Mondays ~It’s What You’d Expect



There are a few things I hope my third graders always remember when they leave my classroom in June.  First, that reading, writing, poetry and art can bring you great happiness. Second, that learning is hard – and it should be or you’ll never make your brain grow.  And, third, that you create your own reality.  (And, that I loved them dearly.)

Attitude is such an important part of life.  What we think is what we will most likely see. My kids have heard me say it so many times, I now am hearing them parrot it to me when I need my own attitude shift.

Rainy Mondays are perfect for examining your attitudes.

I shared the following poems with my third graders today.  We talked about what we noticed, felt, and what the author might want us to think.  Then, we compared and contrasted.  I asked my kids which poem was them today.  The hands were split-half and half.

More teaching about how our minds work happened.  We talked about how if we expect to have a bad day, we probably will, because our minds are prepped to notice all the bad things that happen, bypassing any goodness that comes our way. After our conversation, I took another show of hands to see if anyone changed their minds about which poem they want to guide them today.  Of course, many switched teams over to the Happy Monday side.


Why would anyone WANT to create a their own gloomy day?

Shari 🙂

Happy Monday
By Joy Acey
Lying in bed
just after dawn
the sleep of night

is suddenly gone.

I'm listening to doves
cooing away
as I lie here and think
of the coming day.

Monday is the start
of this new week.
There's lots to do
and lots to seek.

I'm making my list
of things to get done.
I'm counting blessings
for lots of fun.

I hope whatever
you have to do
this will be a
great week for you.


Monday Morning

I was happy this morning, as I woke up in bed,
Then realized it was Monday and I faced the day with dread,
For somehow, whatever comes my way, my temper is displayed,
Just mentioning ‘it’s Monday’, my nerves, they become frayed.

The day will be just a ‘ write off’, it’s no good me trying to do
Any sort of reasonable job, things won’t go right. It’s true!
It’s like a ‘cloud’ which hangs around and never let’s you be,
Whatever I attempt to do, disaster follows me.

If I could sleep through Mondays, then that would be just bliss!
Then Mondays wouldn’t have happened, I’d have given them a miss!

© Ernestine Northover

Poem Triggers

Fifty 8 and 9 year olds squished into my classroom this afternoon.  A neighboring teacher home with a sick child and being short of subs, we take turns inviting extra children into our own classrooms for portions of the day.

“What are you going to do with them all?” my teacher friend asks.

“Poetry,” I reply, “We are going to write poems.”

She gave me a look.  You know the one.

I gathered them all and told them that I saw Poetry on my way to school this morning.

They looked befuddled – like Poetry wore clothes or walked around.

“I heard it first, as I stepped out of my car, singing in tweets so happily.  Because is was morning, I’m sure.  I looked to where the poetry was coming from and then I spotted them, in trees.  Hundreds of them.  Flocks.”

“I saw them, too, Mrs. Daniels!” they beamed.  “The robins are out!”

“I stood under the tree for a moment, holding my bags and my coffee mug.  I felt called to take in the poetry – the singing of joyful the morning, the red ripe berries hanging on to the branches patiently waiting for these robins to come to enjoy them, the robins with their bellies overstuffed with either babies. . . or berries.  How was I to know?

A poem was shouting at me.

I skipped inside, whipped off my coat, sat down my coffee mug and scrambled for my notebook.  When a poem arrives, it is the poets responsibility to get it down onto paper quickly, before it leaves and finds someone else.”

I quickly wrote my Fat Robins poem for them on the chart paper.

Fat Robins
There you all sit
Singing joyful tunes
on berry tree
that waited
for you.

But honestly!
Those bellies!

Are there babies in there?

Or do you all
just need
to lay off
on the berries!

They giggled – those third graders.

I told them how poetry finds me and then I have to write it down and how I love to write poetry more than any other kind of writing because. . . .

Poetry breaks the rules.  Free verse, that is.  My poetry form of choice.

