Alack and Alas…A Change of Schedule

New Blog Schedule: Literate Lives

Alack and Alas…

It has been fun blogging twice per week through my recovery from mono and over the summer, however, like summer itself, this too must come to an end.

While I love blogging, sharing my life, my reading, my love of writing, and my encouragement for parents and educators, I will be returning to the class room as an educator and will therefore have less free time for blogging.

A Temporary New Schedule

Next week I will begin blogging once per week, and next week’s post will come out on Tuesday.

However…

I will only continue the Tuesday schedule if I do not hear from you.

Your Turn

On what day of the week would you prefer to see Literate Lives bounce into your inbox? Please voice your opinion using the comment box below. Based on your preferences, I will determine and begin blogging on your chosen day for posting.

Advertisements

Enchanted Conversations Publishes My Poem, “Dishwater Dreaming”

This, and all of the fabulous art in the Donkeyskin issue was created by Amanda Bergloff, contributing editor and art director at Enchanted Conversations: A Fairy Tale Magazine

In June, I sold my first poem, “Dishwater Dreaming”, to Enchanted Conversations  A Fairy Tale Magazine, and it came out this month.

Enchanted Conversations:  A Fairy Tale Magazine

I am so excited about the opportunities at Enchanted Conversations, a web-based magazine that publishes six times per year, each issue focusing on a particular tale and inviting both prose and poetic submissions. The issue my poem was accepted for was one exploring the story Donkeyskin.

Why Enchanted Conversations?

  • I still love to read folktales and fairy tales.
  • I love the opportunity to explore, play with, and retell folktales and fairy tales.
  • Enchanted Conversations is a really fun outlet for crafting poetry (I rediscovered my love for writing poetry a few years ago and have fallen more and more in love with the practice as time goes by).

Interested in Submitting to Enchanted Conversations?

The story focus for the next issue of Enchanted Conversations is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The deadline is the end of this month. Click here to view the submission guidelines.

Classroom Applications

Wouldn’t taking Kate Wolford and Enchanted Conversations‘ be a fun way to process a whole class reading unit? Students could submit stories, poems, and art to create a class magazine or webzine that could be shared with parents and community. I love letting students process learning through the use of imagination.

Your Turn

Do you know of any other magazines or webzines that focus on folktales and fairy tales? Do you have any favorite tales that you would like to play with? What is it? Go ahead and the give the exercise a try (and please, please post your results). Just use the comment space below. I love to hear from you.

Family Literacy and Fun: Paint Chip Poetry

Family Literacy and Fun: Paint Chip Poetry

Need to make a run to the hardware or paint store this summer? Be sure to take your children along, or at least go with them in mind. Why? Because then you can have fun writing together creating paint chip poetry.

What’s paint chip poetry? Basically, its poetry written using words from a paint chip. There are several variations on the process.

 

Step 1: Gather Paint Chips

As I said, take the kids along and let them select their own paint chip cards, or, if that’s not possible, select a few paint chip cards for each child, keeping in mind their favorite colors and interests–the colors of their favorite stuffed animal, school, or team. Don’t forget to grab a few cards for yourself. Modeling your interest in writing and literacy is one of the best ways to encourage your kids to engage in literacy activities.

Step 2: Choose a Process

Since I lost the link for the article I read on this, I researched a few paint chip writing activities, and there were several variations on the process available. Here’s three to choose from:

  • You and your kids can make up similes (statements using the words “like” or “as”) for each color name on their selected card. You can even write the similes directly over the swatch of color.
  • You and your kids can write a patterned poem using a paint chip color.
  • You and your kids can select from grade/age appropriate options and write your poems accordingly.

Be sure to have plenty of paper and writing utensils on hand.

Step 3: Explain and Write

  • Give you children their paint chip cards.
  • Explain what you are going to do. Maybe even do a sample together from one of your cards.
  • Turn your kids loose to write for a set period of time. (For children not yet old enough to write, let them dictate their thoughts, and you write them down. Then read the “poem” back to your child, pointing to each word as you read it to reinforce the one-to-one correspondence between the written and spoken word.)

Step 4: Gather and Read

Call your kids back to a central area and have fun reading your poems to each other.

Step 5: Celebrate!

Maybe afterwards you can have a colorful snack, like rainbow sherbert, cupcakes with multi-colored sprinkles, or 9 layer bean dip and multi-colored tortilla chips.

Try using your color words in conversation over the next few days. Have fun with these words.

For Teachers

The links above were written with the classroom in mind. Also, if you search “Paint Chip Poetry” you will find still more options to take with you back to school in September.

Your Turn

How did your paint chip poetry session go? Please use the comments section to share some of the poems you or your children created. Now’s your chance to brag on those little ones!

Did you find some interesting color words on your paint chips? Share the color names that caught your fancy. It would be so cool to end up with a list of delightful names.

 

Play Your Words Writing Prompt: A Bag of Bugs–Alliterative Writing Prompt

David Kirk’s Sunny Patch for Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs

For today’s writing prompt, it’s time to get a little silly.

