Friday, May 29, 2009

Poems for the Teacher

It's the time of year when we prepare to say good bye to teachers that have enriched our lives and given us gifts that never fade. I am working on composing some poems to give my children's teachers along with a few small gifts. Nothing really represents what they've given us; I still remember fondly the teachers that loved and taught my oldest son when he was a wee boy in daycare. I am so deeply grateful for the love we've been showered with in such loving, amazing teachers. They work long hours for too little pay, just for the joy of being with the children. Here are a few triolets I've written for the teachers:

purple flags

Teacher's Garden

In our garden there's a flower
always blooming just for you.
Whether sunshine or in shower,
in our garden there's a flower.
a teacher's love has super power,
we give thanks for all you do -
in our garden there's a flower
always blooming just for you.

-Andromeda Jazmon

pinks 2

Thank You Teacher

Teacher dear - for all the hugs you gave,
for all the lessons taught, we thank you.
By your cheers you made us brave,
teacher dear, by all the hugs you gave.
Those treasured memories are forever saved.
What gifts we offer seem too few;
teacher dear - for all the hugs you gave,
for all the lessons taught, we thank you.

-Andromeda Jazmon

I'm not sure I'm really satisfied with either one yet... might still do some revising. What do you think?

Poetry Friday is hosted at Live. Love. Explore!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Reading links

Here are a few links to online summer reading programs and ideas to keep your children having fun with reading and writing over the vacation months.

Reading Rockets This site is chock full of FUN ideas and links.

TD Bank With this program, children can earn $10 for reading 10 books.

Scholastic Children can earn prizes for reading with this summer reading challenge.

Reading Warriors This challenge site, based on the Warriors books by Erin Hunter, is for students age 8 and up.

48 Hour Reading Challenge

Next weekend, June 5-7, is the 48 Hour Book Challenge organized by Mother Reader. I am getting my book list together and getting excited! Pam lays it out:

Here are the basic guidelines:
  1. The weekend is June 5–7, 2009. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the fifth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row. Edited to add: But during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine. In the middle of the three different challenge weekends I’ve had to go to work, attend a ballet recital, and drive for a Girl Scout event. You can certainly work around the other events in your weekend.

  2. The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Adult books are fine, especially if any adult book bloggers want to play. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. Two graphic novels can be included in the reading. I’m not trying to discriminate, I’m just trying to make sure that the number of books and page counts mean the same thing to everyone.

  3. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this, go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge.

  4. The length of the reviews are not an issue. You can write a sentence, paragraph, or a full-length review. The time spend reviewing counts in your total time.

  5. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day. This makes it easier to track the participants. Write your final summary on Monday, and for one day, we’ll all be on the same page, so to speak.

  6. Your final summary needs to clearly include the number of books read, the approximate hours you spent reading/reviewing, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon on Monday, June 8th.

  7. Sign up in Mother Reader's comments here. You’re more than welcome to post the challenge on your site. Point them to today’s post to sign up. On Friday, June 5, I’ll have a starting-line post where you can sign in to say you’re officially starting the challenge.
There are going to be fantastic cool prizes!! And a Greater Good component: this year I am raising support for Bridget Zinn, the YA author and librarian fighting cancer. (Visit the auction site here before the end of May to bid on super cool stuff and support her medical fund too).

I plan to read as many YA books as possible in the 48 hours and blog short reviews (like Twitter length updates probably.) My pledge: for every comment I get on those posts I'll donate $.25 to Bridget's medical fund. You are welcome to match my donation for your own challenge if you like. The more we read and discuss books, the more we can help!

So are you reading in the 48 Hour Challenge? Or, if your life committements don't allow it, please plan to blog comment and cheer us on!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Haiku for Friday Poetry

may10 021

after school;
friends find each other again
bikes dropped on the grass

-Andromeda Jazmon

The Friday Poetry round up is hosted at Susan's blog today. Enjoy your long weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Double Daring Book for Girls

by Andrea J. Buchanan & Miraima Peskowitz. Collins, 2009. Review copy. Back in 2007 I reviewed the Daring Book for Girls and found it to be full of fun stuff to do and learn. I am excited to get my hands on the latest volume here, also overflowing with exciting things to do. A lot of the activities in The Double Daring Book for Girls are fun to do together, like the section on the Japanese Tea Ceremony or Picnic Games, How to Dye your Hair with Kool Aid, Make a Labyrinth, Turn Your Backyard into a Farm, Make a Rope Ladder, How to Become President of the United States, Be a Private Eye, Run a Magazine, or Dance the Cotton Eyed Joe. You could also try Shooting Pool, Start a Mother-Daughter Book Club, Learn to Swim, Organize a Tournament, play Dominoes or Charades, or Make Stepping Stones for your garden. I am planning on trying a lot of these things before I pass this book on to a little community school where I send all my reviewed books. This book is an encyclopedia of fun! The directions are simple and clear, the materials are not complicated, and the illustrations are colorful sketches of girls doing everything fun. It's got a multicultural twist too, so it can appeal to anyone. Black, brown, tan and ivory girls are playing lacrosse, hoola hoops, football, cards and cricket together.

