Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Mosaic

Spring Break in Chicago. Lovely skies, eh?

For a bigger view of the pictures, click on the mosaic, or you can visit this set on Flickr.

National Poetry Month: Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations

The theme of my 2013 National Poetry Month Project is 

"Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations."

Each day in April, I will feature media from the Wikimedia Commons ("a database of 16,565,065 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute"along with bits and pieces of my brainstorming and both unfinished and finished poems.

I will be using the media to inspire my poetry, but I am going to invite my students to use my daily media picks to inspire any original creation: poems, stories, comics, music, videos, sculptures, drawings...anything!

You are invited to join the fun, too! Leave a link to your creation in the comments and I'll add it to that day's post. I'll add pictures of my students' work throughout the month as well.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Author Visit: Shane Evans

Last week, author and illustrator Shane Evans visited our school. It was an amazing day!  I had never heard Shane Evans speak before and it was quite a treat. Not only did he speak to our students, but he sang and celebrated life and dreams with us all day.  Everyone in the room was clapping and singing and smiling!

Before his visit, we read several of his books.  They are each powerful in their own way.  I was already familiar with some of his books but didn't know all of them. Discovering the books that were new to me was quite fun! Underground and We March are still two of my favorites but I loved discovering Olu's Dream and Chocolate Me.

Chocolate Me

A great day with an amazing author/illustrator!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

Hyacinth Pulls the Covers Over Her Head 
and Goes Back to Sleep

The cues of light are right:
half day, half night.

But it's too cold to be bold:
to open, unfold.

Spring delights?
I withhold.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Charles Ghinga at The Father Goose Blog shares the poem "Pet Names" from his book Animal Tracks: Wild Poems to Read Aloud.

Bridget at wee words for wee ones chronicles her children's spring break with "Spring Break -- Day by Day."

Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup has a (self-proclaimed, but I agree) Good Friday Feast. Come ready to drool. Over the French Toast, too!

Buffy Silverman, of Buffy's Blog, shares her process and final poem in the MM2013 Tournament. I was rooting for you, Buffy!

Renee, haven't you been a little busy writing poems these last few weeks? When did you have time for another installment at No Water River in the "Poetry Is..." series (...with guest poster Elizabeth Stevens Omlor and a little Emerson)?

Joyce Ray at Musings shares some really cool ideas for writing poetry with children from her Build a Poem workshop. Cupcake poems anyone? Heidi? Jama?

Tamara Will Wissinger shares her (big) plans for Poetry Month.

Heidi at my juicy little universe has come up with a fun Poetry Month project -- 30words30days: a poem for busy people.

Robyn Hood Black is urging spring along with some e.e. cummings and Poetry Month news.

Laura Purdie Salas is focusing on colors today in another of her excellent Poem Starter videos.

Laura Shovan, at Author Amok, has a fabulous interview with Christy Hale, author of DREAMING UP.

Diane Mayr has a trio of offerings: At Random Noodling, an Easter senryu (like a haiku, but about human nature instead of Nature). Kurious Kitty shares William Blake's "Spring." KK's Kwotes has a quote by Jane Hirshfield.

Linda at TeacherDance has found the perfect William Stafford poem for two online communities -- Poetry Friday regulars and Slice of Life participants.

Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme has an original crocus poem for this last Friday of March. (His fight with snow, mine just had to contend with oak leaves the year I snapped this shot!)

Lori Ann Grover has "Plumeria" at On Point, and World Rat Day at readertotz.

At NC Teacher Stuff, Matt Barger shares "Just Before April Came" by Carl Sandburg. (The first line is not true where I live!)

Donna, at Mainely Write, shares a poem that grew out of a GoogleChat with her daughter.

Tabatha Yeatts, at The Opposite of Indifference, shines a spotlight on the Little Patuxent Review and poet Elizabeth Dahl.

J. Patrick Lewis is making a rock-and-roll appearance at Greg Pincus' GottaBook.

I'm so glad that Catherine, at Reading to the Core, found Mary Ann Hoberman's THE TREE THAT TIME BUILT! She shares "You and I" from this excellent collection.

Three from Sylvia Vardell: at the Poetry Friday Anthology blog, a loose tooth poem by Carole Boston Weatherford; an announcement about upcoming "poem movies" at the Poetry Friday Anthology/Middle School blog; and at Poetry for Children, her own blog, an example of a "poem movie" made by 6th graders at an international school in the Netherlands.

