Friday, November 28, 2014

A poem for Black Friday

Last week I was at the NCTE conference (so fun!) presenting alongside Janet Wong and Eileen and Jerry Spinelli on the topic of kindness. Here's a tiny glimpse of our session-- a video of Eileen reading her original poem, "Get a Life" from The Poetry Friday Anthology (K-5). It's perfect for this crazy Black Friday, too.

video

And here is the text of the poem:

Get a Life
   by Eileen Spinelli

There are books to read.
And birds to feed.
And awesome facts for learning.
There are yards to weed.
And friends in need.
And dreams to set us yearning.
There are trails to hike.
And films to like.
And stories made for swapping.
What I mean to say in this poem today
is there’s more to life than
shopping!

And here are the Take 5! activities that accompany this poem:

1. Prior to sharing the poem, jot numbers on a piece of paper or list on the board (1, 2, 3, etc.) as if you are making a to-do list. Then read the poem aloud, pausing for a moment after each line. 

2. Share the poem again, inviting students to join in on the final two lines (is there’s more to life than / shopping!) while you read the rest aloud.

3. For discussion: What are some of your favorite activities to do during holiday breaks?

4. Lead students in considering how repeating key words and phrases, particularly at the beginning of each line (There are; And), helps build a poem and can add to the distinctive rhythm of the lines. Then read the poem out loud together again, listening for the patterns.

5. Link this poem with another thoughtful poem by Eileen Spinelli, “Today” (4th Grade, Week 29, page 215 in The Poetry Friday Anthology).

Friday, November 21, 2014

NCTE CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum

While attending the NCTE conference, I’ll also be participating in the annual “Master Class” coordinated by the Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE (such a great organization). The focus is poetry across the curriculum and I’m responsible for the social studies area. I’ll be sharing sample poems, teaching tips, and activity suggestions. Sharing poetry in the context of social studies is a natural given the topics that make up this content area. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Curriculum Standards quickly reveal the poem connection possibilities with Thematic Strands that focus on culture, people, places, identity, government, technology, society, and civic ideals. Here are the bare bones of my presentation. (We were charged to come up with only 5 examples in each category-- because I would have shared way more than 5, if possible!)

CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum
SOCIAL STUDIES AND POETRY

5 GREAT SOCIAL STUDIES POETRY BOOKS
  1. Corcoran, Jill. Ed. 2012. Dare to Dream… Change the World. San Diego, CA: Kane Miller.
  2. Engle, Margarita. 2008. The Surrender Tree. New York: Holt.
  3. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2008. America at War. New York: McElderry. 
  4. Myers, Walter Dean. 2011. We are America; A Tribute from the Heart. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: HarperCollins.
  5. Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
5 SOCIAL STUDIES-TEACHING TIPS
  1. Talk about “Today’s Document” at the National Archives (at Archives.gov).
  2. Create “found” poetry from news articles.
  3. Examine facsimiles of primary source documents (at Jackdaw.com).
  4. Use Google Maps to locate places you’re reading about. 
  5. Look at children’s books in different languages from around the world at the International Children’s Digital Library.
5 SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHING WEBSITES
  1. National Council for the Social Studies 
  2. Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  3. Social Studies Central
  4. History is Elementary 
  5. The History Channel 
5 SOCIAL STUDIES POEMS ONLINE


Look for “Ten Poetry Collections for Social Studies Not to Be Missed” in Poetry Aloud Here (Vardell, 2014) as well as lists of poetry collections organized by topics such as Presidents’ Day, women’s history, U.S. history, world history, war and peace, plus multicultural and international poetry booklists in The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists (Vardell, 2012).

Others will be presenting parallel examples in the areas of math, science, arts, games & sports. 

Learn more about the Children’s Literature Assembly here.

PLUS: Of course I’m absolutely thrilled that our book for middle school, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, was selected as a Poetry Notable by the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Committee. Here’s that link.

There will also be a BUNCH of poets in attendance at the conference and I hope to cross paths with many of them including: Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Mary Lee Hahn, Jacqueline Jules, Sara Holbrook, Michael Salinger, Heidi Mordhorst, J Pat Lewis, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Dotlich, Paul B Janeczko, Pat Mora, Linda Kulp, Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Leslie Bulion, Rene Saldana, Eileen Spinelli, Joseph Bruchac, and George Ella Lyon. What fun, right?! I hope to share photos afterward. 

And finally, they’ll be announcing the next winner of the NCTE Poetry Award at the conference too! Stay tuned.


