Back to work

Hi everyone,

CCIRA was its usual wonderful experience. I know to thank Susan Hutchens but realize that many, many others were involved in making the conference rock along and I’m grateful to each of them.

More soon. Just wanted to plug back in and promise to be more attentive for the next few days at least.



Hi everyone,

In a couple of hours I fly out to Denver to participate in the annual CCIRA conference. I haven’t been for a while so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll speak twice on Thursday and sign after each presentation. My title is POETRY IN THE CLASSROOM, THE ALL-PURPOSE TEACHING TOOL.

I’m grateful to Susan Hutchens, this year’s conference chair, for her always cheerful guidance and careful attention to the details that make guests feel welcome. I look forward to seeing Susan again as well as a good many other friends who will be there: Cheryl Harness, Bill Anderson, Sneed Collard III, Mary Casanova, Claudia Mills, Judy Young, Mike Opitz, and others.

Announcing Rob Shepperson

If you want to see a creative mind at work, look at the illustrations of Rob Shepperson. Rob and I collaborated on bugs, poems about creeping things, and Vacation, We’re Going to the Ocean. When I think I’m being funny, Rob makes the situation still funnier. His quick wit and finely tuned sense for what makes kids of all ages smile make him an ideal partner. There’s a lot to know about Rob and it will be my pleasure to introduce him to you in an upcoming guest blog.

As of yesterday we have already received a dozen poems by adults who have accepted this month’s challenge to write a poem inspired by a single word: road. Thanks to all of you for sharing your work. I know your poems will inspire others to join the fun. We’ve been visited by many readers, several of whom have left comments, and you can be assured that your poetry will be seen by a growing number of friends and fans before the month is over.


I had the pleasure of introducing Word of the Month Poetry Challenge during my presentations in Denver at the Colorado Council of International Reading Association, one of the truly fine conferences in America. I asked teachers who attended my sessions what they thought of this project and the feedback was strongly positive. I hope to see students in Colorado sharing their poems with us in the near future.

My thanks to Mary Nida Smith for her response to my query about what you think good, bad, or indifferent about this blog. The question is still before the house for anyone who wishes to offer constructive advice.


For those who check the monthly Teaching Tools on the Teacher page, the February addition is up, thanks to Kathy Temean. Also thanks to Kathy, the new word puzzle is up on the Kids page. It’s one of the best yet so check it out.


Announcing Bobbi Katz

BULLETIN: This morning I put into a bowl the names of those who signed my website guest book for the first time during January and drew out a winner. Congratulations to Ken Slesarik. Ken has chosen to send me some of his poetry to be critiqued. I look forward to reading more of Ken’s work.

Yesterday I received excellent news from an old friend. Bobbi Katz has accepted my invitation to make a guest appearance here on Friday, April 9.

Thursday I’ll leave Springfield to attend CCIRA in Denver. Friday I’ll make a presentation on poetry and also join my friend and co-author Kathy Holderith in a second presenation. CCIRA is a great reading conference and I’m always pleased to be part of it. One of the things I’ll talk about is Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. Maybe we’ll start getting more poems from Colorado. I would like that.

This month’s teaching tool on my website (go to Teachers) is about journaling and idea files. It should be up in the next day or so. Not everyone keeps a journal but quite a few writers do and I think it might be a good conversation point.

Please let us know your thoughts and your practices of keeping ideas in some form. If you keep a journal, when did you start? How often do you write in it? What kind of entries do you make? Do you also keep folders of ideas, scraps from articles, and other tidbits that might lead to something to write about? I hope someone will get us going rght away.

On a silly note, we have uninvited guests in our attic. Raccoons are up there and by the sounds I’d say they’re bowling, square dancing, or enjoying the mating season. Sandy read on the Internet that loud music might drive them off so last night I pulled down the stairs, climbed into the attic, turned on a radio full blast, and left it there until we went to bed. I haven’t heard from the raccoons today but it can’t be this easy. I have a feeling that before this is over we’ll be fighting over which station to listen to. Stay, uh, tuned.