Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another New Year and Resources for Teachers

This week was the first week back for students.  There are five elementary schools that feed into our middle school. Lots of new faces for our sixth graders to get to know.  They come with a mix of anxiety and excitement.  All teachers know the importance of beginning the year with icebreakers to help build a sense of community in the classroom. Today, I'm sharing two that worked well with my students.

I teach six classes of Reading Intervention.  My students are not only struggling readers, most of them also have special needs. They don't like to read, and they aren't shy about letting me know it.  Short, high-interest texts work best for them.  The Poetry Friday anthologies compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have become my go-to resource. Having the elementary, middle school, and science editions make it easy to find just the right poem to complement my lesson.

This week I used two poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School edition. I made a power point presentation of "The First Week of School" by Janet Wong. The poem begins:

First week here: it's like a show.
Lots of kids that I don't know.
Where am I supposed to go?

Janet Wong all rights reserved. 

After reading the poem, I asked the  "Take 5!"  question: What are the best and worst parts of the first week of school?

This question gave students an opportunity to share their feelings about starting middle school.  My hope was to help them feel connected to their classmates by discovering that they were all feeling the same mixed emotions.  I heard a lot of, "Me, too!" comments so I think my objective was achieved!

The next day, I read aloud "Another New Year" also by Janet Wong.  My objective was to encourage students to think about trying something new this year.

I used the "Take 5" prompt: Brainstorm a list of in-school and after-school activities that are offered on your campus for students to consider.  Next, I gave them a poetry frame using parts of Janet's poem, but leaving space for students to write their own responses. My sixth graders really loved this activity,  and I love how they put their own spin on it!   Several of them volunteered to have their poem projected onto the screen and proudly read it aloud to the class.

Below is one of my favorite examples by a young man who claims he doesn't like poetry (the underlined sections were written by the student). I'll share more of their poems next Friday.

Another New Year

Another new year:
another new start.

I'm thinking I should
get to class on time.

And try to open
my locker

and not fall down
in the hallway.

For fun I could learn
to do visual arts.

(Pull friends into
a homework group
or theatre group?)

Our chess team
is meeting today.

I guess I could join.
I'd need to practice.

I'll play every night
till I go to sleep.

This is the year
I do my best!

Isn't that great?  The Poetry Friday anthologies make it easy for me to motivate students to read and write poetry, AND to practice much needed listening and speaking skills. With all the demands on my time, I am extremely grateful to Sylvia and Janet for compiling these teacher-friendly, student-friendly volumes.  More of their fantastic resources (including pocket poem cards and poetry movies)  from the Poetry Friday series can be found here.

Jone is hosting Poetry Friday this week, be sure to Check It Out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Heidi Bee Roemer on Inspiration and Writing Poetry

I've been thinking about all the great resources in our Poetry Friday community. We are so fortunate to be among wonderfully talented poets who generously share their time and experiences.  Today I want to tell you about a poetry class I took several years ago and share an interview with an excellent teacher, author, and poet Heidi Bee Roemer.

The ABC's of Writing Poetry for Children is a correspondence course that is different from most others because it is self-paced. This feature was very attractive to me because with teaching full time and being a grandma, life is busy!  Knowing that I had control of how long it took me to finish the course let me focus on enjoying the lessons without rushing through. The class is a one-on-one exchange with a tremendous amount of feedback and support from Heidi. The 5 DVDs and a 65-page workbook were informative, and it was helpful to have both resources to refer back to as needed.

Heidi has all the qualities of a great teacher. She is warm, patient, encouraging, and inspiring. Best of all, with over 200 published poems, she knows poetry! When I decided to write this post, I asked Heidi if she would mind answering a few questions, and she graciously agreed.  Heidi's passion for teaching is evident in her responses.

Where do you find inspiration?