Image credit: MrJohn56.wordpress.com;ncss;cla

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Poetry, Kindness and NCTE

I’m off to the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English and looking forward to presenting (twice!). My first session is “Sharing Random Books of Kindness: The Power of Story” alongside Eileen SpinelliJerry Spinelli, and Janet Wong.

We’ll be talking about all kinds of books related to the theme of kindness—including poetry, of course. Here are some of the resources I’ve gathered on our topic.

PROFESSIONAL RESOURCE BOOKS

Ferrucci, Piero. 2007. The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life. Tarcher.
Goldman, Carrie. 2012. Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. HarperOne.
Laminack, Lester and Wadsworth, Reba. 2012. Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness Through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations. Heinemann.
Mah, Ronald. 2013. Getting Beyond Bullying and Exclusion, PreK-5: Empowering Children in Inclusive Classrooms. Skyhorse Publishing.
Pearson, Ferial. 2014. Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change the World. WriteLife.
Rice, Judith Ann. 2013. The Kindness Curriculum: Stop Bullying Before It Starts. Redleaf Press.
Rue, Nancy. 2014. So Not Okay: An Honest Look at Bullying from the Bystander (Mean Girl Makeover series). Nelson.

And there are some excellent web resources on teaching kindness and compassion too.

PROFESSIONAL RESOURCE WEBSITES

MAKING CARING COMMON
Go here.

“Make Caring Common” Tool Kits for Educators
More here.

RFK PROJECT SEATBELT
For schools, homes, communities; check it our here.

THE BULLY PROJECT
Tools for educators, students, parents, advocates; look here.

THE KIND CAMPAIGN
Movement, documentary and school program focused on girls; details here.

SAFE SCHOOLS-HEALTHY STUDENTS INITIATIVE
U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Safe Schools and Healthy Students; look here.


YALSA RESEARCH
"More than Just Books: Librarians as a Source of Support for Cyberbullied Young Adults: by Abigail L. Phillips; click here.

Of course, we'll be sharing kindness-themed poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology (K-5) and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, an NCTE Poetry Notable Book, including these two.



I’ll also be participating in the annual “Master Class” coordinated by the Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE (such a great organization). That session is focused entirely on poetry! I'll post more details about that tomorrow. 


Image credit: Motivationalmemo.com;PomeloBooks.com

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Talking about poetry at the YALSA Symposium

I’m off to the YALSA Symposium in Austin, Texas, and looking forward to presenting alongside these fabulous poets:

K A Holt / http://kaholt.com
Guadalupe Garcia McCall/ http://guadalupegarciamccall.com/
Janet S. Wong/ http://www.janetwong.com
Jacqueline Woodson / http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com

Our program title: Keepin’ it Real: Sharing Poetry with Tweens and Teens

Session Description: What is true and relevant in providing meaningful connections between students and poetry? As they are poised between childhood and adulthood, we seek out poems that are fresh and authentic, along with approaches that are engaging and interactive. This session will feature a diverse panel of published poets talking about their poetry, their process, and their inspiration, as well as the educator perspective on sharing poetry using the latest media and technology for promoting involvement and participation. 

Of course we’ll be featuring our middle school anthology of poetry, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School,  with 110 poems by 71 poets for grades 6, 7, and 8, along with “Take 5” activities for every poem. We're so proud that this book was selected as a Poetry Notable book by NCTE. Here are a few tips from the book:

Poem Read-Aloud Strategies
  • Take the lead, be the first to read the poem, and don’t be afraid to “ham it up.” Take the pressure off students by showing how the poem sounds, how words should be pronounced, how the meaning and emotion might be conveyed. Don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.
  • Use props whenever possible to make a concrete connection to the poem, focus attention, and add a bit of fun. Choose something suggested by the poem. It’s even worth planning ahead to have a good prop ready beforehand. Students can then use the props too as they volunteer to join in on reading the poem, taking the focus off of them and giving the audience something specific to look at while listening—the poetry prop.
  • Try using media to add another dimension to the poetry experience. Look for digital images or videos relevant to the poem to display without sound as a backdrop while reading the poem aloud, or find music or sound effects suggested by the poem to underscore the meaning or mood as you read the poem aloud. 
  • Offer choices as you invite students to join in on reading the poem aloud with you. They can choose a favorite line to chime in on or volunteer to read a line or stanza of their choice or ask a friend to join them in reading a portion aloud. The more say they have about how they participate in the poem reading, the more eager and comfortable they will be about volunteering.
  • Make connections between the poems and their lives and experiences, between one poem and another, and between poems and other genres like nonfiction, short stories, newspaper articles, and songs). We provide example questions and poem connections for each poem, but once you have established that pattern, be open to the connections the students themselves make first. 
We also connect poetry with a lot of technology—so appealing to young readers. Here are a few of my favorite websites that we use in the Take 5 activities to introduce or extend the poems.

