Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#DWHabit - Word of the Day - Candle

Candles have many purposes and symbolize so much in our lives.   They are something so simple yet can be so powerful. A watched candle can provide light in a dark room. They provide a feeling of relaxation and security. If not watched a candle can ignite an inferno. They can create a devastation so powerful to destroy everything. Candles come in many shapes and sizes. We have those creative molded versions of flowers, animals and other shapes. They come in jars and cans with lids. They come in small sizes perfect for cakes. They can be fat or skinny short or tall. When we look at candles and their purpose in our lives we have to ask what would life be without candles. Lincoln read by candle light. Churches use them for services, wedding or for prayers. We use them in our homes. Their flames chase away the darkness while their fragrance fills our homes with sweetness.
Something so simple and useful.

Let Me Be A Candle

Let me be a candle
standing straight and tall.
Let me be a candle
of use to one and all.

Let me be a candle
to brighten someone's day.
Let me be a candle
a light along the way.

Let me be a candle
that bends in times of strife.
Let me be a candle
that shows a well lived life.

Let me be a candle
who warms the coldest heart.
Let me be a candle
with wisdom to impart.

Let me be a candle
full of faith and hope and love.
Let me be a candle
for my Heavenly Father above.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Life's Journey

My life has been a roller coaster lately as we deal with my mom's health issues. Today's writing  came from  examining struggles and blessings. This is what came about.

Life’s Journey

Scrolling through the posts I watch summer journeys unfold.
I dream that one day I may be able to venture out into this world.
It is a world where others journey to far away places.
It is a world where families visit theme parks or beaches.

For now I have my own journey.
Some days I feel like I am climbing mountains.
Some days I feel I am sinking in mud.
These days are hard, yet I embrace them.

I am grateful for each of these days.
Each day is one more day I get to spend with you.
Each day is one more day to encourage you.
Each day is one more day to say I love you.

When I was young your dream journey was put on hold.
I’m sure you felt like you were climbing mountains.
Some days you may have felt like you were sinking in mud.
Yet you joyfully embraced them all.

Growing up you knew was hard.
It was full of ups and downs.
They were journeys you gladly took with us
They filled your mother’s heart.

Now I take this journey with you.
Some days are filled with ups and downs.
I joyfully walk them with you.
Your strength and tenacity fill my heart.

You show the world your strength.
You show the world your love.
Most importantly you show the world how to live.
For that we are truly blessed.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


I believe the above statement 100%.  I have the privilege of working in an IB school. Reflecting on their work is one of the most important and beneficial things students do as part of their education. I have always felt it is important. I have a "Reflection Journal" that I keep at school. I try to reflect on my teaching at least once or twice a week.  It is from this that I adjust my teaching.  Our IB lesson plan has a section where we reflect on the lesson and what we must do to prepare students before the lesson, a section where we reflect on the lesson as we are teaching it and then finally a reflection of the whole teaching unit when we have finished it.  I first learned to be a reflective teacher when I was working on my National Board Certification. That was the most beneficial piece to the whole process for me.  So it should not come as a surprise that I adapted something from college. At the end of every college course we had to complete a "teacher report card". At the end of the year I give my students the following ten questions. I ask them to be very honest and to turn them in with no names.  I then wait until the middle of the summer to pull it out and read and reflect on their answers. By waiting, I have already begun to plan for the next year and I can take what I learn and make adjustments for the next year. What follows are some of the things my students had to say.

