Celebrate Poetry Friday: Kinders Meet Middle Graders!

For today’s #PoetryFriday, I am linking up with others with Tabatha Yeatts @ her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you for hosting our gathering today, Tabatha.

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Tabatha @ The Opposite of Indifference

I am also linking up with Ruth Ayres to #Celebrate a very exciting day of poetry writing in my class this week. Click here to read other celebration posts, or better yet, add your own. The more the merrier!

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

In my first year teaching kindergarten, I committed whole-heartedly to teaching my littles poetry during the month of April. We have read a lot of poetry over the months in anticipation for the time they would begin composing their own poems.

I am happy to report that we are making great progress! With the help of Regie Routman’s book, Kids Poems: Teaching Kindergartners to Love Poetry, I have found the process to be a great deal of fun. My kids arrive at the rug each day, eager to read poetry from other young writers, talk about what they notice, and then try it out for themselves. Most days before I send them off to write, I model writing a poem through a shared writing experience, and some days we write together.

This week our focus was food. I told them they were “foodie poets” for the day. I shared with them how much I love sweets, and that one of my favorite sweet treats is cupcake ice cream. We decided to interactively write a poem about this delicious treat together.

When we finished, we were so excited. In the moment, I suggested we share our piece with a teacher friend of mine (and maybe yours too..she’s pretty well-known in the #PoetryFriday world!) Margaret Simon. We practiced reading it several times, then I took a video of them as they read it aloud. I sent it off to her, hoping we would get her feedback before day’s end.

While my students were at lunch, I was thrilled to receive a response from not only Margaret, but two of her students. They had watched our video and decided they would write a poem in response to ours! They posted a picture of the poem along with a Voxer recording of them reading it aloud. I couldn’t wait to share this with my students!

Later that afternoon, we listened to their poem and celebrated the joy of poetry. I’m not sure they completely understood how amazing it was that technology made it possible for kids all the way across the country to see us read our poem and then send one right back to us. I tried sharing my When-I-was-in-kindergarten-we-didn’t-have-computers stories, but I’m not sure they really got it.

What I do know they got was joy in writing and sharing poetry! This experience fueled them for the next day of writing, and the next, and the next. They have yet to tire of coming back to the blank page each day and trying another poem. Sharing our pieces with each other spurs on more excitement, as our folders begin to bulge with growing anthologies. I am hoping each student will find one gem they want to take all the way to final publishing and reciting at graduation in June.

It’s right around the corner!

#SOLC18 23/31: Hello Spring! (at long last)

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Laura at Writing the World for Kids

Always the first sign of spring where I live is the appearance of tiny buds that will eventually be blossoming bleeding hearts in our garden beds. Some years they have started springing up in late February, but the past couple of winters have held on tight until nearly the last week of March.

For Poetry Friday and the Slice of Life Challenge, I enjoyed writing a poem to celebrate the warmer days ahead filled with chalk drawing on the sidewalks, blooming daffodils, and a fond farewell to snow pants, snow boots, and all the bulky winter gear!

#SOLC18 16/31: Kinders ask: What’s a Grāpple?


Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Linda at TeacherDance

Snack time in kindergarten is a coveted time. On most Thursdays, a fresh fruit or vegetable snack is delivered to our classrooms from our school district’s central kitchen. Today’s snack was something altogether new to my students.

The Grāpple. Have you heard of this unique fruit? They come from the state of Washington, and are an apple that basically has been infused with food-grade grape flavor through a sort of bathing process. It’s quite a fascinating process that you can learn all about here.  Basically, they are an apple that tastes like a grape – no kidding!

As we were munching on our apple slices, a few kids commented that they smelled something in the room. I told them that was from the grāpples. As I explained the process to them, we began talking about how tasty they were. I told them to close their eyes and asked them what color came to their mind as they were eating. A few said blue, and I told them I saw purple while I ate mine.

