Friday, June 24, 2016

Hi! - A Greeting from a Wolf Spiderling

One Little Voice
by Amy LV

Students - Earlier one evening this week, my husband called me outside to see a mother wolf spider covered in babies.  I had never seen this before, and I find myself thinking about it over and over.  When I saw her, I half wanted to run away and half wanted to pick her up.  So I compromised,  bent down, and looked closely.  I was unable to get a photograph in time, but I have one in my head that I can go back and revisit when I'm feeling wolf spidery.

Of course this led me to want to read more about wolf spiders, and I found myself amazed by their eight eyes and by the mothers' devotion to their babies.  When I sat to write, it makes complete sense that this is what I wrote.  I can't stop thinking about it?

It is important to look at fascinating things when people invite you to do so. Even if you're not in the mood.  Get up.  Go look.  Store away what you see in your mind.  You might write about it someday.

If you would like read a little bit more about wolf spiders and see a photograph of a wolf spider mom with her babies, visit KidZone, and if you'd like to see even more photographs, there are many at Google Images.

Diane is hosting today's Poetry Friday party of summer here at Random Noodling. All are always welcome to this weekly celebration of poems and poets and words and friendship!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Monday, June 13, 2016

For Older Students - Sometimes Writers Feel Lost

Crying Peace Sign
by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes writers feel lost, as if suddenly a cozy place has become frightening.  Life can be confusing, both the small worlds we live in and the big world we all share.  

At such where-do-I-turn-what-do-I-do-now times, writing can be a friend in the darkness, a small candle warming your small corner of this planet we share.  We can ask questions with our words, and we can try to offer hope.  We can remind ourselves that yes, love is all that matters, and from this loving place may we live.

The "we" in this poem refers to all of us.  What can we do as a world to help keep each other safe?

The world holds much beauty.
Sing to someone.
Read a story to someone.
Make a kindness promise you can keep.

My love to you.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Taking Classes, Appreciating Now, Sitting...

Front Porch View
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Last weekend our family went on our annual trip as part of the Allegheny Nature Pilgrimage.  One of the classes I took was a writing class with Karen Lee Lewis of The Blue Plate Studio.  This was a thoughtful and inspiring class, and as part of it, Karen read us some beautiful ecopoetry and gave us time to write creatively about birds.  I loved hearing others' writing, and during my writing time, I worked on the poem above.

Karen read from and recommended this book, it is now on my to-read list.  

Taking a class from a great writing teacher gave me new things to think about and pushed me in new ways. I loved being a student, sitting surrounded by colorful paint chips, wise words on chart paper, and the sounds of pencils working on novels, newspaper articles, poems, memories...all about birds.

Today I leave you with three summer thoughts:

1.  Take a summer writing class if you can.  Even for one day, even with a friend your age who has one new writing idea to share with you.  Let another's writing advice push you.

2.  Appreciate something small and daily.  Let this small daily thing move you to write.  Perhaps think about birds, as I did in my class with Karen.

3. Sit.  Make time for sitting and paying attention this summer.  There are so many cool activities to join, but leave time for sitting.  Space is good for all of us and for our writing too.

If you missed Tuesday's post here at The Poem Farm, please visit and leave a comment for the third grade writers from Heather Sass's class in Webster, NY.  You'll be treated to a joyous collection of poems celebrating bodies, inspired by two books: LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech and THE BEST PART OF ME  by Wendy Ewald.

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, I am so happy to host teacher Katie Liseo and her adventurous student notebookers with a very inspiring post and giveaway of Aimee Buckner's NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW. You have two days left to comment and enter that giveaway, as I am drawing a name on Sunday.

Carol is hosting Poetry Friday roundup over at Beyond Literacy Link.  Stop over and enjoy all of this week's poetry offerings...Poetry Friday is for everyone!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Poetry Peek: Love that Poetry with Mrs. Sass's Third Graders

It is a delight to welcome teacher Heather Sass and her third grade students from DeWitt Road Elementary School in Webster, NY today.  Last month, I had the good fortune to spend time at DeWitt as a visiting author, and I was tickled to read these students' words of human celebration.  I asked their teacher, Heather Sass, if we might feature their work at The Poem Farm, and to my great happiness...she said yes!

Our class really enjoyed a novel/poetry study of LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech. The main character, Jack, starts out unsure of himself and his poems. Throughout the book he gains confidence to write poetry and the reader is able go along for a funny, silly and sometimes sad journey. I watched my students grow as poets, each one feeling a connection to Jack, through his or her own growth as a poet.