  1. Is the teacher clear and easy to follow when presenting materials?  Almost all of them said I was clear and easy to understand except when I go to fast. I tell them at the beginning that the more excited I get the faster I talk. I then ask them tell me to slow down.
  2. Is the material too easy, too difficult, or just right? Most of them thought it was just right. If it was a skill or topic they were familiar with they felt it was too easy. What surprised me was the ones who thought certain lessons were too hard thanked me for challenging me.
  3. Does the teacher display care and concern for students? Everyone said yes.  I not only cared about them and their education but also about them personally. If they were having a tough day or something was going on at home I let them talk.  The funniest comment was in reference to a lock down we had. My classroom has two doors so the amount of space we have to hide in is limited. Of course we had a lock down during my largest class. Thirty minutes later when all was clear my students discussed their concern. One of my students had been very chatty due to nerves. Some of the kids complained because I had to have them scrunch up against each other in tight quarters. For middle school boys and girls this can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing. So one of them asked me what I would do if it was an active shooter on campus. My reply was I would do whatever it took to keep them safe. If I had to duct tape their mouths shut and stack them one on top of the other to protect them I would.  The school officer soon walked my room with me and we found an alternate solution to the situation. I just thought this kid's response was funny.  The other thing they said about my showing I cared was how I gave all of them a chance to get their grade up. Education should be about whether they learned the content and can use it in the future and not about what kind of grade they got.
  4. Does the teacher try to make learning enjoyable and interesting? The majority thought I did but I could add more learning games. One of them said I make it enjoyable because I tell them how it is and don't sugar coat it. This means if it is going to be difficult I tell them it will be and how we will work together to be successful.
  5. What was the most challenging part of class for them? I got the typical answers, essays. reading, all the writing they had to do. The one that impressed me the most was a student that said, "Being open minded to all the opinions in class I am exposed to (I'm working on it) I love the challenge."  Being open minded is another tenet of the IB curriculum.
  6. If you could change one thing that happened in our class, what would it be? The students asked for more partner or group assignments. Several asked for more debates and class discussions. One student added that they wanted more class discussions that the others teachers were afraid to address.  I always try to connect our lessons to what is happening in the world. If you don't allow students  to have those uncomfortable conversations (done respectfully) then how can we expect them to make decisions and have these discussion in  the future? I don't shy away from those tough topics. Maybe this is why I put banned books on my shelves. I sent home a letter to my 8th grade English 1 parents letting them know their students would be reading Laurie Halse Anderson's book "Speak" I told them it dealt with what happens when someone is raped and remains silent.  We discussed how people who don't know the whole story behind someone can become judgmental, bullies, and intolerant. These are issues they see in the news every day. Not a single parent opted out of their child reading the book. 
  7. Which project did you learn the most from and why?  Most of them said the poetry unit where they had to analyze and write an essay comparing two poems. Most had never thought about poetry having themes and settings and it helped them figure out poetry.
  8. What are some thing I the teacher could have done to make this year better? My favorite answer was in response to teaching Romeo and Juliet. One student replied, "Less Old English, or add puppies." My last two units were more on the creative side. I gave students choices for their final project so that those who like to write could write and those who liked to dance, draw, create music could do so. I also gave for their last unit a step by step guide with due dates. They loved this and recommended I do this for all major projects. What surprised me was they wanted more tips on writing essays and, "More practice writing stories and understanding the emotion the story is putting into words to understand the story itself."
  9. What advice would you give to students who would have me next year? "Explore who you are and take time to enjoy the work and atmosphere in this class." "Take time to get used to how the teacher operates."  "Be patient and understanding because the teacher is just doing her job."
  10. How can I improve further? To me this is one of the most important questions. This is how my students answered.  "Give them more to look forward to. Allow them to read out loud more. Have more deep discussion that involve everyone and their opinions. Compliment the class at least once a week. Try to relate to the kids a bit more. Give more background info on the topic we are about to cover. Keep working with and encouraging the kids that don't want to work   .: This is my favorite because I try to live this every day. "I think if you keep making your students believe we can achieve something, that we are human beings who have dreams and wishes, to teach them with fairness and justice and never make them choose YOUR side, but defend their own side, then they can't help but learn in your class."
It is an answer like the last one that make me so proud of my students.  I have looked at these things and made some changes to my lessons and what I want to accomplish. I want to  bring more cooperative learning in to my class.  When you grow up where you were taught to do your own work and there was very little cooperative learning, it is difficult to change. I consider change a part of growing in my profession.  Looking at how I need to implement change has charged me up for next year which starts in about five weeks.  I would not have been able to make these changes had it not been for me practicing reflection. Reflection is a process everyone should utilize.                                                                   

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

#DWHabit - Drama

Today I chose the word Drama for my daily writing.  I have felt at times this week that I was in some sort of an unrealistic play.  I have not written daily as my mom has been hospitalized.  This word popped into my head this morning because I have had at least six people this week make a comment about not wanting to deal with someone's drama, or they were over someone's drama. In the past I always thought of drama as a performance. I guess in a way it is.  However, this last school year and this summer I have heard the word used in a more negative connotation.

What causes someone to create such negative drama in their lives?  Students are always telling me, "Oh so and so is just so full of drama." or "You know so and so is all drama." I have even had family members use that this week.  I don't want a lot of "drama" in my life. I choose to live as drama free as possible.  I also am choosing not to be an active participant in someone else's "drama". I am just praying for strength to carry this through.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

#DWHabit Word of the Day is Block

*Warning - this post may seem to be a bit more of a downer than usual.*

I sat in the hospital room with my mother listening to her tell me about her night.  I wanted to block out all of her discomfort and pain, all of her frustration.  I wanted to block out the phone conversation she'd had the night before she ended up in the hospital. The call came at 10:30 that night. I know the motive behind the conversation. It is always the same. It creates worry in my mom about things she can't do anything about. It worries her that my sister paints such a horrible picture of her life, her daughter's life and her grandchildren's life. She lays this burden on my mom. My mom gives advice that she knows will go unheeded. It is always followed by  my mom telling her to put the problems in God's hands.  Then my mom goes to bed stressed and worried all night.

