Poetry Day 3- Last Day of the Test, Let’s Write Something That Makes Sense!


My Day 1 poetry post received this invitation:

Amy invitation

I shared Amy’s site and some of her poems with the kids. They loved hearing her read her own work! Many of the kids were intrigued by Amy’s monthlong exercise in writing a daily poem about the same topic.

We also talked a little about the poet’s lens, which is one tiny linguistic adjustment I made to use our unit with 4th grade. When they went to write, students chose from a variety of options: list possible topics, try out topics to write a bunch of poems about (per Amy’s invitation), start playing around with poem ideas, or anything else they felt could help them get started.

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Poetry Day 2- Post-test Poetry Slam

Well, it didn’t quite go as I had planned, but I guess things happen!


Today I read and showed the class a poem I first heard as a child- Fog, by Carl Sandburg. From the first time I read it, the image of the fog on little cat feet captured my imagination. I couldn’t pin it down, the image always changed. The silence and weightlessness of a cat materialized for me, like fog, in a form that shifted from opacity to hazy translucence. At first, I told the class, I was curious. I had to read it, and read it again. I looked for the word or line that gave me this easy but unbalanced sensation. I couldn’t find it. All the words were just regular words.



The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

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Poetry Day 1- Post-test relaxation reading

Today was day one of the NYS ELA test, which has particularly hight stakes for NYC fourth graders. They have to APPLY to middle school. While many middle schools are moving over to an admissions method that holds a student’s body of work more valuable than their fourth grade test scores, most have not yet made that change.

I saw Chris Lehman‘s tweet and post about a possible poetic antidote to the testing season blues, and…


So today I put out a bunch of books and invited students to explore, peruse, examine, and otherwise investigate the variety. We just had a quiet and relaxing time. Tomorrow we’ll talk a bit more about what we’re noticing and wondering. I’m not exactly sure where we’ll go next, but I’ll have the resource with which I’m most familiar:


And hopefully the occasional virtual author visit from poet and coauthor extraordinaire, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

Some other resources that will help us immerse ourselves in poetry are…





Kika’s Historical Fiction

One of my students from last year wrote this amazing story in her 5th grade study of Human Rights. They chose a Human Rights issue, researched it, designed a presentation, and wrote a historical fiction piece. This is her first draft. To see how one of my former students has continued her journey as a writer is so amazing. It also turns out she’s one of my future students, since I’ll be teaching 6th grade next year.


Yuki looked like a wild horse, galloping through the streets of the small, friendly town, her silky black hair flying through the wind.  The glaring sun beamed down at her.

“Japan bombed Pearl Harbor!” she screamed. “Japan bombed Pearl Harbor!” Continue reading

The Sub Sandwich Problem

ImageMelissa, my math coteacher and sometimes partner in executing the Learning Plan, came in and told us about a field day she had helped organize at her school last year. There were a lot of kids, and groups of them all wanted to have their lunches in different parts of the park. Without time to really think very hard, she had to divide up the sandwiches among the groups. She did the best she could, but some of the kids came and complained afterward that the allocations hadn’t been fair. We asked our kids, “Were they right? Did Melissa mess up?” Continue reading

My Nerdlutions

I’m working on them. Here’s a draft.

  • I think it’s mandatory that spending time with my family find its place in between work and work
  • Fit my two weekly runs in between work and family and work
  • Write every day, even if it’s just a speck
  • Greens every single day! I’ve been slacking on this one!
  • Be kinder to myself, like not accusing myself of slacking on things
  • I’m truly inspired by Franki Sibberson to wear lipstick more often. I’m going to shoot for a couple of days a week. And get this- I’m wearing my false eyelashes at least once during the 50 days.

Wish me luck. I mean effort.