Tag Archives: poetry

#DigiLitSunday: Digital Poetry

Screenshot 2017-04-08 at 6.51.19 PM.png

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!


What thoughts run through your mind when you hear the word “poetry”?


Love Poetry?

Hate Poetry?

Like to read it?

Hate to write it?


Those thoughts are probably directly connected to your previous experiences.  If you remember “being required” to write in iambic pentameter for example, you might not be on the “love” side.  If you believed that free verse or the way poetry “looked” was as important as what it said like Anastasia Krupnik, poetry may not have been your favorite writing unit. (Creativity week excerpt from Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik here)  Encountering a real-life Mrs. Westvessel may have harmed the poetry writer in you.  But don’t despair! You can still read, write and enjoy poetry and yes, even change your attitude about poetry!

poetry two

April is National Poetry month.  I hope that poetry is embedded into your English Language Arts work every month of the year because poetry is included in CCSS.Reading Anchor 10.  April might just be that month to “Celebrate” the joy of poetry and turn to poetry writing as another way for students to share specific work with language, rhyme and rhythm.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has a whole month of celebration going on that includes song at Poetry Farm here.  Continue to scroll down the left hand side of her blog for the vast resources available including the Poetry Friday links.

Mary Lee Hahn at Poetrepository is another great source of poetry ideas for teachers and students. Her April Po-emotions series is quite fun!

Steve Peterson also is posting poems here at Inside the Dog. 

One of my favorite posts from Reading At the Core is this one featuring Walt Whitman.

poetry three

Who are some of your favorite poets?

What poetry anthologies do you recommend?

Are you celebrating Poetry Month?

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 23 – Visual Poetry

During the weekend’s challenge to read and comment on 60 posts, I ran across a new app – Visual Poetry:  Word Collage for $1.99 in ITunes.

Here’s what I created for today!


Made with Visual Poetry by ImageChef on the iPad

Check out the multiple ways that you can read the message.  Which do you prefer?

Reading the words in white?  or in black?


Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

SOL 14: Back to School

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.


It’s back to school time for many teachers this week in Iowa.

What does that mean?

Well, lots of meetings and professional development for one thing.  But also the culmination of lots of planning for teachers.  Many teachers have been reviewing and polishing their lessons from last year.  Others have attended professional development locally or even in such far away places as New York City for the #TCRWP Writing Institute.

What blogs would be good to review now?

The Blog-a-Thon at Two Writing Teachers for the last week focused on building classroom routines for both reading and writing workshops.  That link was for Tara’s first post about Writing Notebooks.  And here is the recap for the week if you want to pick and choose your topics. What routines do you establish with your students to move them to the “independent” stage?  What new routines do you plan to add this year?


What quotes are you going to hold on to as the year begins?

Lucy Calkins:  June and August Reading Institute 2014

“To lift the level of reading you are teaching, you must work on your own reading. Outgrow yourself as a reader. Start today.”

“ We are no longer teaching information, but teaching students to sort, understand and make something out of the information that is at their fingertips.”

From Brooke Geller and the July TCRWP Reading Institute:

Richard Allington:  “Many of our readers are over taught and under practiced.”

From Mr. Minor at the August TCRWP Reading Institute:

“Don’t slow down for struggling readers. Projects disrespect. Keep pace high with repetitions.”

(All of these tweets were also found n Twitter.  Just one more reason for you to check out #TCRWP this week during the August Reading Institute!) 🙂


What do those quotations have in common?
What is different about them?
Which two would you choose to compare and contrast?


What are you planning for/ holding onto as you begin this new school year?


Back to School

New room

New students

New teacher

Excited to learn!







Books on shelves

Books in tubs

Books on spinners

Books everywhere.


The bell rings.

Students race in.

Excited voices

Eager to tell their stories.



three letters

letter formation
in capitals –
stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick
straight lines and angles.
in lower case –
stick, stick, stick, curved, stick, stick, stick
lines, angles and curves.

rhymes with
and met

in #WRRD
for visible thinking

Yet for students:
Confidence and purpose.
Encourages goal setting
and a plan to reach goals.
Honors all student processing.
Becomes a way of life –
a mindset.
Changes possible
trajectory of students.
Means not right now,
Creates hope.
Know that they won’t
run out of time.

Yet for teachers:
Gives us room
to expand and / or
Adjust our teaching and thinking.
A way to show students
we want to stand by them
and we will help them get there.

Lets students and teachers
grow and learn,
Bets on students and teachers
to do the best that they can, so
All have met the power
of a growth mindset
with multiple materials
and multiple opportunities
“Yet” opens doors that “can’t” wants to close.




What does the word “yet” mean to you?


[Tweets that were used for the creation of this content poem can be found here.  Thank you Dorothy Barnhouse and Kylene Beers for your illuminating quotes during our 04.22.14 Twitter book chat (#WRRDchat) discussing What Readers Really Do!]

This is my celebratory 100th post with over 25,000 hits since October of 2012!  Thank you, READERS!


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