Friday, October 20, 2017

celebrating ***Poems Are Teachers*** and a giveaway!

We all enjoy getting a party invitation. Knowing that we have been thought of, that we are considered fun to have around, is a good feeling.  This is how I felt when Amy Ludwig VanDerwater asked if I would provide a poem for her new book about using poetry as a model for writing across the genres.  I didn't realize what a work of depth and breadth I would become one small part of!

Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres (Heinemann, born yesterday!) is both comprehensive and compact, a highly accessible, digestible guidebook for busy teachers.  Its six chapters, ranging from "Writers Find Ideas" to "Writers Select Titles" (and I love that this is the last section, for how do you know what you've written until after you've written it?) consist of 4-page sections that follow a predictable and highly useful structure:

i. a  model poem written for this very book by a currently practicing and publishing children's writer;
ii. words from the poet, tips for considering the technique, and ways to TRY IT;
iii. student poems which show the technique in action, which are infinitely encouraging to young writers!

Most striking (and, I admit, unexpected) is the way that Amy lightly weaves in references to many, many other models and mentors.  For example, in the section Form a List in the "Writers Structure Texts" chapter, Amy follows up the model poem by Kwame Alexander with information that draws on everything from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to picture books by Judi K. Beach and Todd Parr, from dissertations to poetry classics like Falling Down the Page (Georgia Heard) and the newer Things to Do (Elaine Magliaro).

Other sections help teachers and students link writing work to genres outside writing, with references to movies and music, like the song "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease, mentioned in the section Weave Back and Forth to Compare and Contrast.  This approach makes Poems Are Teachers reach up and down the age range, supporting teachers in using the intense, time-wise power of poetry to show students engaging, relevant ways to improve their writing from beginning to end, from surface to depth and from top to bottom.

I'm delighted, of course, to have been invited to this party, but I'm even more delighted to see what kind of event it has turned out to be--a rich practical resource for teachers who know what the particular qualities of poetry are and want to apply them effectively in the classroom. Congratulations to Amy on this achievement!  And now, here's my little contribution--the model poem for the section mentioned above about comparing and contrasting.


To celebrate the publication of this book, I'm offering a copy (provided by the publisher, Heinemann--thank you!) to one winner from the staff of my excellent Montgomery County Public School here in Maryland.  To enter, teachers should comment on this post, mentioning any poem they have used in their classroom in the last year.  Bonus points for including how it strengthened a student's writing! A name will be drawn Monday the 23rd at 12 noon.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is with Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life.  Enjoy the celebration!

21 comments:

  1. Yay for this poetry party! I agree that reading it is like splashing around inside Amy's head... such a variety of wonders! Your poem is a lovely example of compare and contrast... been a while since I've been on a see saw. :) Thanks, Heidi. xo

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  2. Thank you for sharing your poetry and blog! I love learning new and interesting things about the people I work with! I haven't read any poetry yet this year, but in the past, I have always enjoyed Shel Silverstein's work. One that comes to mind is the the Double-Tailed Dog and having my first graders visualize and draw what comes to mind while I read the poem aloud. I recently gave that poster away now, that I teach fourth graders, and I hope someone is putting it to good use!

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    1. Deena, that visualize-and-draw technique is perfect for an image that has many interpretations--like a double-tailed dog. Each Friday we meet a new poem--just the words--and when my students glue it into their Poetry Anthologies, they illustrate it according to their own personal connection to the images or feelings.

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  3. Thank you so much, Heidi. Leave it to a poet teacher to describe this book in such a perfect way. I truly appreciate you offering a book to a colleague. How lucky we all are to have each other in here. Peace to you on this Poetry Friday! xx

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  4. Heidi ... What an absolutely pleasant surprise to realize that after 7 weeks of teaching Art to our mutual second graders, AND already using your Pumpkin Butterfly nature poetry book, I just this morning realized YOU were the delightful author of these poems. Being split between two schools teaching Art, I had no idea that you were indeed the poet of this playful, pictorial poetry. You, the poet, use words to describe and recall the imagery, the imagination and realization fusing nature into words. As an artist and Art teacher, I have utilized your poetry, and other passages of literature to have children draw what they envision from words. In January I will be using Epiphany Forest and Winter Linens to execute a winter scene with pastels and oil resist with paint using your poetry. Thanks for the wonderful words that create our visual masterpieces! Betsy

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    1. Betsy, I'm amazed that you picked out Pumpkin Butterfly by chance from the quite full collection of our school library. It's even more amazing that this morning, without even seeing my note to staff about this post, you suddenly realized that the author was me! Serendipity indeed. I love your plan to use the poems as the basis for winter art. Someday I'll tell you about the interrelated arts project I did at Forest Knolls...

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    2. This is beautiful and full of serendipity! I think that a blog post with these pieces of art and Heidi's poems from PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY is in order! Fabulous!! xxxx

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  5. Heidi, I love your seesaw poem with its motion and movement and its bone-jangling surprise.

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  6. I'm delighted to get to get a glimpse of this party through all the posts celebrating Amy's book today--and the Poetry Friday poets who contributed. You see-saw poem is such fun--and gives much to think about.

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  7. Heidi, love your "See Saw" poem. It is a wonderful example of compare and contrast. Congratulations for being part of Amy's very important book.

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  8. I love that you are making this available to teachers in your district! Great review, Heidi. And, you are one of my favorite poets. So, I'm not at ALL surprised to see you in this party. Enjoy the fun and thanks for sharing the joy.

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  9. It's a wonderful way to introduce your poem, Heidi, which is terrific, by the way. I would have loved having this book when I taught. Don't enter me, I'm no longer teaching, but will share a poem that meant a lot to students in my classes, showed them they could write what was close to their hearts & lives: "Ode to Pablo's Shoes" by Gary Soto.

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  10. Love your see-saw poem and THRILLED that our words live together inside this important book. (Fabulous give-away idea, too!)

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  11. This book sounds absolutely fabulous. I am putting it on my wish list.

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  12. Yay for what sounds like a ground-breaking book. Congrats on being part of it. I love your poem which really brings back see-sawing. My town is getting rid of the see-saws. So sad.

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  13. Love your poem, Heidi! Amy is amazing. Her book sounds wonderful--so wish it was around when I was still teaching.

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  14. I bought a copy and got it this week. I am so proud to have student work in it. What an amazing and rich resource! I love the up and down see-saw poem you wrote.

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  15. The see saws were always my first stop on the playground, so I love your poem, Heidi! Congratulations on being part of Amy's gorgeous, amazing book!

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  16. Love your marvelous poem, Heidi. I had an interesting discussion with Elena after reading it...I wondered whether there were still see saws in playgrounds (I don't remember there being any/many when my kids were going to playgrounds regularly). She said there had been one in a neighborhood where she babysat & also they came up in social studies that very day! See saws are a great way to explain economics n whatnot.

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  17. Hurrah for a poetry party, hurrah for poetry and hurrah for teachers!

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  18. I love your See Saw poem, Heidi! Congrats on having a poem in Amy's book. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it!
    Love that a teacher will win this book to use with their students!

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