Tag Archives: poetry

#SOL18: Signs of Spring

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Signs of Spring

What do I see?

I see slivers of green

peeking through the brown grass

in the yard, the fields, and along the road.

Hopeful for fresh asparagus, daffodils and mushrooms.

What do I hear?

I hear choruses of birds

loud and excited

quiet and steadily constant.

Hopeful for woodpeckers and their staccato beat.

What do I smell?

I smell the earth

fresh-plowed and ready for seeds

anticipating the new growth.

Hopeful for abundant, fruitful crops to feed the world.

What do I feel?

I feel the sun’s rays

as day temps finally rise to 70s

and nights remain in the 50s.

Hopeful for no more sleet, slush, or snow.

Signs of Spring

What signs of spring are present in your region? 

How will you celebrate spring?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


Poetry: Love/Hate

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Today’s post is based on the mentor text, “I Hate Poetry”, by a Virginia middle school student.  Her poem can be found here (and all the comments that she responded to individually.  The comments tell exactly why she “hates” poetry!).

How do you feel about poetry? 

Which version best matches your experiences?

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Happy Poetry Friday!

( Click here for more info about Poetry Friday.)


  • Read student’s poem.
  • Studied the rhyme scheme.
  • Jotted down some ideas to include.
  • Decided that I wanted definite stanzas (so drafting outside of WordPress).
  • Used the student’s ideas for the first stanza.
  • Decided to repeat part of the first stanza in the closing stanza.
  • Drafted, revised, drafted!


#SOL18: March 28

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Drip! Drip! Drip! Drip!

Gently, slowly,

Each drop distinctly different.

Read, comment, read, comment,

Catch up, catch up, catch up,

A slicer’s work is never done!

Booming thunder

Loud and rhythmic

Not just white noise.

Write, read, write, revise

Let it rest, let it brew

A writer’s work is never done!

Pounding, roaring, louder and louder

Mya crouching and hiding

Lightning has arrived.

No time to nap, relax

Or read for fun today

A PD presenter’s work is never done!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: March 27 Spring


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Temps rise

Green tendrils peek out

Rain showers

Signs of Spring.

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A snowstorm

Blankets the ground

Melting rapidly

Signs of Winter.

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Back and forth

White and green

Rain and snow

A bit of Spring – a bit of Winter.

Never easy

Seasons overlap

Winter is leaving –

Spring is arriving!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


#SOL18: March 16

Why Do I Write?




Here,  and                                                            (probably my favorite)

Here.                                                             (the post with the most resources)

But is it really that simple?

6 Words


Breathing in,

Breathing out.

Drafting. Revising



Music roaring

Thoughts flowing

Ideas Recorded



Writing is thinking.

Sharing the page.




Clouding, and





Happiness, or an



Kowtowing to a

Lincoln or a








Thoughts –

Unveiling a





To Write or Not to Write

To write, or not to write, that is the question:
Whether ’tis important for a writing teacher
To know the pain of a lost or fading muse,
Coaxing words from a fledgling writer by example
Taking pen to scribe the truth. To write – to live.

Waiting for the
Right words,
Impatiently waiting,
Tapping fingers
Impervious to an audience.
Giving up!

What format works for you?

Which ones are favorites for your students?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

This post I wrote to PLAY!

And then I could not decide what to keep and what to discard!

#DigiLitSunday: Digital Poetry

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What is digital poetry?

As technology evolves so does digital poetry.  The sky is the limit in poetry creation. Form, shape, music, movement, color . . . all of these add special dimensions to the written words of poetry.

The dance

The twist

The music

The tone

The lift

The chorus

The melody

The coda

All contribute to poetry!

Do you need further inspiration?

Check out this progressive poem and the new line added by Mary Lee Hahn –

poetry created digitally!

Resources to learn more about digital poetry:

Slam poetry

Digital poetry genre

Hypertext poetry

Poem Farm – Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

#SOLSC17: Biopoem

One of the BEST things about the writing Slice of Life Story Challenge is the source of inspiration from so many other writers.  This is from Erin Baker’s “Hello” post on Day 1 found here. (Neither snow nor deer can keep this intrepid slicer from posting but computer troubles made me feel like Lemony Snicket yesterday!)



