Wednesday, August 05, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - Solitaire on a Circle Game

I love to ask students to play games. Playing games is a great way to develop problem-solving skills as well as skills in reflection and persistence. While a lot of games can be played electronically these days, there is something to be said for actually sitting down on the floor with some kids and building structures, manipulating shapes, or rolling dice and moving pieces around a board. 
Strategy games are particularly good at helping develop problem-solving skills. I like games that  look simple, but require students to predict,  look for patterns, analyze mistakes, take risks, and learn through  failure. 

Students can play games against others or themselves. I like to have students begin with "solitaire" type  games or puzzles. After they have played several rounds or examples, I have them put their heads together and reflect on their strategies, failures, and successes.  Then I ask them to return to their games to try again.

One puzzle I like is called Solitaire on a Circle. It was conceived by Alexander Bogomolny, a mathematician and web developer who created this as a web-based puzzle. When Java applets were no longer supported on the web, I adapted the puzzle (with permission) for use in the classroom.  
Students look at the pattern in one of the example problems (there are 8 provided) and  place 10 two-color counters on the circle mat. The goal is remove all the counters from the circle. Students begin by removing one yellow counter. When they do this, they must flip any adjacent counters. Play continues  in this way until all counters have been removed or no remaining moves are possible.

If you want to try this with your students, you can download a PDF version for print and play. If you want to try a digital version, download a copy of these Google slides.

That's it for day 5 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - LEGO Ordinal Numbers Activity

I spent the 2019-2020 year on sabbatical in second grade. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best years I've spent in the classroom since moving to Richmond in 1994. I'm still mourning the loss of a full year with the kids, but I still learned so much. I will be forever grateful to the second grade team who became my friends and mentors.

One of the things I enjoyed about my time was creating activities for math instruction. They didn't always hit the mark, but I learned a lot from those experiences. One of the first activities we tried was a LEGO ordinal number activity. While planning for the unit, most of the resources we looked at were worksheets, but we wanted something that required them to apply their knowledge of ordinal numbers. 

The activity I developed required students to use LEGO bricks to build towers. Once the towers were assembled, students identified the color of bricks in certain positions. Here are some sample pages of the tasks and student recording sheets.



This was a very challenging activity early in the school year, particularly with the multi-step directions. There are 6 different task cards and a challenge activity, but most students only got through two examples during their partner work. I wish we could have revisited this later in the year as we continued to review concepts taught. I think student performances would have been different.

If you would like to try this with your students, you can download a PDF version. If you want to edit to change brick colors or numbers, you can download a Word version. All I ask is that you keep the attribution in place.

That's it for day 4 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share.

Monday, August 03, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - Visual Notebooks

In the spring of 2017 I decided to have students keep a visual notebook for a class assignment. Prior to this, other forms of journals or notebooks included interactive notebooks, double-entry journals, important books, and commonplace books.

I keep a visual notebook along with my students each semester. (I could call these sketchnotes, but because students also  solve problems and complete reflections in these notebooks, I was looking for a more comprehensive term.) Most students are overwhelmed by this assignment in the beginning, but they ultimately embrace the challenge and create notes that far outshine my own. This is particularly satisfying because many of them enter class with a fear of or dislike for mathematics. 

On the first day of class, students receive this visual notebook overview. 
Good mathematics teachers typically use visuals, manipulatives and motion to enhance students’ understanding of mathematical concepts. National organizations, such as the National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics (NCTM) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) have long advocated for the use of multiple representations in students’ learning of mathematics. However, for many students in mathematics classes, math is presented as an almost entirely numeric and symbolic subject, with a multitude of missed opportunities to develop visual understandings. 

Recent research indicates that teachers who emphasize visual mathematics and who use well-chosen manipulatives encourage higher achievement for students, not only in elementary school (Reimer, 2005) but middle school, high school and college (Sowell, 1989). 

To engage students in productive visual thinking, they should be asked, at regular intervals, how they see mathematical ideas, and to draw what they see. Drawing mathematical ideas helps mathematics users of any level, including mathematicians, to formulate ideas and develop understandings.

Studies show that we understand things more deeply when we see them from multiple perspectives. Drawing what you have understood from a reading passage, drawing the science experiment you have just done or drawing the detail of an autumn leaf are all examples of engaging with the same learning from a different angle. Compared with writing alone, adding drawings to notes to represent concepts, terms, and relationships has a significant effect on memory and learning (Wammes, Meade, & Fernandes, 2016). Additionally, the benefits of drawing were not dependent on the students’ level of artistic talent, suggesting that this strategy may work for all students, not just ones who are able to draw well.