To celebrate the book's release some bloggers are posting throw-down challenges to their readers for activities in the book. I thought that sounded like fun so I am going to offer my own challenge. I've been admiring the worry dolls described in the book, which are made out of bread twist ties and embroidery yarn. I think I could have some fun making those. I think once I get the hang of it I am going to want to make a lot of them so I am offering one to you! All you have to do is post a comment here telling the world one of your silliest, most annoying little worries that you can't quite get rid off. Like you are afraid that drippy faucet in the tub is sucking your retirement savings down the drain but you can't get around to calling the plumber to fix it. Or you are worried that it is poison ivy growing on your neighbor's fence but you are too shy to ask them to clean it up. Or.... whatever. Share it with us and I'll send you a worry doll to hold your worries! Let's hear it kiddos! I double dog dare you to get those worries out in the open and let them go.

Visit the Daring Book website for more information about the book and read the sections on how to juggle or be a cowgirl, and learn about the longest words in the dictionary, the underground railroad and a bunch of other neat stuff.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Robert Bly's Eclipse

Seeing the Eclipse in Maine

by Robert Bly

It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte,
We were all exclaiming. Someone had a cardboard
And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun
Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.

It was hard to believe. The high school teacher...

Read the rest here at the Poetry Foundation.

I was playing with a new tool I found this week after following a link from a colleague. It's called WordSift, and it makes a cloud of any text you chose to examine. It gives you a visual map of definitions and similar terms, and pulls up images of your terms. Here is the tour explaining how to use it. Here's a screenshot of the above poem mapped:

Go ahead and play with it. Put your Friday Poem text in and see where it takes you. Can you think of a way to use this in the classroom or in your writing and composing? What a cool way to explore your drafts of your work, following the connections and developing your images and ideas! Where does it take you?

Friday Poetry is hosted by Kelly Polark today. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review: A Wish After Midnight

by Zetta Elliot. 2009. (review copy) "I just want people to see all of who I am," says Genna, a 15 year old Black girl living in Brooklyn in 2001. She finds a little peace in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, needing space from her mom who hates white people, the kids at school who think she isn't black enough, and her drug dealing brother and his friends. She throws coins in the fountain and makes wishes... and then one wish comes true. She lands back in Brooklyn in 1863 and becomes tangled up in new friendships that test her ideas of freedom, justice, safety and loyalty. She meets Paul, a blue-eyed, light-skinned Black teen who falls in love with her, and she finds her 2001 boyfriend Judah, who also has traveled back in time. 1863 in Brooklyn is the time of the race riots, which Genna experiences from the home of her white employer. She has a good friend who is Irish and who has a Black boyfriend. They are mixed up in the middle of the riots and Martha flees to Genna's house after her boyfriend gets murdered by the mod.

What I like most about the A Wish After Midnight is its complexity. Elliot doesn't allow simple stereotypes to rule the plot. There is no simple delineation between race, ethnicity and moral behavior. Everyone has their good side and their bad side. Genna struggles to figure out how to survive, how to chart her course, and with whom to align her loyalty, but she doesn't find any easy answers.

I think the book is challenging and thought provoking on many levels, but the surprises Genna finds as people around her behave differently than she expects based on their race are the most compelling parts of the story for me. Genna works as a nanny to a white doctor and his wife. She finds the wife to be simpering, wimpy and foolish, until an Irish mob of rioters come to the front door and doc's wife stands up to them to protect her household, which now includes white, Black and Irish.

Genna is puzzled by Paul, whose white father runs the shipyard but who flees the riots on the docks when he is tormented for being Black. She can't quite piece his blue eyes with his Black identity but she begins to open her mind to the complexity through their friendship. She makes friends with Martha, an Irish girl trash picking for food, and doesn't realize Martha's boyfriend is Black until Martha flees the rioters seeking safety with Genna after he is murdered.

The doctor she works for wants to train her as a nurse but talks down to her about her limited capacities based on his understanding of her race. She feels a whirling mixture of rage, hurt, pride, loyalty, gratitude, hope, confusion and disappointment and fear in her dealings with him as she lives in his house, cares for his son, and learns a medical trade under his guidance. One of Genna's strengths is that she refuses to use simple categories for people even when everyone around her offers the typical labels.

Genna is able to expand her vision of humanity through these friendships and working relationships, and we are witness to the experience. I didn't know much about the race riots of 1863 so I greatly appreciated the historical side to the novel. I think middle and high school students reading this novel will find a lot to discuss and consider. It would be a great book club book for teens.

Elliot is a published poet and has an award winning picture book out titled Bird. She is a professor of African American studies at Mt. Holyoke College.