Flexible, Competitive, Passionate

Lover of books, writing, and professional development

Who wonders if I’ll ever figure out how to just say “no” when life gets busy

Who fears that I will miss the students and teachers when I move on to the next chapter in my life

Who feels happy when I’m learning beside, with, or from students.

Who cares about the rights, quality of life, and the many needs of ALL the people residing in this great country

Who dreams of writing a book, telling family stories and yet continuing to promote literacy.

Who resides in Unionville, Iowa.


Additional Information about Biopoems here


And did you know that Outsiders was written by a teenager?  More here

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 



#SOL16: Capital E = Essay

There’s a glow, a rainbow, a light spirit still leaking from my pores and so much fun and learning from #NCTE16 yet to be shared! My top two sessions from the three days are a toss-up.

Poetry?     Essay?      Which will change the world?

At #NCTE16 it was readily apparent that BOTH writing forms are capable of reporting on AND changing the world.  You can read more about poetry in last week’s  “NCTE16:  Incredible Learning” here.

A focus on writing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING will of course have the power to potentially change the world because the pen is mightier than the sword.  The constant focus on assessments and screeners that produce fast yet aliterate readers has created a new tension in schools. What’s the solution for this new breed of readers who do not choose to read and who do not fall in love with the written word? Are they an unconscionable byproduct of too much focus on reading “outcomes/products” (ie, something that can be counted as in words read per minute) and too little focus on the thinking, the joy, and the love of words that result from daily writing in schools – daily writing of their own choice?  How can we regain JOY and LEARNING?  Poetry and Essay tied for first place at #NCTE in bringing JOY to my world and in igniting a quest for more learning.

The Transformative Power of Essay

This panel on Sunday was amazing (and had many noteworthy literacy celebs attending as well).  And NO moans or groans because of the word “essay”.

Essay bomer.jpg

From R to Left:  Katherine Bomer, Allyson Smith,  Corinne Arens and Matthew Harper

Story after story.

Straight from the students.

Student writing examples . . .

pages and pages and pages of writing from individual students!

Students conferencing with teachers in videos.

Students sharing what essay means to them.

Students sharing how their lives have changed.

Teachers sharing how their lives have changed.

An administrator sharing how the district has changed.

Summer week long writing institutes in the district.

Building trust.

Building communities.

Teachers doing the “writing work” expected of students.

The audience laughed.

The audience cried.

The audience applauded vociferously.

Transforming our thoughts, perhaps our future actions . . .

Essay with a capital “E”.

(NO five paragraph essays anywhere!)

Thank you, new friends from Blue Springs, MO!

What evidence of transformation?

Tweet 1:


Tweet 2:


Did you catch the date?  9-15-16

Not waiting for “routines” but beginning the year boldly with essay writing to allow student voice to “spill yourself onto the page”.

And a final piece of evidence . . . Margaret Simon’s post today found here.

The Transformative Power of Essay

Have you read The Journey is Everything?

bomer the journey is everything    Read it. Try writing an essay and then let’s talk!

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

Looking for more information?

Previous posts:

#DigiLitSunday:  The Journey is Everything!#DigiLitSunday:  The Journey is Everything!

Literacy Superheroes (I counted FIVE of these essayists + Katherine in the room!)

Photo Essay (another public  essay!)

A Favor – My essay (with a comment from Katherine Bomer – another fangirl moment)

And the common denominator for both poetry and Essay was Katherine Bomer!

No wonder they tied!

#NCTE16: Incredible Learning


When learning is in the very air that you breathe, it’s totally exhilarating. And that’s just a small piece of #NCTE16!

Session G12: Writing for a Better World:  Poetry Responses to World Events

I laughed.

I cried.

I read.

I wrote.

I learned.

This session should have been live streamed for educators around the world. Poetry is such an important part of the “meaning making” that we must construct of our daily lives.

if poetry is not a typical part of your repertoire, why not? Humor can add fun. Serious topics can add empathy. And above all, poetry can add truth to your life.

Check out this storify that introduces the folks at this session. In no way does it capture the essence of the conversations. That richness lies in the poetry of their talk.


Poetry – Do you need to add some to your life?

Do you need to add some to your teaching life?


Additional Poetry links from/about NCTE poetry presentations:

Poetry is Truth – Irene Latham

Risking Writing – Heidi and Mary Lee Hahn

Kate Messner – Collaborative Poetry Writing 

From our view together again at #NCTE


(Still practicing on “selfies”)

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 11 – Black and White


“I only read 76 wpm.”