Reimer, K. & Moyer, P. (2005). Third-graders learn about fractions using virtual manipulatives: A classroom study. Journal of Computers in Mathematics & Science Teaching; 24(1), 5-25.

Sowell, E. J. (1989). Effects of manipulative materials in mathematics instruction. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 20(5), 498.

Wammes, J.D., Meade, M.E., & Fernandes, M.A. (2016). The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(9)
I talk a bit about dual coding theory and explain to students that in the context of their own learning and development as a teacher that they must learn to embrace visual literacy as a way of knowing. We then watch the video below and practice making visual notes. We then share our notes and discuss the ideas that stood out for us and the ways we represented them.

Here's an example of my note page.
And here is what my students produced.



Students then receive this single point rubric to guide them as they complete their entries. I also share with them the page of resources devoted to visual notetaking on our class web site.
Students spend a lot of time stressing about the "art" aspects of the notebook. I try to encourage them to keep in mind that their notes are about ideas, not art. I tell them they do not need to be pretty or perfect. It's one of the reasons I notebook along with them, as I draw a lot of stick figures.

Students bring their notebooks to class each week and we begin class in small groups with students sharing and talking through their entries. In this way they are activating prior knowledge, reviewing the content from the previous week, and previewing the work to come. At the end of the semester, they complete a final notebook reflection on their big takeaways from the semester.

Here are some examples of those final entries.










This summer, even though my class was fully online, students still kept visual notebooks. They photographed and uploaded their images for review.  We didn't have opportunities to share and discuss them like I wanted, and I think this lack of sharing really impacted how students viewed their usefulness. I'm thinking hard about what this should look like in the fall and how I can continue to encourage students to doodle their way to understanding.

That's it for day 3 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - Digital Problem Solving Notebook

I have been teaching some version of a math methods course since I arrived at the University of Richmond in 1994. Over these years the course has changed many times in content and form. As new licensure requirements were recently enacted, we revised our elementary math sequence to include two courses instead of one. Here's the introduction from my syllabus that describes these two courses.
This course is the first in a two course elementary math methods sequence. Both courses offer an in-depth examination of fundamental mathematical concepts and subject-specific pedagogy while emphasizing and integrating state and national standards, problem-solving approaches, use of manipulatives and technology, current research, and learning theory. 
510U focuses on the content of whole numbers and their operations, algebraic thinking in the early grades, measurement, probability, and statistics. 
511U focuses on the content of rational numbers and their operations, algebraic thinking in the later grades, and geometry.  
510U focuses on the pedagogy of guided math, math discourse, and the standards of mathematical practice.
511U focuses on the pedagogy of differentiation and collaborative teaching strategies. It includes a supervised practical experience using a Response to Intervention (RTI) approach that emphasizes using data to make decisions based upon students’ needs, monitor progress, and develop individualized mathematical interventions.
I taught the class for the first time this summer. Because of COVID, it was fully online, a format for instruction I have long avoided. It was a rough 8 weeks. I've thought a lot about the  course and how I can improve upon it for the fall. As we prepare for the semester, the university has asked us to prepare all courses to be fully online, even if we are planning to meet face-to-face. Some students will be opting not to return to campus and will need to access our courses in the same way as students sitting in the  classroom. 

As part of this preparation, I've decided to move one of my traditional paper and pencil assignments to a digital format. I think this will be a good model for preservice teachers to explore as they think about how to deliver online instruction themselves.

I've created this notebook using Google Slides. I plan to use Alice Keeler's terrific Pile of Google Slides to push the notebook to students and update it. Currently, Part 1 of the notebook has 5 entries. Here's a preview.
These are just examples of the direction pages. The notebook opens with a problem solving autobiography assignment. Each week, students work on solving different problem types. Normally, or in pre-COVID days, I would introduce each problem type and solve an example aloud so students could understand my thought processes. Then, students would with a partner or small group to work through some examples together. During the next week, students would tackle more difficult problems on their own and reflect on the strategies they used, where they struggled, and how they worked through mistakes and challenges. When we returned to class the next week, we would debrief the problem type and start on a new one.

This summer my students kept traditional notebooks. We solved problems together on Zoom and they solved problems out of a packet of materials I sent them, but they had to photograph their work and upload the images each week. I think this was pretty cumbersome, so I'm hoping this digital notebook will be easier to use.

I hope others will find this useful. You can download a copy of Part 1 of the notebook. Please feel free to edit and adapt to your own needs.

That's it for day 2 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - So Much to Share

If you're new here and visiting because of #MTBoSBlaugust, welcome. 

