Teacher Poets: Finding a Sliver

teacher-poets-1Last Saturday I watched the Teacher Poet Google hangout with Chris Lehman and some brave teacher poets. I sat and watched hours after the initial broadcast, and did the lesson. I watched. Stopped the video. Listened again.What a great way to learn.  Check out last week’s work  and this week’s assignment here and join Chris this Saturday for a great workshop experience.

Writing and the workshop is helping me define what poetry is for m now. It is something that pulls at my heart; it crystalizes the essence; it highlights  what’s necessary and worth holding on to.

I tried out Week #1′s  strategy of finding a sliver in a big important topic. A really terrific strategy for any kind of writing. This is a draft and I’m not sure of the title.

 

 

The door opens and cool air, the cat, and noise rush in.

Sounds move past and fill the kitchen.

Bursting, until it leaves quiet.

I heard a whisper of warning just before the shift

towards choices,that are no longer mine to make.

It moved past me with just a whisper warning:

it’s no longer my decision where and how to place the pieces.

The furniture shifted leaving empty spaces uncovering indentations of what was there.

Children no longer, they’re out the door, a photo flash resides in their place.

 

Thank you fellow poet bloggers who are reaching  for more in their lives and in their teaching. It’s nice to journey together. Check Leigh AnneMichelleMargaret, Kevin,  Mary Lee, and Cathy’s blogs for more poetry inspiration.

 

Slice of Life: Missing a Mentor

Every Tuesday writers share a Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Please join in if you are so inclined. It is a wonderful community of writers, readers and teachers.   You can read more slices here. 11454297503_e27946e4ff_hYesterday we went to dinner at Benihana’s for my youngest’s 16th birthday. Her choice.

We did the usual things you do at Benihana’s, which is watch amazed as the chef does their magic in front of you. Before and after this dinner is where my story lies.

Earlier that day, I had texted both of her brothers to make sure they gave their sister a call or a text. At about 4 pm neither had done this. Checking my phone, my daughter notices a text from brother number 2.

“Mom, did you notice this text? He’s gonna use my old phone rather than replace the one he lost. Too expensive. Some brother, he hasn’t texted me happy birthday!”

I text him. Reminding him.

Immediately a text comes through.

She tells me and seems satisfied.

Maybe a half hour later, she says, “He isn’t coming up to diner?”

I am kind of surprised she thought this was a possibility.  “You miss your brother.”

“Yeah.”

He’s been away  for two years. Growing up, she followed his every move. She dressed like him: superhero costumes, t-shirts, shorts.  Followed him into the sports he choose: swimming, surfing.  She was an athlete and a tomboy through middle school. Keeping up with him was a major concern. Being like him was the goal.

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When he went away to school, I knew it would be hard on her.  Many of his younger friends become surrogate brothers. She had seemingly adjusted to his absence.

Last night as we drove home, she started talking about him. How when we went to dinner she’d always order what he had, because he had good taste. If she ordered before him and it ended up being different than his order, she would switch to his choice. How he taught her how to cut meat properly. How she was so proud when others said she looked like him.  “You know what Mom, someone at swim said I swim like him.”

“Yes, you do,” I responded.

“Do you remember when people thought we were twins?”

“Yes, I do. Miss your brother?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Me too.”

 

Missing a mentor

Attached at the heart

Tender memories surface

Taking you aback

Clinging, holding on

Lingering, just below

Achy unused muscles

Infused with the past

Responds to fresh

Emotion

 

Thank you to  TaraAnnaDanaStacey,  Betsy  and Beth  our hosts at Two Writing Teachers for nurturing this writing community.

Spring Break: List Poems

It’s Monday. First day of Spring Break. I’m making lists. A big part of me wants to do a whole lot of nothing. I battle with myself over being productive and being lazy. Something in between the two has always been difficult for me. Writing a list poem on a post makes it a bit less random, more thought out, less likely to be lost, than it would be on a post it.

What I need to do.

Organize

the closet, the library:

pack away the tried and true,

dust off boxed up treasures,

pull out the new,

set aside the unused,

 the unneeded few.

Maintenance

Time set aside for 

the  necessary,

the things I can’t ignore:

  handyman, doctor, dentist, vet

 no excuses, no more.

Planning

It starts as a curse but develops

into dreaming:

lessons, books, discoveries.

Suddenly work is seeming

to be what I want to do:

writing and reading.

For more fun with list poems see Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s The Poetry Farm and Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry4kids.

Glad I’m  playing with poetry! Thank you fellow poet bloggers who are reaching  for more in their lives and in their teaching. It’s nice to journey together. Check Leigh AnneMichelleMargaret, Kevin,  Mary Lee, and Cathy’s blogs for more poetry inspiration.

Celebrating Hands On Learning

celebrate link up

Today…

I’m  celebrating our trip to Catalina Island.

Over 1,000 students, 140 parents, and 7 teachers have gone with me on this trip over the past 11 years.  Every time I learn something; every time it is thrilling; every time there are challenges.

