Thursday, March 26, 2020

March DMC Wrap-Up Celebration


Bennilover

Games are the most elevated form of investigation.
          – Albert Einstein


At the beginning of this month, Tabatha Yeatts challenged us to write a poem about a game (which, if you ask me, is also a pretty elevated form of investigation). She elaborated:
It could be a board game, a sport, a fictional game—any kind of game—and the narrator could be in the middle of playing it or teaching you how to play or telling how it went very wrong or the poem itself could be a game.

The Game of Life has been tough these days.

"Life" by Will Folsom


Many more Snakes than Ladders

"Snakes and Ladders" by Jacqui Brown


and plenty of Trouble and Sorry! to go around



have made some want to throw their hands up in defeat—

"You sunk my battleship!"      by Derek Gavey


It's true, finding joy these days has been no Trivial Pursuit,

"Jara vs. Trivial Pursuit" by Manuel J. Prieto

but I'm grateful for online communities like ours that are still going strong—coming together as we always do to write, listen, share, and otherwise lighten the load for one another.

It leaves me with a feeling something like this . . .

StartUpStockPhotos


Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem this month and/or supported others with comments, and special thanks to Tabatha for inspiring our month-long poetry game-a-thon!

Scroll through the poems below or CLICK HERE to open a new tab.

Made with Padlet


If you would like to write a poem about a game, visit Tabatha's spotlight interview for instructions and then click on the pink dot with the plus sign to add your poem to the padlet. While there aren't many days left in March, I'll be leaving this padlet open indefinitely, so feel free to add to it at any point in the future.


NATIONAL POETRY MONTH PREVIEW

Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont,
has been named the winner of the 2020 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students.

With National Poetry Month just around the corner, there are many places besides Today's Little Ditty to gather together and celebrate poetry. Many thanks to Jama Rattigan for rounding up next month's poetry projects at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

At Today's Little Ditty, I will be introducing a new series called "Lessons from the Bookshelf" where I take an in-depth look at educational books about writing poetry. Beginning Friday, April 3rd, I will focusing on My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your Truth by Patrice Vecchione (Seven Stories Press, March 31, 2020). I hope you'll join me!


The winner of last week's giveaway for a signed copy of The Nest That Wren Built, by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter is . . .

MARY LEE HAHN
Congratulations, Mary Lee!

Our DMC game-a-thon coach, Tabatha Yeatts, is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup and sharing a beautiful, thought-provoking poem about acceptance. You'll find her keeping score at The Opposite of Indifference.



DMC: "on saturday" by Jan Godown Annino




on saturday

on saturday
gray gulls float in shifting arabesques over water silk
a firm hand finishes the lighthouse sign post
my father ferries hot cups to the table
everyone sips, taps a wayward piece into place, finishing "Shore"


© 2020 Jan Godown Annino. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, March 27th.



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

DMC: "red-tailed hawk" by Robyn Hood Black




red-tailed hawk
to the gray squirrel
tag – you're it


© 2020 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

DMC: "Hide and Seek" by Janie Lazo




HIDE AND SEEK

Let’s play a game of hide and seek
My best friend said to me
Then off she ran as there I sat
Leaned up against a tree
I counted up to ten and yelled
Get ready here I come
But then I went inside the house–
This game seemed quite ho hum
I watched some TV, ate a snack
And read my favorite book
When I got bored I went outside
Perhaps I’ll take a look
As I went out her mom pulled up–
C’mon it’s time to go
Our game was done– our friendship too
I guess I was too slow


© 2020 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.


Monday, March 23, 2020

DMC: "If I Were Small" by David McMullin




IF I WERE SMALL

If I were small, so very small
that stones were big and grass was tall,
I’d have the pill bug stop its crawl
to be my tiny basketball.

And we'd have fun. Oh, so much fun.
I’d toss him up. He’d roll, I’d run.
But when we saw the setting sun,
He’d crawl away – our game all done.


