My thanks to Ruth Nathan and Tim Rasinski

Hi everyone,

Another week gone lickety-split. I’m going to wind up approximately where I hoped to be unless today wanders off down a rabbit hole. My thanks to all who were in my life this week. Yesterday I was twice blessed when Ruth Nathan and Tim Rasinski both published poems of mine. I am most grateful.

Ruth used “Moose at Dusk” from WILD COUNTRY in her article in Thoughtful Learner.

Moose At Dusk
By David L. Harrison

At shadowy dusk,
when trees take faces
and stones move,
I hurry for home
thinking only
of leaving the forest
before full dark —
I’ve stayed too long.

When from the deepening gloom
you materialize
like a phantom beast —
high shouldered, massive,
mute.

Caught by surprise
(uncomfortable)
I stare,
thinking how easily
you knew I was here.

Before my eyes you blend
with shadows, disappear.
I cannot blink you back,
but still you’re there.

Knowing I’m not alone,
I double my steps
and jog for home.

(c) 1996 From Wild Country, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. Used by permission of the author.

The back story for the poem is that Sandy and I were walking in the woods one evening at Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the foot of the Teton Mountains, and a gigantic moose appeared like an apparition in the deepening shadows. We looked at each other, not certain what to do, and when we glanced back, the beast had vanished. It was one of those experiences you know you’ll never forget, an adventure shared worth telling others about, worthy of a poem.

Tim chose “I Love You” from PARTNER POEMS, a book I did with him and Gay Fawcett, for his blog post on Fluency Friday. https://www.facebook.com/timothy.rasinski

The back story of the poem, which begins…

(1st voice)
I love you.
(2nd voice)
I love you too.
(1st voice)
I love you three.
(2nd voice)
I love you four.

…is that it was a game I often played with my sister, and now with her son, and other family members. Jule died a few years ago but the poem reminds me of her and of times when I could still hear her voice and hug her.

I want to talk about my books for teachers, #3

Hi everyone,

In September of 2009 the offices of Scholastic Professional Books was one of my stops during my annual trek to New York City to see editors. We visited about my first two titles with Scholastic and the idea came up about pairing me with Timothy V. Rasinski, a professor at Kent State University and noted authority on reading development. When I returned home, I sent Tim a note and we corresponded for two and a half months while we considered ways of combining our talents and interests. By December we’d honed in on doing a book of poems for two or more voices — partner poems — with me writing the poems and Tim providing classroom activities. We would each write an introduction and Tim would bring in one of his former doctoral students, Gay Fawcett, to do some of the classroom activities. The range would be for grades 2-4.

I loved writing all those partner poems and we felt good about the finished book. But when our samples arrived, the cover read: PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY, GRADES 4-6. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I alerted Tim and Gay and then called our editor. She was apologetic but said at the last minute someone discovered they already had a book with that exact title, for grades 2-4, so they had no choice but to change our grade range to avoid confusion. She was sorry but there was nothing she could do.

Tim and I insisted they destroy the books, change the title, and keep our 2-4 grade range because most of the poems, as well as the activities, would make little sense to kids in the 5th or 6th grade. The answer came back, “Sorry.”

As predicted, I took some arrows from teachers who quite rightly pointed out that my poetry was not suitable for grades 4-6 and accused me of not understanding my audience. I still burn when I think of how stupid it was to pull that switch at the last minute and without even discussing it with us. The book did okay but should have done much better. A poem that emerged as a favorite is this one, which I’ve presented several times at conferences and in classrooms over the year.

It’s a Lollity Popity Day

(1st voice)
It’s a lollity popity day

(2nd voice)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity day.

(1st)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity day.

(2nd)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity day.

(1st)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity day.

(2nd)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity day.

(1st)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity day.

(2nd)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity
happy-go-luckity day.

(Together)
Hooray!
Hooray!

Tons of puns

Hi everyone,

My thanks to Terry Bond for passing this one along to me:

Q
What does a thesaurus eat for breakfast?
A
A synonym roll.

Terry has been guilty of such wry word play in the past. In my book with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett called PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY, you’ll find a poem called “Groanosaurs”. At the time I was working on the poem I shared it with Terry, who promptly doubled the number of puns. The final poem reads like this:

GROANOSAUR TEST, 2 voices
(Terry Bond, who loves puns, wrote half of this poem. DLH)

(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur in a hurry?
(class)
A dino-scurry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur in a snowstorm?
(class)
A dino-flurry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur at a funeral?
(class)
A dino-bury.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur who likes spicy food?
(class)
A dino-curry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur stuck in tar?
(class)
A dino-tarry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur digging a hole?
(class)
A dino-quarry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur pulling a wagon?
(class)
A dino-lorry.
What do you call a dinosaur who takes this test?
(class)
A dino-sorry!

(c) 2009 by David L. Harrison
from PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY
Scholastic Teaching Resources

A family who reads together

Hi everyone,

As I told you, this past weekend Sandy’s cousin Leslie Johnson was here with her husband Johnnie and three children Caleb, Hannah, and Grace. Grace starts school this fall. Hannah goes into 5th grade and Caleb will be a 7th grader. 20150801_125808_resizedAll three kids have been brought up on books and are excellent readers. One or our activities was to take turns reading poems from my book with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett, PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY.IMG_4677 This is a book written for teachers for which I wrote forty-two poems for two or more voices.IMG_4681 When Grace saw the book, she wouldn’t put it down until Sandy and I had taken turns reading nearly every poem in it with her. We didn’t want to stop reading with her either.IMG_4696 Some lucky teacher is going to love having a first grader who already loves books and reads with fluency, understanding, and feeling.

The whole time they were here no one asked to turn on a television. The kids were outside for much of the time. They swam and played games.IMG_4700They were curious about their surroundings and asked a lot of good questions.20150801_200304_resized And they read. Thank you, Leslie and Johnnie, for being such great parents. Thank you, Caleb, Hannah, and Grace, for being such good kids.

In the top 5 again

Hi everyone,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As I look at my WordPress report for 2014 I see that once again one of the most popular posts in my blog records was one from back on September 18, 2009 when I introduced a book of poems for two or more voices called PARTNER POEMS. I wrote the poems and Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett wrote the content and classroom activities. It was published as a Scholastic Best Practices in Action title and erroneously identified as a book for grades 4-6 because at the last minute they discovered they already had a book of partner poems for grades 2-4, which is the range for which we created the book. Our book continues to sell well
( http://www.amazon.com/Partner-Poems-Building-Fluency-Comprehension/dp/0545108764/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420041311&sr=8-1&keywords=partner+poems+for+building+fluency ) but now and then we’ve been criticized by a reader who is led by the misleading title to think we don’t know our audience.

Each year since I introduced the book, the post has been in the top 5 most popular for the year. In 2014, it was number 2 and number 4. I think the double ranking refers to different dates when I featured PARTNER POEMS. Here’s a poem from the collection called “Lollity Popity Day.” My thanks again to teachers who have used the poem to excite students to read and perform it. Here’s a picture by Patricia Cooley at Komensky School of two girls who made masks and entertained their schoolmates. I’m making a slight change in the poem to wish you more than a Lollity Popity Day. I wish you a Lollity Popity Year!

IT’S A LOLLITY POPITY YEAR

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity
happy-go-luckity year.

CHEERS!

IMG_1743