#TeacherPoets – THANK YOU!


Hi TeacherPoets.

Thank you from the very bottoms of my feet up through the top of my head for joining in this fun four weeks of reading, writing, and rejuvenating.  Selfishly, you gave me an excuse to write poetry for a whole month, to laugh, be moved to near tears, and in general marvel at what an amazing community of educators we have.

A huge thanks to our live on-air poets:

Betsy, Michelle, Laurie, Markette, Audra, Crista, and Margaret (and from afar, Jason, who needed to attend to family).  Your generosity of time, risk taking, and collaboration means so much. Plus, you’re pretty great writers to boot!

And a tip of the hat to my friends at Booksource who are donating books of poetry to this great group of educators in thanks to them for giving up Saturday mornings to write together. Booksource has also put together these lists of poetry books (Elementary, Middle, and High School) to support you in filling your classrooms with poetry.

Thanks as well to all of you who have joined our online Community Page or tweeted live, along with us, each week. Your energy and contributions were felt for miles, they certainly reached me.


Watch Old Episodes Anytime

The magic of the internet means all four episodes of the live series are available, in a full Youtube playlist, for viewing anytime (up to nearly 600 views!).

It’s a Poetry DVR:



Recap of Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we moved from little to big. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we talked about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept.  Through this we also talked about the essential need in revision to “let go” of a first draft and pick up a whole new one.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

We then workshopped original poems from our final two TeacherPoets, Laurie and Audra.


Thanks again for these fun four weeks.  And thanks for all you do for children and for one another.




#TeacherPoets – Week 4 “Assignment”


Hi TeacherPoets.

This series has been such fun–uplifting, inspiring, and just great to steal some time from busy schedules to write.  It is also shocking how quickly time flies! It feels like it was just moments ago when our first session was starting online, now we’re already in our fourth and final week together!

If you have missed any of the series or care to catch up, you’ll find the full video playlist here (our sessions have been viewed almost 500 times to date):


Recap of Week 3: Idea are Puzzle Pieces

During this past Saturday’s session we talked about specificity and zooming in, but this time looked at how poets often string together these little moments to tell a larger story or share a bigger idea.  I showed how we can study mentor poems by drawing boxes around moments–to see where their pieces are.  Then shared a draft of a poem piecing together different puzzle pieces (in my case: my daughter chewing the noses off her toys when she was little as one piece and Geppetto and Pinocchio as the other piece).

We read:

We also workshopped three more original poems from the TeacherPoets live group and through that experience touched on a few more tips for ourselves: don’t shy away from telling more of the “who” (our readers seemed to really want to know that each week), and consider how you control time or give more clues about time shifts (another comment that often has come up).

Assignment for Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we’ll go even larger. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we will talk about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept: “I want to try and represent…” or “I have been thinking a lot about…”.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have our final two TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Four Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 5/3 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:


Thanks for all you do!  Happy writing!


Yay #TeacherPoets! (Archived Video of Session One)

teacher-poetsHere’s a quick post to first just thank all of the Live teachers poets and the ton of you viewing online and tweeting along with us. If you could have seen the screen that I saw, it was a rush of tweets and Google Q&A comments.

This experience was the caffeine I needed. I’m leaving today’s session feeling joyful and energized, my hope is that we collectively gave that give to you as well.  Thanks all.

Here is the archived video of our first session.

  • We introduced our group.
  • I led a writing strategy and shared some of my own revision process.
  • We then “workshopped” a published poem.
  • Finally, I set up our work for next week.



Feel free to share the video with your TeacherPoet friends. Then, join us live (or recorded) the next three Saturdays from 11-noon EST.

Until then, join our Google+ TeacherPoets Community to share with fellow educators.

Also, on Wednesdays the new “Assignment” will officially post. I shared this upcoming week’s assignments at the end of our session (see the video), but the official post is Wednesday when the EXCITING addition will be the original work of a few of our TeacherPoets, which you can read and prepare to “workshop” on Saturday along with us.

Thanks for all you do, all you give, and all you believe in.  Happy Writing!

#TeacherPoets – Assignment Week 1

teacher-poets Hi TeacherPoets. We’re gearing up for our first live session, this Saturday (4/12) from 11:00-noon EST. Join our community page to join in the conversation that has already started, to catch the live stream from that page (or the direct stream below), and to catch weekly “writing assignments.”


Each week on Wednesday, I’ll post a reading and writing “assignment” for the week.  These are invitations to engaging with poetry and our work together.  Take on as much or as little as you’re able.

Assignment for Week 1: Slivers Are Big

During our first live streaming session we will talk about the power of taking on manageable bites.

Our lives often interact with huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) but trying to take them on can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad for a reader.

The smaller the piece – almost like finding focus in a research topic – the more specific our writing becomes. Then, the more specific our writing becomes, the more universal the feelings and ideas can come across to readers of our poems.

 A Writing Invitation:

  • Starting next week these invitations will be specifically about writing poems. For this week your invitation is to respond to this question: “Why Poetry?”  A few sentences, a poem maybe, or a quick comment. Please leave your response on our TeacherPoets Community page.

Mentor poems to read:

  1. The Summer I Was Sixteen by Geraldine Connolly, for the one moment in time she uses to reflect on the huge topic of adolescence and growing older
  2. Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye, who takes a universal fear and packages it in a tiny scene and an even smaller movement of the body
  3. You’re invited to post on our TeacherPoets Community page links to other poems that take on a large topic through a small, specific time or action

Workshopping This Week:

Starting next week, original poem’s from our Live Group educators (the folks on camera with me) will be posted in this section. As practice, this Saturday we will “workshop” this poem by a professional poet.