“Why do you say ‘only’?”

“Because I didn’t do very well.”

“Why do you say that?

“Because I thought I was reading in order to remember so I could answer the questions.  But there weren’t any questions. Others read a lot faster than me.”

black and white


It’s a huge, huge area of conversation as students strive to meet the benchmarks set by the literacy screeners. All too soon the spring benchmarking period will be upon us.  What spring scores are you anticipating?  What does your instruction look like? What have you done to ensure success for your students? (Check here for the last post on a way to organize repeated reading.)

What do the standards say about fluency?

Here are the grade level standards for students in grade 3 for fluency:


Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.”

So what does this mean?

The grade level standard clearly states that a student will “read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.” And this language is repeated over and over. That seems so straight-forward and so black and white.  The goal is comprehension and both accuracy and fluency support comprehension.  No question there!

But what about RF3.4B?

It says “Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.” So students are to pay attention to “accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression” as they read the prose / poetry text on “successive readings”.

That also seems straight-forward and black and white.  All three terms are used frequently in fluency instruction and make sense.  There may be some variation in teacher’s use of “appropriate rate” – would that be “slow down on your first read to make sure you are accurately reading the text as printed” on the first read?  And then would there be an expectation that the rate would increase over time with practice?

Make sense?  What do you think?

So what’s the problem/issue?

1. How big of a deal is “rate”?  Is accuracy more important than rate?  

One of the major goals with assessing and instructing in fluency is to get to that “automaticity” level.  Students need to know many words instantly – there isn’t time or sufficient mental energy to decode every single word and put all the levels of comprehension together.  Tim Shanahan reports that Hasbrouck and Tindal are in the process of renorming and are looking at their current fluency rates and complex texts here.  Consider your purpose / goal in your work. If your plan is to allow students to be successful at a high level of accuracy AND rate AND expression, then you may choose to begin with easier texts so that students get the feel for “what fluent reading looks and sounds like”.  I like this quote from Diane, trainer for 95% Group, “You have to clean it up before you speed it up.”  I see no point in reading inaccurately at a fast rate.  That could be me. But accuracy is important to meaning so when would reading faster with more errors ever be acceptable?

2. What about the screener?  Why does it seem to privilege “rate” over “accuracy”?

The screener used three times a year records both accuracy and rate.  The median rate score out of three passages (each read orally for 1 minute), is used to determine whether the student meets the benchmark.  One score.  The median score. The correct words per minute from a timed one minute reading.  This is a “predictive score”.  The adults “get that”.

But in their hearts and brains and the minds and hearts of students, there is a disconnect. The screener does NOT align with the expectations of the ELA standards or the classroom instruction.  Not black.  Not white.  Gray zone.  “What am I supposed to do? Read for understanding?  Read for rate? How do I know?”

What is the answer for students?

Well, it depends.

This is the non-black as well as non-white step out into the gray zone. Fluency is a puzzle that is complicated.  Fluency is not the sum of all of its parts!  I believe you continually “nudge” the different characteristics to higher levels. This. Then this. Now this.

White:  Is it fluency according to the standards “accuracy and fluency to support comprehension” (and on successive readings or rereading as necessary)?

Black:  Is it fluency for the screening benchmarks “median rate in 1 minute of oral reading from three passages (3 x a year)”?

Is it gray:  Both?

What does fluency mean to you?  How would I know? 

“So open your book and read to me.”

 My child reads to me as I time his reading on my watch.  I’ve never timed his reading.  Is he really reading too slowly?  After a minute I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  There’s nothing wrong with his reading.  He truly did not know the purpose of his reading. Now what do I say?

“What do you think of your reading?

“I like reading to myself. Why do I have to read a test out loud? And why does anyone care how fast I read?”

Writing Process:   I had this piece in mind even as I wrote the post yesterday about repeated reading/fluency practice centers/volume of reading.  This is not an easy topic so I considered my audience and how to best convey this complicated issue.  I continue to believe that a question and answer format works best.  The idea of “black and white”  – that either /or helped me decide on a title and sent me in search of a graphic. I drafted and revised the central part of this post twenty-two times (# courtesy of WordPress).  And then I considered whether this was truly a slice.  That wondering caused me to add in both a new beginning and a new ending (an event that did happen – 18 years ago).

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

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