Poetry Friday Roundup is Here Today: Plus! Heidi Mordhorst and Her Students With a First-Class Collaboration For the “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” Series

poetry friday buttonWelcome to the Roundup.
You can leave you link at the very bottom of my post. Glad to have you!
Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Every guest episode is delightful. But today’s episode is extra special due to the number of collaborators. Prepare to be wowed as . . .

 Heidi Mordhorst and Her 2nd Grade Students Take Us Under the Sea

From Heidi: These poems came about as part of a group of related projects with “a special place” at the center. The class voted to study coral reefs way back in November, and in addition to writing information brochures about this ecosystem, I offered an opportunity to express understandings in another form–poetry. Part of our inspiration came from Kate Coombs’s book Water Sings Blue, and you’ll see echoes of her “Coral,” “Shark” (what a poem!) and “Nudibranch.”  It must be said that some students did not know the factual information as well as they felt the wonder of the reef—a helpful check-up!

This was our first “assigned” poetry writing of the year, after months of steeping in excellent models. We keep Poetry Friday, gluing a poem each week into our simple construction-paper covered Poetry Anthologies. We have experienced metaphor through Christina Rossetti’s “Flint,” concrete poetry through Colleen Thibeaudeau’s “balloon,” and  list poems through Eve Merriam’s “How to Eat a Poem” among many others.  Next up will be “Winter Wear” by Douglas Florian.  As always, I consider it a success when the great majority of kids blast off on their own, knowing that they are the boss of their poem, its concept, its language, its mood.

The reef mural was made by groups of four at the TASS Table (my teacher desk, repurposed as a standing project table for “Thinking and Academic Success Skills”) after each kid used a rubric worksheet to actually score another student’s brochure! They took this very seriously, especially the using of teacher marking pens aspect. I provided the two large sheets of blue or green and the sandy color, and they did the rest completely independently—just your basic construction paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils. Oh, and wet glue–a rare treat.  : )

Heidi’s school is a large preK-5 in Montgomery Co., MD. It is a diverse urban-suburban district just outside Washington DC.

Each student wrote and illustrated their own poem. They all collaborated on the coral reef to display their work.

Enjoy poetry and art as we explore their coral reef.watal-no-name-copy

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If you had trouble reading any of the poems as part of the artwork, click HERE for a PDF of poems—text only.

The Brochures

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Closer View

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Reef With Poems and Artreef1 reef2 reef3

Group photo with Mr. Bruce Moravchik, one of our dads who works at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and came in to help us understand threats to the coral reef and how to protect them.

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Not pictured, Angela H

Many thanks to Heidi and her students for taking us on this underwater tour with their poems and artwork.


heidi-headshotMeet Heidi: Heidi Mordhorst is a poet and a classroom teacher (her 30th year and counting), and she likes doing both together! An active member of the online Kidlitosphere Poetry Friday community, Heidi is the author of two collections of poetry for young people: Squeeze: Poems from a Juicy Universe and Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems from the Other Side of Nature (both Wordsong/Boyds Mills).

She has contributed poems to numerous anthologies, and offers poetry workshops whenever she can squeeze them in. Visit her blog at http://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com.

Heidi is a dabbler–in the past she has been a calligrapher, a choral singer, a quilter, and a salsa dancer. She has lived in New York, London, Paris, Munich (“everybody talk about pop muzik”), and has always been an activist for equity in education.


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87 thoughts on “Poetry Friday Roundup is Here Today: Plus! Heidi Mordhorst and Her Students With a First-Class Collaboration For the “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” Series

  1. Great post! Thank you for hosting, and thanks to Heidi for sharing her students’ wonderful work! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  2. What a wonderful post. I loved seeing the student poems and their reef. Loved reading about Heidi’s Poetry Friday tradition. It’s easy to see the influence of being steeped in poetry every week! And thanks, Penny, for sharing Heidi & her students’ work with us!

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  4. Thanks for hosting, Penny, and thanks to you and Heidi for the marvelous collection of kid-authored poetry! Wonderful!

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  5. Wonderful, Penny! You rightly predicted… I am WOWED by the poetry and art created by Heidi’s students! Thank you to both of you for sharing, for inspiring!

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  6. Thanks, Penny – what a treat. HEIDI – Wow! You all have mined diamonds, sapphires, rubies, amethysts… Big congrats to all these talented young poets. (And I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I think maybe we could just go ahead and hand over the world to these open-minded, open-hearted kids right now – whatcha think?)

