened it's the carrot for when I get certain required obligations out of the way, it's the dessert I get to enjoy once I eat my vegetables, it's the excitement I'll savor while planning next week's adventures with the Poetry Storybox.
and a box, all part of this week's adventures with poetry!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Celebrating Vivian's Arrival with Slater Park Friends

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
One of my favorite visits to Slater Park was three months ago.   That's when I met my new friends, Bei and Li, sitting quietly on a bench also observing the dinner party on the beach. When I returned the following week to Slater Park with a friend, Bei and Li were there again.  They live near Slater Park (lucky folks), and were expecting their first child this fall! I loved talking with them about their impending journey to parenthood.

My stops at Slater Park now include a hope that I'll bump into Bei and Li.  Several weeks ago, I saw Li and her mom, just arrived from China, at the grocery story.  Still no baby, but the due date was the next week.  Later that week, I pulled out of Slater Park and noticed a couple walking down the street.  Maybe it was Bei and Li.  But she definitely should have had that baby by now, I thought.  When I pulled alongside them, Li turned, pointed to her belly and exclaimed, "41 weeks!"  I made sure they had my phone number and asked them to send me a picture when their precious little one arrived.

On Friday, September 19, I received this picture and text message: 
Vivian says hi~to Ramona  :)
Li and the baby are both doing well.  
- your neighbor Bei

I was so excited that I asked when I could come visit.  Two days later, Bei apologized for his late response with these words:  "It's really a new busy life."  Those words recalled our own plunge into parenthood almost thirty years ago when our lives changed forever with the arrival of Blake, our first child.  When we received news of possible E. coli in our community and a boil water advisory, I made sure to text my new friends, just in case they hadn't heard.

I was fearful that I had been way too forward when I asked to come meet Vivian.  So I made myself wait awhile.  And then Bei sent me a photo he snapped of a beautiful sunrise with the words, "Stop by if you have time."  That was enough encouragement for me.  So Sunday afternoon I sent off a quick text to see if it was okay to drop by and meet Vivian.  I probably stayed too long, but each moment was a delight.  I learned about the month of confinement, a Chinese tradition of caring for new moms.  I loved talking with Bei and Li about the miracle of this sweet daughter who just entered their lives, the surprise that she has (as they claim) a powerful middle of the night cry, and the anticipation of their first family outing to Slater Park when Li's month of confinement has ended.

We had to work hard to catch a
photo of Vivian with her eyes open.  

You can see why it's hard to believe that
this angel keeps her family awake at night!