For our fifth graders it’s a life changer. They put on wet suits, that keep them warm and buoyant; masks and snorkels that allow them to see all the wonders of Toyon Bay. With the sunlight shining overhead, they go into kelp forests. Garibaldi weave in and out. In sandy spaces,  bat rays, shovel nose guitar fish and leopard sharks swim below. They pass schools of  blacksmith and opaleye. They snorkel at night to see bioluminescence. They participate in labs on squid dissection, invertebrates,  sharks, algae, plankton and oceanography. Students set up, clean up and eat together for three days away from home. They face and overcome fears.They have the magical experience of going to camp.

As one fifth grader said, this is heaven.and then another responded, no this is paradise.

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Draft: Poetry Sorting Through Right Now

For the month of April I’m playing with poetry. Today is no form. It is raw.

This is what’s happening now. Right now I have no control over things.. Poetry can serve to sort this through.

Raw

This isn’t the way it’s suppose to go.

Bags are packed, emotions are high

Postpone They say

You need signatures

Three

Downtown:

Risk Management

Outdoor Education

Dr. I’m in Charge

They, The Three Signatures,

can break

hearts.

Hiding behind titles.

Hiding in offices,

Downtown.

They can say No,

They have the Power.

We wait,

hoping, powerless.

Angry.

 

Thank you fellow poet bloggers who are reaching  for more in their lives and in their teaching. It’s nice to journey together. Check Leigh AnneMichelleMargaret, Kevin,  Mary Lee, and Cathy’s blogs for more poetry inspiration.

Slice of Life: Tech Gone Askew and a Padlet Haiku

Every Tuesday writers share a Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Please join in if you are so inclined. It is a wonderful community of writers, readers and teachers.   You can read more slices here. 

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI’d been wanting to use Padlet to garner responses from read aloud for a long time. Today, thinking I knew what I was doing, I put this question out to the class on Padlet:

Why do you think the story is called A Long Walk to Water?

A simple question that was intended to get first thoughts out. Ideas that could be revised as we read on. Sounds good in theory. And if you look at the end result below, it seems to have gotten close to what I had in mind. Some very surface thinking, some thinking that edges toward more, but most importantly all thoughts can be grown.

http---padlet

The thing you don’t see here is the way the data got on the page. I set the students up, inputing the question in front of them. They were to go to their devices in partnerships and respond. Sounds good in theory.  Then reality happened.

Who’s moving my comment?

How did my comment get so skinny?

Stop writing on top of my comment!

Where did my comment go?

This is a live site. It happens in “real time.” Which means, when students input on multiple devices, at the same time, they are kind of doing this blindly. They can’t see exactly where the other student’s comment is going, so they bump into each other.

Crazy.

After most had gotten a chance to get their thoughts down, I calmed them down (me too) and promised we’d look at the response tomorrow.

Ah, best laid plans…not exactly what I had in mind.

Post mortem - I figured this was my fault. So I spent some time googling around, looking for things like “managing Padlet” or “multiple users on Padlet” and couldn’t  seem to find anything that spoke to my experience. In fact, the “real time” response is cited as the big plus. Perhaps students (and I) will get the hang of this. Perhaps our devices register “real time” slightly slower than “real.”

If nothing else, the end result was was interesting and something to build on. One student immediately set up her own personal Padlet for her book club. Which is pretty cool and exactly what I was hoping they’d do in the long run, transfer to their own work.  For now though I think I’ll stagger their responses, rather than having all comment simultaneously!

Ideas run amok

Bumping into each other

Digital mayhem

Pluses and minuses to this type of learning. I think we can all use this some of the time but not all of the time!

Please share any  experiences you might have had with Padlet. I’m all ears!

Thank you to  TaraAnnaDanaStacey,  Betsy  and Beth  our hosts at Two Writing Teachers for nurturing this writing community.

 

 

Poetry #4: A Tanka Poem for the Pacific

Driving home today from Trader Joe’s, the ocean rose up and struck me. It takes your breath away. All my life I have lived near this ocean. I am grounded in it. While it can be wild, it has the power to calm me. Maybe there is something to its name.

On Wednesday, I will be going to Catalina Island with my fifth grade class. Crossing that 26-mile expanse can be cold and rough. It is a channel that large container ships pass through. It is deep and filled with the wonders of the ocean. I am awed by it. I respect it.

To honor that deep blue, majestic expanse, I tried tanka poetry. In the Japanese tradition, a tanka poem follows the pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.  Read more about tanka poetry here. Interestingly it was often written as a gift and one inspired by love. I think that is a fitting form for my feelings about the Pacific.

 

Sea sparkle beckons,

enchanting, mesmerizing

draws, and pulls at me

smooth sand, then a stinging smack!

Unfathomable trickster.

 

Thank you fellow poet bloggers who are reaching  for more in their lives and in their teaching. It’s nice to journey together. Check Leigh AnneMichelleMargaret, Kevin,  Mary Lee, and Cathy’s blogs for more poetry inspiration.