I have been blogging here since November of 2006, so close to 14 years now. I am a teacher educator at the University of Richmond who focuses on preparing future elementary teachers in the areas of math and science (social studies too). In recent years this blog has focused on poetry and children's literature, but math and science are never far from my mind.  Here's a math poem I wrote last year.


During the 19-20 academic year I was on sabbatical in a Title I school working with second grade, where I spent a great deal of time creating math games and other resources for my kids. When school closed and we transitioned to virtual learning, I began to create activities using Google Slides and Drawings. My plan this month is to share some of my experiences and the resources I have created.

In the meantime, there are a few posts you might want to check out while you are here.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you'll come back this month to check out the resources I'll be sharing.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Poetry Sisters and Friends Write Etherees

This month's assignment was to write an etheree with the theme of foresight or summer or both! An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

I haven't been able to get the events that have unfolded since Memorial Day out of my mind, so my poem is really about current events.

A Pair of Etherees for Our Summer of Protest

blind
we were
unaware
so unprepared
for 2020
we rang in the new year
with exaltation, high hopes
but life spiraled out of control
we masked up, marched for George and black lives
determined to meet tomorrow with hope

hope
for change
for justice
for peace, we stand
united by loss
by incredulity
and unfathomable love
John Lewis led, so we follow
in his mighty footsteps we step out
to make good and necessary trouble

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. As usual, life has gotten in the way for some folks, but they'll be back for other challenges. 
If you’d like to write with us next month, the theme is hindsight and the challenge is to pick one of your old poems to revise and/or write a new poem in conversation with it. You may use any form you like. We will be posting on the last Friday of the month (August 28) and would love to have you join us.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Poetry Sisters Go Into the Woods

Tanita set our challenge this month, which was to write to the theme of susurrus or an image of thick woods, in whatever form we choose. For a minute I was completely freaked out by the thought that I had to use the word susurrus in my poem. Nope, not happening. I didn't even try. It's a fun word to say, and the kind that would make a line of iambic pentameter sing, but I just didn't have it in me to expend the time and energy to make it work. That means I decided to go with the woods.

The form I chose is the triolet. A triolet is an 8-line poem that uses only two rhymes throughout. The first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines, while the second line is repeated in the final (eighth) line. Because of this, only five different poetic lines are written.  The rhyme scheme for a triolet is ABaAabAB (where capital letters stand for repeated lines).

And guess what? As I wrote several different drafts, I actually found a way to incorporate susurrus (or a form of it), although I feel like this poem needs a glossary. Anyway, gauntlet thrown, challenge accepted, and completed! Here's my triolet.

Into the Woods
How baleful the thick night wood
marked only by slivers of light
the wolf to my red riding hood

How baleful the thick night wood
its susurrations misunderstood

As owls awake and take flight
how baleful the thick night wood
marked only by slivers of light

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
If you’d like to write with us next month, the challenge is to write an etheree with the theme of foresight or summer or both. We'll be posting on the last Friday of the month (July 31).

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Karen Eastlund at Karen's Got a Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Poetry Friday is Here!

Last year when the call went out for Poetry Friday hosts, I selected this date because I knew I would be knee deep in the classroom and anticipated this day would be at the end of my year in second grade. I never imagined it would end this way. And could you have imagined in January all that would occur in such a short span of time?

I wish I had the words to express how deeply saddened and angry I am about all that has happened and is still happening, not just since Memorial Day with the senseless killing of George Floyd, but for more days than I can count. My social studies methods class last night focused on the teaching of hard history and slavery. I'm not sure I did the topic justice in one 2 hour and  40 minute session, but  at least we began the conversation and talked about the importance of confronting our past and recognizing the impact it has on our present and future.

My writing has been dark and sad. It lacks hope, but I keep writing. My first poem in the summer poetry swap went to Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town and was entitled In the Shadow of Violence and Oppression. It was a found poem inspired by current events and was created using lines adapted and modified from The Poisonwood Bible, the story of a missionary family who move from Georgia to the Belgian Congo in 1959. You can read it here if you are interested. I wrote several draft poems using language from this text, including the one below.

The poem I'm sharing today is a golden shovel that uses the lines "Do I dare/Disturb the universe?/In a minute there is time" from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot.

It was one thing I was able to do 
hold a sign, hold a hand. 
wanted to do more, but did not dare
too afraid to offend, too weak to disturb.
As lives turn inside-out and upside-down, the 
world turns uneasily, barreling through the universe.
Here in my city, in
this former confederate stronghold, a
glimmer of hope sparked for a minute
but it did not last, could not take root where there
are towering statutes to pain, to our ugly history. Is
this a battle we can win? I hope so. It's long past time.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today. I'm rounding things up old-school style, so please leave a comment and I'll add you to the post. 