We continued visiting about how much we liked them and how unique they were, this half grape/half apple snack. Suddenly inspired, I proposed to them, “We should write a poem about the grāpple!” To which they enthusiastically responded, “YES, YES!”

Keep in mind, this would only be my second attempt at an interactive poetry writing experience with my students. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work out; I am still new myself to writing poetry, so imagine what it might look like as I lead 18 six year-olds through the process. Seasoned teachers of poetry, you might shudder if you were a fly on the wall…

To clarify, they are not entirely new to the genre of poetry; I have been reading poems to them nearly every day for a better part of this school year. A few kids have dabbled in writing a poem here and there, but for the most part their experience has been nearly all receptive. As we launched into writing, I reminded them of what we have noticed about poetry: short sentences with powerful descriptive words.

I must admit, I was genuinely surprised at the high level of engagement I saw in everyone. Even my students who I consider struggling readers and/or writers contributed to the process. It was as if they had come to life in this endeavor!

While not a piece of poetic genius, I think they gave great thought and consideration to the ideas they shared, and welcomed my support along the way with suggestions for upping the descriptive word choices here and there.

With that, I proudly present our ode to the Grāpple:

#SOLC18 9/31: Huckleberry Love

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Michelle @ Today’s Little Ditty

For today’s Slice of Life I am dual posting. Each Friday, a fun group of bloggers gather for Poetry Friday. Today we are hosted by Michelle at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. This community of poets is a welcoming group who offer support and encouragement to everyone regardless of their level of poetic expertise. As a fledgling poet, I say this from first-hand experience. Still a novice writer of poetry, sharing in this weekly blog gathering has given flight to my poetic wings.

My poem today is inspired by the accompanying photograph titled “Huckleberry Heart” by Montana photographer John Ashley. My husband and I are avid huckleberry hunters, and this photograph has hung in our home for many years. It perfectly depicts the heart of a passionate huckleberry picker after a long day of harvesting this elusive wild berry.

Poetry Friday: Winter Cinquain

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Sally Murphy

Here in Montana winter takes on many different appearances. From picturesque snow covered mountains to stepping out your back door into several inches of snow waiting to be swept off cars and shoveled off porches and driveways. There is beauty in winter, and there is a fair share of sheer endurance as well. For those of us who are native Montanans, we take the months of longer days filled with more inversion-driven cloud cover than sunny skies in stride.

Yesterday was a day when Old Man Winter played the part of trickster on us. We have been experiencing a few days of milder weather, and by noon, the sun made a rare appearance. At 2:00 recess, the temperature read a balmy 52 degrees. Children began shedding their heavy winter coats in celebration of this welcome warmth.

It was short lived. When I opened my weather app to check the forecast, the report was dismal. By 3:30 it would be snowing and the temperature was expected to drop significantly. Sure enough, children were bundled up tight as we dismissed at day’s end, and by bedtime, it was snowing and blowing like a December blizzard.

This is the not so picturesque scene of a Montana winter. We do however, have glimpses of winter beauty that makes appearances during the long winter months. One such day in late January I captured it on my phone as I was driving to school on a quiet Saturday morning. I live in a neighborhood where the avenues are lined with maple trees, and after a fresh snowfall with just the right amount of moisture, it is a sight to behold.

Today, on a morning of bitter cold after a blizzard-y evening, I pulled out my picture and wrote a cinquain. It was a nice chance to remember the beauty in a Montana winter right before I have to open my back door to start shoveling.

Poetry Friday: Nearly Grown Up

As someone new to writing poetry, I have found myself steeped in this genre as of late. This is my 5th Poetry Friday post (third in a row for the past 3 Fridays), and just today I began a month long journey of attempting to write a poem a day with a Facebook group. Yikes! Nothing like jumping in with both feet.

I must say that the more I put myself out there, and make what feel like feeble attempts at writing in verse, the less intimidating, less daunting, and less nerve wracking it is. It goes without saying that warm & welcoming communities like Poetry Friday are the best place for someone like me to share what I am trying.

