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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Good Old Days

I was lucky to be able to attend the All Write Conference last week. In his session, Ralph Fletcher (amazing!) talked about a teacher who used one of his (Ralph's) poems to get his students writing poetry.  He spoke about how he wasn't sure about that idea but how he was surprised at the great poetry that came out of it.  He put his poem on the screen and asked us to write a poem of our own, using his as a mentor text.  Internally, I panicked just a little!  I don't write well on the spot and I don't generally write well in a room full of people!  But, when Ralph Fletcher asks you to write, you write!  I took a deep breath, I reread his poem (for the third time) and put my pen on the paper.  I was surprised with what my pen wrote!

Sometimes I remember
The good old days.

Scrambling to put on bathingsuits
Racing to jump in the lake

Each with our own innertube
We'd swim for hours

The sun would toast us
The smell of dinner would call to us

We'd drag ourselves, exhausted
From the cool water

Grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob
We'd eat a sleepy dinner

With stuffed bellies and heavy eyes
We'd sit around the bonfire

We'd stare into the dancing flames,
Listen to the stories of lives around us

I still can't imagine
Anything better than that.

I've also been participating (somewhat) in the Teachers Write camp this summer.  I've found that sometimes I can connect with the writing prompt and take off and sometimes I can't.  I've decided that it's ok though!  When I don't connect with the prompt, I just write my own thing!  It works for me...the point is just to write! 

Yesterday, I loved the Teachers Write prompt about doodling.  I tried very hard to get into it.  I believe in the idea, I embrace the idea in my classroom, I wanted to try it yesterday.  I sat with my notebook and stared at it.  More.  More.  More still.  I closed it.  Later I tried again...I ended up making doodle pictures in the margins next to the poem.  Instead of the doodles getting me started with my writing, yesterday it ended my writing.  I guess that works sometimes too!


  1. I love your post - sometimes it works and sometime we need something else to get us writing. It is a good thing to remember with students as well. Not all prompts work with all folks everyday! Thanks for sharing the poem and notes. The poem was a perfect summer reflection.

  2. Loved this line, "The sun would toast us"
    I saw someone else write about Fletcher's prompt at All Write and loved it so much I tried a poem of the same type in my notebook yesterday. It was really fun! I've been doing Teachers Write too. Last week I finally got to the point where I was okay with using what I could from it and letting other parts go - it became far more fun when I got to that point! I tried the doodling yesterday too (it scared me but it was good to do). Loved your doodles!

  3. Great to hear more from the All Write, Robin. That poem is definitely a keeper, isn't it? I like this part: "With stuffed bellies and heavy eyes". Isn't that just so real & true? After a busy day, sitting still by a fire makes for little sleepy heads. Thank you for showing the doodles too. Very cute!

  4. Eekk! I think I would freak out too if I had to write on the spot with Ralph Fletcher, but what you created (under pressure) was a clear, crisp memory of summers long ago! I loved the lines: We'd eat a sleepy dinner and Listen to stories of lives around us.

    Also, congrats with sticking with TeachersWrite - I felt that I had trouble connecting with the prompts and the community was a bit too large for me to venture into, so I'm sticking with Tuesdays Slice of Life! Love the doodles that you tried, even if they came after the writing. :)

  5. Wow - wish I could have been there to hear him talk. He's amazing!

    I agree with your thoughts on taking the prompts that work for you over at Teachers Write! Sometimes I read the prompt and it ferments in my mind - and a few days later I use it. That's actually how I got the segment of my story that I posted last week. I read the library prompt - and then a few other bits of ideas fell into place and it turned into a chapter I was very pleased with. What I'm most exited about is that - the wealth of great prompts that I can go back to and use as I need it. That, and I plan to use a ton of them when I go back for a writing unit for my students.

  6. I love your little doodles, what a great idea to illustrate the little parts of your poem. I can taste and feel your poem so deeply it makes me want to fire up the grill and dig my toes in my kids sandbox just so I can live it a little! Summer is so sweet--suits, corn, flames and all! Love it Robin.

  7. Thanks for sharing your doodles and your poem! Both are inspiring! It reminds me of practice makes perfect- we have to be willing to take a risk and try-especially if we expect our kiddos to do the same!