After I shared the rules that you can break with poetry (complete sentences, punctuation, capital letters, paragraph form), I set up objects around he room and we wrote small poems. Rocks, a toddler mitten, monopoly houses, a deck of cards, any item I could find in my house in a 2 minute search for stuff.   I showed them how an object can trigger a thought and as a poet, you have to pay attention to that very first thought that pops into your head and grab it by the tail and put it down on paper.  A poet can’t sit around and think too long or the thoughts go away to someone else.  Poet’s get stuff down.  They don’t think stuff up.

Away they went, eager to be poets.  I gave them only three minutes per object and said to write fast, keep your pencil moving and get down your first thoughts.

Always, I am in awe of what children can do.  All I did was model my own poem and get them excited.  I didn’t hover over their shoulders telling them to add line breaks and rhymes or to start here or skip spaces.

This happened on its own.

If these are our quick three minute drafts, I can only imagine where we can go with poetry.

But for now, we will joyfully write. . .

content with the freedom

of free verse.

Shari 🙂



The Unchosen Poems


The Unchosen Poems

They sit and wait
hidden in books
some still scatter words
not yet crafted
to even live
as a poem yet.

All waiting
and waiting
to be chosen.

Pick me!
Pick me!
they cry
waving their arms
I have something to say!
The children. . .
they need to know me!

But, oh. . .
I squint my eyes
and shake my head
You are
too confusing
too long
and those rhymes?
no. . . I can’t even.
I don’t want the children
to believe that
have to rhyme
you are fun
but. . . no.

they pout
she chooses her pets
Wild Geese
A Snowy Evening
An Apology
What do they have
that we don’t?

It’s so unfair.


I like to believe that poems choose me and I don’t not choose them.  But, after this poem made it’s way out of my pen this morning, I realized that yes, I do have my favorites. They are chosen over and over to teach whatever I might need to teach that day.  My class pets that I pick on the most are my memorized poems.  They sit at the ready until I call them up for their duty.  I’m sure the unchosen poems think they are spoiled.

The neglected poems were screaming at me this morning, begging for attention.  “You are so lazy”, they cried.  “Give the children something new!”


When the truth speaks, it hurts.

I do rely on these chosen poems and yes,  perhaps they do need a rest.

And, those rhyming poems?

Personally, it was those bloody rhymes that damaged my own beliefs about what poetry really is.  In my classroom, I encourage students NOT to rhyme because immediately they are all trying to force feed these words into their poems just to make a rhyme.  Poems fall apart.  The rhymes take away the heart and meaning of what they are truly trying to say.  If a child is composing a poem about her dog dying, the last thing she should be thinking about is, “What rhymes with dead?”

Action Plan:  Branch out beyond what I already know and believe.  Use a poem I don’t connect with personally.  Perhaps it is meant for a child in my room and not me.

Play with rhymes, but not too soon.

And, for Pete’s sake, memorize some new poems.  Those Wild Geese and Snowy Evenings need a rest.

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in the 2016 NaPoWritMo (National Poetry Write Month) and hoping to blog about poetry for 30 days in April.  Please join me and others by visiting their site!




Poem Crazy


A Dog's Sigh

A Dog’s Sigh

I wish
I could read a dog’s mind
when it sighs so heavy.

Is it bored
wishing that it
could be outside
chasing squirrels
and playing tag
with dog friends?

Perhaps the sigh
is tiredness~
a sign that
it just wants
to sleep.

Or maybe
best of all . .
it’s contentment~
an inner peace
and happiness
that it belongs
to this family
can sleep



I didn’t always love poetry.

Honestly, I can’t say that like even described my feelings toward it through most of my years as a student.  Between the analyzing, confusion, rhyming, and assignments to produce haikus, sonnets, quatrains and filling in templates for acrostic poems , what’s not to like, right?

Ugh. . .

Poetry used to bring fear to my already befuddled mind.  Fear that I would not know what in the heck a poem was supposed to mean, fear that I was alone in this fear of being the only idiot that would not understand what the secret messages that poets were trying to tell us.

By the way, did you know there actually is a word that defines the fear of poetry?  It’s called metrophobia.

I do not make this stuff up.