I walked out of my mom's hospital room today with her preacher. He hugged me and asked how I was doing. I told him I was hanging in there and just wanted my mom to get better. I know that eventually things will get worse with her health and she will leave us. However, I would like to keep her around a while longer.  I told the pastor about my sister's phone call.  I asked him, "How do you block your sister?"  He told me I can't, but I can monitor things and take control of my mom's phone.

I would love to block all of the things that cause my mom stress. I would love to block the pain and illness she is going through. I can't anymore than anyone else can block the bad things that happen in their lives. Besides, if we block everything out, how can we ever hope to raise people up. Blocks are walls we build. They may start out tiny and continue to grow. Maybe we need to learn how to deal with those negative things that block our relationship with God and others. Maybe then we will know true happiness.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Anger is a Snake

Anger is a snake.
It slithers silently through our life
waiting for the right moment to strike.  
Once it strikes, it’s venom takes over
poisoning our thoughts, attitudes, and all aspects of our life.

Anger coils itself around you,
squeezing all rational thoughts
from your mind. Crushing
the very life from you.

Anger waits silently
for an opportune time
to strike, killing not only
the heart, but the very soul.

Anger is a snake that needs
to be killed before it can
ever rear its ugly head.
You can try to cage it but
that is never the best

Yes, anger is a slippery, slithery,
snake in the grass, best to be
avoided at all costs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Child's Imagination: The Floating Fruit Sandwich

Today was my mother's 86th birthday.  My daughter, husband and four kids came up for a visit. Visits are not real regular even though they only live an hour south of me. Both work such long hours. Their children are Haylee age 12, Jacob age 7, Greyson age 3, Roland age 2. Haylee has written with me in the past. Today I saw a new talent in the family. While eating lunch I looked at Greyson and asked him what he was eating. We had some fresh pineapple and he was chowing down on it. Suddenly he took two crackers and put a chunk of pineapple between them and said, "It's a fruit sandwich."
Here is the rest of the conversation.

Me:  "A fruit sandwich?"
Greyson: "A floating fruit sandwich."
Me: "Oh a floating fruit sandwich." He suddenly lays it on the floor.
Greyson:  "It crashed. A giant tiger with giant claws hit it and knocked it to the ground."
Me: "A giant tiger?"  At this point the the floating fruit sandwich is once again floating.
Greyson:  "A spaceship came down and lifted the floating fruit sandwich into the sky."

At this point there are two fingers on top of the top cracker. He looks at me and says. "See the tiger is on the floating fruit sandwich."

At this point one of the fingers starts tapping on the cracker and the floating fruit sandwich and the sandwich starts wavering. He says, "Oh no the tiger with the big claws is jumping up trying to hit the spaceship." The floating fruit sandwich slips back down to his plate. He picks it up and says. "The tiger with the giant  claws fell off the floating fruit sandwich." He bit into the floating fruit sandwich and said, "See, the alien ate the floating fruit sandwich."

Our whole day was full of Greyson telling stories. He kept my mother laughing all day. He is only 3. I looked at my mom and said, "Can you imagine what it will be like when Greyson and Haylee decide to tell stories together?"

Monday, June 18, 2018

Excerpt From "The House That Haunts Me"


