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!

Getting there

Hi everyone,

I think I’m within three weeks of completing the Teacher Created Material book. That would make it March 11, two days before my birthday. What a nice gift to myself!

On another front, this Wednesday I’ll Zoom-storm with PATRICK REYNOLDS, conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and MOLLIE STEEN, pianist for the orchestra. We’ll discuss our respective roles in the upcoming “Bugs” concert on March 20. I’ll make a video later in the week of my part of two poems for partners that Mollie and I will read together during the performance. We’ll do “The Fly” and “Spanish Fly” from my book BUGS, POEMS ABOUT CREEPING THINGS. Will that be fun? Oh my yes!

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.

New morning, new day, new week. Let’s do it.

Hi everyone,

Tim Rasinski and I did a 27-minute video Saturday morning to wrap up the Fairfax County Virginia project and this Thursday, Tim, Mary Jo Fresch, Laura Robb, and I are set to do a 60-minute webinar for California Reading. On Friday or December 1, Laura and I look forward to an interview by Missouri’s Sam Bommarito on his great blog. Guess I’d better get a haircut.

For now, it’s a new week. I’ve set out the trash, got the coffee going, and am settling down to work on a poem for the upcoming Laura/Tim/David book for Teacher Created Materials.

Moving on to other priorities

Hi everyone,

This is the first morning in many months that I don’t have a poem to write for the Fairfax County Virginia project with Tim Rasinski. I finished #75 last week before going to the Mansfield children’s literature festival. Sometime this week Tim and I will record a video of me explaining how teachers can write and tweak poems like I did for their scope and sequence program for kindergarten through second grade. The rest of the week I’ll play catch up as much as I can and then get back in the groove for the book I’m doing with Tim and Laura Robb for Teacher Created Materials. My editors there were kind to delay the publication date long enough for me to work in the Fairfax project.

Peggy, and others, the skull in the middle is an extinct form of black bear a boyfriend and I found in a local cave when we were twelve years old. On the left: a replica of a short-face bear, the biggest bear that ever lived. It could top 1,500 pounds, on its hind legs reach more than 14′ into the air, and run 45 miles per hour. On the right, a replica of a saber-tooth cat. Signs of both beasts were discovered in Riverbluff Cave in Springfield, Missouri in 2011.