Six Word Memoirs To Seed The Classroom Mosaic

One element of a project launched at the start of the school year with my homeroom students is to so a six word memoir. Tried, but true, their six words often give a glimpse of them as people for me, their new teacher, and seen together, it is the start of the mosaic of our emerging classroom community.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

 

In A Zoom Room: Talking #WriteOut with NWP Network Friends

WriteOut Breakout NWP

The other night, I was able to join some facilitators and friends interested in next month’s Write Out project (learn more) in a National Writing Project Network gathering on Zoom. Everyone began in one huge room and then headed off into Zoom-room breakout sessions.

In our room, we shared an overview of the place-based Write Out (October 13 -27, with Oct. 20 National Day on Writing as a centerpiece) and then spent some time exploring resources and elements of place-based learning, before coming back together to chat again and reflect. The video is an edited version of that gathering in Zoom.

Here are some notes from our collaborative explorations:

BreakOutWriteOutNotes

There is also an audio version of the Zoom room:

Peace (in the out),
Kevin

Stories and Place: WriteOut/WMWP/Springfield Armory

WMWP Writing Marathon Flier

Next month, the second year of Write Out will be taking place. From October 13 through October 27, with the National Day on Writing right in the center on October 20, we hope to engage teachers and students and park rangers and other public space stewards into looking at how stories inform our sense of place.

Here in Western Massachusetts, on the National Day on Writing, we are hosting a Writing Marathon on the grounds of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, with hopes of teachers exploring the museum, its history and primary sources as inspiration for writing, and to bring that sense of curiosity back to students.

If you live and teach in Western Massachusetts, we hope you will consider joining us for this writing celebration. We may even have a Button-Making-Activity! The Armory is even offering small stipends for registered teachers.

More information and registration link is available at the WMWP website

Peace (in the past),
Kevin

PS — you can sign up for news and information about Write Out at the site

Five Dot Challenge for International Dot Day

Dots by DogtraxSheri Edwards has set up a collaborative Slideshow for anyone who wants to take part in the upcoming Dot Day celebration. Dot Day is connected to Peter Reynold’s picture book, The Dot, about art and creativity and individual spirit. International Dot Day is celebrated in schools and organizations all around the world. Officially, this Sunday is Dot Day, but as the site notes, that date is rather flexible.

Last year, for CLMOOC, I set up a collaborative drawing, and asked folks to add their mark to the file, creating a collage of colorful dots and writing. (I also do a Dot Day activity with my students — I will do that on Monday, I think — here is a teachers’ guide to some Dot Day activities, if you need some ideas)

Dot Day Collaboration

This year, Sheri has set up a Five Dot Challenge, which involves simply putting five dots down on a page, and then connecting them to make a person. Then, write a small poem or small bit of writing, and upload into her Google Slideshow.

Here is Sheri’s tutorial on how to do the Five Dot Challenge

Here is Sheri’s collaboration, where you can add your own

Come add your own dots and connect with others in a creative way.

Peace (connecting dots),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Sharing Songwriting Notebooks

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I appreciate that so early in the year, I have already started to make some strong connections with students.

Yesterday, one of my students told me in the morning that they had “something to show me” but we didn’t get around whatever that was until the afternoon. I met the student in the hallway coming back to our classroom, and reminded them of our earlier conversation. They asked me to hold on a second, and then rummaged through the backpack to pull out a small notebook.

“My notebook,” the student told me, “for writing songs.”

I asked permission to look, and was eagerly granted it, and my student noted that there is only one song underway. I, of course, celebrated that they had a songwriting notebook and expressed appreciation for sharing with me. They apologized for the messiness and for having only the one song, but I celebrated both.

I know there is a vulnerability with sharing words and songs not yet completed. I’m the same way. I also know that finding another songwriter to share with is special, too. And I know this student was trusting me because of the fact that we both write songs, and that we both play guitar in order to write songs.

I may dig around this morning and find one of my messy songwriting notebooks, too, just to extend the sharing together as songwriters making a mess of notebook pages, all in the name of writing and of making music, and of deepening the connections as writers so early in the year.