Image result for love that dog

To feed our poetry writing, we read poetry from poets such as Walter Dean Myers, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Elliot, Robert Frost and Valerie Worth, to name a few. We read and studied these poems to find examples of figurative language.  During this time, I stumbled upon this amazing book of poems, THE BEST PART OF ME by Wendy Ewald in which children celebrate physical differences. 

This book inspired us to write our own poetry. This was not my plan initially but I allowed my students' inspiration to lead us in our final project.

Below you can read each student's poem celebrating his or her favorite body part.  Please click the enlarge button (four arrows) below to see these poems and photographs full screen.

Here's how  we wrote these poems if you wish to try it with your students:

1. After reading THE BEST PART OF ME, we discussed and then listed what we each thought was our favorite part of our body and why on chart paper.

2.  I created a graphic organizer that included all of the elements that I wanted to assess including onomatopoeia, simile, and metaphor.

3. I “played” photographer and chose to go outside and take pictures. Students told me how they wanted their “favorite part” to be represented in their photo.

4. We spent time filling out our graphic organizers before writing on our final copy paper.

5. We constructed our two-page LOVE THAT (BRAIN, HAIR, MUSCLE ________) books out of yellow construction paper. We modeled our own covers after the original cover of LOVE THAT DOG.

6. The students cut out their final draft poems and their pictures and glued them inside the book.

One thing I would change would be that next time I will take the photos first, then let students use the photo as inspiration in writing their poems.

I am so proud of my class! Watching the excitement they now have about poetry brings joy to my heart.

P.S. We are reading HATE THAT CAT, the follow-up book to LOVE THAT DOG, just for fun. My class is so happy we do not have to say goodbye to Jack just yet.

Image result for hate that cat

So much gratitude to Teacher Heather Sass and these young poets for sharing their photographs and poems with us today.  This is a beautiful way to celebrate the coming of summer: with a celebration of all of the wonderful things our bodies can do!

The Poem Farm always welcomes poetry-celebrations-and-peeks from classes of students willing to share. Please just write me an e-mail if you are interested in featuring student work in this space.  Over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, I am happy to host teacher Katie Liseo and her adventurous student notebookers with a very inspiring post and giveaway of Aimee Buckner's NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW. 

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Listening & Writing from Our Repeated Thoughts and Words

Cat Chat
by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem idea grew from a question that I often ask my cats, "Where did you come from?  Where did you live before you lived with me?  Where was your home before this was your home?"  We have four cats that appeared mysteriously at our home (and one that was given to us with our blessing), and I frequently think about their unknown pasts.  I especially think about Mini Monster, the cat I wonder most about.  What is his history?  I will never know, and so I invent it with sweet tuna-gifting grandma who sang...

Pay attention to stories you often tell or questions you often ask.  We each have recurring lines in our lives, repeated wonders and wishes and hopes and stories that we tell over and over again.  These refrains are rich writing territory, and I encourage you to listen to your own voice, to ask, "What do I hear myself say or feel myself think again and again?"

I may have written a poem about this same topic before.  Or not...I honestly do not remember.  But if I have, I am happy to explore the same material more than one time.  By doing so, I can follow my changing thinking.  And so can you.  Allow yourself to write about the same ideas in new ways - you will surprise yourself.

And if you always try to rhyme, play with free verse.  I'm working on that too.

If you missed my last week' post (on a Wednesday, not a Friday, and I did not link in on Friday), please do visit, enjoy, and leave a comment for the young writers.  It's a wonderful collection of blackout poems all made from the same poem by fourth grade students from Easthampton, Massachusetts and taught by Carol Weis and Jodi Alatalo.  I loved seeing how differently all of their poems turned out!

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, I am so happy to host teacher Katie Liseo and her adventurous student notebookers with a very inspiring post and giveaway of Aimee Buckner's NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW. And HERE you can find out who won the signed copy of Laura Shovan's fabulous verse novel, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY.  Too, please remember that there is a whole treasure chest of summer notebooking ideas at Sharing Our Notebooks.  Find those at the tab atop the blog or just click HERE.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at Check it Out, in the wise and generous hands of Jone.  Come on by, meet some poetry friends, and feel free to link right in if you wish.  Poetry Friday is for everyone!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrating Blackout Poetry with a Poetry Peek!

Blackout Poem from Today's Poem
by Amy LV

Students - This is the first blackout poem I've ever made, and it's a little silly because I made it from a poem that I had just written.  I had the poem right in front of me, though, and I thought, "Why not?"  My blackout poem, as you may have noticed, has the same message as the original poem.  I'll have to try this again sometime; I really liked doing all of that Sharpie coloring.  

