Calling for teachers

Hi everyone,


Mary Jo Fresch and I have been at work on a book for classroom teachers for quite some time and have finally arrived at a point where we need to work with some teachers who can provide samples of student writing to go in the book. The target audience is grades 3-6 and the subject is about how to help students prepare to write before they start writing. There are a number of good books in the market about finding ideas, drafting, revising, etc. but few give appropriate space to the importance of researching the subject before writing the first word.

Between us we have a list of teachers to turn to for input and we recently sent them an outline of classroom activities they can try with their students and submit the results for our book. Some of them responded to an earlier call for help so we have their comments and samples in hand. One problem we encounter in situations like this is that teachers plan their year in advance and few of them can rearrange their lessons to accommodate folks outside their classrooms. Our deadline to complete this book is the end of this month. Obviously we won’t hit it, but we need to keep moving.

So this is a call for teachers who like the idea of having their names and samples of their students’ work in a Scholastic book and are in a position to work with us on a quick turnaround basis. If you know of other teachers who might have an interest, please share this with them and urge them to get in touch. We’ll gladly forward an outline of the book with specific activities that we’d like to include. We won’t overload anyone. No teacher should need to tackle more than one or two of them.



StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project

Hi everyone,

Gifted professional storyteller Kevin Cordi Kevin Cordi has joined forces with former U.S. Children’s Poetry Laureate J. Patrick Lewis J. Patrick Lewisto create StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project.

Kevin created the original StoryBox in 1995 as a way for young people all over the world to read the stories of others and share stories of their own. Here’s a link for information about that wonderful program. .

One year ago Kevin and Pat launched a new version of that highly successful project, this time to help bring poetry to the classroom in ways that would encourage children and young adults around the country to read unfinished poems provided by well known poets and complete them in their own ways. Participating teachers would receive a box of unfinished poems along with the poets’ bios and photographs. After giving their students a few weeks to enjoy the poems and finish them, the box, with all the new material in it, went on to the next school. After one year the materials were all returned to Kevin and Pat to enjoy and share with the world via conferences, social media, and a grand event to be held this Sunday at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio.

To show you Kevin’s level of excitement about this upcoming event, here’s a recent note from him.

“Dear amazing poets,

I can’t believe it has been a year but your poems have traveled around the country and I don’t have enough words to thank you for offering these gifts. Students from all over the nation have contributed to The Children’s Poetry StoryBox. J. Patrick Lewis and I recently spent a few hours reading the wonderful work inspired by your poem starters. We can’t wait to share them with you.

The work has traveled all over the country including a rural West Virginia elementary school to a migrant school in California. I was so excited to hear that Janet Wong met the box on the travels and I was able to meet Joan B. Graham and together we shared at the National Council Teachers of English.

There are so many stories to share about the experience. We invite you to read more of the accounts on our google community. You can find it at .
Now that the Children’s Poetry StoryBox has returned we want to share in so many ways.”

(David’s note here. On April 9 the National Writing Project held a nation-wide podcast where teachers talked about the experience of having the Children’s Poetry StoryBox and teachers read some of the works.)

“On April 26 Sunday at 2 at the well-known James Thurber Center in Columbus, Ohio we will hold a reception where students will read with adult poets from the work in the Children’s Poetry StoryBox. Pat will also be speaking at the event. If you provided a statement or additional poem, we will showcase this on our display tables for each of the contributing poets. We hope to take pictures to share later and possible video the event.”

So there you have it. My congratulations to Kevin and Pat for creating such a good project and involving so many teachers and their young poets around the United States. I hope and trust that the project will continue to prosper over the years to come. I was delighted to be a participating poet.

For further information about StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project, or the original StoryBox, you can reach Kevin at Kevin D. Cordi, Director
StoryBox Project
643 Nashoba Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43223

Why it takes two to make soup

Hi everyone,

Couple of nights ago Sandy and I decided on grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. I drew the soup. It was a package of dry mix called Tortilla Soup. I pulled out a sauce pan, opened the package, and poured it in. There were no directions. Who needs directions? Right men?

Sandy, being a girl, went to the computer and brought back directions. The full recipe called for five cups of water. I poured the mix into a larger pan and added the water.

“Probably shouldn’t have added all the water at once,” she said.

“You didn’t tell me so it’s your fault,” I pointed out.

“Also calls for a can of corn.”

I found one in the pantry and dumped it in.

“And a can of diced tomatoes.”

I shrugged. “No diced tomatoes,” I said. “How about this can of tomato soup?”

She shrugged.

I poured the ingredients into a larger pan. “It’s awfully thin,” I said. “Can we do anything to thicken it?”

Our son Jeff has become an excellent cook, a skill he did not inherit from me. But Jeff admits that when something goes wrong, sometimes his first response is panic. He doesn’t always have the experience to know how to rescue a dish from disaster. At this moment my son and I had shared much in common kitchen-wise.

“Corn starch,” she said.

“Where is it?”

“Look in the spice cabinet.”


Above the cereal?
Behind the coffee filters?”

Five minutes later we agreed. We had no corn starch.

“Try a little flour,” she suggested.

I was now in the biggest pan we own, the one reserved for chili when we want leftovers for a week. Shrugging in unison, we added flour.

“Uh, you got anything else? This is still pretty thin stuff.”

“Not really.”

My eye lit on a sack of instant potatoes. “Aha!”

Into the boiling cauldron went a large spoonful of potato mix. And by golly that put us over.

The soup tasted great, I’m sorry to say, because I don’t see how we can ever duplicate it. The good news is that we have enough left over that it will be some time before the future will be in jeopardy.

Reading Roundup awards

Hi everyone,

At 4:00 yesterday the Reading Roundup committee met to review all 29 of this year’s grant requests from Springfield Public Schools librarians. We selected 19 grants to fund with a total of $19,500. This morning the winning librarians will be notified and invited to a special reception in their honor on October 15.

The poetry workshop in Honesdale starts next Monday. This week we’ll have a practice Skype session with special guestsRenee La Tulippe and Pat Lewis to make sure that everything works at The Barn. As for me, I’m thinking poetry!


Family Voices

BULLETIN: The blog hit the 200,000 mark yesterday evening around 6:00. Thanks to all and a special thanks to Kathy Temean who created my blog as well as my website in 2009.

Hi everyone,

You’ve heard me talk about FAMILY VOICES before. Here in Springfield we’re working hard to encourage families to read to their children, especially kids under five. In this month’s issue of 417 Magazine we got a nice boost for our efforts. Here’s the link for anyone interested in seeing the article.

Family Voices is currently preparing a second CD of twenty-five readers each reading an age appropriate book for children. This CD will join the original one and all 50 books will be available on the FAMILY VOICES website. Here’s the link to that.

The CDs are free to the family that participates in the program by letting us record someone (mom, dad, older sibling, grandparent, etc.). We add that voice to the CD to personalize it and also add a free book for each child in the family under five.

If you know anyone in Springfield with children under five who has not yet participated, please tell them about this and urge them to call The Library Center to make a recording date. Thanks!