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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