Over the past week Macy had noticed dark circles under her mom’s eyes and heard her weeping and talking in her sleep. Her mom spent more time each morning writing in her journal. Then two days ago Macy and her brother Bruce had come home from school to find their mom sitting at the kitchen table. In front of her on the table was a letter, her journal, and a cup of coffee in her hand. One look at their mom and Macy knew something was wrong.
She and Bruce sat at the table. Coffee sloshed over the side of the cup as her mom sat it on the table. They waited.
“School ends next week.” Her mother said. “When you come home the last day I’ll have the car all packed. We’re going on a little trip back to Idaho.” Bruce bounced in his chair. Macy placed her hand on his leg to calm him. She knew how excited he was. They had not gone anywhere in the two years since their dad had died. Her mother looked at her and smiled. The smile was hiding so much, and Macy wanted to know what it was. She waited for her mother to say more. Instead her mother stood and took her cup to the sink. “Go finish your homework while I fix dinner.”  Macy and her brother looked at each other and obeyed.
            The last week of school seemed to fly by. It was all Macy could do to keep her brother from running ahead of her as they walked home.  She tried to get him calmed down by promising to play games with him in the car.
            “I’m not a baby Macy, I’m seven years old. I start third grade next year.” 
            Macy smiled down at her brother. “I know that Bruce, I just thought maybe we could play games to help me keep the excitement under control. You know, you can help me calm down.”  This tactic always seemed to work with him. Treat him like he was the older brother helping her to behave and he was putty in her hands.
            “Oh, okay Macy. That way mom won’t get cranky and yell at us. I’ll help you stay calm.
Race you to the door Macy.”  Macy watched as her brother took off. She knew he wouldn’t look back, so she walked the rest of the way. When she entered the house, her mother was sitting in the kitchen hugging Bruce.
            “Mom said we have to go upstairs and change clothes. She already has them laid out for us on the bed. Then we have to…” Bruce looked at his mom for the rest of the instructions.
            Mom rubbed his hair and stood up. “I put a bag on your bed. Grab whatever you want to take for entertainment like books, notebooks, coloring books, favorite animal and electronics. When you get back down here with your bags I’ll have a snack ready and we can leave. I want to get some miles down before we stop tonight.”
            “How far do we have to drive?” Bruce asked.
            “A long way Bruce.” She looked at Macy and said, “It usually takes at least fourteen hours to drive. But, I want to drive as far as I can and give us time to get out and stretch so we don’t get too tired. It should only take us about four hours to get to Macon, Georgia. That is where we will spend the night and eat supper. Now go.”
Macy glanced sideways at her brother. He had dozed off just thirty minutes after pulling out of their drive. She slid her mom’s journal out of her bag and opened it. She had disguised it by wrapping it in one of her favorite book jackets. As far as her mother knew she was just doing what she always did, read. She had often seen her mother write in her journal and slip it into the stand next to her bed. She asked her mother about it once and was told that it was where she wrote down her feelings, hopes and prayers since their daddy had died. She promised that when Macy was older, meaning an adult, she would let her read it.  She opened it to one of the more recent entries.

June 6
They say there is no such thing as ghosts or haunted houses.  They’re wrong.  I know, because I grew up in one.  Mine is not an unusual story.  It is not even that terrifying.  It just is.  This is a fact I have come to accept.  As a child growing up in Bluebell, Idaho I had few friends because of that house.  From the outside the house was a typical, two story farm house. My father inherited it when his grandmother passed away.  He repaired and fixed it up.  It stood out on the hilltop.  You could see it’s gabled roof a mile away.  The inside was a different story. 
Even now I lay awake at night listening, watching, waiting, for it.  I’ve been waiting since I moved out of that house.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  That time has come.  Both of my parents are gone.  A drunk driver took them away from me.  Now the house is calling me.  I hear it in the middle of the night, I see it in my dreams.  It waits for me, calling me to return.  I don’t want to.  I still don’t know why it calls me.  Sometimes the shadows visit me.  When I was a child my friends used to tease me when I told them about the shadows.  Then they would visit my house.  No one teased me after that.  Instead they stayed away from me.  It’s as if they were afraid the shadows would follow them.  Now I must journey back. I’m scared, not only for me but for my children Macy and Bruce.

            Macy closed the book and glanced at her mother. Why was she so afraid of that house? She flipped back to the beginning of the journal. Everything from the beginning on seemed to be about her mom and dad. As she began to close the journal she noticed the flap inside the front cover was loose and had a slight bulge. Macy quietly peeled the flap back and saw a piece of paper and a picture. The picture showed a house on a hill with fields all around it. Her stomach felt queasy. This must be the house. She slid the piece of paper out and opened it up. It must have been her mom’s handwriting when she was a child. It was a small list; cold clammy hand in closet, stairs creak, lights flick off, pacing in next room, heaviness in air, fear it wants something. What does it want besides me, and why does it want me?
           Macy placed the paper back inside the flap along with the picture. She would put the journal back in her mom’s bag when they got to the motel. She wasn’t going to learn any more from it. She would have to try her mom again.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Liberated, Set Free!  That's how I felt when I woke up this morning.  Although I have been writing every day; I have not felt the freedom to just write the way I want to, or the things I want to. Life has been very hectic for the last few weeks.  My mother has not been doing well. Waiting on her hand and foot because she is unable to do anything eats up your creative time. Before you go jumping on me for sounding so cruel hear me out. In April my mother fell in our bathroom and broke a rib. Because she takes blood thinners they took x-rays. This let to a PET and CT scan. This was followed by a biopsy. They discovered a mass in her lung that turned out to be stage 3 cancer. She has chosen at age 86 to have nothing done. She is a strong and stubborn woman and I love her very much.  Two weeks ago she woke up unable to breathe well. She asked us to take her to her doctor. She was in congestive heart failure so they gave her medicine.  This has resulted in 2-3 trips each week because the meds messed her  up. Then her blood pressure was too high, then way, way too low. She is so weak and confused she has been able to make it only to her chair, bathroom and bed. I've waited on her hand and foot.  This means about the time I get anything started she would need help with something. I was still writing in small snatches, but there were no long periods of time or continuity. So I took a challenge from Teach Write, LLC on June 11th. The challenge was to try something new  in our writing. I usually write realistic fiction.  I decided to work on a ghost story idea that has been floating around in my brain for a couple of years. The small bits of writing I would do throughout the day usually happened after  a conversation with my mom. She would say something out of the blue, reminiscing about the farm we had up north. Then she would start in on the house. That is where the idea for this story originated, the house.