Last weekend my husband and I went garage sale-ing, a favorite summertime activity. At one particular home that had a titan’s cornucopia of crafting supplies, I found a bag of wooden, brightly painted, bug pins and I bought it. When I got in the car I said, “I love my bag of bugs!” and my husband started riffing on other alliterative insects in containers. Laughing, he finally suggested I use some of them as a writing prompt. So,  here they are:

Write a poem, paragraph-length description, or short story using one of the alliterative terms below (or you can make up your own.)

a bag of bugs
a sack of snails
a box of beetles

Have fun! Let your inner child out to play. It is important that we not only encourage our kids and ourselves to build writing skills, but we remember that writing can be fun.

And please, oh please, use the comment space below to share your response or riff further on alliterative containers for insects.

Literate Lives 2017

Litlives PurposeWelcome to Literate Lives 2017!

In the week between Christmas and New Year, I have been doing some much-needed housecleaning here on the blog, and ended up reading a lot of old posts. The process charged me with excitement for this next year together, and instead of making you new promises, I want to touch back to my original intentions here at Literate Lives. So here is a blast to the past: excerpts from (and a few additions to) my very first post, June 6, 2010.

Literate Lives: The Vision

The concept of a blog is interesting. It is a challenge to be both personal and useful-to others. This is my second version (now my third actually) of my first blog post here in “Literate Lives.”

In the first version of this post, I eagerly shared who I am and the things I love, believing if readers and I share some common passions, you might come back to read more. And I do want you to come back for more. I love reading, writing, and teaching, and I want to contribute to the reading, writing, teaching community in a positive way.

However, having completed that first post, I was aghast to discover it was all about me! Me, me, me—as if I were some kind of navel-gazing egomaniac who has nothing to offer save my own glorious vision of myself. (Definitely NOT my intention.)

While a revised “version one” will likely soon appear as a post (because I do feel, if you and I are to become friends and colleagues in pursuit of a literate lifestyle, I must be willing to share who I am). What I want to say here, however, is that I hope “Literate Lives” will be a “place” to which you can come, a quiet corner where you can think about reading and books, writing, and creativity. I hope it will be a “place” where you can share your love for these things with a like-minded community and glean from the blog posts, comments, “Play with Your Words” writing prompts, and reading response exercises treasures to enrich your own literate lifestyle and that of your students or family.

Play With Your Words: An Autumn Metaphor Poem

autumn-metaphor-poem

The leaves have started turning russet and gold, and teachers and students alike are back in the classroom.

No matter what grade level, literary devices are likely being taught or reviewed. Two key ones include metaphor and the use of sensory details. So, let’s review.

METAPHOR

Metaphor is often taught along with simile because both provide a vibrant means for making a comparison. Unlike a simile (which uses the words “like” or “as”), a metaphor compares by stating that one object or idea is actually a different object or idea, thus emphasizing what the two have in common.

SENSORY DETAILS

Sensory details are descriptive details that can be perceived by the senses–seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. They are evocative, because they appeal to the part of the brain that actually connects to memories of that sensation and therefore make for powerful details in writing.

AUTUMN METAPHOR POEM PRE-WRITE

Using either a 5-circle web (one for each sense) or a 5-column table (one column/sense) brainstorm observations and memories about fall. List them according to which sense is most dominant.

When you have at least three items for each theme (But don’t limit yourself to that amount!) go back and see if any fall into groups that share a similar theme. If you do, you may want to work with that theme or simply select an item from each web/column that you find most appealing.

You are now ready to begin writing your poem.

WRITE THE AUTUMN METAPHOR POEM

Line 1 sets up your poem: “Autumn/Fall is…”

Each line, 2-6, will contain a single metaphor for each of the five senses.

For example, one of the things I love about autumn is kicking through drifts of crackling leaves. For me, the real pleasure is the sound, so for my sound detail, I might say, “Crispy crackly leaves.”

Remember, make a metaphor for each of the five senses and make your metaphors as personal, specific, and concrete as possible.

Close the poem with a final thought.

Here is mine:

Autumn is…
Cool mornings,
The rising sun gilding golden trees,
Wood smoke,
Crisp, crackly-crunchy leaves,
Apple cider, hot and sweet,
An invitation
To savor the season
For soon winter’s winds will blow.

REVISE AND EDIT

When done, look over what you’ve written.

  • Are there some vague words for which you can find more specific replacements?
  • Can you play up the sound effects in your poem? (Note in my example, “crisp” and “crackling” start with a nice, hard, “C” sound.)
  • Can you use repetition for emphasis?
  • Punctuate your poetry like you would a sentence.

SHARE YOUR CREATION

When done, share your poem with your family, classmates, or writing friends. Compliment the strengths you see in each others’ creations, their vivid imagery, the poems’ effectiveness at summoning an “autumnal” feeling.

If you are a teacher, consider allowing your students to illustrate their poems and then post (“publish”) them on a bulletin board.