**********
In  Tribute
Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today's Little Ditty shares a memorial to her dear friend Carrie Clickard.

Original Poetry
Laura Purdie Salas shares a poem on eve of her daughter's wedding entitled I Need You Need Me.

Robyn Hood Black of Life on the Deckle Edge is sharing a found poem collage entitled Keep in Balance.  

Janice Scully of Salt City Verse has some clerihews for us.

Linda Mitchell  of A Word Edgewise is sharing a found poem entitled This is What Listening Looks Like.

Sally  Murphy shares her poem Orange Cats in a lovely, narrated video form.

Charles Waters rounds up all the amazing poetry happenings in his world AND shares an original poem.

Michelle Kogan shares a poem for Father's Day entitled Father's Perseverance.

Carmela Martino of Teaching Authors shares Trying Something New, a syllable-square poem in the "In One Word" poetry form invented by April Halprin Wayland. 

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link shares a photo collage poem in the form of a golden shovel entitled Grandma Love.

Linda Baie of TeacherDance shares a poem entitled All Sides Are Slippery.

Bridget Magee shares many wee things today, including an original poem, a book 'wee-view', and a tiny word wee-source.

Molly Hogan of Nix the comfort zone shares a poem entitled Tabernacle.

Amy of Book Buzz shares a poem inspired by a favorite decorative item in her house.

Irene Latham of Live Your Poem shares her latest ArtSpeak: RED poem entitled "And this is where we shall meet."

Fran Haley of Lit Bits and Pieces shares a loop poem inspired by Margaret Simon's “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” prompt. 

Tim Kulp of Reflections Arc is sharing a poem in the form of a social media retelling of a myth.

Tim Gels of Yet There Is Method shares a poem entitled Feathers.

Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader shares A Poem For Three Baby Birds, written by her granddaughter.

Matt Forrest Esenwine shares his poem "Stumpfield Pond, 1975," which won the MacGregor Poetry Prize in 2019.  

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm shares a poem entitled "Here".

Carol of The Apples in My Orchard is sharing a number of pandemic haiku.

MSheehan of A Few Words is sharing a poem inspired by "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot.

Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche shares a found poem to celebrate Juneteenth.

Poems of Others
Karen  Eastlund is sharing a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Jama  Rattigan of  Jama's Alphabet Soup is sharing the poem  The Night of Corona by Ann Barber.

Little Willow is sharing the poem Wood. Salt. Tin. by Jane Hirshfield.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town shares a lovely bunch of poetry swap poems she received from Kat Apel, and some poetic words about statutes coming down. 

Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core shares the poem “Worth” by Marilyn Nelson.

Karen Edmisten is sharing Ross Gay's poem entitled "A Small Needful Fact." 

Poetry  Books
Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading shares an excerpt and thoughts about Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice.
**********
Happy poetry Friday all!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Poetry Sisters Look Back Again

This month the challenge was to pick an old poem to revise or write a new poem in conversation with it. I chose to revisit a poem I wrote last year that has not been shared.

My sisters may not know this, but I carry a great deal of guilt for killing our last crown sonnet project. All the momentum and excitement that was built was crushed when I couldn't figure out what to write or where to take my sonnet. I'd pull it out, wrestle with it, then quietly step away, just a little bit defeated. I did this for months, then I put it off. And put it off again for more than a year (15 months, actually). Here's a not-so-brief history of this effort, with a bit of commentary interspersed throughout the email trail. (Scroll to the bottom if you just want to read the poem.)

Friday, February 23, 2018 at 2:24 PM
And did you guys get the invite to the doc I opened for our end-of-year Crown Sonnet? My sonnet #1 is up there and Laura, you're next!

***** Sonnet 2 came in about one month later, so 30 days to write a sonnet seemed doable.*****

Monday, March 26, 2018 
11:47 AM - I'm not sure who's up after me - I have a quick sonnet up, and I think the final couplet will also remain the same, or at least mostly the same -- so whomever is up next can carry on. 
2:08 PM - Oh my god -- Laura -- this is SO EXCITING!!! Tanita -- I think you're our third poet.  
5:06 PM  - Laura, thank you for that final line... I'm not sure if I'll be able to continue to Seven Sisters mythology in the same way in my sonnet with it, but it certainly gives me somewhere definite to go! I'll try to do this relatively quickly, but I make no promises!
9:12 PM - I'm not sure who's up after me - I have a quick sonnet up, and I think the final couplet will also remain the same, or at least mostly the same -- so whomever is up next can carry on. 
9:55 PM -  First, I think Tricia is in charge of our 4th sonnet. But more importantly -- TANITA -- HOW DID YOU DO THAT SO QUICKLY? 
10:00 PM - I'm sorry. WHAT?!
*****I've left out a few of the more interesting/choice comments, but you get the drift. Tanita is a poetry machine and just like that I was on the hook, though I don't remember even looking at the poems  at this point.*****

