Thursday, May 5, 2016

Poetry Garden

Everyone should know the favorite English nursery rhyme, "Mary, Mary quite contrary" by Mother Goose. (Source: The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes (2000) at Poetry Foundation)  

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

But how about a twist on it to advertise my newest spring gallery, Spring's Seeds, that has its own hashtag, #SpringsSeeds? If you travel to the hashtag you will find some digital poetry already planted in the garden.

Carol, Carol, seeking nature's apparel,
How does your garden grow?
With poet-trees and digital bees
set around words in a row.

In May after Mother's Day, the flowers and trees start blooming and gardens become the focus. While preparing to design my meditation garden, I decided on extending the love for poetry writing that popped all over social media during National Poetry Month. For one month, I am inviting connected colleagues, teachers, and students to write alongside me to create a garden of poetry that will be unveiled in June. The invitation can be accessed here.

The garden will be filled with digital poetry, image poems, quotes, spring-related music, nature photography, and short videos. In other words, the garden will be a creative potpourri of beautiful blossoms. 

This is the opportunity for every gardener of words to be inspired to create and allow me to plant their seeds for a virtual spring poetry garden. 

Be Expressive-Create!

Some writers have already started planting their seeds.
Send them to #SpringsSeeds on Twitter
or to my gmail account (cvarsalona)

News for my Poetry Friday Friends: 

The fabulous 2016 Progressive Poem, with all 30 names of the poets who contributed, will be featured at Spring's Seeds Gallery

Please visit Sylvia's Vardell site, Poetry for Children, here where she is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Happy Mother's Day to All mothers!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Creativity and Vulnerability

Creativity sprouted throughout social media during National Poetry Month reminding me of the power of voice. With May upon us, colleagues continue to write so when Irene Latham suggested that the Spiritual Journey Thursday blogging community post on Creativity and Vulnerability, I thought what an interesting combination. I drafted a few ideas, then this morning read Irene's piece at Live Your Poem. I found a phrase that resonated with me, "creativity as abundance" and began revising my thoughts.

Words choose us.
We are filled with abundance.
We let our voice rise in a collective chorus.
©CVarsalona, 2016 

Each day, we are faced with an exciting prospect to notice, wonder, and create. Our writing space becomes our sanctuary of thought. We write, hopefully without doubt in our hearts, believing that our words will be received but the world is an open range where our voices are vulnerable. Connected colleagues seek the company of colleagues who support, nurture, and critique honestly with good faith. With this backing, we can take the leap of faith and toss our words into the open range of life.

When we share our writing space and the yearnings of our hearts with colleagues we no longer "live in the spin" as Irene Latham said in her post. We become risk-takers who create, share, and grow as writers alongside others. 

Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken is one of my favorite songs from the past. Please listen to be inspired to open each morning to a new day of creativity. 

Reflect upon not only the beauty of the earth but the Maker who provides eternal creativity.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them ~Ephesians 2:10

Gears in Motion

When a advertisers are ready to introduce a product, they need to create interest with a selective audience. Design and appeal are factors to consider in rolling out the campaign. In the initial stages, information is imported allowing gears to turn and creativity to flow. Remember the creative team in Mad Men and how they spent time deliberating? Brainstorming ideas created a bank of input /data. 

Each time I create a new campaign for my seasonal galleries, I mull over the ideas for weeks, searching for fresh and engaging visuals and thoughts to move creativity forward. When the creative spirit jump-starts the engine of my mind, flow occurs. The end result is a draft of ideas that I review and spend time refining. 

Thinking back on the process for my upcoming gallery, I allowed nature to lead the way. I noticed, observed, and found details on my walks that allowed my gears to turn. While on those walks at the preserve and my neighborhood, I gathered natural objects that I found to create a design. The fun began when I placed all the objects on my work table. Ideas started popping up. With glue gun in hand, I started the process of layering the objects to create my visual design. With the house quiet and only the pitter patter of the rain seeping through, I was lost in thought and design. The outdoors moved closer to me as I created and there it was in front of me. A seed of an idea blossomed into a brightly colored visual representative of springtime beauty. 

Nature, scraps of material, and snippets of artificial flowers provided the raw materials, creativity the spark, and perseverance the tool that led me onward to a finished product worthy to stand alone as an advertisement. 

What function does this ornamental design serve? It not only shows that creativity comes from whatever sparks your passion but that you do not need lots of money to bring an idea to fruition. My Do It Yourself design serves as a representation of nature's gift to us. From this creation, I wove the words to introduce my newest writing challenge for Spring's Seeds Gallery that can be accessed here

While this has been a roundabout process for addressing DigiLit Sunday's call to discuss function and my late entry, I had fun thinking through the design for my upcoming spring gallery and new hashtag site, #SpringsSeeds. My hope is that an inspired garden of poetry will blossom by the end of May. Please visit Margaret Simon's blog to read other's thoughts on the topic of function. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rocking to a Positive Beat

Last night as the 8:00 hour for #NYEDChat neared, a huge band of positivity champions rallied for a well-advertised Twitter chat. Voices were predicted to rise as high in the skies as the New York City skyscrapers. All were primed and ready to let positivity prevail, dissipating any notion that negativity exists in the world (if only for one hour) and so the dream unfolded. What transpired was a feat of unparallelled magnitude in #NYEDChat history. 