 My inspiration comes from memories, music and observing children, to note just a few. But consider this: babies learn about the world through their five senses. A writer who zeros in on that will find buckloads of ideas! As you go through your day, be aware of things that might spark a flame…
Visually -- an illustration, a TV commercial, a child playing at the beach--or anywhere!
Audibly-- silly sounding words, children talking, city noises, nature sounds, popcorn popping, fireworks, etc.
Tactically--sticky glue, the cool fluidity of water, softness of a pet's fur.
Taste--the startling sourness of a lemon, the creamy sweetness of ice cream.
Smell--cookies baking, the smell of rain.

When writing for younger kids, you might include alliteration--beep beep! splash! poppity-pop! When writing for a slightly older audience, sprinkle in a few metaphors. And when an idea strikes you, jot it down immediately! If you don't, it will probably slip away.

Once you have an idea for a poem, what is your writing process?

Good question! After choosing a topic, I brainstorm for ways to present the poem. Sometimes poets get stuck writing the same style of poem over and over. Boring. Try something new! Experiment!

I might write my poem in first person point of view, as reflected in my title, "I Love to Eat Lemons".  Second person p.o.v. : "Do You Like Lemons?" Third person is also a possibility: "Lulu Loves Lemons!"  In this instance, I chose the latter because I love the playful alliteration.

Knowing various poetry forms also gives writers options. Terse verse, which is often employed when writing for the very young, uses short, clipped rhymed lines that rhyme. Verla Kay has written numerous historical picture books in this form. Her newest is CivilWar, Drummer Boy. Here's the opening of her must-read book, OrphanTrain:

Horses clip-clop.
Streets unclean.
Typhoid fever.

 Parents coughing.
Shaking chill.
Stomachs aching.
Deathly ill.

Harold, David,
Frightened eyes.
Lucy rocking,

An apostrophe poem addresses a person or thing that cannot hear or respond. Pretending to talk to a kite, a pet, or favorite toy is something that comes naturally to children. Douglas Florian, one of my favorite poets, uses the apostrophe form in many of his poetry collections. Here's a snippet from "Daddy Longlegs," from Insectlopedia.

 O Daddy,
Daddy O,
How'd you get
Those legs to grow

So very long
and lean in size?
From spiderobic

Exercise? …

 A parody of a familiar nursery rhyme is always a favorite. A mask poem is another fun form. ("A mask poem is ME pretending to BE something I'm not!") I used both forms in my poem that begins, "I'm a little jump rope, red and white…" It's based on the Mother Goose rhyme, "I'm a Little Tea Pot."

Whether you're trying to sell your poems to children's magazines or writing a poetry collection, use a variety of lively poetry forms to keep your young readers engaged--and to snag the attention of your editor!  

Meter is one of the hardest things for most writers to master. How do you decide on which meter to use?

Sometimes the meter seems to picks itself! If I've captured the first few words of the poem, they may set the pace for what follows. Other times I make a conscious decision on what meter to use.  If the poem is about something exciting, I might use anapest which is the same meter as in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."  Listen to the beat: ta ta TUM ta ta TUM ta ta TUM ta ta TUM. Wouldn't this meter be a good match for a poem about a galloping horse?

The classic narrative poem, "The Raven", by Edgar Allan Poe, is predominantly troche. (TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta….) Paired with Poe's somber words, the rhythm effectively accentuates the poem's increasingly sinister sound.

Try to mimic the rhythms you hear in published poems. Better yet, learn the various meters and apply them to your own poems for more variety in your work.

Do you write in a notebook or on the computer?

I use the computer a lot to research, but I also go to the library every week and bring home books. When I started gathering information for home building (construction) for a writing project, I exceeded the library check-out limit of 100 books, (I never knew they had a limit!) and had to put back a few. I proceed by jotting down ideas in a notebook, but when the ideas really start flowing, I have to turn to the keyboard because my handwriting gets too messy! (I've found that illegible notes aren't very helpful.) I type much faster than I can write. I also prefer to do revision on the computer for the same reason.

  What new writing projects do you have in the works?

I enjoy writing poems for children's magazines, particularly Highlights, High Five, and Hello, plus the "bug" magazines, Babybug, Ladybug, and Spider. Keeping my poems circulating to a variety of magazines increases my chances of getting a sale. Currently, I'm working on a rollicking rhyming picture book about road construction (Well, it's not quite at at the "rollicking" state yet. It still has a long way to go!)  I also started a poetry collection about the construction trades, (carpenter, brick layer, painter, etc). Both are geared for primary grades. Wish me luck!

