Tag Archives: poetry

‘Tech in a Northern Town’

Guest post by Amy K. Marshall. Library Director of The Craig Public Library in Craig, Alaska. Amy recently participated in a videconference- her first- with Cooperating School Districts’ and the Kemper Art Museum. Amy shared the experience with us:

I’m showing my age here, but I’ve always loved that catchy tune from the one-hit-wonder The Dream Academy: Life In A Northern Town. We don’t have a Salvation Army Band, but it is, for the most part, a staid life in Craig, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island.  People fish, hunt, gather berries and other resources—there is a strong subsistence-based population here. If you came to visit, you might not notice it so much, except when the herring are spawning and everything is “Fish Egg” Excitement like it is, well, this week!

Into this place, technology has touched a toe to the water. The Craig Public Library, thanks to the generosity of the AlaskaOWL Project (and the US Department of Commerce, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, and other contributors) is linked! The first link came with the installation of a T1 Broadband connection. The second link came with the installation of videoconferencing equipment that truly opened the world for the Prince of Wales Island Community. That the purveyors of the AlaskaOWL thought to train library personnel for the installation and use of the equipment is nothing short of inspired. And, when librarians from around the State of Alaska converged on The Golden Heart City of Fairbanks for the AKLA Conference in February, the AlaskaOWL Team had one more surprise for us: CILC.

“It’s there for you to use.” Alaska State Library’s Head of Development Sue Sheriff’s simple statement rang out as nearly a challenge for all the librarians in the room. We now have the technology. We need to put it to work for our communities and videoconferencing was one way in which to do that.

The first videoconference the Craig Public Library conducted was with the Mildred Kemper Art Museum: “History, Heroes, and Symbolism: A Visual Analysis of George Caleb Bingham’s Iconic Painting,” I was terrified. I know my patronage, and I knew there would be people who would want to be there for it, but I also had that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling hostesses get when they realize they could be planning a party that no one will attend. I should never have worried. And, when Anchor Point out on the Kenai Peninsula, 750 miles away, joined us, the party stretched more than 3,000 miles across the Earth. Groups of people separated by these distances were able to see one another and exchange ideas: that is the power of this technology.

Our host, Allison Taylor, led us through a discussion of the painting, pointing out other period-specific works of art from which Bingham drew inspiration. We talked about the use of propaganda in art, how what was propaganda at the time could be viewed through the lens of history and somewhat softened (or not) depending upon the subject matter. What Allison probably did not realize, although she could see us talking, was that, when we politely muted our microphone on the Craig end, there were three or four in the group who were telling other stories, gesturing to the painting and scribbling notes. It was a far better party than I had imagined.

And now … a poem. As I watched eyes widen around the tables in Craig and Anchor Point, I thought, no one’s going to come to another party again. It was a writing exercise—for us to write an Ekphrastic Poem. We had fun with the word, because it’s so fun to say, but it is, in the end, a poem inspired by a work of art. Allison led us through it, and I was happy to see everyone scribbling notes, setting down words, following the instructions, heads bent, eyes narrowed, scanning the picture for colors, shapes, objects, for movements (no “ing” verbs allowed), implied or otherwise.

“Now,” Alison said, still smiling, “I want you to write five sentences or so, and link your nouns to your verbs in ways you wouldn’t expect.”

Here’s mine:

Rifles set at shoulders
Grey-blue skies billow as a
Shadow’d bird leans into the wind.
Branches brown and broken
Whip away the sun in set
As light glows against the
Red and brown of horse-borne hope.

After the videoconference ended and we all waved good-bye from our respective locations, the group around the tables in Craig remained rooted. We all shared our poems. We all shared our thoughts on the experience. We talked for over half an hour past the time of the video conference. Around us, other patrons drifted in to use the public use computers, to thumb through magazines, to take in the view of Klawock Inlet… and I knew they were there, but in that moment, there was just… us. There’s something about a shared experience. There’s something about creating anything in a group—be it a poem, a story, a building, or a fresh-baked pie. There’s a greater understanding of it. You see a collective process—how each individual approaches it. You’re better for it. That’s also the power of the tech and of presenters like Allison and programs like that of the Mildred Kemper Art Museum. We’re all better for it.

National Poetry Month is in April

National Poetry Month is just a few weeks away! One great way to recognize the art form in your elementary classroom is by participating in author Amy Sklansky’s Inside a Poet’s Mind interactive videoconference. Amy gives elementary students in grades second through fifth a peek inside the mind of a poet in this one hour videoconference.

Sharing poems from her own books, (the latest is You Are My Little Cupcake), Amy discusses the various places a poet finds inspiration and a few of the many forms poetry can take. Next, she uses PowerPoint slides to model a process for writing a poem, and then encourages students to use the same process to write a poem on their own during the videoconference. Finally, Amy gives examples of the ways a poet may revise her work – emphasizing concepts such as word choice, line breaks, action verbs, and punctuation. Student volunteers are invited to share their work aloud. The main objective of this program is for students in second through fifth grade to gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of poetry. (If a second grade teacher would like to participate, the program would be shortened to 45 minutes and would not include the writing time for students).