Interview at
Interview at ColorOnline.
Book trailer on YouTube.
Doret's review is here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slide show from Flickr

The first thing I saw this morning in my Twitter stream was "carolinerocheCogDogRoo - 50 Ways to tell a digital story http://cogdogroo.wikispaces... via"

I had to check that out since I am always looking for new things to do in the computer lab with students. PowerPoint is so old. We need to revamp our curriculum for digital literacies. We want to use a wide variety of tools to help students master the principles of digital citizenship while learning the tech skills and integrating the rest of the school curriculum. Presenting their work in interactive, online enviroments is where it's at. Digital storytelling can be as simple as putting images in a sequence with or without audio and text to tell a story or present information. Just to experiment with one of the easiest tools I made a Flickr set of all my wisteria photos and in about ten minutes had a slide show that illustrates the growth of this amazing vine on the edge of my porch.

It's not really a presentation or a story yet, as it hasn't any text or sound, but it's a start. I think I could work it up into something nice. I am going to experiment with these tools more over the summer and see what I can use with students next fall. What could you do with these digital storytelling/presentation tools? Book trailers? Story teling? Poetry? Family history? Adoption lifebook? 50th anniversary party slideshow? Jump in with your ideas!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Found Poem for Mother's Day

When I was a little girl I used to love when Mother's Day came at the same time the lily of the valley was in bloom, and the lilacs and violets. We had all of them around our house and I used to run outside and pick a bouquet for my mom and leave it on the front step. I'd ring the doorbell and run away. One year I made a complicated boutonniere out of tin foil and expected her to wear it to church. This year I have a photo and a poem I composed from emails my mother has sent me recently. My mom is the best mom ever and I love her. I hope I am just like her when I get to be her age. (That's always been true).

The Friday Poetry roundup is at Anastasia Suen's today. Enjoy your weekend!

may7 009

Emails from Ma Andromeda Jazmon

We arrived safely home Wed.
The two motions we were most in favor of,
both lost.
Roberts Rules of Order, I guess...
Dad wishes now he had asked
to have his negative vote recorded.
Very stuffy place.
Yuh, we're trying now that
we know about the problem...

I'm saving this book
for the boys to read when they are older,
if it's still in print...
I thought it would be good to read
about what's happening in the South...

The leaves all came out while we were gone.
Women still cannot be in certain sections,
but black men can, I think.
I don't know how she does it, honestly.

Hopefully, he will take my advice.
Then it will be our turns to run around like crazy..
But be sure to have a tall fence around the garden.
Better make that a rule...or deer will have a feast,
not to mention bears......oh-oh...
Rest before the next one.

Are you o.k. for tomorrow?
Keep in mind,
I am missing the boys
but don't quite know what to do about it.
We are all too busy.
I think I'll go weed a bit..

I found a red bag in the closet,
full of clothes for emergencies here.
I would call you but it's probably bedtime there.
Hope you are getting enough rest...
and how about homework?
Is it going o.k.?
How can I help?

Let's just keep thinking and praying.
God will work it out,
if he wants them to continue...
No, I know you couldn't do it,
you are doing the goodnight stuff.
I wasn't asking you to.
But please do pray.

I will meet you at the Y at 5:15
I want to use my pass at least once in May.
Look for me when you park.
If I see you in time
I'll bring the puzzle with me.
How much do we owe you?
Love and Prayers...


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Art Show today

rainy day

not such a dreary day:
a child with new boots
looking for puddles

- Andromeda Jazmon

After school today we are going to a local art show where I have three framed haiga (haiku & photographs) hanging. It's my first time participating in an art show with this kind of work. It feels good! Here are the three haiga I submitted.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Online Auction for Bridget Zinn

auction baby quilt 7

Jone at Deowriter has set up the auction site to benefit the medical fund of blogger/author/librarian Bridget Zinn. Bridget in in an aggressive, expensive treatment program battling cancer. Her next chemo is on May 8, which we have designated "Bridget Zinn day". Your thoughts and prayers for health and healing and strength are greatly appreciated! When I was dealing with cancer last winter it meant so much to me to know people were pulling for me. I hope we can do the same for Bridget!

Meanwhile, you have to visit the auction site. It's going on all through the month of May, with new items added constantly. I have a handmade baby quilt up, and there are signed copies of books, jewlery, vacation spots, editing services, audio production assistance, and a manuscript critique by a Newbery Award winning author! Mark this spot and visit often! Pass the word on Twitter, Facebook, your blog - wherever you are!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tritina: When maple flowers cover the picnic table

apr 30 019

We set up the picnic table
just yesterday; thinking
we would dine in the garden.

Forgetting that yesterday's garden
falls on today's table -
what were we thinking?

It's as if the maple trees were thinking
they were kings of the garden;
offering their fruit to the table.

So here we sit, thinking of the garden on our table.

- Andromeda Jazmon

The poetry stretch this week at Miss Rumphius was "to write a tritina, a 10-line poem composed of three, 3-line stanzas and a 1-line envoi. Like the sestina, a tritina uses an end-word scheme instead of a rhyme scheme." Here are the other poet's results. The Friday Poetry round up is hosted by Maya Ganesan at allegro. Enjoy your first weekend in May!