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 
6:39 PM - Tricia -- You're next in line on our Crown sonnet! The first three are up on the doc. 
6:46 PM - Yikes!  I did not know I was next. I will take a look and get moving. Thank you for the reminder.
8:36 PM  - No worries -- we're in good shape and have plenty of time!
Thursday, May 17, 2018 
10:55 AM  - I'm afraid to know where I fall in the rotation. 
11:24 AM  - Well, funny you should mention that! Only the first four sonnets have been claimed:
  • Liz
  • Laura
  • Tanita
  • Tricia
Who will Tricia hand hers off to?? That remains to be seen! :)
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 6:05 PM
I will take the slot after Tricia for the Crown sonnet!

Friday, September 14, 2018 at 10:50 AM
I have been trying, and failing, at my turn at the crown sonnet. Help! Everything I try is too damn close to Tanita’s, and beyond telling the story of the sisters, I’m stuck, stuck, stuck. Here is Tanita’s final couplet and my first stanza.
We, moon to manhood’s sun? A specious lie!
Star make their own light, whole worlds beautify.

Stars make their own light, worlds they beautify
light years away and brighter than our sun
condensed from gas and dust they fill the sky
the lore they spark from ancient stories spun
I’m coming up blank on writing anything else about the 7 sisters. Should I write about other myths in the constellations? Should I focus on the science of stars? With December as our deadline and others still to write, I don’t want to hold us up any longer. Thoughts?

Saturday, September 15, 2018
2:23 PM - Tricia -- what about bringing us back to earth for awhile? Talking about human women?  
7:15 PM - Or talking about something unrelated for a bit. Or the difficulty of sisterhood. Or the struggle of being stuck in place. Or or or 
10:26 PM - I like the idea of sharing a story of other famous female friendship or sisterhoods. Or other things beautified or enhanced by a simple thing. Think prisms making rainbows: a mere bend in the light... Catalysts. A tiny winged seed, a giant redwood; a flickering spark becoming a towering flame...
You've got this!
*****Nearly six months after the partial crown was handed off, I finally reached out for help and got great advice, most of which I tried, and none of which helped me get over the hump.*****

Monday, October 8, 2018 
3:41 PM - And we know how I’m floundering with my part of the crown. I’ll see what I can get out by week’s end. I’m heading to a conference, so I’m hoping for some time to write. It’s actually what I do when the sessions are less than helpful.

4:09 PM - We all need something to do at conferences when sessions are "less than helpful." God knows. 
4:12 PM - This is what I used to do in boring high school classes.  I wrote more there than at home. Sometimes I think we should teach poetry as a rebel act, yes?
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 
7:32 PM - Hello friends... I fear we may have run out of time on our crown sonnet. The first Friday of the month is the 7th. Any chance, or no way? 
8:00 PM - I feel terrible that I’ve let you all down here.
Can we add this to next year’s list for February or March? (Assuming we want to continue this crazy, lovely, fun writing together.) 
8:08 PM - I don't feel let down AT ALL!! Yes, let's bump it a few months.  
9:09 PM - I second not feeling let down. No way I could pick up whatever Tricia puts down by the 7th, so yes, let's push it to next year!
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 12:19 PM
As always, I wake up and the Mid/East Coast contingent has worked it all out. Well done, the lot of you. And I add myself to the not disappointed and gleeful we have an excuse to continue next year group!

Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 9:19 PM
Because I don't want anyone stuck or unawares, we've rescheduled the crown for March. If that feels way too soon, I'm happy to swap my two months and we could share the crown in July. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 3:40 PM
ALSO, I've bumped the Crown Sonnet down to April -- March seemed unrealistic -- so we need someone to assign us something for March now.

Friday, February 22, 2019 at 12:43 PM
Also, not to be bossy but, how's the Crown Sonnet coming? Do we need to scratch it and start something new? I understand if that's the case!!!