© 2020 David McMullin. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.





Thursday, March 19, 2020

Classroom Connections with Randi Sonenshine (Giveaway!)




Ever since 2015, when Randi Sonenshine beat me in Round 3 of Madness! Poetry and went on to the finals, I knew this day would come—and I'm delighted that it has! I can't think of a more perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring than by introducing Randi's debut poetry picture book The Nest That Wren Built. Beautifully written, this book also boasts gorgeous illustrations by Anne Hunter, whose work I fell in love with back in 2016. Read on to find out how The Nest That Wren Built can (and should) be used in the classroom.


TODAY'S READ

The Nest That Wren Built

Randi Sonenshine, Author
Anne Hunter, Illustrator

Candlewick Press (March 10, 2020)
ISBN: 978-1536201536

For ages 4-8

Purchase at Amazon.com
Purchase at Barnes & Noble
Purchase via Indiebound.org





SYNOPSIS

The Nest That Wren Built follows a pair of wrens as they build a nest and care for their young, from the first pile of twigs, to the day the fledglings fly off into the world. The lyrical text is woven with scientific details about the nest design and materials, and a glossary and back matter provide additional facts and insights.


A PEEK INSIDE

Click on image to enlarge. 

THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT. Text copyright © 2020 by Randi Sonenshine.
Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Anne Hunter. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
























ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Randi Sonenshine grew up exploring the magical “swamp” and woods behind her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, developing an early sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. This love of nature often appears in her writing and poetry.

A former high school English teacher and college reading instructor, Randi is currently a literacy specialist and instructional coach. She lives with her husband, two sons, and a spoiled schnauzer in Northwest Georgia, and does her best writing accompanied by birdsong and a good pot of Earl Grey tea.


CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Language is the most powerful tool we have, and poetry is one of the most powerful ways to use it; simply put, it’s language distilled in its purest, most potent form. Giving students lots of opportunity to read, recite, explore, discuss, respond, and write has the capacity to nurture a love of language, as well as the knowledge and skill to use it effectively. It can also foster empathy and a sense of connectedness.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

There is a lot of science woven into the book, particularly about the structure and function of the nest, as well as the function of each of the different nesting materials, so it would fit very well in a STEAM curriculum, even in middle school. Other science themes include growth and development (life cycle), animal traits and heredity, patterns in the natural world, and interactions between animals and humans, as well as animals and the environment.

There are also many ways it could be incorporated into the language arts classroom. I’ve used a lot of poetic sound devices, imagery, and figurative language, so it could easily be used to teach or reinforce those concepts. It also has a strong chronological structure, so it could be used to teach sequencing. Using precise language - vivid verbs, adjectives, and nouns - is another way the book could be used in a language arts classroom.

Can you suggest a specific classroom exercise related to your book?

Part to Whole Refrain Poem

This is an activity for older children, but could be done with younger children as a whole group.

After reading the book and discussing the structure, go through the first half (up until the nest is built), and have students identify and list the nouns (nesting materials) and corresponding verbs (function), using a two-column chart. To challenge more advanced students, add a middle column and list the adjectives or other descriptors for each item.

For example:

Nesting Material (noun)                              Function (verb)
Twigs                                                                cradle
Bark, twine, rootlets, pine needles             shape

Create a poem together, modeling the process
  1. Have students think of something that is made up of multiple parts. This could be something in the natural world, such as a tree or a coral reef, or something that is manmade, such as a school bus or a bicycle. It could even be a person. Another option is for the teacher to choose the object based on a current area of study. 
  2. Next, have the students brainstorm the parts of the object and their function, using a chart like before. For older, more advanced students, this could be an opportunity for research.
  3. Together, choose a refrain to go at the end of each line. For example: the tree that grows on the playground, or the bike I got for my birthday.
  4. Draft the poem, using the nouns, verbs, and refrain. For example: These are the pedals that turn the wheels on the bike I got for my birthday. (The poem does not need to rhyme, but for older students who would like the challenge, it certainly could.) 
  5. Revise the poem by zooming in on the verbs, using a thesaurus if necessary to make them more precise and using alliteration and/or assonance where possible.
Have students repeat the process to create their own poems then share and celebrate!