Below is a piece of writing I submitted with my application for the STAR program at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. This piece was one of the things they asked me  about after I was awarded the residency.  I told them that it was a piece that came to me in a dream and when the muses were ready for me to write it they would let me know. Here is what I submitted.

They say there is no such thing as ghosts or haunted houses.  They are wrong.  I know, because I grew up in one.  Mine is not an unusual story.  It is not even that terrifying.  It just is.  This is a fact I have come to accept.  As a child growing up in Bluebell, Idaho I had few friends because of that house. 
  From the outside the house was a typical, two story farm house. My father inherited it when his grandmother passed away.  He repaired and fixed it up.  It stood out on the hilltop.  You could see It’s gabled roof a mile away.  The inside was a different story. 
Even now I lay awake listening, watching, waiting, for it.  I’ve been waiting since I moved out of that house.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  That time is now.  Both of my parents are gone.  A drunk driver took them away from me.  Now the house is calling me.  I hear it in the middle of the night, I see it in my dreams.  It waits for me, calling me to return.  I don’t want to.  I don’t know why it calls me.  Sometimes the shadows visit me.  In school my friends used to tease me when I told them about the shadows.  Then they would visit my house.  No one teased me after that.  Instead they stayed away from me.  It is as if they were afraid the shadows would follow them.

When I accepted the challenge this week, this story popped back up, but with a twist.  Now it is a middle grade story with excerpts from from the main character's mother's journal. I wrote bits a pieces, ideas and phrases throughout the week.  Come back tomorrow to read the beginning of my new middle grade novel, "The House That Haunts Me" You will be able to see what came of all of that writing when I put it together. After you have read it please write and let me know what you think. I want honesty when you reply. Suggestions are always welcome.  Thank you in advance. Looking forward to sharing with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

#DWHabit - Word of the Day - Courage

Today's word for for Daily Writing Habit is Courage.  This is one of my favorite words. Why? because I live by courage. As an extremely shy teenager growing up in the country I hid behind my writing. When my family would go camping I was fine playing with other kids around our campsite. However, I was never the one to make the first introduction. I tagged along after my older sister. When I got to school I hid behind reading. In first grade I chose to sit at recess and tutor those who struggled to read instead of getting out in the crowd of kids on the playground. I made friends. I had plenty of them. The problem was that as I grew older I kept close to that handful of kids. Middle School was difficult. I had one or two friends and if they weren't there I sat and read or wrote stories. However, I never shared those stories with others. What if they weren't good enough. When I moved to Florida my tenth grade year of high school it was really bad. I new a lot of people at the end of that first year, yet I chose to be friends with only one or two kids.  Micky Thompson was not someone I hung out with. He was someone I was good friends with. He was the first one to get me to talk to others. He was captain of the football team. I didn't think they would talk with people like me, you know the unpopular, not in the right clique people. He is the one who told me I have to learn to just open my mouth and not be afraid.  The class I met him in was the very class that almost ruined me. I had a teacher who had us write a story for history. I did. I poured my heart and soul into it. It broke my heart when I read it to the class and she said in front of everyone that it was a good thing I wanted to be a teacher because I'd never make it as a writer.  I believed her. She was the one who also taught me that I would never tell a kid what they could not do.  She didn't know me.

Nine-eleven happened and a story burned hot in my mind and soul, yet I didn't have the courage to write it. My husband believed in me and that is why "Steps to Courage" was written. I learned a lot about me by writing that fictional account of three teens who find themselves in the Twin Towers on 9/11.   Every day I am faced with new challenges and every day I have to take a deep breath and step out of my comfort zone. This is terrifying. That takes courage. Courage is doing what terrifies you the most because you want it and aren't going to let anything stand in your way.  I tell that child or teen who loves to write and has so many issues with their writing, or their first language isn't English, that I believe they have the bones of a great story. Then I show them some things they can do that can improve it. It takes courage to open up yourself to others.