Today I am sharing a poem I wrote for our first day of the month long poetry writing challenge. During the month we are writing ekphrasis poems, which are poems written in response to and/or inspired by a piece of art. Today’s image was credited to Jay Shovan, a high school senior, and is an unfinished self portrait. Take a look:

As I studied the portrait and considered the artist, I began to wonder what he might have been like as a very young boy. In my kindergarten class I have a few very busy little guys who at times are a challenge for this mother of 4 daughters. It took me years in my early teaching career to get the “boy thing.” I continue to struggle at times with understanding the behaviors, rough play, and those boy noises so many of them seem to need to make!

When I look at the face in this portrait, I see a mature 18 year old young man. I wonder if he was a rambunctious kindergartner. Did he struggle to sit still? Did his teacher feel like she had to constantly remind him to stay focused and keep his listening ears on?

If he did, it doesn’t show now. Clearly the passage of time that added years to his young life saw those characteristics slowly fade away. The silliness and perhaps uncontrollable exuberance of his boyhood are distant memories. He now appears to stand in a place of looking ahead at his future, in a place of great decision making, perhaps even at a crossroads as he considers what he will do.

This encourages me as I spend my days corralling  my little guys with all of their rough and tumble play. I sometimes find myself imagining them walking into my classroom a decade or more in the future, and seeing tall young men, calm and confident, who I hope remember they days of their youth and recognize the transformation they made from childhood to adulthood.

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Donna @ Mainely Write


Poetry Friday: Super Objective


Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Carol @ Beyond LiteracyLink

I am currently reading a new book titled Brave Leadership by Kimberly Davis. I cannot say enough about how much I love this book and her call to action for readers. This book is for everyone, because simply put, we all have an impact in our world with the people we come in contact with each and every day.

Kimberly challenged me to look inside myself as a leader and ask, “In my role, what do I care about? Why do I personally care? What is the impact I want to have on those I lead?”

When considering answers to these questions, I find that I often get sidetracked in worrying about what others might think about me. Will I offend someone? What if they disagree with me? Worse yet, what if I make a mistake?

Kimberly’s book sheds light on what brave leaders do to combat these misleading questions; I discovered that I must adjust what I allow myself to focus on. The best of leaders focus on achieving purpose outside themselves through actionable moves.

Enter the Super Objective. As an educator, I have developed my own personal philosophies and beliefs around teaching and learning. Kimberly reveals that the problem with philosophies and beliefs is they simply live in your head and require nothing of you. Without action in our beliefs, we have no impact.

As I contemplate what my Super Objective is, I want to frame it in active words that put me on an active path in order to more effectively lead my students. I must remember that it is not simply a belief; I must be able to measure my actions against what I say I want to do.

I don’t want to focus my objective on a number or on a score. I’ve learned from Kimberly that if I focus solely on a measurable goal (e.g., All of my students will know 95% of their letter names and sounds by the end of the year) I can find myself on a slippery slope where I lose focus, my authentic self disappears, and my Super Objective is no longer leading me. Goals are good, but they need to be the byproduct of my actions, and ultimately I will achieve better results as long as I remain anchored in my Super Objective.

Reading and learning from Kimberly’s book, I felt the desire to write a poem. I wanted to encapsulate my new discoveries into a nugget of inspiration I could turn to again and again. Here is my haiku that will serve as my own personal mantra as I carefully contemplate what my Super Objective will be.


Would you like to know more about Kimberly and Brave Leadership? The first and best place is her website: http://www.braveleadershipbook.com/

Another great opportunity is to join us on Twitter Thursday, February 8 at 8:30EST when Kimberly joins the Good To Great Twitter chat to share conversation about her book. If you have never done a Twitter chat, I encourage you to come! Enter the hashtag #g2great and you’re in! The conversation will be lively and fast-paced, but the beauty of Twitter chats is you can take your time, reading tweets and interacting at your on pace. The Good To Great community is a warm & welcoming group of educators from many backgrounds, and we love newcomers. Hope to connect with you there!