In addition to writing for magazines and anthologies, Heidi has writes nonfiction, fiction, song lyrics, and articles.  You can read poems from her award winning book Come to My Party and Other Shape Poems here.

For your viewing pleasure, check out Heidi's poem, "Food Fest" from the
Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School which is featured in  Renee LaTulippe's fabulous poetry video.  You can watch it here.

A special thank you to my friend and teacher,
Heidi Bee Roemer for being my guest here on Write Time today. For more inspiration, be sure to visit the multi-talented Irene at Live Your Poem for today's Poetry Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poetry Friday: The Poem That Got Away

Has this ever happened to you?  Last night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I got an idea for a poem. It felt perfect for the collection I'm working on.  Now, I know I should have gotten up and jotted it down, but it had been a long day at summer school and I was exhausted.  Besides, I could remember it until morning, right?    Wrong!  This morning, I overslept, jumped out of bed, got dressed and dashed out the door. Driving to work, I tried and tried to recall that little poem, but it was long gone!

As I was thinking of what I'd like to share today, I came across my copy of the beautiful anthology Inner Chimes: Poems on Poetry selected by Bobbye S. Goldstein. I've owned this book for almost twenty years and return to it often for encouragement and inspiration. The poems express the joys and frustrations of making poems and speak to writers of all ages. It's an excellent resource for writing teachers.

The poem I'm sharing is by Felice Holman. I love this poem, and I really needed to read it again today.  If you write poetry, it might just become one of your favorites too!

The Poem That Got Away

There I was and in it came
Through the fogbank of my brain
From the fastness of my soul
Shining like a glowing coal
The nearly perfect poem!

Oh, it may have needed just
An alteration here or there--
A little tuck, a little seam
to be exactly what I meant--
The really perfect poem!

     I'll write it later on, I said,
     The idea's clear and so's my head.
     This pen I have is nearly dry.
     What I'll do now is finish this pie,
     Then on to the perfect poem!
Read the rest of the poem here.

Be sure to drop by Poetry for Children for today's Poetry Friday party where the multi-talented Sylvia Vardell  and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books) have a very exciting announcement that you won't want to miss!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poetry Friday

Last week, my four-year old granddaughter, Evie, read a book to her preschool class during circle time. She was so proud to be able to read it all by herself! 
Over the years, I've taught preschool, elementary, and middle school.  One of  the most rewarding experiences for me  is sharing the excitement when a child reads his/her first book.  I wrote this little poem to capture that experience.

First Book

Mommy! Daddy!
Come look, come look--

I'm reading, I'm reading,
I'm reading a book!

I just found it here
on the library shelf
and I can read every word
all by myself.

Mommy! Daddy!
Come look, come look--

I'm reading!

I'm reading
my very first book!

Linda Kulp- all rights reserved

                      My two-year old grandson loves looking at his magazine.
                      It won't be long before he reads his very first book!

Be sure to stop by to visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for more poetry offerings.



Friday, July 11, 2014

 Welcome to Poetry Friday!  
My 4 yr. old granddaughter, Evie
stopped by to welcome you!
Hello, everyone!  It's so nice to see you here! This is my first time to host so I’m a little nervous but very happy to finally take the plunge!  Please leave your links in the comments, and I’ll be rounding them up throughout the day.

I've been busy teaching summer school, and the days just seem to be speeding by. I can't believe the summer is half over already!

I did do one very special thing for myself this summer.  I spent the month of June in an online class that turned out to one of the best writing courses I’ve ever taken.  I don’t usually post about classes, but I think this one is such a fantastic resource for poets, teachers, and writers of all genres that I wanted to share my experience. Besides, I'm hoping this post will inspire you to share writing resources you've found helpful too. So, here goes!
I enrolled in The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry for the month of June with one simple goal in mind; I wanted to develop a writing routine for the summer.   What I got was so much more! 
The Lyrical Language Lab is an intensive month-long course taught by Renee LaTulippe.  Renee (of No Water River fame) is an outstanding teacher. Her knowledge of poetic elements, precise lessons, individual attention, and editing background is phenomenal!

