Good writing/Great writing–a visual

Well, I’m a strong visual learner so this recent post on the Brain Pickings blog kind of fascinated me. See if you don’t agree that visuals can help explain complexities.



A writing challenge…

Don’t we all love challenges! I’ve recently signed up for the 100 Day Challenge (Instagram#100DayProject) where you choose something to “make” and repeat the making for 100 days straight. Since I love photography, have zillions of photos of the natural world, and I love the simple beauty of Haiku I am challenging myself to 100 days of seeing my natural word through 17 syllables and visually representing with photography. Each day I will upload my PhotoPoem to the 100 day instagram site, where I will also enjoy the creative challenges of others who join the project. I will upload some, as well, to my HaikuNorth blog site.

So…why this post? As I’ve commented in previous entries on this blog, I love the challenge of numbers. Some of my published writer’s notebook entries are number challenges…Home in 6 sentences…My life in 7 stories….Writing small in 50 words….20 observations….10 observations a day…6 word memoirs…The challenge of a number is exciting and setting a number limit helps one drive to cross the finish line.

Students love the challenge, as well. Years of reading the amazing writer’s notebooks of college students confirms this—-to a student, they grab the number challenge invitations. I think that creating a 100 day challenge in writing classrooms would not only be great fun, but writers would discover their voices, as well. If not 100 days, then lower the limit—make it a monthly challenge, or 20 days, or 50…whatever works.

Imagine the possibilities of writing on the same topic, or in the same genre each day—“making” something “anew” with words and visuals if desired, for a set number of days. The challenge lies in making 100 (or whatever the limit) of “something,” so why not with writing?? For several years when I taught 6th graders, we did the Moon Journal project (just google it—it is still ongoing everywhere and I did this back in the mid-90’s), for the month of October, where they kept a Moon Journal and each evening at relatively the same time, they went outdoors, viewed the moon, captured noticings about the qualities in the natural world—air, sounds, sky; they wrote in the journal and sketched what they saw. Many turned their words and sketches into watercolors. The Moon Journal project was much like the 100 Day Challenge—it was both finite and creative. And, they loved it and discovered that they could look at that same old moon each night and find new words with which to describe both what they saw and what they felt.

Writing is thinking. It is living, experiencing. Any way, any path you choose to get creative juices flowing and imaginations widening is a good thing.

I know the end of the school year is nearly here, but wouldn’t it be great to “challenge” your students to a summer project, to keep writing juices flowing?

The #100DayProject started yesterday, April 19th. Here are my posts for days 1 and 2. I’m already loving this!


Day 1  A walk along the icy pier on a frigid day rewarded us with this beautiful image. Note the bird feathers ruffling in the wind. It was so cold!

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Day 2 The one clinging oak leaf on the bare-branched tree and near perfectly centered, as if posing for my camera. The bluest sky on this mid-April day as a backdrop to the beautiful trees–Spring gifts.

National Poetry Month

Every April, I highlight National Poetry Month and encourage teachers to take full advantage of all of the amazing resources available to you on the Academy of American Poets website,   Caution! You can get lost in the good stuff on this site :0)

Of special interest to teachers, check this out: is also on youtube and twitter. A twitter feature I especially like is the April highlight called Teach this Poem. If you twitter, you can link to a poem and add YOUR great ideas for teaching.

Poetry lives in and emerges from our souls. To me, every month is poetry month, as it is my favorite genre. Each April I am grateful that encourages everyone to celebrate how poetry touches and enriches our lives.

I hope you will visit and explore this wonderful site!

TedED interview with girl with Asperger’s

Excellent TedED interview!

She’s highly successful, a recent speaker at a 2015 Women’s Conference, an undergraduate student, and she suffers with Asperger’s. This is a compelling read, for her words as well as the excellent resources she suggests/provides. Found this on my twitter feed; so glad that I did!

Robert Frost Farm website

I always say that I love Robert Frost because a teacher loved him first. A favorite high school English teacher was crazy in love with his poetry; her passion was contagious. She traveled to Washington DC to hear him give the Inaugural poem for JFK. She visited Robert Frost Farm, in Derry, New Hampshire. Just shows you how a teacher can ignite a lifelong interest and passion. One of my favorite gifts ever is a book of his poetry given to me by my son.

The Robert Frost Farm website is a fun visit, filled with so many great teaching ideas—or just linger awhile during this month when we honor our American poets, explore and enjoy.

poem in your pocket day

Every April, one day is targeted as Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day to celebrate a favorite poem, write it down and carry it all the livelong day to share with others. This year, the date is April 30. Mark it!! You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.  I’ll be sharing mine! Teachers–you can find poems to download on Poem in Your Pocket Day page of

I know I will argue with myself…do I share a favorite Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, or Billy Collins..Mmmmm..choices!

Dear Poet…..

Dear Poet is a Academy of American Poets invitational challenge to students in grades 5-12 to write a letter in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. The multimedia project (LOVE that it is multimedia) extends through the month of April, National Poetry Month.

Instructions for students may be found on the Dear Poet link above.

Teachers—if you are interested in using Dear Poet in the classroom, has worked with a curriculum specialist to design a series of activities, aligned with the Common Core, especially for you. Here is the link to Lesson Plans. The lesson plans are intended for middle and high school students, but can be adapted for a younger group.

LOVING this!!! Hope you will, too, and challenge your students!

Read Works for National Poetry Month

Linked to Read Works just a few minutes ago, but here is a timely link for poems to celebrate National Poetry Month, which is always in April. Bet you will find some good poems!!

Spread the Word to End the Word…

We opened my Literacy in Middle Grades methods class today to wonderful viewing of Hope College mission to Spread the Word to End the Word “retard,” a descriptor casually attributed to those who have mental handicaps and struggles. Sadly, the “R” word is used often without thinking by otherwise tolerant and upstanding folks. Please view this amazing video made by our Hope College students and featuring many in Hope’s Ready for Life program. Below the video link I have linked to the national website for Spread the Word….so, do all that you can to spread this important word–to ban the “r” word from both casual and intentional conversation. it’s ugly. It’s so far from the truths. It hurts. (Thank you Mikayla and Hannah!!)

The national website link