New Links members pay $155, nonmembers pay $195. Contact Rebecca Morrison if you’d like to sign up for this great, interactive lesson!

Inside a Poet’s Mind Videoconference for Elementary Students

Amy SklanskyAuthor Amy E. Sklansky gives elementary students a peek inside the mind of a poet in this one hour videoconference from New Links to New Learning.

Sharing poems* from her own books, she discusses the various places a poet finds inspiration and a few of the many forms poetry can take.  Next, she models a process for writing a poem using a SMART Board, and then encourages students to write a poem on their own during the videoconference using the same process.  Finally, Amy gives examples of the ways a poet may revise her work – emphasizing concepts such as word choice, line breaks, action verbs, and punctuation. The main objective of this program is for students in second through fifth grade to gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of poetry.

*from Skeleton Bones and Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween:

Jack o’ lantern,
Jack o’ light.
Jack o’ darkness,
Jack o’ night.

*from From the Doghouse: Poems to Chew On:

My tail won’t stop its wagging.
My rear end has an ache.
Back and forth and back and forth–
it never takes a break.

Sklansky's Poetry BooksThis videoconference, available for students in grades second through fifth, is offered upon request (point-to-point) and on the following set dates (multipoint): Tuesday, April 22 (during National Poetry Month): 9:30; 10:45; 1:00 and Tuesday, May 4: 9:30; 10:45; 1:00. All times listed are Central. If a second grade teacher would like to participate, the program would be shortened to 45 minutes and would not include the interactive poetry writing and would be scheduled point-to-point. The cost for the videoconference is $135 for New Links to New Learning members and $175 for non-members.

Questions? Contact Rebecca Morrison at CSD. To sign up, click here.

A Menu Sampling

Author and former teacher Carolyn Lesser has created a new menu of interactive videoconference programs for New Links to New Learning! Here are just a few of the new videoconference opportunities with Carolyn. The others will be up soon. Contact the Virtual Learning Center for costs and scheduling – all programs are upon request. Carolyn works with students second grade and up.

Writing Nature Prose or Poetry
Session #1… 45 minute conference/call from teachers to plan for students
Session #2… 50 minute interactive presentation & student assignment given
Session #3… 50 minute interactive reading/positive feedback to student-read work

  • Sessions will concentrate on nature writing specific to relevant curriculum
  • We will connect science with the writing/research process in prose or poetry
  • Research will be stressed for scientific accuracy for topics
  • Teacher input is very important…come to conference call with ideas
  • Carolyn will engage students with enthusiasm for her nonfiction process

Multigenre Nonfiction Writing
Session #1… 45 minute conference call from teachers to plan for students
Session #2… 60 minute interactive presentation & student assignment given
Session #3… 60 minute interactive reading/positive feedback to student-read
work

  • Teacher input/requests/goals discussed in the conference call
  • Each nonfiction topic will be written in poetry, prose, letter, journal entry, dialogue, newspaper article, broadcast, report, etc.  
  • My professional nonfiction writing process tailored & relevant to specific curriculum, teacher requests, goals
  • Specific writing topics chosen by teachers/students
  • Time will be taken each session for student questions
  • Each session will be full of inspiration, enthusiasm, and positive feedback

Crafting a Play
Session #1… 60 minute conference with teachers to plan for students
Session #2… 60 minute presentation & student assignment given
Session #3… 60 minute presentation of scenes from students’ plays… feedback to and from group
s

  • Professional play-writing, techniques presented
  • Teacher input/requests/goals discussed in the teacher conference
  • Curriculum for the basis of the plays discussed with teachers
  • Topics chosen by teachers/students
  • Time for student questions in each session
  • All sessions interactive

Carolyn Connects

Last week, Carolyn Lesser was at CSD Monday through Friday conducting videoconferences with schools in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New York. The students ranged in age from kindergarten to middle school, and topics included playwriting and poetry (inspiration).

Monday: Playwriting & Pennsylvania | Tuesday: Poetry & Missouri
                                   

Wednesday: Poetry & New York | Thursday & Friday: Poetry & Missouri 
                    

About Carolyn, in her own words: I love to explore, observe, write, and photograph the wonders of planet Earth, then return to speak to inspire adults and children to explore this amazing world. I love to invent inspiring educational presentations and seminars for corporations, universities, and educators and students in creativity, writing, speaking, exploring, living fully enthusiastically, alive on the planet… I have been working with an organization called Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis. 
They offer and arrange videoconferences for my custom designed, interactive hands-on writing seminars and author visits with classrooms of students. CSD also arranges all my videoconferences of nonfiction writing and public speaking seminars for educational or corporate institutions, in a professional development format, “on-screen.” ‘

Teachers, how did your sessions go?