Nineteen positivity champions were scheduled to join the #NYEDChat conversation. Within a week's time, our usual moderating team (Bill Brennan, Victoria Day, Blanca Duarte, Dan McCabe, Lisa Meade, Starr Sackstein, Dennis Schug, Tony Sinanis, and me) plus a special band of #EduFriends (Bobby Dodd, Sean Gaillard, Reed Gillespie, Phil Griffin, Neil Gupta, Jon Harper, Jennifer Hogan, Eoin Lenihan, Craig Vroom, Jennifer Williams) prepared a celebratory event that was sure to rock the Twittersphere. With the true spirit of connected colleagues, the positivity team engaged in backchannel conversations and twitter messages leading up to last night's chat. #vachat and #OHedchat friends were called in and tweets sent across the world to our German colleague. We were ready.

From the first gif, NYEDChat flowed with positivity and a new sense of camaraderie was established. Positive thoughts were shot out in rapid succession by tweeters from across the states. Both newbie and veteran connected educators and friends chimed in. As the sounds of positivity were shouted loud and clear across the Twittersphere, the news of #NYEDChat trending on Twitter was a front page headline for us. 

Like the NYC skyscrapers only 30 miles away, connected colleagues' voices rose high in a collective chorus of positivity while posters and high fives were shared. Many interesting statements, such as those below, flowed from the topic, Positive People Do More
  •  casehighprinc So thrilled to be a part of this evening!! Rock-star-a-palooza!!! 
  •  MrsVandeborne positivity looks like engaged excitement, deeper learning, & real/visible progress, collaborative efforts & LOTS of high fives!
  •  ERobbPrincipal #NYEDchat Wow a real convergence of Ed Leaders-- Great to be here!!!
  •  MentorTextCentr Positivity is definitely a good-feeling energy making the workplace filled with a 'positive flow' of ideas/ collaboration.
  •  iChrisLehman positivity often starts by watching and listening to kids at work. They do wonders to raise our spirits.
  •  karenvaites Positivity is often a matter of mind over matter!
  •  smgaillard #NowPlaying What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong #NYEdchat #CelebrateMonday
  •  rggillespie As educators, we've been entrusted by parents with most precious possession, their children. How can we not be positive?
  •  danieldmccabe Positive people do more because they don't waste their energy complaining, making excuses or pointing fingers. Own it.

Sampling of Positivity Posters:



Sample Call To Action Statements:

    Positivity poems can be read here.

    You can review the amazing conversation captured by Participate Learning here.
    Debby Call

    As a band of positivity champs, participants and the team of nineteen joined together to see new possibilities as we celebrated positivity. 

    To round off the amazing experience of being in the company of positivity champions, I found this tweet from Jasper Fox Sr. in my notifications today: "Feeling super positive this AM after the great chat last night on that topic on #NYEDChat." I have to agree with Jasper. Rocking to a positive beat is a high-energy type of feeling. As part of my call to action statement, I spread positivity today and will continue because there is joy in being a positive connected educator. 

    Two Writing Teachers

    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Spring Gallery Invitation

    As troubadours of nature, I cordially invite all 
    to join me in planting digital artistic seeds
    for a garden of poetry to grow
    this springtime. 

    As with all plantings, 
    inspiration drives design. 
    Let seeds of inspiration 
    guide your thoughts 
    as you capture 

    Spring's Seeds Gallery Awaits Its Digital Blossoms! 

    As in any garden, 
    a mix of shapes, 
    a splash of color, 
    and variety
    are needed.

    What Else?
    • Be creative. Capture the splendors of springtime through an original photo or drawing. You can also choose a free image from,, or 
    • Write an accompanying poem or poetic expression.
    • Superimpose your words on the image using a photo editing tool, like PicMonkey or Canva.
    • Sign the digital composition with your name and location.
    • Post it in jpeg form (450 pixels is the best size) using the following hashtags on Twitter: #SpringsSeeds and @cvarsalona.
    • Also send your jpeg offering to @cvarsalona at gmail with the subject heading, Spring's Seeds. 

    Other Creative Options You Can Submit: 
    • A short video with a poem using iMovie or Animoto
    • An audio reading of your poem
    • A collage of springtime
    • An original inspirational quote or one from a poet or philosopher about springtime
    • Original photo or artwork (any format) of springtime

    Please make sure that all submissions have your name and locale at the bottom.

    Deadline for Submission: May 31, 2016

    Still Not Sure How to Begin ??? 
    You can refer to last year's gallery, Spring Symphony, here to find mentor texts.  

    WANTED: Student Voice for Spring's Seeds Gallery

    Please encourage your class and/or students to engage in this 
    creative writing/artistic project, develop strong voices, 
    and showcase their artistic talents.

    This invitation extends the experience of writing poetry beyond National Poetry Month because poetry is a year round endeavor of creative expression. The project is an open-ended one to integrate the arts, technology, and literacy. 

    Enjoy the experience of planting seeds of inspiration to grow 
    an artistic garden this springtime.