Friday, March 1, 2019 
6:47 PM - And this is your friendly reminder that the crown will post in August. 
7:13 PM - I'll admit to moving it to August. I'm still struggling.
Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 7:49 AM
Ha ha ha -- I LOVE that you moved the crown! 
I thought we'd had it in April and then I was like, maybe I moved it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 4:15 PM
...BTW, how is the Crown coming? Just a gentle reminder that August Is Coming (Winter having come/gone.)

Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 11:12 PM
Okay, I’ve written 4 skinny poems. This means that during tomorrow’s car ride I WILL finish my part of the crown. Perhaps we can back it up another month??????

*****I was still full of big promises at this point, but still couldn't get it done.*****

Friday, June 28, 2019 
3:36 PM - Meanwhile, August's crown sonnet is coming! Are we going to need to just move that to December and be done with it?  
4:12 PM - I fear I may have railroaded folks into the Crown this time around. Shall we ditch it and just come up with something new? I'm FINE with that -- I don't want anyone feeling horrible pressure because what's the point??? 
10:40 PM - Thanks for these reminders. I’m fine if we drop the crown sonnet, if it provides relief to others. No way we get there by August since I haven’t even gotten it yet, and I think there are one or two people after me...
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 
8:38 AM - Alas, Tanita called it the poem that would not be written. I still only have 4 lines on my part of the crown. I hate to give up entirely for the year, so perhaps shuffle it off again, or maybe post in January?
1:58 PM - I'm fine for pushing the Crown till Nov, Dec, Jan -- UNLESS you all would rather ditch it! Honestly, I'd understand! 
2:30 PM - I'm fine to ditch or to not ditch the Crown - I'm entirely at the group's disposal. 
6:05 PM - I am going to jump in and say that I think we should drop the crown. I think it’s not wanting to be done. Just my two cents and I will happily change my mind if need be.
Monday, July 8, 2019 at 12:36 PM
Subject: The Sonnet that will not be written - IS WRITTEN!
Well, it appears all I needed was fresh mountain air and time to write to finally, finally write a sonnet. PHEW! I don’t know who’s next, but here’s my final couplet:

As galaxies and stars are formed anew
Will gazing at the sky change our world view?

Just a thought, since our last crown debuted in January, should we shoot for that? I don’t want to pressure anyone into a timeline. Lord knows I took forever.

Monday, July 8, 2019 
10:12 PM - Next up is me. Not sure who comes after. 
11:01 PM - Oh my goodness! This actually thrilled me more than I expected it to! OK, so....
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 
8:45 AM   - We need to arrange the next several months. Can we bump up Sept, Oct, and Nov? And then shall we do the Crown in December? You all tell me!
9:56 AM - I haven't been weighing in, since my part is finished. But I'm so pleased to see it rolling along again :>)
Monday, October 14, 2019 at 1:39 PM
And then it's the crown sonnet next! Where is that, anyway? If it's more than two people away from being completed, maybe we should kick it to 1/2020 and do a December ekphrastic? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 
1:01 PM - I feel like we should probably put that Crown Sonnet to bed -- it doesn't seem to have ever really caught fire, right?  
2:43 PM  - If even one of us is breathing a sigh of relief at the idea of not doing a crown, then maybe we shouldn't. This wasn't ever meant to be an un-fun challenge.
*****And so, after keeping everyone on tenterhooks for months on end, we finally gave it up.*****

Who among us would have imagined that writing about stars and mythology would be harder than the writing about the periodic table? Needless to say, I've been angst-ing (that's a word, right?) about my failure to hold up my part of this project for ages. Since this poem hasn't seen the light of day (I'm not even sure my sisters have read it), I thought I'd revisit the draft and fine tune it a bit. The first line of the poem comes from the last line of the poem Tanita wrote.

Untitled Sonnet, 4th in a Never-Was Crown on the Pleiades

     Stars make their own light, worlds they beautify
     through space and time their photons reach the Earth
     but more than this connects us to the sky
     star dust the stuff of everything that’s birthed

     Each atom, every molecule comes from
     the residue of an exploding star
     that violence should kindle this outcome
     ignites our quest to know just who we are

     Star watchers look to constellations old
     seek truth in myth and ancient stories spun
     find clues to grand design and truths foretold
     in times of love and loss, we come undone

     As galaxies and stars are formed anew
     will gazing at the sky change our world view?

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Before I send you off to our Poetry Friday host, I do have one more thing to share with all the poetry friends who have seen our Poetry Sisters posts for so many years. After more than a decade of writing together and several years of monthly assignments, we wondered if any of you might like to play along? Here's what we propose: 

Once we agree to our poetic prompts and calendar, we'll share them with you and invite you to write and share, too. We'll remind you once a month or so (via our various social media megaphones) and you're welcome to tag us (or not) when you post.

