My Third of Eight Poems

I swear, this poem is the story of my life. I am constantly making copies, coming back to my room, putting them down, and promptly forgetting where they are. I end up slowly getting my kids started while I walk around the room, hiding my panic, but eyes darting everywhere looking for that ever-elusive pile! I usually end up finding it, but I know the kids see right through my act. :)

Spelling Test/Lost Copies

While I hand out the lined paper, please number your papers 1-22

for our spelling test.

Where are the spelling lists? I know they are around here somewhere

Remember to write neatly. You should include your heading.

We will start in one minute.

I have no idea where the lists are! I know i copied them. I came back in here afterwards.

Where could they be? Did I put them on the shelf?

Yes, we are starting in one minute. I am just giving everyone a second to number their paper fully.

I know I always start right away, John. Today I am waiting.

WHERE ARE THEY? I can’t just make up spelling words. And the kids clearly know I am stalling.

That I am bluffing. Where could they…….

There they are! Phew!

Number one is monstrous….

Thank goodness.

I will definitely pay more attention the next time I put down copies.

Number 2, disastrous.

My Second of Eight Poems

In My Backyard

Sitting at my back doors

I watch as nature comes to my doorstep,

feeding on suet, thistle, and wild bird seed.

Tiny thistle seeds overflow the bird feeder.

The shy goldfinch couple timidly grips the wire feeder,

leaping into flight at the smallest movement

or noise.

The noisy chickadees peck at the seeds

that have fallen to the ground,

fighting over them with the mourning doves.

The cardinal couple regally hops along the patio,

pecking at stray seeds and suet,

dropped by the others.

The noisy bluejay squawks his annoyance

at not being able to grip the feeder

with his oversized feet.

On the roof, a wily squirrel plots

his breaking and entering…

how will he manage to get the seed from the bird feeder this time?

Maybe I have finally outsmarted him, I think.

Watching out my back windows,

it amazes me just how much of nature

is right in my own

townhouse backyard,

small as it may be.

Feeding the birds in my small backyard is one of my favorite hobbies. It’s so much fun to sit and watch the various species as they fly among the trees and bushes, making a quick pit stop at the feeders or on the ground. Until I put up my bird feeders, I didn’t realize how many different types of birds where right here in my own neighborhood! Now if I could just manage to outsmart that stinkin’ squirrel!

Music on Poetry Friday

I decided to share some song lyrics for this week’s Poetry Friday. This was one of my favorite songs in college and I heard it on the radio on my drive to school this morning. It’s a great song about moving forward in life while still remembering the good times.

In This Diary
by The Ataris

Here in this diary,
I write you visions of my summer.
It was the best I ever had.
There were choruses and sing-alongs,
and that unspoken feeling
of knowing that right now is all that matters.
All the nights we stayed up talking
listening to 80’s songs;
and quoting lines from all those movies that we love.
It still brings a smile to my face.
I guess when it comes down to it…

Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up
These are the best days of our lives.
The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you’ll finally get it right.

Breaking into hotel swimming pools,
and wreaking havoc on our world.
Hanging out at truck stops just to pass the time.
The black top’s singing me to sleep.
Lighting fireworks in parking lots,
illuminate the blackest nights.
Cherry cokes under this moonlit summer sky.
2015 Riverside, it’s time to say, “goodbye.”
Get on the bus, it’s time to go.

Poetry Friday

Today I announced Poetry Friday to my classes. I explained that is it done online each week and that we will be bringing into our classroom from now on. We worked with two poems today- one for our poetry and one for our reading strategy lesson. The kids really enjoyed it and seemed enthusiastic about making Poetry Friday a weekly occurrence! I am very happy and already planning what we will do next Friday.

Today’s reading strategy lesson focused on reading difficult text. I had the students read “Don’t Go Gentle into that Dark Night” by Dylan Thomas. They read it once, then rated their understanding on a scale of 1-10. They highlighted parts that confused them (some highlighted the whole thing!), and circled words and phrases they understood. They repeated these steps twice more, for a total of 3 readings. After finishing, they answered a few questions about the process- how they felt, how their thinking and reading changed over the course of the three readings, and any questions they still had. I gave them very little background on the poem and sent them to work. At the end, about half of each class decided the poem was about death. We discussed reading and rereading for difficult text and how it helped them. I then told them that another strategy for reading difficult text is to get background information. At that point, I told them the poem was written about Thomas’ ill father, before his death. All of a sudden, a collective lightbulb went off- they got it! Immediately, a hand went up. When I called on the student, she said, “Ms. Readingzone…..this poem is so sad. And I didn’t even know that until I reread it and got background information!” It was a great feeling. :)

Do not go gentle into that good night

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.

Poetry Friday

Solstice Revisited- J. Barrie Shephard

They used to claim the sun stood still
for a day, this time of year, then turned around
and headed back to greener, warmer climes.
But now, knowing–alas–so much more,
we realize that nothing stands still, ever.
And that those who try are doomed, nevertheless,
just like the rest of us, to whirling on
and on until we join again this spinning dust
the stars are made from, in its voyage round
the swirling curves of spiraled space and time.

I held my second Poetry Friday in my class this week. We had poems ranging from Shel Silverstein to Robert Frost. The kids begged to have our “Poetry Museum”, where the walk around the room reading each other’s poems. It’s wonderful watching these 6th graders wander the room, taking in all kinds of poetry and new poets. We then share our favorite poems and discuss everyone’s choices for that month. It’s a wonderful day!

Poetry Friday

It’s been snowing here, on and off, for about 48 hours.  We only have a dusting, but the kids and I have been hoping for a snow day soon.  I stumbled on this Billy Collins poem and love it! 

Snow Day
by Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

 Read the rest here… 

Where I’m From

This summer, I learned about something called “Where I’m From” poems on the RealWritingTeachers yahoo group. I was intrigued and decided to give them a shot this year. The beginning of the school year is always chaotic because our team doesn’t switch classes until the second week (we are departmentalized) and we are constantly interrupted. I don’t like to jump into anything other than routines and procedures until we are past all that. I decided the poems would be a great way to introduce writing and get a nice Back to School Night display.

I was SHOCKED at how well this went. My 6th graders immediately dove into the project once I showed them the format and my own example. I tweaked a worksheet I found online to make it a fill-in-the-blank for the rough draft. After revising and peer editing, the students typed the pieces and decorated them. They are absolutely stunning. Plus, it was a great way to learn what is important to my students very early in the school year.

Now, to be brave, here is my poem (as an example).

Where I’m From
I am from books,
from Pepsi and the NY Post
I am from hills and grass
(green, soft and smelling like summer).
I am from the milkweed,
the hibiscus brought inside during winter
(an orange and pink sunset growing toward the sun no matter the season).

I’m from “taking a ride” and always being late,
From Jane and Tim.
I’m from the fast talkers and fast walkers,
From eating your crusts and haunted old roads.
I’m from Psalm 23, bagpipes playing hymns, and rosary beads.

I’m from Ireland and Scotland,
Grandmother macaroni and breakfast for dinner.
From the Little Grandfather, a professional football player who jumped
ship in the United Stateswhen sailing as a Merchant Marine,
from Nanny, following Papa around the country during his naval years, raising a son with a husband fighting in a great war.

I am from the photo albums and boxes of pictures in the upstairs closet, telling the stories of a loud, large, and loving family.
I am from dog-eared baby books and school pictures hung over the fireplace

I am from love.

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