A few of my favorite features of the course were:
  • The lessons were well-structured: model, practice, apply, feedback.
  • The assignments and daily interaction with Renee and my classmates kept me motivated.
  • There were opportunities to apply new skills to my WIP.
  • The lessons meet the needs of a variety of  learning styles (verbal, audio, visual, kinesthetic).
  • A lot of information was packed into this course, but it was always entertaining and FUN!

Most courses end, and that’s it.  Not The Lyrical Language Lab! At the end of the course, Renee provided us with a packet containing all of our assignments and her feedback. She is also creating an e-book of our course so we can review as needed. And, we had the opportunity to join an online group of course alumni so we can continue to learn and support each other. How wonderful is that?

I loved the class, and judging by the comments made by my classmates, everyone else did too.  I recommend this course for writers of all genres, but especially poets and picture book writers. Teachers who want a stronger foundation in poetry will also find this class beneficial.  

If you're looking to “punch up your prose,” add to your poetry toolbox, or add to your teaching repertoire, I hope you’ll head over to No Water River and check out The Lyrical Language Lab.

I can't end this post without mentioning another excellent resource.  If you are in need of coaching, consulting, or critiquing,  Mentors for Rent is the way to go!  Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard are the providers of this outstanding service. Both of these ladies have years of writing and coaching experience and share a wealth of knowledge about the business of writing for children. I can tell you from personal experience, they work hard to help clients reach their writing goals.  Check out their website for more details.

Okay, I hope I didn't sound too much like an infomercial, but I know there are folks like me who are looking for resources to reach the next level in their writing.

Now sit back, have a cup of tea, and let's enjoy today's poetry offerings.
Thanks for stopping by!


First Cup Edition

 Laura at Author Amok shares, "July 2 was the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. I'm celebrating with a post about Debbie Levy's latest picture book, "We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song." In free verse, Levy covers the history of "We Shall Overcome" from slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement, and its worldwide popularity today."

Matt comes to us today with an original poem at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme.

Tabatha shares a roller coaster poem by Heidi Mordhorst at The Opposite of Indifference.

Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge brings us fortune cookies and a poem by Irene Latham.
Michelle has a limerick by Irene Latham at Today's Little Ditty

Donna had some fun with her grandchildren this week over at Mainely Write, and she also share's a poem by Linda Baie.

Linda shares a summer swap poem by Margaret Simon at Teacher Dance.

Over at Gathering Books, Myra shares a poem by Iphigene.

Reading to the Core brings us a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Heidi is looking for suggestions about a classic poem for her revision project at My Juicy Little Universe.

Diane is in today with an original poem at Random Noodling.  She also brings us a short post about FIREFLY JULY at Kurious Kitty.

Laura is in today with a poem by Irene Latham from her new book DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST.

Margaret shares a poem by Wendi Romero at Reflections on the Teche.

Irene is in today at Live Your Poem with Quilts, & Pears, & the Summer Swap.

Monica over at Cartwheels shares at original poem today.

Violet offers us some summer advice today.

Becky shares an adaptation of Rilke's unicorn poem at Tapestry of Words.

Second Cup Edition

Tara is in today with a post inspired by the news at A Teaching Life.

Bildungsroman comes to us with an Emily Dickinson poem.

Sylvia has a must read tribute to the poetry of the late, great Walter Dean Myers at Poetry for Children.

Jone shares a postcard she received from Joy Acey at Check It Out.

Joy is in today with an original summer poem  at Poetry for Kids Joy.

Amy is at The Poem Farm with a poem about spirit animals inspired by Laura Shovan's post last week.

