Monday, November 25, 2013

Stealing Poetry

The seventh grade has been  exploring the language arts through poetry, in their regular classrooms as well as in 104. Since literature is nothing if not a giant conversation with itself, why not pilfer...just a wee bit. With proper accreditation of course!
Why not visit that inspiring site, Poetry 180, set in motion by Billy Collins when he was U.S. poet laureate, and take just one line from a poem as a starting (or ending, or mid) point for a poem of your own making?
Here's a poem by 7th grader Grady. He borrowed the title from a list of ideas that Pie has going for a book. Cross pollination isn't just for gardens!

Why sword fighting on ice is a bad idea

King Arthur didn’t die valiantly winning a battle He was foolishly dueling his stepbrother
In an “Affair of honor”
On a not so frozen lake

He sank
Still trying to stab his associate dueler With his frozen hands
While they floundered and sank together.

Sir Lancelot didn’t fall heroically attacking a dragon
He decided that he would fight the dragon on a frozen lake So that the dragon would freeze in ice forever Unfortunately for Sir Lancelot,
he was a terrible student in Elementary School,
and never learned that dragons could breath fire
The ice melted and it’s hard to swim in full battle armor

The great Gilgamesh wasn’t killed by the Bull of Heaven He went to retrieve his dropped sword
when it skittered across his frozen pond
Leaving his helmet back on the snow bank

He slipped and rung his bell so hard it never rang again 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Announcing...our revamped (not to be confused, this October, with revampired!) WEBSITE

Ta Da...we've updated our look. Please swing by for a look at the new Talents Program website!

Just for fun, I "wordled" our Program's what it looks like as a visual:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

GT Parents Open House - Hold the Date!

Save the date! 

for the Annual GT Open House 

Tuesday, November 19th

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

HMS Library

This evening is designed for parents/guardians of kids in the Talents Program (grades 3-8).

Come find out more about what our program is all about, learn about the unique social/emotional traits of the gifted and how you can find resources for raising gifted learners. Here you can also connect with other parents of GT identified students. Please bring your questions! Light refreshments will be served. 

Illustration courtesy of 7th grade artist, Dylan Doyle

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Evolution of Language - a Snapshot

For our warm up today, the sixth grade group browsed The Youth's Companion, a publication from the late 1800's, as well as Muse, the modern magazine (of life, the universe, and pie throwing). We were looking for how writing for children has changed, and thinking about why it has. The stories in the old "companion" are so long and complex. There is no material submitted by children themselves!
This investigation brought us into socioeconomic territory (did all kids go to school back then?) as well as much vocabulary....who would choose to buy an item advertised as "drab?" Did the word mean something different back then? We noticed that some things are constants: Webster's Dictionary, Quaker Oats, and that some things have faded away. What should your family take on vacation in 1900? A portable telescope!
As always, Muse magazine could easily steal our whole session. Check out its online presence here, although sometimes hard copy is just so much better smelling!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

From the poem booth where it first appeared... to the world..."The Voices of My Teachers" by our own Lulu Rasor is in the current issue of KidSpirit. Check it out HERE!

More locally, the fifth/sixth grade writing club, a monthly group for anyone who likes to write, went to the school garden to harvest some words. Together, we crafted this tribute to the change in seasons:

Summer leaves us coated in fragile pine needles
the yellow sun beams on the green grass
the grass is growing yellow,
Birds fly toward the sun
The thermometer leaves the seventies
and won’t come back there for a while….

Autumn arrives in leaves prancing and dancing
around the gnarled roots of the maple tree
Dandelions wither and withdraw their flowers in sad farewell
Leaves fall off the vine

As one season becomes another
with the death of sunflowers and the birth of pumpkins
leaves twist and turn, falling from a rainbow of trees
Summer becomes autumn
in a burst of color all around us
The humidity goes south, the frost arrives

Are you ready?

We decided to translate into a visual (thanks Wordle!).

Monday, September 23, 2013


It's late September and we are at the very exposition of our journey, no, actually, the action is rising. Welcome to the wild ride of the writer's life....for an imaginative illustration depicting the territory ahead, click HERE). This illustration is just the sort of thing I might choose to share with a group, during our NQQ - Notes, Quotes, and Questions. What students bring to the table sets the tone for our groups, and opens the door to some engaging tangential pursuits. We are oh so fortunate, in 104, that our inquiry can lead us where it will!

That said, each group is on an official investigation. Fifth graders are investigating metaphor in all its venues: poetry to politics. The ultimate challenge will be to post a metaphor haiku to this venerable haiku site. Along the way, we may discuss the meaning of zero, whether there is such a thing as crypto-botany, and much more. Sixth Graders are delving into the meaning of language. What happens to lost words? Why are new ones invented? Is Hamlet in translation (to "modern day English") still Hamlet? How can the human brain tell parts of speech, even using nonsense language, such as Jabberwocky? Along the way, we will play with concepts such as these little known punctuation marks. Use a snarkmark today! Who doesn't love an interrobang...

Seventh Graders are investigating the elements of fiction. Our first story is Amy Tan's Rules of the Game, so full of aphorisms. What's up with all that wind imagery? Is this a story about a mother and daughter, or about chess? We'll ask all this and more. Some of us may even decide to learn the rules of the game....Eighth graders are beginning a year-long investigation of justice and the power of belief. Our first common book is Godless, the National Book Award Winner by Pete Hautman. What happens when a teen prank goes awry?
As always, students are encouraged to share their personal writing -  whether it is fiction, poetry, or prose. We have so many resources in this writer-rich state, including Portland's amazing Telling Room. Please visit my teacher page for more ideas about how/where to publish writing.
Finally, Mrs. Kellogg and I will be at the regional Gifted & Talented Conference, hosted by MEGAT. It will feature many workshops and speakers that will appeal to parents/guardians, as well as teachers of the gifted. Maybe you will join us? Mrs. Kellogg presents it well on her "Off and Running" post of the Think Tank Chronicles. Take a look!

Those are all my annotations for now. Please stay tuned for information regarding our annual Open House, and much more. Better yet, subscribe to this blog!