  • Please follow the link and print out this poem (or download a mark-up-able copy to your device):
  • Read and write all over it, prepare comments as if you were talking to this poet:
    • Compliments: Which parts were particularly strong to you? Why? How did it effect you as a reader? Where were you delighted? Happily surprised? Moved? And so on.
    • Questions: Where did you find yourself confused? Lost? Where did your reading become choppy or confused? Which points did you want a little bit more? A little less?
    • ConsiderationsWe can’t write the poem, that is the poet’s task, however we can raise considerations: I wonder if there are actually two poems here…  I wonder if we could hear more from… I wonder if the second stanza could… I wonder…
  • On Saturday we will then practice “workshopping” this poem, so bring your written-all-over copy.

If you would like to read an example of responding to a poem through “workshopping,” then read (or listen to) Workshop by Billy Collins (in which he workshops his own poem as he’s writing/reading it… it’s pretty funny stuff.).

Happy reading, writing, reflecting, and rejuvenating!

Apply Now: TeacherPoets Workshop Series


 Wondering what this is?  Here’s the flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement and a previous post.

Here are the links you’ve been waiting for!  Be sure to select the ONE you are interested in.  If you run into any trouble, no worries.  They will stay live until Saturday at noon:

Live Group application

To apply for one of the limited seats in the Live Group: click here.

If chosen, you will interact live with me and other participants! Additionally, during one week you will submit a poem in advance and receive live feedback on air!

Q&A: What will your technology experience be like?

Visit the Google+ Hangouts on Air page to get acquainted

And here’s a way-too-in-depth, but none the less really helpful video on being a “guest” on a Hangout On Air.

Q&A: Will my technology work? I’m nervous.

If you are selected we’ll find a time to test out your technology with you before our first meeting. And at the first session plan to arrive 30 minutes early so we can “green room” before we go live.  No worries!

Viewing the Streaming Video (without Talking Live) Register your Interest

To register your interest in viewing the live Streaming Video: click here.

We will use your contact info to connect you with our TeacherPoets Google+ Community and send you invites to each session.

Alternatively, you can forego sharing your personal information and simply check for the Hangout url which will be posted on the community page and on my blog. (be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates – click the “subscribe” button on the right sidebar).

The week of April 7th all of the how and where info will be posted.

I’m so excited!

Thanks for all of your interest and enthusiasm. I’ve had lots of tweets and hundreds of readers of the initial invitation post.

I can’t wait to write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Join! Let’s Rejuvenate with a Poetry Workshop

I tweeted yesterday that I stumbled upon inspiration. Deep in the murky weather, just as schools across the country are marching towards standardized testing season (here in New York the first round begins on Monday), I – like I’m sure many of us – have been feeling a bit gloomy.

One piece of inspiration was when my friend Monique tweeted with the hashtag #testprepdetox.



Test Prep Detox!



The other is that I opened my subscription to a professional magazine and right in the center was a fold out poster about poetry month.





Writing Poetry in the Company of Others

A little known fact about me is that I was a few credits shy of double majoring in creative writing, poetry to be exact. I studied with incredible poets – Quan Barry, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and others (I’ve even been in the same room as MacArthur Fellow–“Genius Award” recipient–Alice Fulton. Amazing.).

While this English major eventually turned, instead, to education. The process of being in adult writing workshops, in the company of other writers, to this day inspires my work.

“Workshopping” a poem, story, or play is similar to, but not exactly the same as, a school-based “writing workshop.” It does, however, shares similar threads.

It’s a representation of what the writer-reader relationship really is… you write but then turn over everything to your readers, they now make their own ideas. When workshopping a poem you get the unique opportunity of being able to hear your readers (other members of your workshop) and then make revisions with those voices in mind. You learn so much about how your words are received and how to make your purpose and voice clearer.

I found those times were inspiration packed, soul-filling, and reflective. I think it’s a big reason why I love writing and studying responsive writing instruction with educators.


An Invitation to Our Own Poetry Workshop

This April, in honor of #testprepdetox and Poetry Month, I’m organizing a four-session, online, adult poetry workshop I’m calling TeacherPoets.

Here is a downloadable flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement

Who Should Join? Educators and authors involved in K-12+ education interested in writing and talking about your own poetry.

Be ready to write poems, share them openly with others, revise with feedback, and share your passions and talents with fellow educators.

We’ll use the hashtag #TeacherPoets and here’s a button you’re welcome to add to your social media:


What We’ll Do

From 11:00AM-Noon EST on 4 Saturdays:

  • April 12,
  • April 19,
  • April 26,
  • and May 3

we’ll join together in an online poetry workshop.

We will not be focusing on the teaching of poetry to students, per se.

Instead, our focus will be on fostering our own adult writing lives through weekly writing exercises, sharing of our work, and the hallmark of our sessions—interactive feedback conversations called “workshops.”

These sessions are designed to keep us actively writing, exploring, reflecting, and, above all, inspired.

We’ll be using Google’s Hangouts on Air – their newest incarnation of Hangouts. It’s like a Skype call only on steroids. As in Oprah has done one.


How to Join

Involvement is free. I’m donating my time because I love the power of poetry to help us reflect and connect and because I need this battery recharge as much as you do!

There are two ways to join:

  • Watch the video streams live and tweet along with us. I’ll post how during the week of April 7.


  • Apply to be in the Live Group. You’ll be broadcasting live (from the comfort of your laptop or device) with me and fellow TeacherPoets! During one of the 4-weeks a poem you submit will be workshopped live, receiving feedback both from our Live Group and online viewers. (Did I say how excited I am!)

Google has strict limits on the number of on-camera participants, so to be a Live Group member please apply.

The application will go live THIS WEDNESDAY AT 10AM EST on my blog and will remain live for just a few days. Application reviews will be done on a first come basis.

Here is the downloadable flyer once again: TeacherPoets Announcement


I can’t wait! Let’s write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!