Today's post, all about blackout poetry, is inspired by the work of two teachers and some young poets in Massachusetts.  And today's poem is in honor of them.

It is my pleasure today to welcome Carol Weis, an author whose writing has appeared online at Salon, GH, Cosmo, xoJane, Literary Mama, and The Fix, and read as commentary on NPR.  Book-wise, she is author of the chapbook DIVORCE PAPERS and the children's book WHEN THE COWS GOT LOOSE and is also a teaching artist I admire.  

The other week, I read a couple of Carol's Facebook posts at her page Poems Have Feelings Too, and I asked about the possibility of sharing her residency students' work here.  Lucky for all of us...she, Teacher Jodi Alatalo, and the young writers all said YES!

Carol's Facebook Post Highlighting This Project

A Student Blacking Out Words in Avi's Text

Welcome, to Carol, to teacher Jodi Alatalo, and  to these young poets!

These blackout poems are the result of a workshop I did during my six-month poetry residency called Poems Have Feelings Too with 4th grade teacher, Jodi Alatalo, and her class of eager poets at Maple School in Easthampton, MA, sponsored by a Massachusetts Cultural Council STARS grant. This is my fifth year working with Jodi, who also believes that poetry is a gift and a powerful way to expand students' literacy skills, plus a great place to go with strong feelings. 

Blackout poetry was one of the many activities I introduced to our fourth graders for National Poetry Month, a time during my residency when I amp up the poetry fun. When introducing the activity, I handed out a four-step template for them to use, repeating "Robin" four times, outlining each step to take, i.e., choosing an anchor word, underlining and circling other words they want to use for their poem, before blacking out the others. Here's a visual explanation and how-to for blackout poetry for anyone who wants to give it a try.

I also made a multimedia piece about our workshops at Storia.  (You will need to join to view, but it is completely wonderfully worth it!  - Amy)  The piece is titled Poetry Chronicles.  

This is the poem that these students used as a text for the following blackout poems.  Enjoy the many students' blackout poems that grew from one short text.  

From The Poem Farm Archives
December 5, 2012

Students' Blackout Poems

by Chloe D.

by Zariah R.

by Elizabeth P.

by Sage Y.

by Hailey W.

by Jonathan C.

by Arhab M.

by Elias G.

by McKenzie R.

by Anastasia G.

by Jaeda R.

by Evianna Y.

by Keeghan V.-J.

Thank you very much to these generous poets and teachers for sharing with us today.  It is an honor to showcase your work celebrating poetry, creativity, and this beautiful time of year!  And students, my advic for today is: if you've never done so before, consider trying a blackout poem yourself.  

This month I am so happy to highlight another rich student celebration over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  Please do not miss the post by teacher Katie Liseo and her students.  It is a fabulous celebration of writer's notebooks, perfect for end-of-school-year joy or to inspire all of us as we think toward summer and fall.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Free Verse & Making Up Our Own Holidays

Tractor One
Photo by Amy LV

Tractor Two
Photo by Amy LV

Tractor Three
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem is about yesterday here on the road of The Poem Farm. There were many tractors out and about, and they looked so happy and full of energy, just tilling up the land once more.  Here on our road, when the tractors are out, you can sometimes see people standing by the road watching.  I like to imagine what they are thinking about.

This is a free verse poem, though it does have one rhyme right at the very end.  This is something I do sometimes when writing free verse, just bring things together with a rhyme at the closing.  I enjoyed playing with the images here and also with the sounds of the words.

Today's poem is about a made-up holiday, the day when the tractors come out. As I type these words, I realize that this idea of making up holidays reminds me of a favorite book, Byrd Baylor's I'M IN CHARGE OF CELEBRATIONS.

We each are in charge of our own celebrations, and if you wish, you might even think about a special day that feels like a holiday...but is not actually on the calendar.  Go ahead - write a poem about it.  If you're not sure how to begin, feel free to borrow my words -- "There is one day..."

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, it is a joy to welcome teacher Katie Liseo and her adventurous student notebookers with a very inspiring post and giveaway of Aimee Buckher's NOTEBOOK KNOW-HOW.  Laura Shovan's fabulous post is also still up and the giveaway still open - visit behind the scenes of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY HERE.

Margaret is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Reflections on the Teche.  Enjoy her persona poem and family story as she writes to the beat of her nephew Jack's drum!  Too, dive into all kinds of poetry offerings, today and every Poetry Friday.  All are always welcome!

Please share a comment below if you wish.