Now, to that end, here's what's cooking for June, posting on the last Friday of the month: theme is susurrus, or an image of thick woods, whatever form we wish! Will you join us? We'd love to have you.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

NPM 2020 - The Beginning and the End

It's the last day of April, the last of National Poetry Month. I started on this journey thinking about all the places I'd like to go in a time when we are staying in and staying home. Pictures of those places served as inspiration for my poems. At the end of this month I'm thinking back to beginnings and to one of the places that is in my thoughts every day, and one I desperately miss.
Longdale Elementary School, Glen Allen, VA  
September, 2019

It started out so well
a dream really
back to school
every day a teacher's life
until it all came crashing down

I miss the early mornings
late afternoons
greeting kids at breakfast
lunch in the cafeteria
waving goodbye to their buses

I miss the gap-toothed smiles
the eye-rolling
the unicorns (everywhere on everything)
I miss the high fives
the fist bumps
but mostly the hugs

I miss what was
wonder what might have been
mourn for what will never be
and want it back
each minute we've missed
since the doors were
shuttered

I long for a do-over
a time-machine
to take me back to
that first day
before I fell in love
and had my heart broken

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for this year's NPM project. I can't thank you enough for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

NPM 2020 - Scooters

It could have been any city street, crowded with traffic and pedestrians on the sidewalks. But the signs and multitude of scooters reminded us we weren't in an American city.

Taipei city streets, Taipei, Taiwan  
May, 2007

scooters everywhere
racing taxies and buses
forgive me, I'll walk

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NPM 2020 - LOVE Sculpture

Today, versions of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture can be found all around the world, but it didn't originate as a sculpture. It was actually an image for the MOMA Christmas card in 1965.  In 1970, the first sculpture was made and displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In 1973, the image appeared on a postage stamp.
LOVE Sculpture outside Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan  
May, 2007

With apologies to the Beatles ...

All you need is love
truth
spoken
and
heard
truth
lived
and
learned
truth
Love is all you need

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2020

NPM 2020 - The Great Wall

When I went to China I was particularly excited about seeing the Great Wall. About 50 miles from Beijing, this section was built around 1505 and was restored in the 1950s and 1980s. You can imagine the disappointment as we headed out on a most rainy and foggy day to make our visit.

Today's poem is a cherita. A cherita is a poem that tells a story and  consists of a one-line stanza, followed by a two-line stanza, and then finishing with a three-line stanza.


Badaling section of the Great Wall, Yanqing District, China  
May, 2007

underneath umbrellas

we approached the wall
turn left or right, which path to take?

we skipped the crowds
did not regret
the harder climb

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

NPM 2020 - Roller Coasters

I love roller coasters. My son is often my partner in crime and will ride the craziest of coasters with me. Sometimes I get a bit nervous waiting for the ride, but once it's over, I'm ready to do it all again.
Fahrenheit roller coaster in Hershey Park, Hershey, PA
July, 2018

hold on to your hat
that first drop is a doozy
once is not enough

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

NPM 2020 - Ducklings

In the courtyard of my mother's nursing home is a small pond. A while back a duck and her ducklings took up residence. My mother loved to sit outside and watch them.
Small pond at  St. John's Home, Rochester, NY
July, 2018
man-made pond hosts ducks
off course and out place, but
ducklings bring a smile

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2020

NPM 2020 on Poetry Friday - Poetry Sisters Write Skinny Poems

The challenge this month was to write a skinny poem with the theme of foresight (again) or spring, or both. A skinny poem consists of eleven lines. Lines 1 and 11 can be any length and line 11 must use the same words from line 1, though they can be rearranged. Lines 2, 6, and 10 must be identical. And finally, what makes this poem skinny, is that fact that all lines except for 1 and 11 (the first and last) may be only ONE WORD LONG. You can learn more about the form at The Skinny Poetry Journal.

In my initial drafts I pretty much failed this challenge as it related to theme, but I did manage a few relative to form. I did write a skinny poem for my mom earlier this week with a reference to spring. You can read it in Monday's post NPM 2020 - From the Window.  I did finally sit down to write at least one on point. Here are several offerings.

Skinny 1
I come from
where
mom
knows
best,
where
family’s
first.
Love’s
where
I come from.
Skinny 2
My favorite flowers are
tulips.
Brightly
colored
show-offs,
tulips
herald
spring’s
arrival.
Tulips
are my favorite flowers.

