Sunday, April 23, 2017

NPM Day 23: The Letter U

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with three poems and a picture book
each beginning with the letter U . . . 

by Bruce Dethlefsen
"what would I write 
if I had only 
four or five lines worth 
of ink or time left? . . . "

by Gerald Rocklin
A dad celebrates an in-service day
with his 8th grade daughter

"Used Book Shop"
by X. J. Kennedy
in the anthology
poetry speaks who I am 
Editor:  Elise Paschen 
  ". . .  I always get hooked
in this dusty shop.
Like eating popcorn,
it's hard to stop."

Under the Freedom Tree
by Susan VanHecke
 Interview with Susan VanHecke
by Stacy Shubitz at Two Writing Teachers
Beautifully illustrated free verse story of
the "contrabands" of the Civil War, of
Emancipation Oak, and the 
beginning of slavery's end

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NPM Day 22: The Letter T and Celebrate This Week!

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with a book of poetry focused 
on the letter T for Earth Day . . .  

The Tree That Time Built:
a celebration of nature, science, and imagination
selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston

I love this anthology which includes an audio CD with readings of 44 poems from the book, including 18 poets reading their own works.  A glossary is included at the end of the book along with suggestions for further reading and research and short biographical snippets about each of the poets. 

Two of my favorite poems from the book (which I selected
without realizing that they fit my T theme for Day 22) are
"Think Like a Tree" by Karen A. Shragg and
"This World" by Mary Oliver.  

 Join us each weekend 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

Teddy pics from VA
This little bunny (and his parents)
will be here next weekend for a visit!

 Jack pics from WA
This little guy is all smiles!  
We have one more week until
Mom goes back to work and
Grandma starts her new job as
Granny Nanny (3 days a week).

Spring is busting out all over!
 We had sunshine and temps
in the mid sixties on Friday!

And I'll close with these words from

 "A Prayer in Spring." 
" . . . keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year."

You can read the entire poem
by Robert Frost at the Writer's Almanac.

Have a wonderful weekend and
keep celebrating the goodness!

Friday, April 21, 2017

NPM Day 21 & Poetry Friday: The Letter S

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with a focus on two poets, 
a theme and an anthology . . .  

Carol Diggory Shields
I always made sure to include her humorous Brain Juice series in the bins for poetry month.  My personal favorite was English Fresh Squeezed!, but she has two additional titles in the series:   American History, Fresh Squeezed! and Science, Fresh Squeezed!  

Laura Purdie Salas
I have an autographed copy of A Rock Can Be from NCTE 2014 when I met these two rock stars of poetry:  Laura Purdie Salas and Irene Latham. 

I love Laura's instructional books for young writers.  Check out these titles for the poetry writers in your classroom and to inspire the inner poet in you.
  • Write Your Own Poetry
  • Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing 
  • Catch Your Breath:  Writing Poignant Poetry.  
But my absolute favorite from Laura's very prolific pile of poetry books is Bookspeak! Poems about Books.  Here's the lively description of this book from Laura's site:  "In BookSpeak!, 21 wild, wacky, and winsome poems showcase the magic on a single bookshelf.  Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and a raucous party starts when the lights go out at the bookstore!"

And be sure to stop by Laura's site for more poetic fun!  It's where I just discovered a new-to-me title, The Heart of a Teacher, available in Kindle and paperback and perfect for teacher appreciation gifts.  When you arrive at her site, check out two of my favorite (just discovered) sections:  Laura's Poetry Sampler and Poetic Pursuits, a collection of articles Laura wrote about poetry techniques and forms.  

Seasonal Poetry
Are you struggling with some of those hard-to-reach students who insist they hate poetry?  My three tried and true topics are animals, sports, and seasons.  Douglas Florian's four books of seasonal poetry Handsprings, Summersaults, Autumnblings, and Winter Eyes belong in every teacher's collection.   Julie Andrews' Treasury for All Seasons:  Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year is an excellent anthology organized by months of the year to celebrate seasons and special days.  And I simply must include a recently discovered title for the adult reader:  Spring:  A Spiritual Biography of the Seasons.   Edited by Gary Schmidt and Susan M. Flech and beautifully illustrated by Mary Azarian, this book provides a wonderful collection of writings, poems, and meditations to inspire spiritual reflection.  

She Walks in Beauty:  A Woman's Journey through Poems
Selected and Introduced by Caroline Kennedy
This anthology was given to me for Mother's Day 2011 by my daughter.  The collection is divided into sections that illustrate important milestones in a woman's life with an introduction to each section written by Caroline Kennedy.  It's a beautiful book and would make a perfect gift for a friend, mother, grandmother, aunt, or cousin. Everyone needs a beautiful anthology of poems sitting on the bedside table!  

