Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Classroom Connections with David Bowles




TODAY'S READ

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

David Bowles, Author

Cinco Puntos Press (November 27, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1947627062

For ages 9 and up

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





SYNOPSIS

Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. 



In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd—reader, gamer, musician—who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails. 



But trusting in his family’s traditions, his trusty accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope. 



He writes poetry.


A PEEK INSIDE

© 2018 David Bowles, from They Call Me Güero:
A Border Kid's Poems (Cinco Puntos Press)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Mexican American author David Bowles has written fourteen books, including the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Smoking Mirror and Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico (one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best YA Books of 2018). His most recent publication, They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems, has received multiple accolades such as the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, the Pura Belpré Author Honor, and the Walter​ ​Dean​ ​Myers​ Honor ​Award​ ​for​ ​Outstanding​ ​Children’s​ ​Literature. His work has also appeared in a wide range of venues, among them Journal of Children's Literature, Translation Review, Rattle, and Huizache. In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in recognition of his literary accomplishments.


CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

There are so many great things about poetry that make it perfect for young people. It’s a bridge between music and literature, and the playful way in which it shapes language lets kids see how beautiful, melodic, fun and impactful words can be. It is dense, condensed when compared to prose, occupying less space but saying more. As a result, it lends itself to being re-read again and again (something students should learn to do) and rewards close analysis. It can be read out loud, chorally, helping struggling readers and ELLs without shaming them.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

Well, nearly all upper elementary and middle-school English standards require teachers to cover the genre of poetry. Finding work that centers kids, that is culturally diverse, is important. They Call Me Güero is a great fit. Furthermore, the book explores Mexican American identity on the border in a way that shatters stereotypes. It would work well in any unit about the wide variety of American experiences, a perfect tool for showing that the border isn’t a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of bad people, but a rich, beautiful region where people live normally, healthy lives.

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

Using “They Call Me Güero” as a template, teachers could have students write their own poems about their nicknames, beginning with the prompt “They call me ____.” The poem would explore why the nickname was given and what it says about the student and the community they come from.

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

Be sure to tap into students’ prior knowledge, setting them up for success by selecting poems that will resonate with them on that text-to-self level.

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

Poetry really impacted me personally. As an 8th grader, I had a teacher named Bill Hetrick who pulled the lid off of poetry for me, revealing how incredibly powerful it was as a lens for understanding the world and my place in it. Later, when my dad abandoned our family thousands of miles from our hometown, it was poetry that helped me to survive the darkness: reading it, writing it.

Later, as a middle-school teacher, I had a group of boys who just didn’t respond well to the literature we were reading. So I brought in “Oranges” by Gary Soto, a poem in which they could see themselves reflected, adjacent to their own cultural experience as Mexican American kids. It was hugely successful. They identified with the boy in the poem. I was able to get them to try writing about their own lives, to find the “orange” in their own personal stories.


CONNECT WITH DAVID BOWLES

Website: www.davidbowles.us
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.oscar.bowles
Twitter and Instagram: @DavidOBowles

Look for The Chupacabras of the Río Grande: Unicorn Rescue Society Book 4 (co-written with Adam Gidwitz), published this month from Penguin.











Many thanks to David for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and for offering a copy of They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems to one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Guero Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!


 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!


Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.



TO FOLLOW:

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Classroom Connections with Stephanie Parsley Ledyard




TODAY'S READ

Home Is a Window

Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, Author
Chris Sasaki, Illustrator

Neal Porter Books (April 23, 2019)
ISBN: 978-0823441563

For ages 4-8

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





SYNOPSIS

This simple text explores the meaning of home at its most basic level and follows a young girl and her family as they leave their apartment in the city and move to a different home.


A PEEK INSIDE

Text copyright © 2019 by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Chris Sasaki.
From HOME IS A WINDOW (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House).





















ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Parsley Ledyard’s first picture book, Pie Is for Sharing, illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner Jason Chin (Grand Canyon) and published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, received four starred reviews and was named among the best of 2018 by Kirkus and The Horn Book. Stephanie writes picture books, poetry, and middle grade fiction, and she works during the school year as a library assistant. She grew up in Wichita Falls and has taught fourth-grade writing, filled in as a church accompanist, and helped start a hospice program for grieving children and teens. Stephanie has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Dallas with her family and pets.



CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Poetry belongs in the classroom, and not just literature and reading classrooms. Aside from the obvious reasons—that it’s a compact, versatile, and memorable form of expression—poetry offers a way for the quieter or less noticeable students to shine. I used to be one of those students: not in the higher reading group, not stellar at math, possibly a little ADHD. Then in fifth and sixth grades, my social studies teacher, Mrs. Bevil, allowed students to relate in any form (poetry, art, a presentation, an essay) the unit that we had just finished. Each time, I wrote a poem. Each time, I got to be a star student to her. I was good at something in school! That was life changing, and the experience followed me—I became a better student for the rest of my life. Poetry is a great way to turn the tables in a classroom; it allows students to surprise themselves, their classmates, and their teachers.

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

See pages 12 and 13 of the attached educator guide created by the fabulous Deb Gonzales.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

I’ll focus on social studies, since literacy and math are well covered in the attached teacher guide. When I wrote this text, I was moved by the images of the Syrian refugees and the homes they left, and the new places where they’d be settling and starting over with very little. I was thinking of the basic elements of a home—a roof (shelter), a blanket, a table or space for eating together, something decent to eat, a plant to tend (or a tree out the window), someone to play with you and talk to you, and the feeling of being loved and cared for. I was also inspired by the vastly different types of homes portrayed in the 2010 documentary, Babies. I hope that Home Is a Window will be used with discussions about homes in various cultures, and homes in different socioeconomic levels of our own society. What makes a home? Can you have a great home if you’re poor? Does being rich mean that your home is the best? Can you live in a huge house but still not have a good home? I’d love for students to think about and discuss these issues.

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

During poetry writing, ask students to use at least one or two poetic devices (alliteration, metaphor, personification, etc.) to use in their poems, then to identify which devices they used. As students share their poems with the class or a partner, see if their classmates can identify which devices were used and possibly even discuss how this made the poem stronger, fresher, or more memorable.

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

Decades after I sat in Mrs. Bevil’s classroom, I taught fourth-grade language arts for a year at that same school, Crockett Elementary in Wichita Falls, and I noticed that the most powerful or beautiful poems were written by the students for whom English was not their first language, or by those who really struggled with reading and writing. A few of the boys who had behavior issues were the first to memorize poems and want to recite them to me. (I still remember a tough boy, MJ, reciting “Something Told the Wild Geese,” by Rachel Field, at my desk in his soft and tentative voice.) Those students have graduated from high school now, and I hope they remember some of the poems they wrote or memorized. I certainly do. Reading and writing poetry together allowed me to appreciate, understand, and remember my students in a different way.  


CONNECT WITH STEPHANIE PARSLEY LEDYARD

Website: stephanieledyard.com
Twitter: stephledyard1
Facebook: stephanie.parsley2
Instagram: stephledyard




Many thanks to Stephanie for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and for offering a copy of Home Is a Window to one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Home Is a Window Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!


 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!


Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.



TO FOLLOW:

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Classroom Connections with Georgia Heard




TODAY'S READ

Boom! Bellow! Bleat!: Animal Poems for Two or More Voices

Georgia Heard, Author
Aaron DeWitt, Illustrator

Wordsong (March 12, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1620915202

For grades K-5

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



SYNOPSIS

These poems for two or more voices explore the myriad sounds animals make—from a frog's jug-o-rum to a fish's boom! to an elephant's bark. Laced with humor, the poems are meant to read aloud and cover all major classes of animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, even a crustacean! Readers will learn how to estimate the temperature by counting a cricket's chirps and see how creatures make sounds at specific pitches and frequencies, so that they can be heard despite other noise around them. Extensive end notes provide more information on the animals and how and why they make the sounds they do. This is an ideal collection for parents and children to share, or for a fun, interactive classroom read-aloud.


A PEEK INSIDE

Text copyright © 2019 by Georgia Heard. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Aaron DeWitt.
From BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT!: ANIMAL POEEMS FOR TWO OR MORE VOICES (Wordsong).


Enjoy this ribbeting riveting rendition of "We Don't Say Ribbet!" by students, Minnie and Gigi:



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Georgia Heard grew up in Virginia in a house on the edge of 100 acres of woods. She spent her childhood listening to an orchestra of birds, insects, frogs and other creatures in her backyard. She is the author of Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky: Animal Poems, and has compiled several poetry anthologies for children including the Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems and Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems. She is a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City where she also received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University.  She is the author of numerous books on writing including: Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School which was cited by Instructor Magazine as one of the “10 Books Every Teacher Should Read.”



CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

I believe that children are natural poets; they see the world with poet’s eyes and often speak using poetic words. Bringing poetry into the classroom nurtures what is natural in kids.

Perhaps the most important reason for bringing poetry into the classroom is that it helps children connect with how they feel, and, by reading a variety of poetry, kids connect with other people in the world which encourages empathy.

We should also bring poetry into the classroom because it can teach kids about writing in all genres. Grace Paley said that she went to the school of poetry in order to learn how to write prose. Here are a few writing craft tools that poetry can teach:
  • imagery 
  • voice
  • word choice
  • revision
And many, many other tools.

I love what’s written on your blog Today’s Little Ditty: “a poetry playground for the child in all of us.”  That’s exactly how poetry should feel—like a poetry playground.
 
How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

There are many wonderful ways to incorporate Boom! Bellow! Bleat! into the classroom—from performing poems in reader’s theater as well as in interactive read-alouds, to including Boom! Bellow! Bleat! in a nonfiction study of animals where students research and write their own animal sound poems for two voices with accompanying informational back matter, to how Lucy Calkins used one of my poems (“Forest Orchestra”) in her new Units of Study on Phonics to help kids play with and perform sounds, and learn phonics. Animal sounds are perfect for this!

This is perfect book to help children with reading fluency for ELA and ELL. For reader’s theater and interactive read-aloud, there is a performance key in the beginning of the book that tells readers how they might read the poems. The poems are colored coded and each reader, or group of readers, can choose one color of text to read (usually black or red) alternating with one another. Words in blue are spoken by all readers in unison. It’s a good sign when students in classrooms, after reading and performing Boom! Bellow! Bleat!, always ask, Can we read it again?

Although Boom! Bellow! Bleat! is a book of poetry it also incorporates a lot of nonfiction information. Many people don’t realize that writing poetry can involve research, and nonfiction information can be incorporated into poems. There is extensive nonfiction back matter on each animal and their sounds that I call Nature’s Notes. When students write their own animal poems for two voices they can learn how to transform information and facts gathered from research into poetry by close reading the poems in Boom! Bellow! Bleat!. They can include informational animal sound poems in a nonfiction informational piece.

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

One specific classroom exercise using my poem “We Don’t Say Ribbit!” is when teachers and students create a frog pond chorus. Teachers can introduce the poem by reading the Nature’s Notes in the back of book explaining the difference between frogs and toads. Then they might divide the class into two groups: the frog group and the toad group. When the class reads the poem out loud the frog group will say, or perform, the frog sounds (written in black), and the toad group will say, or perform, the toad sounds (written in red). They will alternate calls between frogs and toads such as waaatwang, and yeeeeeoooow (which are actual frog and toad calls), and then the whole group will say the refrain together (written in blue): We don’t say ribbit! / We say…. You can turn the classroom into a frog and toad pond by standing in different parts of the room and performing the sounds. To add extra drama to the performance, sometimes I use animal hand puppets to perform the poems and ask students to join in with me.

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

I suggest that teachers begin by reading a poem aloud to their students every day. It only takes a minute or two to read a poem—teachers might start the day (or the class) with a poem or end the day with a poem. Or have a daily poetry break. It’s important to read a variety of poems—from rhyming poems to free verse poems to poems for two voices—so students can get a taste of all kinds of poetry. Ask students to keep a poetry folder with the poems they really love, illustrate in the margins the pictures they see in their minds, and write what makes them love this particular poem. With this simple tip, I can guarantee that within a matter of a couple of weeks students will be asking for more poetry.

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

A student in one of my classes was going through a tough time at home. He was the kid whose desk was in the corner, and he was always getting in trouble at school. When he started to read and write poetry he was able to connect with his feelings, and the poems he wrote were remarkable. He became the class poet. He created a book of his own poems and was so proud, he shared it with everyone who walked in the room. He had found something that he valued and that enabled him to be authentic. Poetry helped him find his voice as a writer.

When I teach poetry, stories like this frequently happen. The kids who feel they aren't good at anything, especially writing, often become the class poets. I’m not sure why that is—maybe because poetry is short and, therefore, more manageable than other kinds of writing, but I think it’s also because poetry is freer and kids are able to write what they think and feel, and it sometimes catches those who are falling through the cracks.