Yesterday was the last day of school for our students.  I saw one of the most courageous sites ever. One of our graduating eighth graders took the biggest risk of his life. He is one of the smartest kids I know and yet his autism makes it difficult to try things that are of a sensory nature.  After our graduation ceremony and lunch the eighth graders had a dance. I watched in awe as this young man got out on the dance floor. Of course when he approached me I was shocked. I assumed he had gone home because he has problems with loud sounds. There he stood with cotton in his ears dancing. He participated in the different types of dances including the line dances. He did his best imitation of Michael Jackson's moon walk along with the other kids when the DJ asked for them to show it. He did all of this on his own, standing by himself.  Then I watched something miraculous happen. Because he was courageous enough to step out of his comfort zone onto that dance floor, other students came over and danced with him, showing him other moves. Was he the most graceful? No.  He had some fancy dance steps. I learned he had taken some dance classes over the summer. He and his mother have both stepped out of their comfort zones and pursued classes they felt would help them.  I look at students like this wonderful young man and ask myself how I can show other students my courage by doing things that are not in my comfort zone. Courage is my favorite word because I have to remind myself daily that I have to step out even though I am fearful. It takes courage to live doing things that are difficult. I tell my students that "Courage always begins with the first step." I take that step every morning. What does courage mean to you?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

20 Degrees From Normal by Anissa Ferris and Antonio Ferris

Genre: Children's Picture Book, Poetry
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

20 Degrees From Normal by Anissa Ferris and Antonio Ferris
This fun book of poetry was created by a brother and sister team. It isn’t only fun to read but has very subtle messages.  The very first poem, “Underappreciated Wheel” had be looking at wheels in a different way.  They carry all the weight on bikes, trikes and cars, yet no one ever talks about how wonderful they are. 
I teach middle school and I am here to say that my students would love this fun rhyming, quirky poetry.  I loved “Perfect Friend”. So often we want a “perfect” friend and after finding what we think they are we find that what we had before was much, much more.  “Skip” teaches that you have to do some preliminary things to be a success.
This book has something for everyone, old and young. I will enjoy adding this to my classroom library next year and providing a copy to our elementary school which will be merging with our school.  I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

More Student Poetry

Today I have a variety of poems from my seventh grade students.  We had been writing Golden Shovel Poems,  Pantoums, and Free Verse.  For some of them poetry is very difficult.  I am very proud of all of my students. They were definitely risk-takers by putting their writing out there for all to see. For some of my students you can feel their pain.  When they tell me their writing isn't good, I tell them that when they write from their soul it can't be anything but good. Here are a few examples.

All of us remember summer days like the one Emma describes here.

Swimming by Emma J.

Jumping in the pool is fun
Splashing with friends
after a long hot day
the water cools you off

You splash and play all day
You throw water balloons
some may slip and fall
But they get back up

You spray them down with water guns
They spray you back
you're laughing and smiling
Your parents are relaxing to

The sun starts setting
that doesn't stop you
through the night
you laugh and play

A simple Pantoum that has such a deep message in it.

Why Me? by Barbara  Vance

If you were to ask Why me?
When you're feeling really blue,
When the world has turned against you
And you don't know what to do
When it pours colossal raindrops
And you're feeling more confused
Then  you ever cold express

                   Raindrops by Aryianna A.
                Do you know that feeling when 
                                          you don't feel it
                   anymore and it starts to pours
                          Your headache is colossal
and your little thoughts are like raindrops

Knowing the story behind this I could feel the pain and wanted to cry with this child.

Mommy by Jasmine M.
Goodbye mommy
three years old
not ready to go
tears roll down.

Three years old
as I leave for good
tears roll down
I shall hug you goodbye

As I leave for good
no ready to go
I shall hug you goodbye
Goodbye mommy

This student described through her poem an accident she was involved in when she was younger.

The Accident by Jasmine M.
Boom, Crash, Sam
No glass, no blood
Sleep is all there wwa
Awoke I did in the hospital bed.

No glass, no blood
Scared I was
Awoke I did in the hospital bed
Crying and unable to move

Scared I was
Sleep is all there was
Crying and unable to move
Boom, Crash, Slam

Be Careful by Amari C.

My heart is like a package with a fragile label on it
be careful with me
I love you
can't you see

Be careful with me
love is patient
Can't you see
like the rhythm of the sea

Love is patient
I love you
Like the rhythm of the sea
My heart is like a package with a fragile label on it.

By using repetition  of the phrase "Where is she" we get the sense of panic this child felt.

