Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills

Hi everyone,

Yesterday my samples arrived for both volumes of the new Scholastic titles. I loved meeting them at last. My partners in the project, TIM RASINSKI and MARY JO FRESCH have just received their samples, too, so we’re all celebrating together.

My thanks to our editor, MARIA CHANG, and to TARA WELTY, Senior Vice President of Teaching Solutions, for turning our ideas and proposals into reality. Now we turn to the task of getting out the word that our books are out there and ready to be put to use in classrooms and homes wherever children are learning to read. As it says in the description: “Motivate young learners to develop fluency with funny short poems they can read with a partner. Follow this up with skill-building word ladders that focus on phonics and vocabulary, plus an engaging language arts mini-lesson on reading, writing, or word study, and you’ve got a comprehensive, strategic approach to teaching early literacy skills. This book provides practice in reading and writing phonograms essential for learners who are ready to expand their vocabulary and experiences with print.”

Partner Poems II finally out

Hi Everyone,

This past week during my little vacation, I had a new book come out. PARTNER POEMS & WORD LADDERS FOR BUILDING FOUNDATION LITERACY SKILLS for grades 1-3 is the companion book to (same title but for grades K-2) that was issued in February.

It’s always a pleasure and honor to work with MARY JO FRESCH and TIM RASINSKI on books for elementary classroom teachers and their students. For this pair of books for Scholastic, I wrote 50 poems for two or more voices, Tim created wonderful word ladders for each of them, and Mary Jo wrote insightful, fun ways to apply the poems and word ladders to lessons for the classroom. Special thanks to our editor, MARIA CHANG, for her guidance and knowledge throughout the process. From start to finish the development of these two books took sixteen months. We think the result is a winning combination and naturally we’re eager to see the books get out there and find their market.

Tim Rasinski
Mary Jo Fresch

I hope you’ll help us reach ort audience by putting these books to work and/or sharing this announcement with teachers you know who might. Thanks so much!

Passing the bottle

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I finished my parts for the book with LAURA ROBB and TIM RASINSKI for Teacher Created Materials. There could still be tweaks and fixes in my future, but at this point I feel like celebrating. Tonight SANDY says she’s buying champagne.

This book began with exploratory talks among the three of us in January and February, 2021. By March we were ready and submitted our proposal to TCM. I committed to write 25 poems and 25 500-word essays, starting July 1 and finishing by October 1. It would be a killer pace but timing was critical to meet an early 2022 publication date.

I couldn’t start before July because Tim, MARY JO FRESCH, and I were finishing two books for Scholastic Teacher Resources that began with discussions in late 2000 and took nearly all my time through the first half of 2001. One of those books came out last month. The second is due out ten days from now.

When Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools approached Tim to re-write its Scope and Sequence program for grades K-2 and Tim invited me to join him, we asked for and received permission from TCM and Laura to delay pub date for our book long enough to insert the new project. For a matter of months, all I did was work on that project. The day I finished the last of 70+ poems, I turned back to the TCM project and jumped back into that.

It took from November 15 to yesterday, March 3, without a break, to finish the poems and essays for the TCM book. I hope my wife gets a BIG bottle of the bubbly.

Today? I’m sorting out where to start tackling a 16-month backlog of ideas and commitments in the trade world. I’m ready!

Three education books set for this year

Hi everyone,

At times I become involved in writing with partners on books for classroom teachers and long periods go by when I don’t pay enough attention to making new trade books. 2021 was like that. The result is that I have three new education books coming out in 2022 and 0 trade books. This has been my pattern for more than two decades. When I quote the number of books I’ve published, I should remind people that those done for teachers have all been with teachers and professors as partners. My role in each case has been to create original work — poems and texts — so my learned colleagues can work with the material to offer teachers learning experiences and follow-up activities for themselves and their students. I know there have been such collaborations involving other trade writers working with educators, but the number, I think, is small. Here’s a summary of titles I’m had the privilege of working on.

The list does not include chapters for teacher books and numerous articles for magazines and juried journals. Since 1999, I’ve written more than 340 original poems specifically for these books, the equivalent of more than twenty trade books of poetry for schools and libraries. It’s the same number of poetry books I’ve published during that time with trade publishers, so education efforts have accounted for half of my lifetime production as a poet. In the world of trade books, there are many lists and a variety of awards available and my work has won a fair number. Most of the awards given in professional organizations for teachers and librarians are designed for deserving members of those professions, so there are far fewer opportunities for trade writers to get much recognition. That goes in the “Oh well” file.

1999   Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight (with Bernice Cullinan); Scholastic
2003   Using the Power of Poetry (with Kathy Holderith, 3rd grade master teacher in Denver); Scholastic
2004   Writing Stories, Fantastic Fiction from Start to Finish; grades 4-6; Scholastic
2009   Partner Poems for Building Fluency (with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett); Scholastic
2013   Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison (DVD series; guide book with Lauren Edmondson);    Phoenix Learning
2013   Learning through Poetry: Short Vowels (with Mary Jo Fresch); Shell
2013   Learning through Poetry: Long Vowels (with Mary Jo Fresch); Shell
2013   Learning through Poetry: Consonants (with Mary Jo Fresch); Shell
2013   Learning through Poetry: Consonants and Blends (with Mary Jo Fresch);  Shell
2013   Learning through Poetry: Rimes (with Mary Jo Fresch); Shell
2016   Social Studies Literacy; Grades 4-6 (with Timothy V. Rasinski); Shell
2017   7 Keys to Research for Writing Success, Grades 3-5 (with Mary Jo Fresch); Scholastic
2000   Empowering Students’ Knowledge of Vocabulary: Learning How Language Works (With Mary Jo Fresch); NCTE
2000   Guided Practice for Reading Growth (with Laura Robb); Corwin
2021   Scope and Sequence Program for Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools System (with Tim Rasinski)
2022   Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills, Grades K-2 (with Tim Rasinski and Mary Jo Flesch); Scholastic
2022   Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills, Grades 1-3 (with Tim Rasinski and Mary Jo Flesch); Scholastic
2022   Differentiating Instruction for Growth in Reading Lessons to Meet Students’ Diverse Needs (with Laura Robb and Tim Rasinski); Shell

This year? I have plans in the works for some new trade books. Time will tell.

Still on schedule

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I enjoyed making a 25-minute video with Mary Jo Fresch and Tim Rasinski that will be posted for the California Reading Association virtual conference, October 22-23. We presented aspects of a book we’re finishing for Scholastic, which will be published January 22, titled PARTNER POEMS & WORD LADDERS FOR BUILDING FOUNDATIONAL LITERACY SKILLS.

Starting today I’ll be away from the Fairfax project for twelve days, the longest hiatus since I started. When I return, I’ll have 19 work-days to write the final 15 poems. If all goes as planned, I should finish on time. By work days I mean weekdays between now and November 15 when I don’t have other commitments already on the schedule. Fingers crossed!