CONNECT WITH GEORGIA HEARD

Website:www.Georgiaheard.com
Twitter and Instagram: Georgiaheard1
Facebook: Georgia Heard Page  (georgiaheard1)




Many thanks to Georgia for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and to Wordsong for providing me with a copy of Boom! Bellow! Bleat! for one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Boom Bellow Bleat Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!


 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!


Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.



TO FOLLOW:

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Classroom Connections with Aida Salazar




TODAY'S READ

The Moon Within

Aida Salazar, Author

Arthur A. Levine Books (February 26, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1338283372

For ages 8 and up

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






SYNOPSIS

Celi Rivera's life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend's exploration of what it means to be genderfluid. But most of all, her mother's insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It's an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?


A PEEK INSIDE

Click on image to enlarge.

Text copyright © 2019 by Aida Salazar, from The Moon Within (Arthur A. Levine Books).



























ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aida Salazar is a writer, arts advocate and home-schooling mother whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. She is the author of the forthcoming middle grade verse novels, The Moon Within (Feb. 26, 2019), The Land of the Cranes (Spring, 2020), the forthcoming bio picture book Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Revolutionary Fighter (Spring, 2021) - Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic. Her story, By the Light of the Moon, was adapted into a ballet production by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history. She lives with her family of artists in a teal house in Oakland, CA.





CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Puerto Rican poet, Piri Thomas, said, “Every child is born a poet.” In our rush to educate for tests, we forget this truth, we forget to fortify our students with the tools to nurture this ability. We scrub away the introspection and invention that children inherently have as they grow and see the world from learning eyes. Poetry offers students a way to slow down, to look inside language, contemplate its meaning, its rhythm, its sound, or the way words are arranged on the page. Poetry allows us entry into the intimate chambers of the heart, to collect and examine emotion and to speak to the worlds that affect those emotions. When students are shown how to write poetically, to essentially remember this truth about themselves, we introduce a compelling way for students to build their creative expression, analysis, and understanding through the poetry they already carry.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

We are currently putting the finishing touches on a teacher’s guide for The Moon Within. It was created by Dr. Carla España and will soon be available on my website and on Scholastic’s website. It is titled Honoring Our Bodies, Connections with Our Ancestors, and Healing through Arts and Community. It offers several ways to incorporate the book—through poetry, social studies, science and literacy.   

[UPDATE: view and download the discussion guide HERE.]

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

Here is an exercise I selected from the study guide for The Moon Within.  I chose it because it helps children think about metaphor in a very personal way.

Friendship

Re-read the poem “My Best Echo” (page 24). Think of a metaphor for one of your friendships. Write a poem using this metaphor—think about how you can incorporate aspects of the metaphor like sight, sound, smell, touch, and/or taste to help you think of descriptive phrases.

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

I am a fan of fueling the multiple intelligences of children and so I use different strategies to introduce them to poetry. Below are several examples.

One of the most powerful tools I’ve used for reluctant readers is to listen to audio books or recordings while reading the text. This strategy allows readers to hear the rhythm, tone, and dramatization of a poem which can be fun or emotive. It deepens their connection to the text. Some of my favorites are Nikki Giovanni’s Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children. Shel Silverstein has a great audio recording of Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Read verse novels out loud as a group. Sometimes, they are written from different perspectives and readers can “play” different characters. Some great candidates for such an exercise are Margarita Engle’s historical fiction novels.

To teach children how to generate poetry there are two books that I would recommend. Juan Felipe Herrera, former Poet Laureate of the United States, has a fantastic generative writing book entitled Jabberwalking in which he provides readers exercises and funny inspiration to free their minds and their writing. Also, Rethinking Schools published a poetry teaching guide, Poetry of Resistance which offers a plethora of exercises to help children generate poetry that responds to issues of social justice.

Biography picture books focused on poets are a wonderful way to introduce children through a social / historical lens. Many of these books are told lyrically while at the same time show the struggles and triumphs of poets and the power they harnessed through their work. In this way there is a twofold benefit, an excellent way to introduce readers to a historical figure but also to a poetic device or practice. Some great examples are books like: Marti’s Song for Freedom by Emma Otheguy; The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate; My Name is Gabriela by Monica Brown; A Library for Juana: The World of Sor Juana Inés by Pat Mora; Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda & His Muse by Alexandria Giardino; and middle grade readers would enjoy Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan also about the life of Pablo Neruda.

