Yesterday I won! The recalcitrant poem finally tired of teasing me and allowed me to steer it to a rather satisfactory conclusion. I borrowed one of Jane Yolen’s happy dances for that!
It was also a good day because Mary Jo Fresch and I concluded our manuscript for the new NCTE book and she clicked the 190-page manuscript on its way. This one began casually with an idea from Mary Jo on August 3, 2017. “I got an idea the other day…a book of nyms. Here is what I thought…I would give the explanation of the nym (antonyms are words that have opposite meaning, blah blah, blah), give examples (hot/cold; fast/slow, etc.), and a suggested lesson. You, of course, would use some in a poem. They are in the standards across the grades. Doable?” I, of course, said yes. This makes our 7th book together. So now, 889 e-mails and a handful of Skype sessions later, we’re ready to see what our editor makes of it. Next step is that the manuscript will be sent out to professionals in the field to gather their responses. We’ve already gone through this process once, in the beginning, before a contract was offered based on an extensive proposal.
And finally, I got a lovely note from a teacher/editor in France about the new book for ESL students. Here’s her message. I don’t think Melanie Herment will mind.
I want to thank you so much for inspiring our students with your poem. I am a teacher and author of textbooks in France, and we have once again used your wonderful ‘”It’s me” poem in a book for ESL students: In Full Swing 2nd (Ed. Didier, as always 😉 I have used your poem in class and the students loved it. We talked about art and the process of inspiration, which is why I asked them to make their own diptych and poem, and to record the poem. You can discover some of their productions here (if you’re interested): https://bit.ly/2JqLKPn ; https://bit.ly/2vDM9Wo and on the Facebook page of our collection: https://www.facebook.com/infullswingeditionsdidier/
Thank you so mcuh 🙂
Good day? I think so! And today we pack and leave this lovely place on the gulf to return home after an absence of twenty-five days. I’ll admit to some goo foffing along the way — and it has all been lovely — but a little work has gotten done as well.
Mary Jo Fresch and I are wrapping up our book and will send it off to our editor at NCTE by the 15th. Laura Robb and I have now signed our contract with Corwin and are about to send our editor there the first three chapters for her review. This week I’ll be working on Chapter 4.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all I’ll do. I have some new ideas that want attention — a fun idea suggested by son Jeff Harrison and a collaboration with Jane Yolen that had to be put aside while we both focused on higher priorities. I hope to scare up enough time this week and next to advance the cause for those two. I also have ideas on the back burner for two other projects that have some editor interest. Those will need to wait a while longer, but I think about them often to keep my anticipation growing.
In snatched moments I like to sit somewhere and give my muse a chance to show me future projects. Each week brings new excitement because of such times.
As I approach the end of my latest collaboration with Mary Jo Fresch and look forward to collaborating on a new book for teachers with Laura Robb, I have several feelings. First, I’m excited. In a few days I’ll embark on a new adventure that will call for me to write enough new poems and short prose texts to fill my part of the book. Subject matter will vary widely so each subject will need to be researched. Getting ready to write something like this usually takes more time than it does to write it. Mary Jo and I recently wrote a book on that subject, 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS.
Another feeling is the old question, can I do it again? As we move into the next book, will my writing please my partner? I’ve learned quite a bit over the years about the subjects of these education books, but my background is in science and most of my books are trade books. Will I be good enough to contribute my fair share for another collaboration with an expert in the field? Will the teachers who eventually read what I’ve written be pleased? Excited? Informed? Maybe even impressed? Only time will tell, months and months of it.
A third emotion is gratitude. I’m lucky and know it. My writing partners on these professional development books have all been outstanding educators, well known for their brilliant research, scholarly publications, teaching, and presentations. To get to work with such wonderful people is a privilege, one that I treasure. So let the good times roll!
EDUCATION and PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOKS
1999 Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight (with Bernice Cullinan)
2003 Using the Power of Poetry (with Kathy Holderith)
2009 Partner Poems for Building Fluency (with Tim Rasinski and GayFawcett)
2013 Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison (DVD series; guide book with Lauren Edmondson)
2013 Learning through Poetry: Short Vowels (with Mary Jo Fresch)
2013 Learning through Poetry: Long Vowels (with Mary Jo Fresch)
2013 Learning through Poetry: Consonants (with Mary Jo Fresch)
2013 Learning through Poetry: Consonants and Blends (with Mary Jo Fresch)
2013 Learning through Poetry: Rimes (with Mary Jo Fresch)
2016 Social Studies Literacy; Grades 4-6 (with Timothy V. Rasinski)
2017 7 Keys to Research for Writing Success, Grades 3-5 (with Mary Jo Fresch)
Empowering Student’s Knowledge of Vocabulary: Learning How Language Works (with Mary Jo Fresch)
Untitled (with Laura Robb)
CHAPTERS IN PROFESSIONAL BOOKS
2009 “Yes, Poetry Can,” the poetry chapter for Children’s Literature in the Reading Program (3rd Edition, edited by Deborah Wooten and Bernice Cullinan; International Reading Association.
2015 “Poetry, the Write Thing to Do,” the poetry chapter for Children’s Literature in the Reading Program (4th Edition, edited by Deborah Wooten; International Reading Association.
2018 “Poetry, the Write Thing to Do,” the poetry chapter for Children’s Literature in the Reading Program (5th Edition, edited by Deborah Wooten; Guilford Press.
1994 No More Boring Poems; Instructor Magazine
1994 What I’ve Learned So Far; Journal of Reading
1995 One Good Idea Leads to Another; Show-Me Libraries
2005 Retracing Memories: Writing Memoir Poems; Teaching Pre-K-8, April
2005 The Letterman Factor, A Matter of Meter; The California Reader
2006 The Game of Poetry; Florida Reading Journal
2007 The Relationship Between Authors and Young Readers; Dragon Lode
2008 Too Big for Hugs and Kisses; GRAND, The Magazine for Grandparents
2009 Reading to Our Children; Gannett, News-Leader
2009 Promoting Literacy: It’s Everybody’s Job; Alpha Chi Recorder
2014 Q & A Reflections; Post Road Magazine; Boston College
2017 Before They Write: Topic, Presearch, and Research (with Mary Jo Fresch); Missouri Reader
2017 Why Poetry?; Laura Robb blog
2018 The Poet and the Poem; SCBWI Bulletin
2019 The Game Changer; Missouri Reader
Now that Mary Jo Fresch and I are fully engaged in writing our new book, it’s time to identify some teachers who would like to participate by trying some specific activities with their students based on the book and sharing the results with us for potential publication. This time we’re writing about vocabulary development for students in grades 3-5.
Here’s how Mary Jo expressed it in a note to some of her teacher friends. “Hi! Thanks for considering helping out….we need field testing of the lessons and student samples. Any student samples you can provide (along with parental approval) could be included in the book. You and your students will be acknowledged in the book. We are thinking we will have something by end of March to send to you… If there are any other teachers in your building (or district) that you think would be interested, just let me know. You can invite them…copy me…or I can email them – whatever you think is best.”
I know already that Ken Slesarik in Arizona and Susan Hutchens in Colorado are on board. Please help me add to the list by letting me know of your interest and/or telling other teachers about the opportunity.