OK!  I think that's it for round two.  I posted all the links in the Comments section also, just in case.  I'll check back later this afternoon in case anyone else drops by.  I apologize for not giving a better description for each of today's offerings, but I'm on a time crunch (like always), and the computer was not cooperating!  Now, I'm going to get my tea and read these wonderful offerings!  Thank you to everyone who stopped by Write Time

Our Third Cup Edition

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading  stopped by to bring us some "Chicory".

Jen from I am a teacher et cetera just popped in to share an interesting piece she's been working on. I like it!

Carol invites us over to Beyond Literacy Link for some summer serenity along with a writing invitation.

Lorie Ann is in at On Point today with an original haiku and at readertotz, "It Rains, It Pains."

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, Day 11

Happy Poetry Month! 

I've been checking out the poetry projects on the kidlit blogs this month.  I love having an entire month to celebrate poetry.  Every year, I dream of writing a daily post to celebrate National Poetry Month, but I quickly talk myself out of it because I worry that I won't be able to  fulfill my commitment. Well, this year I'm determined to devote more time to writing so I bought a little notebook and labeled it National Poetry Month. Although I'm not posting them, I'm scribbling something resembling a poem every night before I go to bed.  I use the word resembling because some nights after a long day at school (and a long commute home) that's about all I can manage! Yep, it's messy, but  I'm following the advice of real writers who tell us to just get something down. I've already seen some connections. Who knows, I might even find a few decent ideas for poems hiding in there!

Still, I really want to take part in the celebration so I'm extremely grateful to Irene Latham of Live Your Poem for organizing the progressive poem for folks like me who just want to dip a toe into the waters of National Poetry Month.  Like many others, this is my third year to participate.

It's fun to follow the poem's progress each day and wonder where it might go next.   Part of the excitement is that it's impossible to plan a line until the poet who precedes you writes his/her line. Yesterday, the talented Tabatha Yeats  added a whole new twist to the poem.  I love how she opened to door to some interesting possibilities. As  I read the poem again and again, it felt very dreamlike so that gave me an idea for my line.   I hope it works! 

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it!  Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low—   dreams

Okay, Mary Lee, I've taken us to dreamland, I can't wait to see your creative imagination take us next!

Want more poetry?  Michelle at Today's Little Ditty has this week's Poetry Friday roundup!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Poetry Friday: Love Poems for Valentine's Day!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm reposting a few of my favorite collections of love poems along with some links to poetry collections.

Valentine Hearts selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins  is perfect for young readers because they will relate to poems about everything from heart-shaped sandwiches to  hoping for a special valentine and a love note for a special pet. I am honored to have a poem included in this very gorgeous little book.

                                                       Singing Valentine

                                                          Outside my window
on the icy ground below
a little bird sings:






A valentine melody
          just for me!

Linda Kulp, all rights reserved

Click here to read two poems from the collection by two very talented poets,  Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Marilyn Singer.

Hopscotch Love:  A Family Treasury in Love Poems by Nikki Grimes is a true “valentine delight” with poems about many different types of love.  The rhymed and unrhymed poems are written in variety of  forms including: letter poem, list, and free verse.  I love the vivid imagery and deep emotions in this collection.  Here is the beginning of one of my favorite poems from the collection.

Sweethearts Dance

He pulls her close
           She strokes his face
Their thoughts fly to
           Their starting place

Read the rest of the poem here, and you'll see why I'm such a big Nikki Grimes fan.

Check out these links for a few Young Adult collections I love:

I Am Wings and Buried Alive both by Ralph Fletcher

A Lion’s Hunger: Poems of First Love by Ann Turner

Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing by Gary Soto

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora

 I found the next two collections several years ago while browsing the poetry section in my local Borders. It's unfortunate that so many wonderful book stores have closed.  I used to have a lot of fun discovering treasures such as these.

Also check out: Love Poems by Charles Ghigna. After you read these beautiful poems, you might want to pen your own poem for someone you love.  Charles provides us with inspiration and advice here.


Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni.  I come back to these poems again and again! 

If you have other favorite collections of love poetry, please share the titles with me so I can add them to my bookshelf.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Be sure to stop by to see Linda at  TeacherDance for more Poetry Friday to love today!