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School: 
Fun websites we link with poems
  1. AllAboutBirds.org
  2. AnimalSpot.net
  3. AustinKleon.com (blackout poems)
  4. AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com (this one is hilarious!)
  5. Calm.com (feeling hectic? Check this one out!)
  6. Census.gov
  7. CloudAppreciationSociety.org (who knew?)
  8. ConserveTurtles.org
  9. Drive-safely.net (great for new drivers)
  10. Glogster.com (for making digital posters)
  11. HealthyPet.com
  12. HowStuffWorks.com
  13. Illusions.org (weird and fascinating!)
  14. Lifeprint.com  (say it in sign language using ASL)
  15. ListeningLab.Stantons.com (sound recordings)
  16. MySpellIt.com
  17. Petfinder.com
  18. Photography.NationalGeographic.com
  19. Shorpy.com (awesome vintage photographs)
  20. SoundCloud.com (recording sounds yourself)
  21. SpellingBee.com
  22. TeacherVision.fen.com
  23. TheReptileReport.com
  24. TromboneExcerpts.org
  25. Video.NationalGeographic.com
And if you’re looking for more guidance on sharing poetry with young people, here are some excellent resource books.

Professional Resource Books for Sharing Poetry with Teens and Tweens

Ambrosini, Michelle and Morretta, Teresa. 2003. Poetry Workshop for Middle School. International Reading Association.
Collom, Jack and Noethe, Sheryl. 2005. Poetry Everywhere; Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community. Teachers & Writers. 
Franco, Betsy. 2005. Conversations With a Poet: Inviting Poetry into K-12 Classrooms. Richard C. Owen.
Frost, Helen. 2001. When I Whisper, Nobody Listens: Helping Young People Write About Difficult Issues. Heinemann.
Heard, Georgia. 1994. For the Good of the Earth and Sun. Portsmouth, 
Heard, Georgia. 1999. Awakening the Heart. Heinemann. 
Holbrook, Sara and Salinger, Michael. 2006. Outspoken: How to Improve Writing and Speaking Through Poetry Performance. Heinemann. 
Holbrook, Sara. 2003. Wham! It’s a Poetry Jam: Discovering Performance Poetry. Wordsong, Boyds Mills Press.
Holbrook, Sara. 2005. Practical Poetry; A Nonstandard Approach to Meeting Content-Area Standards. Heinemann. 
Janeczko, Paul B, comp. 2002. Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets. Candlewick.
Lipson, S. L. 2006. Writing Success through Poetry: Create a Writers’ Workshop. Prufrock Press.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1991. Poem-making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry. HarperCollins.
O’Connor, John S. 2004. Wordplaygrounds; Reading, Writing, and Performing Poetry in the English Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.
Ruurs, Margriet. 2001. The Power of Poems; Teaching the Joy of Writing Poetry. Maupin House.
Salas, Laura Purdie. 2011. Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing. Capstone.
Sloan, Glenna. 2003. Give Them Poetry: A Guide for Sharing Poetry with Children K-8. Teachers College Press.
Tiedt, Iris McClellan. 2002.Tiger Lilies, Toadstools, And Thunderbolts: Engaging K-8 Students With Poetry. International Reading Association.
Vardell, S. M. 2012. The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists. Pomelo Books.
Vardell, Sylvia. 2007. Poetry People: A Practical Guide to Children’s Poets. Libraries Unlimited.
Vardell, Sylvia. 2014. Poetry Aloud Here 2: Sharing Poetry with Children. American Library Association.
Wolf, Allan. 2006. Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life. Sterling.
Wood, Jaime R. 2007. Living Voices: Multicultural Poetry in the Middle School Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.

I hope to share some moments from our session afterward, too. Stay tuned.