My Aunt by Amari C

Where is she
She was suppose to be here at two
It's been way too long
She's never late

She was supposed to be here at two
Somebody get the phone
She's never late
We're going to the hospital, she had a stroke

Somebody get the phone
It's been way too long
We're going to the hospital, she had a stroke
Where is she

Here is another Golden Shovel Poem
The Little Girl's Land by Emmeline Francis

Not so long ago
In a land closer than it seems
There lived a silly little girl
With a pocketful of dreams

She was as hated as was loved
It didn't matter what she'd one
But the one thing that she knew

Too fat and too ugly
Too judgmental and a fool
She could never be just perfect
And society was cruel

It carried on for years
and nobody could decide
Whether this silly little gilr
Should get to live or die

So the leader told his people
That something must be done
And the poor thing should be dealt with
So it couldn't hurt anyone

At first there was denial
But the umber quickly bloated
Soon even the voice of mother
Left the situation quite outvoted

But when asked who would do it?
As the people shouted blame
Not a single one would volunteer
And hung their heads in shame

A tiny voice right from the back
Suppressed by a nation's shouts
Announced that she could do it
No longer harboring any doubts.

Every single citizen watched
As a blade was drawn with care
The girl aligned it to the heart
To breathe she didn't dare

Instantly her dull eyes closed
A single push was done
Hushed whispers silenced throughout the land
Watching her smiling tear drops run

When mother found her in the morn
Dried tears still on her face
She knew with greatest certainty
She was not in a better place.

How hopeless she was lying there
With blood on the bedroom floor
The only thing to take comfort in
They couldn't hurt her anymore

Mother watched the coffin
Now the girl was quite stone dead
Such a pity, society sighed
That the land was within her head.

Take heed of this done story
For the many who ruin themsleves
Though words might seem so innocent
Our worst critics are ourselves

The Girl That Wasn't Loved as Much by Shaina S.

There once was a girl. She 
didn't fit in. She was
always being picked on. She felt hated
a lot. As
this kept going on she was as well love.

As she was hated people said too
revolting or too fat
Things like you're too petty and 
big to be sitting with us , or you're too
nasty, they said, you're too ugly.

This girl felt like she 
had no one there for, or that she could 
not count on anyone. Never
Be great. She could never be
good enough or just 
like the rest. She could never be perfect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pantoum Poems

In the Dark by Deeya B.

I was alone in the dark,
With nowhere to go,
No one to hold
And no place to call home.

With nowhere to go,
I was stuck on repeat
And no place to call home
I felt defeat.

I was stuck on repeat
And weeping alone
I felt defeat
Knowing no one would love me again.

And weeping alone,
No one to hold,
Knowing no one would love me again.
I was alone in the dark.

Life Is a Small Grape by Joshua P.

Life is short, but long
a ripe grape
A grape that is full of flavor
A single whisker in a pile of fur

A ripe grape
A fruit of importance
A single whisker in a pile of fur
A small grape

A fruit of importance
A helpless grape
A Tiny grape
A shriveling grape

A helpless grape
A grape that was full of flavor
A shriveling grape
Life is long, but short

Living With Butterflies by Natalia M.

I live with butterflies
They flutter and dance
Beautiful face to face, but hideous when locked inside
They linger

They flutter and dance
Nausea and dizziness
They linger
Butterflies don't go away

Nausea and dizziness
They come out of nowhere
Butterflies don't go away
They are trapped with no escape

They come out of nowhere
Beautiful face to face, but hideous when locked inside
They are trapped with no escape
I live with butterflies

Walking Through the Forest by Jonathan X.

A bird is singing a sweet tune
As I traverse the dim forest
The plants' leaves hang low under the weight of cocoons,
My ears are filled with the sound of nature's chorus.

As I traverse the dim forest,
I feel grass tickling my feet,
My ears are filled with the sound of nature's chorus
And I march to the beat.

I feel grass tickling my feet
While I gorge on the forest's bounty
And I march to the beat
Of the beauty all around me

While I gorge on nature's bounty
The plants' leaves hang low under the weight of cocoons
Of the beauty all around me
A bird is singing a sweet tune.

Golden Shovel Poems

This is called Golden Shovel Poetry. You take a poem you like that has meaning to you and you choose one or more lines from the original poem. You write the words down the right side of your paper and then add words in front of them to create a new poem.  Below is one that I wrote.  Nikki Grimes does this a lot. You can find it in her book One Last Word. This is a book of poetry inspired by the Harlem Renaissance.  She also has one in the book where she used the entire poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes.  I am having my students create one of these using a poem of their choice. After all it is National Poetry Month.  On the left side you will find the original poem, or if it is too long, an excerpt. On the right side you will find the poetry written from it by my students.

NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY                                                                      
By Robert Frost                                                                                                

Nature’s first green is gold,                                                                                 
Her hardest hue to hold.                                                         
Her early leaf’s a flower;                                                              
But only so an hour.                                                                                   
Then leaf subsides to leaf. Gold                                                                     
So Eden sank to grief,                                                             
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

Embrace Life by Sandra Stiles

Life is short so
embrace it. Get up with the Dawn
and see where your day goes.
Will it take you down
memory lane, or to 
a new adventure for another day?

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.  
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Speak Out by Abigail Rudolph

I am warning you. Do
not tell me to be quiet. Do not
tell me to sit down and behave like you want me to. Go
on. I dare you to tell me to be gentle
with my words and actions. Tell me to keep all my rage and passion in
my head. Tell me to
ignore the storm in my head that
begs me to scream. To stand up. To speak out against the "good"
rules that you have designed to hold me back. I will fight all through the night.

I will rage
against you. I will speak out against the rage
you have cast upon me to make me silent. Never again! I will speak against
the mold you have set out for me. Against the
rules that bind me. I will rage until my dying
days. I will speak of
truth and freedom. I will speak of the

hope of love and light.

     Bullying Poem  author unknown

           You may think you’re cool coz you call me names,
       And you may think I’m hurting inside.
      You may even choose to get nasty,
      But do you really think I’m going to hide?

2     Lots of people look up to you,
 They’re scared if they don’t you’ll turn sour.
 I bet half of them think you’re a bully,
 But when you speak to them, they just cower.

         You have everybody below you,
 Obeying your every demand.
 But if somebody bigger came along
 You would bury your head in the sand.

4       You’re not just a bully, but a coward,
 Who’s jealous of people like me.
 Am I really as bad as you make me feel,
 Or the person who you want to be?

      I know I can talk to my teachers,
My parents, family, and friends
To tell them how you make me feel,
Please let this bullying end.

          Did You Know by Kelly M.   

                                Did you know you’re   
                                 Amazing, you’re not   
             Only smart and funny, you’re just   
                                          A nice person, a   
      Kind person, you’d stand up to a bully,   
                        You’d do it for anyone, But   
               You wouldn’t be rude, you’d be  
                          person to remind a coward   
                      To be brave, or a bully who’s   
                    helpful and sweet, how jealous   
                                            one might be of   
                          your greatness, how people   
                            might wish they were like   

                                   you, people like me.   

I Am the People, the Mob  by Carl Sandburg    

    am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.
    Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
    I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes.
    I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns.
    They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
    I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass
    over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death
    comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget.
    Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember.
    Then—I forget.
    When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and
    no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool—then there will be
    no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his
    voice or any far-off smile of derision.
    The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then.

                                   I Am by Alicea S.     

                            Do you know what I     
                               Do? Or who I am?     
         Do you know that I work for the     
                              Of my “kind”? The     
                                   People, The mob     
                                       I’m part of the     
                                mob and the crowd     
                                                  I am the     


     Ultimately – Khai Dreams
     [verse 3]

     Ultimately it’s a beautiful thing
     Like flowers blooming in a lonely field
     The petals drift through crossing winds
     They find their way to rivers, streams
     That scent the water beautifully. It takes me back to you
     It takes me back to you.

                     That Scent by Tuyen L.     

         The sweet flower that is you. That     
                                         Creates your scent     
    That enraptures me. For a love of the     
                       Forest can flood my waters     
 With boats of love and care. Beautifully     
  Weaving a future anew. For our love, it     
                                                        A lifetime for me     
                                            To find my way back     
                                                                              Back to     
                                              The one I miss, you.     

     A Short Little Poem with Meaning by Frederick                                                                                           
     The hardest part of letting go                             
     Is to forgive that I know                                                  
     The best gift you will receive                            
     Is the chance to believe                                                                                        
     The easiest thing you’ll ever do                                                             
     Is distinguishing the lie from truth                     
     And in this all
     Don’t ever forget
     Live ur life
     With no regret!
Waves of Diversity by Mallory S.     

Whether we are friend or foe the     
differences are the hardest     
mountain to climb, unless we part     
 the waves of     
diversity. Letting     
ourselves shine wherever we go.     

     Excerpt from The Tyger by William Blake  

     Tyger, Tyger burning bright,                             
     In the forests of the night,
     What immortal hand or eye                             
     Could frame thy fearful symmetry

 Burn Bright Tyger by Madison B.     
You’re different, so stand tall like a tyger     
     People don’t want you to? Well, you’re a tyger,     
     You are fierce and precious, you are burning     
      In their darkness. Be bright,     
      Like yourself. You are the brilliant star in         
     The shadows. They are the     
     Ones at fault, shunning your light. Dark Forests     
Have that beautiful bioluminescence, that’s you, child of     
    Starlight. Be strong, be brave, be you, in the     
     Darkness. You are a star, brighten the night.     

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