Skinny 3
My heart breaks
inside.
Pandemic
isolation
sucks!
Inside
social
distancing,
staying
inside
breaks my heart

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Christie Wyman at Wondering & Wandering. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

NPM 2020 - By the River

I've mentioned more than once my love for the mountains. As I reflect on the poems I've written so  far this month, more than a few have been inspired by mountain settings. This one is no different. My sweet friend Christen took me to her family's cabin as a birthday treat two summers ago. The river just outside the front door was ice cold, but oh so refreshing.

Today's poem is written in rhyme royal, which is a seven-line stanza in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme a/b/a/b/b/c/c.
Conway River, Standardsville, VA
August, 2018

Such happy hours spent along this bank
two barefoot wading downstream tossing stones
with hands cupped sure we bent and scooped and drank
post hike a dip helped soothe our weary bones
a perfect day without our ringing phones
a day along the river can't be beat
but time spent with a friend is just as sweet 

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

NPM 2020 - Missing Baseball

It really doesn't feel like spring, not without baseball. We've missed the anticipation and excitement of opening day. I'm missing cheering against the Yankees. I missing attending the games of our local AA team. I missing the the clink of a bat hitting a ball and the loudspeaker echoing through the neighborhood as the UR team plays not far from my backyard. I so miss baseball.

Today's poem is a  Zeno. The  Zeno, a form invented by J. Patrick Lewis, is a 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd.
Nationals Park, Washington,  DC 
September,  2016

Bottom of the ninth, need one out
wind up, fast ball,
strike one!
Crowd
roars approval.
Batter
cowed,
strikes two and three!
Fans stand
proud.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

NPM 2020 - Studio Row

I've written before about my love for Nimrod Hall as a writer's retreat. Each of my experiences there occurred during an artist's retreat. On the final night of retreat, the artists open their studios and rooms and showcase the work they have done throughout the week. Now, I have not done any painting since elementary school art class, but in recent years it's become something I'd like to try.
   
Studio Row at Nimrod Hall,  Bath County, VA
July, 2019

mountain
retreat beckons
ignites the artist's zeal
to set to canvas, color, light,
and life

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2020

NPM 2020 - From the Window

On Easter Sunday my brother and his wife, my niece and her husband, and my grand niece stood in the park across the street from my mother's nursing home while holding signs and waving. I'd give anything to be in that park right now.
   
The view of Highland Park from St. John's Home (6th floor), Rochester, NY
April 2018 and March 2019

A Skinny Poem for My Mom

She sees you.
It’s
her
favorite
view.
It’s
spring
outside.
Today
it’s
you she sees

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

Here's the Easter Sunday view from the park. That's my mom looking out. (Thanks to Cathy Stohr for the photo.)

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

NPM 2020 - Rooftops

In 2007 I traveled with faculty colleagues to Taiwan, China, and Tibet. The trip was life-changing. I met so many kind people, saw so many incredible historical places, and had experiences I won't forget. Even in some of the grandest places, my eyes were drawn to features and minor details that can  sometimes be overlooked.
The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
May, 2007

all over China
my eyes were drawn
to rooftops
but no more-so than in
the Forbidden City
the golden eaves
the dragons
all declared
this space was not for
ordinary people

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

NPM 2020 - Desert Cactus

After many years of teaching about desert ecosystems and the adaptations of the plants and animals that live there, I finally get to experience the wonder and beauty of the desert for myself.
Prickly Pear at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, AZ
February 2020

Who knew there was so much beauty
in a humble prickly pear?
The colors beg you draw nearer,
while the spines warn you away.
Live a little!
It's worth the sharp sting
to taste the sweet and tart.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2020

NPM 2020 on a Poetry Friday - In the Garden

I  love gardens. I suppose that's because  I have a black thumb and am enamored of things  I can't grow.  When I travel, I particularly like to visit botanical gardens and take in the local flora  (and sometimes fauna as well).  I'm  also quite fond of the gardens in my own backyard. Not my literal backyard, but my city.
February, 2020

field trip in February
sweet and silly eight year olds
undeterred by rain
smiles all around
and love--big, big love

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Molly Hogan at Nix the comfort zone. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

NPM 2020 - Golden Gate

A few days after my high school graduation I was in the hospital having reconstructive surgery on my ankle (gymnastics injury). Shortly after I came home, I got on my first plane (Continental Airlines) and flew to San Francisco. My aunt and uncle living in Walnut Creek, CA sent me the plane ticket as a graduation gift. While there I took in everything I possibly could. I remember being incredibly disappointed that it was so foggy on the day of our visit to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
July, 1983

rising through the fog
orange vermillion towers
span the golden strait

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2020. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me again tomorrow.