Head over to Tabatha Yeatt's blog, 
The Opposite of Indifference,
for this week's round-up of poetic goodness.
Thanks, Tabatha, for hosting this week!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

NPM Day 20: The Letter R

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with a focus on two books 
and one poet.  

I've tried hard to use books from my own shelves this month.  On initial scanning of my shelves, Rain Song by Lezlie Evans was the only title I spotted that began with the letter R.  It's a wonderful rhythmic paean to what happens after the rain spoils the fun for two girls playing outside.  I picked it up at Half-Price Books more than a decade ago.  When you live in the Pacific NW and your weather  forecast looks like this . . .
you desperately need books that end on a cheerful note like this one does,  "How we love the song of rain!"  

And then I scanned my shelves again and spotted this favorite anthology, Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle . . . And Other Modern Verse.  This book of "modern verse" was published in 1966.   I used it in my student teaching during the 70s.  I continued to use it in my classroom when I returned to teaching middle school in the 21st century.  And modern students of today still love this book of poems! Multiple green sticky notes peeking out the top attest to the number of poems the last student who read this book loved and wanted to share with me.  If you've never read this anthology, request it from your library (hopefully, it hasn't been discarded).   Three of my favorites are "Summons" by Robert Francis, "Oz." by Eve Merriam, and "Crossing" by Philip Booth.  But there are many, many more to love in this delightful anthology.  

I scanned the bins of books I've checked out for Books, Brownies, and Beyond (our after school book club) and spotted Bob Raczka's, Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys.   It's perfect for active boys (and girls) who think they don't like poetry.  The short haiku, arranged by seasons and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, are the perfect length for students who want to get back to tree climbing and kite flying.  You may want to check out other poetry titles by Bob Raczka, especially the delightful wordplay in Lemonade and Other Things Squeezed from a Single Word

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NPM Day 19: Letter Q - The Queen of Poetry

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
by crowning a favorite poet, 
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater,
the queen of poetry!
I am delighted to introduce you and your students to the delightful playground of poetry created at The Poem Farm by the queen of poetry, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater!

Here's Amy pic & introduction (both borrowed)
from her blog, The Poem Farm:
"I'm Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and I've been sharing poems and lessons here since March 2010. The Poem Farm is a safe place for children to explore poems, and it's a place for teachers to find poetry teaching ideas. I post on some Mondays and each Friday during the school year, and I welcome you to make yourself cozy here among the words."

Why do I love Amy's site, The Poem Farm?  Amy's blog is a wonderful place for both children and teachers.  She includes an audio clip of herself reading the poem, she speaks directly to student writers in her posts, and her site is remarkably well-organized.  In Poems by Topic, you can find hundreds of her poems on all sorts of topics.  Poems by Technique classifies hundreds of her poems using all sorts of techniques.   When you visit Poetry Peeks, you'll step into classrooms and studios around the United States which can provide inspiration for your own classroom.  

And while I loved Amy's National Poetry Month project in 2014 when she wrote about items from the thrift shop, her project for 2017, Writing the Rainbow, may be my new favorite.  Each day she pulls out a color from her box of 64 Crayola crayons.  That color becomes the inspiration for the next day's poem.  I love that her poems took a surprise turn on day two - each poem is written from the point of view of a child living in an apartment building.  Some days I try to think of what the color Amy has drawn might inspire. Today Amy's thoughts led her to a fire hydrant.  

Here's a favorite Amy poem, Fire(discovered when I was culling through my collection of Booklinks magazines) which adorns the cover of my notebook of favorite poems!

You can see more of Amy's contributions to the world of poetry in many anthologies, professional books and magazines.   You can read about Amy's published books and what's forthcoming.  I'm so excited for her new book of poetry Read! Read! Read! coming out this fall.  Just today, Deb Frazier's post on Two Writing Teachers featured Amy and The Poem Farm.  Deb uses Stacey Shubbitz's advice in Craft Moves to show how utilizing one poem can "illustrate multiple points in both reading and writing workshop."  Finally, if you ever have the chance to hear Amy speak in person, you'll be richly rewarded.  Also be sure to get Amy's autograph in your book.  Her inscriptions are poetic as well as artistic!
 Her inscription in my copy of Forest Has a Song
when I met her at the All Write conference!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SOL & NPM Day 18: The Letter P

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Lisa, Melanie, and Lanny
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

I can't help it!  I'm obsessed with poetry.  My alphabetic stroll for NPM 2017 is an effort to share some of my favorite poems, poets, and resources with other teachers.  When I look back to trace my obsession with poetry, two teachers from elementary school stand out.  My second grade teacher, Mrs. Trutman created "The Sugar-Plum Tree" in her display window.  And at the end of the day, we would get a treat from the display.  It was magical.  In fourth grade, we memorized poems, performed poems, and wrote poems in Mrs. Lewallyn's classroom.  

