I have enjoyed linking up each Saturday during 2014 to Ruth Ayres Writes
and her Celebration Link Up. Thanks to Ruth for creating the Celebration Link Up! Today, I am
celebrating the gift of TODAY.
It snowed in my southern town this week, closing schools and ushering in welcomed Snow Days. I am always writing lesson plans and lists but I usually don’t stop to reflect on nature. As I sipped on my coffee and looked out of my window on the first Snow Day, I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to reflect on the snow surrounding the trees in the forest of my backyard.
On the morning of the first snow day, Jan.29, I read Stacey Shubitz’s blog post “Writing About Reading in the Writer’s Notebook” at her blog
where she shared a writing idea that motivated me. Her idea was to generate a poem while imitating another author’s poem. So, I wrote a poem inspired from “Today”
a poem by Billy Collins found in his book “Amazing Love”. I used the Copy Change technique from Tony Romano that he shared at NCTE in 2013 where you imitate another writer’s technique and thank him/her for the inspiration. I got this writing idea from Stacey Shubitz after I read her blog and read the beautiful poem that she wrote while being inspired by “Today” by Billy Collins. She had heard Tony Romano at NCTE. I am grateful to Stacey for sharing because her blog post inspired me to write and reflect, something that teachers are always asking students to do.
I am always using the Evernote app as my place to jot my thoughts much like a Writer’s Notebook. I have found during the last year that Evernote is my go to place to organize my life and especially to curate lesson ideas as a teacher. I recorded my poetic thoughts in Evernote while toggling between Stacey’s blog where she had a copy of “Today” by Billy Collins. I would study his first lines of each stanza and analyze Stacey’s “Today” poem that she had written. Closely reading the poems gave me eyes to see the way that Billy and Stacey had carefully crafted their poems causing me to want to emulate their style. Poetry enriched my life on my first Snow Day. Here is my feeble attempt at writing my own “Today” poem:
By Lisa Maples (Thank you Billy Collins and Stacey Shubitz)
If ever there were a winter day so perfect
so uplifted by the sparkling snow
That it made you want to explore
wondering if it will ever be like this again
And open the door to the chill
As it latched on and invited me to come outside
A day when the trees and
The snow at their feet
Seemed so peaceful
That I felt like
Zipping up my coat
And watching my girls make snow angels
A day when the sun came out
And the air
Seemed frozen like the snow on tree limbs
That I felt like taking
A deep breath
Observing the beauty
Releasing feelings of gratitude
From my heart
So that I could forever
hold on to this moment and look
Into this larger dome of a Snow Day.
Well today is just that kind of day.
Next week I plan to share “Today” by Billy Collins along with Stacey’s poem that she wrote using the Copy Change technique with students in fifth grade at my school. I will ask them to describe a day in their life using the Copy Change technique to inspire them as they read “Today” by Billy and by Stacey. Students should be exposed to Poetry throughout the school year to enrich their lives so that they can analyze mood and become invested in the poem. After I share the “Today” poems in my Technology Classroom, I will also have my students have a go at being poetic by generating their own “Today” poems. Typing a poem while generating it is a way for students to realize that our digital tools like Evernote or even a Word document are places to document their thinking. Too often, I feel the students see computers as places to publish only. Even though the goal would be to publish perhaps on their blogs, I think that students would benefit from using their own BYOT devices, iPads or computers as their Digital Writer’s Notebook. I have revised my “Today” poem several times and love how easy it is to make changes in Evernote.
I have also selected One Little Word to describe my mission for this year. I heard on some blogs I read that there was wisdom in selecting ONE word to focus on throughout the year. After my experience with writing on the Snow Day, I realized that my One Little Word should be “Today”. There is always so much forward thinking that I do as an educator, but I am trying to balance my personal and professional life each day so that I don’t miss special moments with my family. Each morning as I wake, I focus on prayer and looking ahead to a great new day that is about to unfold. I think that if I honor God, embrace my family and inspire my students then I have successfully navigated through the day. I am just one person who can at times, feel overwhelmed leading to frustration. I have to be able to enjoy my life and the world around me so I must release any stress and be present in each moment. This means that I must let go of Yesterday and posture myself for the possibilities and opportunities of today. I was sincerely in awe at the beauty of the untouched snow in my backyard on January 29 and realized that I should reflect on the unusual gift that winter had brought to my town. So, I grabbed my iPad and started composing my poem. TODAY I am experiencing joy, thankful for the snow and for how the writing exercise I did brought clarity to my journey as a person and as a teacher.