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

In 2016, a 15-year-old Black boy, Antwon Rose II, responded to a very common poetry writing exercise known as the "I Am" poem, given to him by his 10th grade teacher. The exercise (below) is used in classrooms across the U.S. to teach students how to get at the multiple ways of writing the self. His teacher asked them to write about an issue larger than himself and he chose police brutality. Two years later, on June 18, 2018, 17-year-old Antwon was shot and killed by police in East Pittsburg. His prophetic poem speaks to the fear and vulnerability that many black and brown boys face because society has deemed them a threat. His poem has inspired me and countless people who believe in working to change the world through poetry.


I AM POEM (Exercise)

First Stanza
I am (2 special characteristics you have)
I wonder (something of curiosity)
I hear (an imaginary sound)
I see (an imaginary sight)
I want (an actual desire)
I am (The first line of the poem repeated)

Second Stanza
I pretend (something you actually pretend to do)
I feel (a feeling about something imaginary)
I tough (an imaginary touch)
I worry (something that bothers you)
I cry (something that makes you sad)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

Third Stanza
I understand (something that is true)
I say (something you believe In)
I dream (something you dream about)
I try (something you really make an effort about)
I hope (something you actually hope for)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)


I AM NOT WHAT YOU THINK!
by Antwon Rose II

I am confused and afraid
I wonder what path I will take
I hear that there's only two ways out
I see mothers bury their sons
I want my mom to never feel that pain
I am confused and afraid

I pretend all is fine
I feel like I'm suffocating
I touch nothing so I believe all is fine
I worry that it isn't though
I cry no more
I am confused and afraid

I understand people believe I'm just a statistic
I say to them I'm different
I dream of life getting easier
I try my best to make my dream true
I hope that it does
I am confused and afraid 


CONNECT WITH AIDA SALAZAR

Website: http://www.aidasalazar.com/
Twitter: @mimawrites
Instagram: @aida_writes
Facebook: @aidawrites

Look for two more books forthcoming from Aida Salazar:

The Land of the Cranes, a free verse middle grade novel, tells the story of 9-year-old Betita, who believes that she and other migrants follow an Aztec prophecy to fly as free as cranes. When her father is deported to Mexico and she and her mother are detained by ICE, she turns to writing picture poems as her own way to fly above the deplorable conditions that she and other cranes experience while they are caged. (Fall 2020, Scholastic)

Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Revolutionary Fighter is a biography picture book that recounts the life of a woman who dressed as a man and commanded a battalion of revolutionaries in a fight for religious freedom in the Mexican sierras during Mexico’s Cristero Revolution. (Spring 2021, Scholastic)




Many thanks to Aida for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and to Arthur A. Levine Books for providing me with a copy of The Moon Within for one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Moon Within Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!


 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!


Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.



TO FOLLOW:

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.



 
Jama Rattigan has rounded up a rousing collection of National Poetry Month activities, projects, and Kidlitosphere celebrations at Jama's Alphabet Soup.






Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has the latest installment in her story about John and Betsy at The Poem Farm. Join her for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Classroom Connections with Shannon Bramer




TODAY'S READ

Climbing Shadows: 
Poems for Children

Shannon Bramer, Author
Cindy Derby, Illustrator

Groundwood Books (March 5, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1773060958

For all ages

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




SYNOPSIS

The poems in Climbing Shadows were inspired by a class of kindergarten children whom poet and playwright Shannon Bramer came to know over the course of a school year. She set out to write a poem for each child, sharing her love of poetry with them, and made an anthology of the poems for Valentine’s Day. Many of those poems appear in this original collection, which reflects children’s joys and sorrows, worries and fears. Some poems address common themes such as having a hard day at school, feeling shy or being a newcomer, while others explore subjects of fascination—bats, spiders, skeletons, octopuses, polka dots, racing cars and birthday parties.


A PEEK INSIDE

Click on images to enlarge.