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  7. Wow – Heidi’s project is stunning – poems, individual art AND the whole display! She must be very proud. Thanks so much for sharing it, Penny, and for hosting Poetry Friday today.

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  9. Wow, I wish I had a teachers like Heidi. She is so creative in her approach to teaching. Her students must enjoy coming to school each day. The poems and artwork really speak volumes to what her students and learned and how they found a creative way to process and express the sea and environment! Beautiful work by all of the students.

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  10. Hey Penny! Wonderful post today! I loved seeing and reading the artwork and poems by Heidi’s students! I’m in today with an announcement of an opening(s) in The Poet’s Garage! You remember us, right? 🙂

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  11. How fortunate these students are to have Heidi for their teacher. All the artwork and poems are wonderful. What a fun time I had reading this weeks post.

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  12. So lovely. I fell for poetry hard, and early, and if I could go back in time and hug the teachers who made that possible, I would. Instead, I send virtual hugs to you, and to everyone who encourages kids to meet poetry with enthusiasm. Swim far. Swim deep.

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  13. I cannot even stand how much I love this post! Go escaper go! Truly beautiful work. Thank you for featuring it, Penny. Thank you, Heidi, for being a light in dark times, and thank you beautiful poets. Reefs everywhere thank you for sharing their beauty! xx

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  14. WowWowWow! If I could do it all again, I’d love to spend 2nd grade in Ms. Mordhorst’s class! Actually, I’d love to be a part of Heidi’s classroom even now. You’re one of the most creative and inspiring teachers I know, Heidi, and clearly, your students are thriving because of it. Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday, Penny, and thank you both for starting my day off with a huge smile.

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  15. Wow, Heidi, it’s clear that your students have been immersed in poetry and art. Each one unique, both serious and fun. I love them all. Visiting a reef made by your class was a pleasure, and I love seeing the picture of the class, too! They look very proud!

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  16. What a rich and joyous coral reef! I love the work Heidi is doing with these students, and I am in love with these poems! All the teachers who are scared of poetry NEED this post! Yes, they can be poets, if you give them the time and space. Thank you for this color and inspiration this morning. And Penny: so thrilled for all your happy book news! I am very excited for that cooked up fairy tale. 🙂 Congratulations!! xo

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    • I do get other teachers asking me how “I” get poems like these out of my students. Of course there is experience with poetry as described in the post, but actually–pay attention teachers scared of poetry–I think it’s mostly my enthusiasm about the power of a few carefully chosen words. I get all excited, or reverent, or amazed, or thrilled, or hushed, or amused, or surprised. or gobsmacked!!!!! It’s mostly about encouragement.

      And then there’s the “this word, or that?” technique, which I’ll come back and talk about later…the bell is about to ring!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi, Heidi and student poets! What a fabulous project. I read some of your poems a few weeks ago at Ms. Mordhorst’s blog. It was fun to read them again with your artwork. You have captured the rainbow of life in our coral reefs.

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  18. Wow! This is an amazing collection of poetry and art. I love seeing the magnificent work of these young poets! I especially enjoyed the one about the squid who would flush himself down the toilet if he were in jail! Heidi, I also loved what you said about them knowing they are the boss of their own poems, so powerful for writers. And thanks to Penny for sharing and hosting today!

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  19. Heidi, so fun to go under the sea with your students! These poems are wonderful. I love the variety of forms. Especially the concrete poems! Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Good Poetry Friday Morning! I am up early and just enjoying the beautiful words of your class. The the seeing, the thinking the writing. These students are so fortunate to be with you! It’s impossible to choose a favorite line…..but I love,love,love “I was born to shine” so much. Thank you, Penny for featuring such a gorgeous peek into Heidi’s classroom and her students work. It is a real treat.

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  23. Thanks and thank you once again, Penny, for inviting me and my students to your blog! Many visitors will have read the poems before, but as you and Landon know so well, there’s something special about the combination of word art and visual art. (And of course, they will LOVE seeing themselves and their work here on the WORLD-WIDE WEB!)

    I won’t leave a link today, but we’ll definitely be back this morning from Room 203…

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  24. Penny, it was delightful reading so many poems from Heidi’s little ones. Combining art, science, and poetry brought together an array of concrete and free verse poems that floated beautifully in the coral reef. There was so much variety and understanding of facts, plus a bonus visit from an expert. Thanks for sharing the gallery.

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