And with that little peek into
my obsession with poetry, 
I'll continue my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month
with today's focus on the letter "P."

When my own children were young, I realized that my teaching certificate had expired.  I signed up for a 3 credit, one week summer graduate course - Reading '89.  One of the presenters was David Booth, co-author with Bill Moore of Poems Please!  My copy is autographed by David Booth and the emphasis on poetry during our course led me to create a Poetry for Preschoolers presentation as my project for the course.  I presented it to the teachers at my children's preschool and several times to mothers' groups.  

I can't write about the Ps of poetry without mentioning the Poetry for Young People series.  Each picture book in the series focuses on the classic poems of one poet with beautiful illustrations, helpful definitions and commentary, and a short biography of each poet.  My students loved these books and I have quite a few of them in paperback and two favorites in hardback:  Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.  

And I simply must mention the pied piper of children's poetry - Jack Prelutsky.  I have three favorite anthologies that are favorites to give as shower gifts:  Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, and The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury.  

My favorite April event is Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27th this year.  You can find resources for this day here.  When I was still in the classroom, it was a day for my students to share poetry.  I required my students to retrieve the poem from a pocket before sharing.  For the past three years, members of our after school book club share poems during lunch.  We roll them scroll-like and tie them with ribbon before gifting them to other students.  Pocket Poemsan anthology selected by Bobbi Katz, is filled with short poems, perfect for putting in your pocket, reciting, and sharing.  Another favorite, "Pocket Poem," is in John Grandit's book, Blue Lipstick.  It begins with these lines:  
"It's a good idea to carry a poem in your pocket
in case of an emotional emergency."  
and then goes on to explain that some days you might need "The Cremation of Sam McGee" or a sonnet or a silly little kid's poem.  It ends with these two lines:
"Yes, it's a good idea to carry a poem in your pocket.
It's a little snack for your soul."

Finally, I must mention a professional book in my WTR (want to read) stack,  Poetry Mentor Texts:  Making Reading and Writing Connections, K-8 by Lynne R. Doorman and Rose Cappella.  I will make time to read this book soon that I purchased at the Stenhouse booth at NCTE.  Lynne and Rose are both fellow slicers.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

NPM Day 17: The Letter O

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Open the door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month
by sharing five titles I own that
begin with the letter O.

Open the Door:  How to Excite Young People About Poetry
Edited by Dorothea Lasky, Dominic Luxford, and Jesse Nathan
True confession time - this is the only title in my book spine poem
that I haven't read.  I've picked it up occasionally and read some of the
essays (not so exciting).  But I couldn't resist using it in in my poem since it's such a perfect segue into Mary Oliver's book of poetry,
House of Light (which I have read).

Opening a Door:  Reading Poetry in the Middle School Classroom 
by Paul B. Janeczko
I know I shared books by Janeczko on the letter J day.  But I didn't share this one
and it's wonderful!  After a short introduction by X. J. Kennedy, and a brief Part I "Becoming a Teacher of Poetry,  the book moves quickly to the important stuff in Part II "Exploring the Possibilities of Poetry" with fifteen explorations of specific poems.  "All young readers deserve a chance to be touched by a poem," and these explorations will help the middle school teacher do just that.  Finally, the book wraps up with another brief section, Part III Becoming an Active Reader of Poetry:  Advice and Resources.  If you teach middle school, check out this important title published by Scholastic that is only 144 pages long.   Maybe I should replace line four in my book spine poem with this title.  (It took me until day 20, but I finally did put this title in place on my book spine poem.)

One Minute till Bedtime:  60-Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep 
Selected by Ken Nesbitt
I checked this one out from the library, but knew
right away that I had to have my own copy. 
The book flap refers to it as "...a new bedtime classic." 
I heartily concur.

One Big Rain:  Poems for Rainy Days
Compiled by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke
This book strolls through the seasons and includes this invitation:
"As you read about rain, in various poetic forms,
Ripple in it, float in it, boat in it.
Go on, get wet." 
-Rita Gray
Perhaps only those of us who live in the 
Pacific NW can truly appreciate a book 
of poetry about rain for every season.  

One Today:  The Inaugural Poem for President Barack Obama
by Richard Blanco and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
I love this beautiful picture book and the poem written for
Present Obama's second inauguration that celebrates America
from dawn to dusk and coast to coast.  
I'll never forget reading it to an eighth grade class
(when I was substitute teaching)
and having them applaud when I finished the book!