If you are working with a pre-reader/writer, guide your little poet through the same instructions as above, only you do the writing. When you are done, read back what he or she has “written.” Point to the words as you say them to reinforce the one-to-one-correspondence between the written and spoken word. Together use photos, stickers, cut outs, or clip art to illustrate the poem and hang it somewhere it can be enjoyed by all the family.

I would love to savor your autumn metaphors. Please feel free to post your poem as a comment.

Happy Writing!

 

Teacher’s File Drawer: Summer Back-to-School Poetry Unit

Pug w SunglassesMy favorite unit I’ve ever done with my students is a Summer Vacation Poetry unit. I liked that it was different from the usual “write an essay about your summer vacation,” that it allowed us to play around with poetry, and that working with poetry is a great way to build students’ word choice skills.

The length of time it ran varies from year to year, depending on how many types of poetry I want the students to try, and the final product was a hand-crafted book of poems.

STEP ONE

To begin the unit, I had kids get out pen and paper and brainstorm the things they enjoyed doing during their summer. (I usually timed this: 1-3 minutes depending on the needs of the class.)

Next, I had them circle three that they are most interested in writing about.

STEP TWO

The next time we worked, I asked the students to choose one item from the three circled on their list around which to focus their poetry.

I also introduce the various techniques of poetry. I used this handout for the lesson.

Summer Techniques of Poetry Notetaking Guide

At the end of the lesson, I discuss how these can also be used for mood and emphasis in prose writing.

STEP THREE, FOUR, FIVE, ETC…

At a rate of two forms a day, I introduced different forms for poetry and require the students to write a poem using at least one of them relating to their chosen summer activity.

Some of the forms I’ve used over the years are:

  • Haiku
  • Tanka
  • Acrostic (using the name of the destination or activity)
  • Diamante
  • Couplets
  • Quatrains
  • Free Verse
  • Concrete
  • Farewell Poem
  • List Poem
  • Letter/Post Card/Wish You Were Here Poem
  • A Sensory Poem (using at least 4 of the 5 senses to describe a particular object or moment

The number of options is tremendous!

For each form, I modeled a poem of my own from my summer vacation experience.

I did this as a writers workshop, and so during our writing time, while students are required to try one of the new forms, they were also welcome to try the other new one, one from a previous day, or revise their poems working in some of the techniques of poetry.

STEP FOURTH TO THE LAST

Finally, I asked the students to select 8 poems they wish to incorporate in their books. (Of course, they were always welcome to select more if they want to. This day is then spent selecting and revising each poem, focusing especially on word choice and the techniques of poetry.

STEP THIRD TO THE LAST

On this day, I had students pair up to peer edit their selected poems.

STEP SECOND TO THE LAST

With plenty of art materials on hand, I shared a book with the class, Making Books That Fly, fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, and Turn by Gwen Kiehn, which has examples of a variety of ways to make their books. (You can likely find books like this in your school library and most assuredly online.)I encouraged them to consider a way that most interests them and welcome to use their own ideas as well.

I allowed a couple of class sessions for the students to make their poetry books

FINAL STEP

I instruct the students to write me a letting including the following criteria:

Paragraph 1

  • The strengths and weakness you see in your poetry
  • The title of your favorite poem and the reason it is your favorite

Paragraph 2

  • Explain your understanding of:
  • Types of poetry
  • Techniques of poetry
  • Cite examples from your own book.

Paragraph 3

  • An explanation of what was the easiest and the hardest part of writing your poetry
  • An explanation of how you helped yourself to overcome your challenges

In addition to the letter, I also ask them to staple together (and label) a copy of their pre-writes, drafts, and evidence of revision and editing.

SCORING

In addition to scoring using the school’s standards for scoring writing (which count for 40% of the score.)

I also scored for:

Preparation

  • Pre-writes (5)
  • Rough Drafts (5)
  • Evidence of Revision and editing (5)

The Book

  • Title (2)
  • Table of Contents (2)
  • Creativity (2)
  • Color (2)
  • Illustrations/Graphic Elements(2)

Writing

Your school or districts writing rubric = 40% final score

The Letter

  • Discussion of Strengths (4)
  • Discussion of Weaknesses (4)
  • Most Proud/Why (4)
  • Mastery of Types (3)
  • Mastery of Techniques (3)
  • Conventions (2)
  • Examples Cited (3)
  • Discussion of what was Easiest (4)
  • Discussion of what was Hardest (4)
  • How you handled the challenges

The total of points will come out to x/100. You can then apply the percentage to whatever you want this unit to be worth.

THE RESULTS

First of all this unit was fun. (A great way to start the year.)

Second, each poetry book was totally unique to each student. (A great way to begin to get to know your class.)

Third, word choice skills are highlighted as well as the rhetorical skills in the techniques of poetry that students can draw on in their writing throughout the year.

Fourth,the  writing process has been established and practiced.

Fifth, the results were a delight to read.