A shift occurred in my late thirties when I was trained as a Literacy Collaborative coach at Ohio State University.  The introduction to Georgia Heard, Ralph Fletcher, Mary Oliver and Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge changed my entire vision of what poetry truthfully was. I learned that a poem can speak to me in whatever way I want it to.  We savored a line, or even a word and asked ourselves, “What does that say to you?” or “How did they do that?” I learned that before anything, a poem has to tug at your heart.  You have to feel it.  I learned that a poem does not necessarily harbor secrets that only the sophisticated- intellectual-well-educated-literary-geniuses can decode.

And, I also discovered, first hand, that when that first poem shakes you to your core, you are hooked on poetry for life.

It was also revealed to me that anyone could write poetry and it certainly did not need to follow a structure, especially a rhyming one.  Oh, how I despised having to restrict my words to a poetry form when those thoughts just didn’t want to fit into any poetry form.

The angst.

I came to adore free verse and in writing simply.  No polysyllabic fluffery for me.  If I desired to say the cat slept.  That’s what I’ll said.

I found freedom in free verse.

Although poetry lives in my heart and in my classroom all year round, April is a paramount month for celebrating poetry more than any other month of the year. April stirs my poetry senses, new notebooks need to be purchased for filling with poems, fancy new pens show up, and most certainly. . . a few new poetry books find their way to my shelves.

This month, coming down from the rush of the 2016 Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers, I feel a tug to keep blogging onward.  What better than to take up a new challenge to write about anything poetry.

I may just a write a simple poem, like one about my dog, Sandy, and her heavy sighs.  Or, perhaps I’ll share an attempted lesson with my third graders. I certainly will brag about the inspirational poetry teachers who have walked before me.  Or, I could just take pictures of the poetry in our lives.

Whatever it will be, I’m on poetry alert.

Prepare to be swaddled in words of poetry this month.


Shari 🙂

What A Writing Community Does #sol16

The month of March slipped away like a shadow into shade .

The challenge was to write a slice of life every day for the entire month of March and post it. Well, I made it 21 days out of 31.

21 blog posts in 31 days!  Although I did not accomplish the challenge of posting every day, I still am wearing my achievement cape like a superhero . Since I began my blog in 2012, writing a post every six months had become my going rate.  So, mathematically, I’ve increased my production from .005% to 66% if I keep up the pace.  My writing muscles are greased and the Bernice Brain has quieted long enough for me to put stuff out there.

If I were to be totally honest, it was not really the challenge that got me writing, it was this writing community.  Holy Kamoly.  I have never seen such an inspiring, encouraging, uplifting, dedicated, creative group of human beings.

Never once did I have a post sit there lonely without some cheers from my fellow writers, (and sometimes my mother).  Feedback is crucial to the writer, whether only a pat on the back for showing up to write or a serious shot of gratitude for writing something that was resonated with. Even more so, to give me another perspective in my own little narrow viewed world.  It is then that I really know my words were taken in.  Love that.

I anxiously awaited the posts of other slicers.  Sometimes I sought inspiration and it was the content or structure of another writer that made my own fingers later dance at the keyboard. Other times, I seriously didn’t wish to write at all and filled my coffee cup just to read and comment on other’s words.  It felt as if we were exchanging small gifts, enjoying each other’s company and allowing one another to get a little peek into the world of other teacher-writer-lovely-people.  Always, I felt a calm peace after reading other’s posts.

I am jealous of writers who have writing communities or writing groups that they meet with face to face on a regular basis.  I have yet to find that.  But, this community here is the closest I have come to realize I will ever get.  At least right now. I am so grateful to have had this.

Thank you to the writing teachers at Two Writing Teachers for the enormous amount of work this challenge must have added to their already busy days.  Their commitment to writing and fostering teachers who write is remarkable.

Thank you to Elisabeth Ellington who voiced she was taking the plunge to do the challenge this year.  I saw her tweet and there was this little nudge in me that said, “Do it.”  I needed her words to give me the confidence to take it on.

And, good heavens, thank you to anyone who took a few moments out of your busy lives to read my words and then to comment.  The comments kept me writing.  They told me that my words matter.

Such goodness.

And, now the pump is primed.

Shari 🙂