From Climbing Shadows, text copyright © 2019 by Shannon Bramer, illustrations copyright © 2019 by Cindy Derby.
Reproduced with permission from Groundwood Books, Toronto. www.groundwoodbooks.com



From Climbing Shadows, text copyright © 2019 by Shannon Bramer, illustrations copyright © 2019 by Cindy Derby.
Reproduced with permission from Groundwood Books, Toronto. www.groundwoodbooks.com











































ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo: Linda Marie Stella

Shannon Bramer is an author of poems, plays and short fiction. She has published a number of poetry collections and chapbooks, winning the Hamilton and Region Best Book Award for suitcases and other poems. Her most recent collection, Precious Energy, has also been highly acclaimed. Shannon’s plays include Chloe’s Tiny Heart Is Closed (for young audiences) and The Hungriest Woman in the World. She lives with her family in Toronto where she visits classrooms regularly, sharing her love of poetry with students of all ages.


CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

A poem can be like an unexpected burst of laughter, or have the softness and delicacy of a sleeping kitten. Poetry helps us see the world (and each other) freshly. It teaches us to listen and to delight in listening. Sometimes students who have had trouble with writing find the exploration of poetry gives them a fresh start with words and language and I’ve noticed over and over again that when students become comfortable with poetry they gain confidence in all forms of writing. They feel empowered by the knowledge that what they want to try and write down is beautiful. Is important.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

The poems in Climbing Shadows could be used in early literacy programs as well as within the language curriculum at both elementary and intermediate levels. The subject matter of the poems is broad: the book explores everything from spiders and octopuses to birthday parties and complex feelings. The poems are highly accessible but are also written in a variety of styles, which means students and educators can use the poems to discuss and explore form and structure. One of my most important objectives in writing this book was to create a collection that students could look to that would not only deepen a child’s knowledge and understanding of what poem is—but that that the variety of work would help expand their sense of what a poem might be.

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

The following writing prompts/discussion questions are related to my poem, "Darkness Looks Like My Mom," and will be included in the teacher guide/companion I am in the midst of creating!
  • In "Darkness Looks Likes My Mom" the mother is wearing a black dress and she’s travelling in the evening to go somewhere without the child. Write a daytime version of this poem. Where is she going when the sun is in the sky instead of the moon? Is she still wearing a black dress? Why or why not? Remember, you can’t get this answer wrong: It’s up to you!
  • Write a poem about someone going somewhere without you. Write a poem about going somewhere together. Who are you going with? Where are you going? 

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

Here are my most successful tips:

–Teach poetry like teaching music; in tiny bits; exploring the use of fragments and smaller sections of longer poem before presenting it as a whole·  

–Encourage students to think of poems as structures they can build and experiment and play with and take a part; moving away from the idea of a poem as precious thing that can only be created in a moment of revelation or profound inspiration

–Postpone discussion of meaning until an appreciation for the shape, sounds, structure and feelings evoked by the poem are expressed and acknowledged.  I remind students that some poems are not meant to be perfectly understood right away—or ever—that what makes a poem puzzling might also be what makes it exciting to read

–Having students read poems and fragments of poems aloud to each other (or with smaller children, read lines of the poem aloud and have them repeat the poem back to you)

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

A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with a small group of students in an inner-city school in Toronto. These students all had varying degrees of difficulty with learning. I worked alongside a wonderful teacher and we all wrote and read poems together several times a week for three months. The trust that grew among us as we shared the poems we wrote together was a tremendous gift. During some of our timed free-writing exercises they learned how to spot poems, like tiny threads of gold, hidden in longer, more prosaic pieces of writing. A few of them discovered that the way they wrote, when they weren’t worried about spelling or punctuation or “getting it right”—when they just allowed themselves to play with words and let their ideas and thoughts flow out without censoring themselves, was full of insight. It was wonderful, vulnerable, exciting writing. I brought in all kinds of different poems of varying styles and subjects. Every student connected with at least one poem, found one poem that made them want to try and write one of their own. We also created concrete poems using cards on the desks and the ephemeral quality of making a poem and then sweeping it all away to make a new one was exhilarating. It pushed the students to see that editing could be like that too. That you could write a poem and then write another version of it; that the process of creation could be as satisfying as the final result.


CONNECT WITH SHANNON BRAMER

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bramershannon
Twitter: @brokencloudco
Instagram: shannon_bramer

Look for her trilogy of plays (TRAPSONGS) forthcoming from Book*hug (Toronto) in September 2020.




Many thanks to Shannon for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and for offering a copy of Climbing Shadows to one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Climbing Shadows Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!


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Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!


Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.



TO FOLLOW:

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.