Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - Birthdays and Beginnings

I've always hated birthdays. Mine was yesterday. There was no party (thankfully), just some time with family and a nice dinner out. I always regretted having a summer birthday as a child, feeling I was missing out on celebrating with friends in school. Ever since going college I've lived my life according to a different academic calendar, so now my birthday usually comes at the beginning of the fall semester. Hey, you get what you wish for. Now I am in school for my birthday and wish that my summer birthday came just a bit earlier!

Today I'm thinking about birthdays and beginnings. What will this new year bring? Let's write about that. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Poetry Stretch Results - Back to School

The challenge last week was to write about going back to school. Here are the results.
by Kate Coombs of Book Aunt

Left flip-flop cracked,
with tar on the back.
Right flip-flop sandy,
smeared with cotton candy.

Left school shoe shines,
ready to stand in line.
Right school shoe grins,
set to walk in.

--Kate Coombs, 2010, all rights reserved

by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm

I'm ready to be a grade older.
I'm ready to ride the bus.
I'm ready to meet my teacher.
(I hope she's ready for us.)
I'm ready to use these pencils.
I'm ready to make new friends.
I'm a little bit sad
but I'm ready.
Summer always ends.

© Amy LV

by Carol Weis

Hey look at me,

Sneakers all tied,
Smile’s this wide.

How can that be?
Will anyone see?

That I’m just some fool
Who thinks school is real cool!
Carol Weis © 2010

by Judy Beck

My teacher at school doesn’t like me.
She hasn’t a reason I’m sure.
My personality is delightful.
My manner is simply demure.

In the class I do everything perfect.
In math I am really a star.
When it comes to language and writing,
I’m better than the others by far.

But my teacher at school doesn't like me,
And for what reason I haven't a clue.
You should see how I truly help her.
You should see all that I do.

If she struggles when she is teaching,
She knows that I’ll kindly step in.
And of course I’m there to remind her,
If she ever does it again.

I’m also helpful at recess.
I tell her what others do wrong—
If they are breaking the rules, or fighting,
Or simply not getting along.

But my teacher at school doesn’t like me,
And she hasn’t a reason I’m sure.
Since I’m not the one with a problem,
It’s obvious that it must be her.

Judy Beck - all rights reserved
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - The Big Yellow Bus is Back

This morning as I headed out for the first day of the fall semester, the big yellow monsters were out making trial runs. While you may still be enjoying the last few days of August, summer is officially over for me. Some of you reading this may even be back at school as well. 

Let's write about school or going back to school. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - Same Sound, Different Meaning

Homonyms, homophones, homographs ... what's the difference? I learned the word homonym in grade school for words that sound the same but have different meanings. You can find a nice discussion at

Why the ruminations? After reading a poem by Brenda Hillman I started thinking about the interesting ways a poem could be constructed with such words. Here's an excerpt of the poem.
Cleave and Cleave
by Brenda Hillman

The lifeguards have gone in for the season;
their stilted chair
still looks out like an egret on the strip of sand
that's cluttered with artifacts; one thong,
sun-lotion bottles, the sunken
pockets of fottsteps filled with trash.
I stop on the cliff and stare down at the lake
that builds its private character in the off-season,
imagine sunbathers skiing now,
taking their introverted goldness
down the bright slopes.

In the parking lot,
a young couple embraces, coming from
the shoulders of the lawn with picnic remnants,
and finding their Buick he presses her against it
and she tilts her sun hat toward him so it
catches the light like a last
phase of the moon--she knew
it would do that--

Read the poem in its entirety.
What can you do with words that sound the same but have different meanings? That is your challenge. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days

I've come to rely on Bruce Goldstone's books Great Estimations (2006) and Greater Estimations (2008) for teaching students about number sense and quantitative estimation. I'm thrilled he's added a new title to his growing collection of math books. 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days will also be useful for the study of number sense and offers suggestions for celebrating the 100th day of school that extend well beyond traditional counting activities.

As a writer and photo stylist, Goldstone has created an amazing array of images in support of his imaginative ideas. Here's an excerpt of ideas from the middle of the book.
Flip 100. (46) Flip a coin 100 times. How many times will it land heads up?
Clip 100. (47) Clip together 100 paper clips.
Clap 100. (48) Clap 100 times.
Tip 100. (49) Line up 100 dominoes and then tip them over.
The activities recommended by Goldstone can be easily carried out at home or in the classroom. They don't require fancy or expensive materials, will keeps kids engaged, and will provide a springboard for brainstorming additional activities involving 100.

This one is going straight to the top of the the thematic book list for the 100th day of school. Strongly recommended.

Book: 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days
Author/Illustrator: Bruce Goldstone
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: August 2010
Pages: 48 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 978-0805089974
Source of Book: ARC picked up at the ALA Conference in June.

In the states where the school year often begins after Labor Day, the 100th day generally falls close to Valentine's Day (snow days not withstanding), so you've got plenty of time to prepare. Here are some additional resources that will help you plan for the 100th day of school. 
This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week are Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Monday Poetry Stretch - How to Listen

There's something about spending nights at the beach, windows open with the sound of the waves rushing endlessly in and out. I could have done without the constant roar of fighter planes overhead, but there were quiet and peaceful moments. Some days I think we forget how to listen and just be in the stillness or cacophony of the world. It's not just the sound of the world I love, but the sound of poetry in all it's rhythms, rhymes, meters, assonance, consonance, and well, the list is endless. 

While we often write about what we see, my experience at the beach reminds me that sometimes we need to write what we hear. So, your challenge is to write about what you hear in your world. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.