Tara @ A Teaching Life has some Walt Whitman to help us think about the week's current events.

Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, has ambitious form-a-day plans for herself and her students for National Poetry Month.

Ruth has a Good Friday poem-hymn for us at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.

Spring is coming to Steve's valley. His original poem is posted at inside the dog... .

Travis has a book spine poem (and an invitation to submit yours) at 100 Scope Notes. (Can't wait for the review of the book of book spine poems!!)

I love pomegranates and I love the story of Persephone. I hope Katie, at the blog a time for such a word, doesn't mind being rounded up via a Poetry Friday Google search. Maybe she'll join us every week!

MotherReader has a new installment in her "songs as poetry" series. Do you recognize it?

At Following Pullitzer, Gerard Manley Hopkins' "As kingfishers catch fire" for Good Friday.

Through the Looking Glass Book Review wraps up Women's History Month with VHERSES by J. Patrick Lewis.

Orange Marmalade shares "These Three" by X.J. Kennedy for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Andi has a "text message found poem" at a wrung sponge. If you haven't cleared out your texts, you probably have one there, too, waiting to be found!

I'm pretty sure that in real life, Amy LV is still floating after the release this week of her first book, FOREST HAS A SONG. But for today, she's got her feet on the ground with a red boots poem at The Poem Farm.

At Douglas Florian's Florian Cafe this week, [in Just-] by e.e. cummings.

Anastasia Suen has a snippet of SPRING BLOSSOMS by Carole Gerber at her blog Booktalking, and she's started a new Poetry Blog for National Poetry Month (and beyond)!!

Cactus are blooming at Joy's blog, Poetry For Kids Joy!

Janet at All About the Books With Janet Squires is featuring KEEPERS: TREASURE-HUNT POEMS by John Frank.

Violet writes from an interesting point of view in her Good Friday poem today. "Betrayer" is at Violet Nesdoly / Poems.

At The Drift Record, Julie Larios spotlights the line-up for the 2013 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.

Samuel Kent posts 5 new poems every week at I Drew It. His favorite this week was inspired by #MM2013: "Banking on the Tooth Fairy."

Betsy at Teaching Young Writers found the seed for this week's poem in her writer's notebook.

Cathy wrote a rhyming poem to honor her card-playing mom. I hope there's a little bit of hyperbole in her poem, too! You can find it at Merely Day By Day.

Keri at Keri Recommends is late to the roundup because she and her husband were working with their bees all day. She wrote a trio of haiku in honor of the day.

Iphigene at Gathering Books shares a Good Friday poem: "Todo y Nada/All or Nothing."

Jone is in with a poem that perfectly captures the last days of school before spring break. She posted it at her blog Deo Writer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Book Birthday, Amy LV!

Forest Has a Song: Poems
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
illustrated by Robbin Gourley
Clarion Books, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Today is the day! Happy Book Birthday to FOREST HAS A SONG!!

For an interview with Amy, see the Nerdy Book Club: Interview by Irene Latham.

For a peek inside the book and for some amazing tasty treats, check out Jama Rattigan's book birthday post at Jama's Alphabet Soup. (Trilobite cookies? Really?! "Fossil" is one of my favorite poems in the book, so no treat could be more perfect!)

For a wealth of poems and resources for teachers, go to Amy's blog The Poem Farm. Don't miss the "Find a Poem" tab. Amy has indexed her poems by topic and by technique -- an invaluable resource for mentor texts. You can also find her Dictionary Hike there.

For insight into how writers use their notebooks, Amy has her Sharing Our Notebooks blog.

As Jama said, today is extra special to Amy because it is the publication date of her FIRST book of poetry. Today is extra special to the rest of us (readers and poetry fans and Amy LV fans) because it is the publication date of her FIRST OF MANY books of poetry.

A TOAST TO AMY! Here's to the first book, and to all the rest to come!

FTC Required Disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Place For Turtles

A Place for Turtles
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Higgins Bond
Peachtree, 2013
review copy provided by the pubisher

There is so much to love about this book.

From the moment you open the cover, there is information. The endpapers have maps of a dozen North American turtles and their ranges.

The main text, across the top of a gorgeous two-page illustration, is brief and accessible.

On the first spread, we are given the thesis of the book. The structure of the text is identifiably problem/solution or cause/effect: "Turtles make our world a better place. But sometimes people do things that make it hard for them to live and gro. If we work together to help these special creatures, there will always be a place for turtles."