What is a simple, practical tip for teachers when it comes to incorporating poetry in the classroom?

I think the simplest, yet most powerful way to incorporate poetry in the classroom is to have a poem of the day for the opening routine. These poems should be relatively short (or could be excerpts of longer poems), and represent multiple formats, themes, styles, etc. After reading aloud, (or listening to an online recording of the poet reading aloud), have students do a choral or echo read, and then give them a minute to jot down the words and phrases that resonated with them. Follow this by allowing them to share and briefly explain their choices. For younger students, this can be done as a whole group activity.

In addition to the many wonderful picture book poetry collections and anthologies from which to draw poems, there are some excellent online options. Here are a few of my favorites:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/
https://poets.org/poems-kids
https://www.poetry4kids.com/
https://childrens.poetryarchive.org/ (has recordings of poets reading their work)
https://poetryminute.org/
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16436/16436-h/16436-h.htm

Can you recount a specific instance of when poetry impacted a student or group of students in a positive way?

There are many experiences from my 25 plus years in education, but several stand out. I was teaching ninth grade English in 1999 when the Columbine shooting happened. The next day was somber and tense. Students were experiencing such a whirlwind of emotions, and they were struggling to verbalize what they were feeling. I was, too.  Instead of moving forward with the lesson I had planned, we all sat and poured out our feelings in a free-write, and then shaped those thoughts and images into poems. Afterwards, we pulled all the desks in a circle and those who wanted to (which was everyone) shared their poems with the rest of the class. It sparked some very emotional moments and heavy discussion, but it allowed all of us to verbalize what we couldn’t otherwise, and helped us to move forward together.


CONNECT WITH RANDI SONENSHINE

Website: http://www.randisonenshine.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rsonenshine
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rsonenshine68/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randi.sonenshine

Stay tuned for more from Randi—a little wren told me she might have some exciting news to share soon!

And here's some exciting news in the meantime...




Please join me in congratulating Randi on her wonderful debut and thanking her for offering a signed copy of The Nest That Wren Built to one lucky Today's Little Ditty reader! To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Wren House" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, March 24th. The winner will be selected randomly and announced next Friday, March 27th.

Click HERE to read more posts in the TLD Classroom Connections series.


Lots of wonderful poems about games were added to the padlet this week! Featured ditties included poems by Kathleen Mazurowski, Bridget Magee, and Dianne Moritz. Click HERE for more information about this month's challenge or to add your poem to the collection.




What a happy surprise to discover that Michelle Kogan, our host for this week's Poetry Friday roundup, is featuring springtime poems from The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018! Don't miss her beautiful "Ode to Spring Soil" and three more poems by Diane Mayr, Mary Lee Hahn, and Margaret Simon, plus a bonus poem from Michelle called "Mother Spring."

DMC: "Games of Hopscotch" by Dianne Moritz




GAMES OF HOPSCOTCH

In the days of innocence and Eisenhower,
most girls would play their games of hopscotch.
Jay-walking to a vacant lot across the street,
we’d kick away debris and bits of broken glass,
             
              scratch out our game-boards
              on rough cement with pieces
              of chalk snitched from school.

Like kangaroos, we’d hop, hop, hop, jump, hop
turn around, till sweat dripped down our rosy cheeks,
and our lips craved ice-cold cherry Cokes, grape
popsicles from Sweeny’s drugstore down the block.
             
               We’d skip off laughing, hand
               in hand, stepping over wide
               cracks, sparing our mothers’ backs,
               Carefree, happy, high on life.


© 2020 Dianne Moritz. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, March 27th.