Maybe I’ll even share this photo my workspace …

Songwriting Work Space

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

#RevolutionaryPoets: A Poem Calls Home

I am dipping into some of the assignments that my friend, Ian, is doing in a university course called Revolutionary Poets Society, as he shares things via Twitter and his website, inviting others to join in. The second prompt calls for a poem of home in an assignment entitled Where I Begin. This is mine.

 

A Poem Calls Home

where we crouched in the corner
of the abandoned swimming pool, dark water
thick with ferment, time and algae

where we punched in stolen nails
to make a ladder to climb the stairs
to the stars of the disappearance tree

where we bog-jumped in winter,
cracking surface ice in shoes too thin
for warmth, the bonfires always raging

where rain meant shelter, beneath
the eaves of leaves, an excuse to dive
even ever deeper into the woods

where we laughed, went quiet,
cried some, wondered where we’d be,
and if we’d all be there, at all

where we passed the pipes of stories
along in quiet, hidden passions, beneath
the guise of restless childhood

where we lost some, the shared grief
its own river beneath us, our empty
shouting at the skies at night

where just beyond the distance,
if we ever bothered to listen,
we might still hear the voices

of parents calling us
home 

Peace (in remembering),
Kevin

Poems Inspired by Untranslatable Words

I really enjoyed reading through Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders, in which she explores through text and art many words from across different cultures that don’t translate into other cultures. These are words that touch on tangled emotions, or focused insights, or specific cultural reference points. It’s all a beautiful reminder of how language is often elusive.

A few words really spoke to me, so I started to write some small poems inspired by them.

You’ll bury me,

I hope, long before
I, you.
Long before
days slip
to nights,
long before
lost comes
into view
 inspired by the Arabic word — Ya ‘Aburnee

How much water

will your hand hold
when the rain falls
this Monday morning,
with the whole world asleep,
but you?
— inspired by the Arabic word — Gurfa
When she asks what you’re thinking …
when the words break your gaze …
when you find yourself sitting where you didn’t know …
when the trail of poems runs suddenly cold …
when the soft vacant hue of the distance disappears …
when … when … when … whe …. wh … w ….
 inspired by the Japanese word — Boketto
To see sunlight
bend its way
through the green leaves
of the trees is to wonder
what else remains
out of sight until our eyes
suddenly open
 inspired by the Japanese word — Komorebi
Peace (poems),
Kevin

 

 

Comic Book Review: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Images from Center of Cartoon Studies

 

I was happy to crowd-fund some support for the creation of this “Graphic Guide to Governance” by The Center for Cartoon Studies.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like is a comic book that explores American Democracy, tackling not just the structure of government (from the very top — president, congress, courts — to the most localized — town meetings) but also to show how every voter has an obligation to take part in keeping Democracy alive and vibrant.

So, a book for our times.

Inside the pages, the comic utilizes aspects of comic book genre, with sight gags (not too many, but just enough to keep the important and weighty issues in balance), artwork and page design.

We get a crash course in the three main interlocking parts of the US government, the way each — federal, legislative and judicial — are designed to check and balance the other. There’s also key reminders that the federal government is not the only government — states and local communities also wield the power and purse to make change.

“Our system is still flawed, but if people are willing to fight, progress can be made.” — from This Is What Democracy Looks Like

The comic book takes a turn of tone near the middle, where it explores the ways that Democracy may not be working as intended (big money, voter suppression, lack of diversity, unresponsiveness, divided government, etc.) but then pivots to why voting is essential, and how elections at every level have consequences.

Again, a book for our times.

“Democracy is a WE …. not a THEM,” the book reminds us. It also reminds us that there are many ways to engage in creating the government you want, from local elections (many of our towns here still have Town Meeting) on up.

You can download a free version of this ebook comic. The last page has a long list of resources for engaging more in the voting process and in learning more about Democracy. As we approach the coming 2020 presidential election season, perhaps a comic like this might be valuable for students in the classroom. (There’s even a teaching guide to go along with the book)

Peace (voting for it),
Kevin