The main text of very spread gives the main idea of one human-caused problem and its solution. In the sidebar information, the problem is explained in more detail (including more information about the affected species of turtle) as well as what humans are doing to rectify the problems they've caused for the turtles.

We are getting ready to start nonfiction writing and research in my 5th grade language arts classes. Every topic won't lend itself to a cause/effect structure, but this will be the book I use as a mentor text for that structure.

On a side did I miss this series, A Place For...? Stewart and Bond have books about bats, butterflies, frogs, and birds. I'm off to the library to check them out, and then perhaps to the bookstore!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Poetry Friday -- The One I Didn't Submit

Flickr Creative Commons photo "Macro Smiley" by BlueRidgeKitties


It seemed like a valid request. 
My computer didn’t agree.
Its cold, inhuman glare
left no uncertainty:

there would be no cooperation, 
no figures and nary a fact.
In an ironic change of conditions
I was the one getting hacked.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

This is the poem I didn't submit in the second round of Madness 2013, the poetry tournament hosted by Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think. My word was INHUMAN. I tried to write about Orion (human-shaped on an inhuman scale) but my muse wouldn't allow it. Or maybe I should say, I couldn't make anything of it. Whatever the case, I didn't trust the poem I eventually submitted, so I wrote this one and asked a few people to pick their favorite. Hands down, the one I submitted was preferred. You can't believe how scary it was (for me) to submit a poem with regular rhythm and rhyme! That is WAY outside my box. But it was the right poem at the right time. I moved on, and voting is in progress on the third round of poems.

My third round poem using the word CONSERVATIVE is here. When I signed up for #MMPoetry, I knew that most often, funny, rhythmic, rhyming poems carry the day in this contest. In the second round, I played that card myself! So we'll just have to see what my "gorgeous word portrait" (thank you, Carol Wilcox!) can do against an over-confident baseball player. Make sure you visit ALL of the third round poems. Read, vote for what YOU think are the best poems, and join the fun in the comments. 

Greg has the Poetry Friday roundup today at GottaBook, and I'll be hosting next Friday, on the eve (almost) of Poetry Month. I'm hoping to hear about lots of your Poetry Month 2013 projects. I'm hoping I will have decided by then what I'm going to do!

FTC Required Disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Market Bowl

The Market Bowl
by Jim Averbeck
Charlesbridge, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Jim Averbeck (of In a Blue Room fame -- my review here) was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa.  Drawing on that experience, he has created an original folktale of Cameroon with a theme that will resonate with children (and, perhaps some adults, heh) who occasionally get in a hurry instead of taking all the steps to do something right.

In this story, Yoyo ignores the directions for making bitterleaf stew correctly. Luckily, she's creative enough to make things right in the end.

For a taste of Cameroon, there's a recipe for bitterleaf stew in the endmatter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Perfectly Percy

Perfectly Percy
by Paul Schmid
HarperCollins, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Can't you tell just by looking at the cover what will happen in a book about a porcupine who has a balloon?!?

The fun thing about this book is that even though you know what will happen, you have NO IDEA how it will all turn out in the end! Kudos to Paul Schmid for a perfectly delightful book that can be enjoyed on its own, or to lead students in thinking about making, confirming, and changing their predictions.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Books I Want to Read

So, I've been recovering from a concussion for the last 4+ weeks.  It has been a long, slow process with lots of "brain rest".  Brain rest is no fun, in case you are wondering. Especially when you do not choose to do it.  You may have noticed that Mary Lee has been pretty much covering the blog as I have been limited on screen time (almost none) for the past four weeks.  Brain rest also includes little to no reading.  I don't remember a time in my life when I have gone more than a day without reading.  It has been pretty awful. But my headaches happen fewer hours a day, so I am hoping another week and I'll be able to get back to reading.

You can imagine how my TBR stack has grown during this time-of-no-reading (not to mention how poorly I am doing on my Goodreads 2013 Challenge!).  I thought I'd share the books I wish I could read--books that have been piling up during the last few weeks.  I am sure they will be worth the wait, but how will I ever catch up?

Monday, March 18, 2013

3 by J. Patrick Lewis

by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Anna Raff
Candlewick Press, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Any day's the perfect day to take a holiday and read funny poems by J. Patrick Lewis! Whether it's Dragon Appreciation Day on January 16, World Rat Day on April 4, Limerick Day on May 12, or (my favorite) Chocolate-Covered Anything Day on December 16, there's an animal poem for every reader in this book.