Image credit: YALSASymposium12.ning;Greeblehaus.com;uncyclopedia.wikia.com;enwikipedia.com


Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Time for Winter Bees

Winter has blown in this week, even in Texas, and the temperatures have dropped significantly. What happens to the bees in temperatures like these? Ask Joyce Sidman! Her new book, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold was just published and it’s a beautiful look at how a variety of plants and animals of the north cope with winter weather. If you’re familiar with Joyce’s work, this new book is parallel to three of her others that examine creatures in a designated ecosystem—through lyrical poetry, informative prose paragraphs, and evocative illustrations:
  • Sidman, Joyce. 2005. Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems. Ill. By Beckie Prange. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 
  • Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Ill. by Rick Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

And now with FOUR FIVE STARRED REVIEWS already:
Sidman, Joyce. 2014. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. Ill. by Rick Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I was lucky enough to create a readers’ guide for this book that you’ll find here (along with Common Core skill connections).
Winter Bees guide link here.
Just to whet your appetite, here are a few excerpts from the guide.
Set the stage
Before exploring this book, talk with students about winter and how they experience this season. Ask: Is it cold where we live? Is there snow or ice? Or is it a warm place with mild weather? What animals and insects do you notice in your communities and neighborhoods and what do those creatures do during the winter? Explain that in Winter Bees, the poet Joyce Sidman explores what winter is like for a dozen plants and animals of the north through poetry and prose paragraphs.

ART:
Notice that the illustrator Rick Allen has featured the red fox in nearly all of the illustrations, even when other animals and plants are the focus of the poem. Can you spot the fox? Rick Allen uses prints to create the art for these illustrations, particularly linoleum cuts and wood engravings. Students may enjoy trying their own printmaking with simple potato prints (carving simple designs into a half potato with adult supervision) or cardboard prints (cutting corrugated cardboard into simple shapes). Or even simpler—try making paper snowflakes with blank white paper folded multiple times and then snipped and shaped with scissors.

WRITING: 
Students can work with a partner or in a small group to create a “found” poem about a winter animal. They can choose a favorite animal from Winter Bees, read the prose paragraph provided, and then choose their favorite words or phrases from the paragraph and rearrange them into a “found” poem of their own. Remind students that poems don’t have to rhyme.

RESEARCH: 
Make a list of the dozen plants and animals featured in this book. Students can then investigate which of these are found in their own communities and what winter is like for them in their region. Add animals that are unique to your own area and research images of them at sources like Animals.NationalGeographic.com or videos on YouTube. Challenge students to research and write their own nonfiction prose paragraphs about a selected plant or animal in winter similar to those Sidman provides in Winter Bees.

And there are discussion questions for each individual poem too. Here are a few examples.

1. “Snake’s Lullaby”
What is a lullaby? Why might this poem be titled a “lullaby”? Notice how the poet uses rhyme and rhythm to suggest the song-like qualities of a lullaby. Why is it important for snakes to sleep in winter?
2. “Big Brown Moose”
In this persona poem, the poet is writing as if she were the moose. How do you know that? Which lines and words signal that point of view? Notice how she also coins new words (like “slumberous”) to describe the moose. What might “slumberous” mean in this context?
3. “Winter Bees”
Why do you think this whole book of poetry is titled after this particular poem? What do you learn about bees in winter here? Why is that so central to this whole book?
4. “Under Ice”
What animals live “under ice” in this poem? Why is the poem not named after them in this case? In this poem, the poet repeats from one stanza to the next. Can you find each repeated line (beginning with “made of ripped chips and thrashing twigs”)? Use the glossary to help you understand the pantoum form, if needed.
5. “What Do the Trees Know?”
Why did the poet include this poem about trees, instead of featuring another animal? What roles do trees play in the animal world? Why does the poet title this poem with a question? Notice that the poet repeats that title question line twice in the poem. Why do you think she does that?

Wrap up
Which is your favorite animal depicted in this book? Which is your favorite poem? Why? Are these the same (poem+animal) or different? What did you learn about animals in winter that especially surprised you? What do you like to do in winter to help you “survive” and thrive during this season?
  • For more information about Joyce Sidman and her work, go to http://www.joycesidman.com
  • This book is getting lots of buzz (get it, buzz!) and you’ll find a great article here.
  • And a radio interview with Joyce here.
  • More info at Laura Purdie Salas’s blog here.
  • And an in-depth interview with illustrator Rick Allen here

Enjoy!

Now head on over to Keri Recommends for our Poetry Friday gathering this week.


Image credit: JoyceSidman.com;HoughtonMifflinHarcourt;KenspeckleLetterPress;ChurchLeaders.com;wallpaper web;blendspace
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.