Face Bug
by J. Patrick Lewis
photographs by Frederic B. Siskind
illustrations by Kelly Murphy
WordSong, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Eye-catching close-up photos of creepy bug faces will draw the reader into this book, and Lewis' descriptive poems will delight. Sketches of the action in the poems and back matter full of factual information keep readers poring over this buggy book.

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders
by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So
Chronicle Books, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

On a more serious note, When Thunder Comes "...celebrates the struggles and achievements of seventeen men and women who dedicated their lives to fighting injustice based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation."

These poems are far from silly, and require a reader who will read and re-read, utilizing the biographical information in the back of the book to understand the impact of each of these diverse civil rights leaders.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March Madness Poetry--Round 2 Voting is Open!

a hard working kid thwarted by March weather 
the unlikely bond between a tarantula and its prey

Friday, March 15, 2013

Poetry Friday


not mobile,

roots tapping
the season's

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

It's been an amazing poetry week for me. My poem using CAIRN is in a WON a neck-and-neck race with Lori Degman's using CLAQUE in the March Madness 2013 poetry tournament. I'll get my next word tonight, and guess what I'll be doing tomorrow!!

I was interviewed for an Education Week article about poetry in "the Common Core Era." When you share space in an article with Georgia Heard, and Joyce Sidman comments on it on FaceBook, you've got to sit back and have a little wow moment.

I'm starting to gear up for IRA in San Antonio at the end of April:

And, I'm playing a fun little line-by-line game of poetry email ping-pong with today's roundup hostess, Jone, at Check it Out. More on that when we decide it's ready to share.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Madness Poetry 2013--Time to Vote!

The Round One Poems are up on the Live Scoreboard.

My poem using the word CAIRN is here

It is a poem about balance. 
I dedicate this poem to Franki,
and to ALL teachers,
who struggle daily to keep their
"rock piles"
in balance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Interview with Katherine Applegate

I have four students who are creating a blog series of author interviews.  This week, they finished their interview with Newbery winning author, Katherine Applegate.  You can watch it on our class blog.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March Madness Poetry 2013

Shh...Mary Lee's busy writing. Her word is

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

and her poem's due tomorrow morning.

While she works, you can check out the #MMPoetry information at Ed DeCaria's blog, Think Kid, Think.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poetry Plus

Poetry Plus...Fairy Tales

Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist
by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich
illustrations by Matt Mahurin
WordSong, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Poetry Plus...History

Brick by Brick
by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
illustrated by Floyd Cooper
HarperCollins, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Poetry Plus...A Different Way of Life

Cowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo
by Nancy Bo Flood
photography by Jan Sonnenmair
WordSong, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Friday, March 08, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Bracketology

Last Friday, we introduced the Battle of the Books to our 5th graders and showed them the tournament brackets that will be posted in the hallway.

Every 5th grader will enter a favorite book into the tournament by writing and presenting a summary of the book. This coming Friday, each of the four classes will vote the entries down to the 16 books that will enter the brackets. Competition will continue with head-to-head paragraphs about the books' main characters, the settings, key events in the stories, secondary characters, etc. The day before we leave for spring break, the entire grade level will vote for the overall winning book.

So tournament fever was in the air when we began Poetry Friday last week. One of my students made this bracket for his 16 favorite poems in David Elliott's In the Sea

The poem that wins the book for this student is

The Sea Turtle

Swims the seven seas
for thirty years,
then finds the beach
where she was born --
by magic, it appears.

How can she know to come upon
that far and sandy place?
Rare instruments of nature,
fair compass in a carapace.

© David Elliott, used by permission of the author

In his response to my request for permission to use this poem, David wrote, "'s also my favorite poem in the book. One of the things I like about it is the juxtaposition of far and fair and how just the addition of one letter can change a word completely. I wish I could say that was a conscious decision on my part, but I'm not sure that it was. (Uh . . .can't remember.) Happy accidents can sometimes make a writer look much better than he is."

I got the "Bracketology" in the title of this post from Burkin and Yaris' post, "March Madness in the Classroom."

To try Bracketology in word study, check out this post at Thinking Stems.

Heidi has the roundup at my juicy little universe. Welcome back to Poetry Friday, Heidi!