Friday, July 19, 2019

Being in the Creativity Zone

Being in the creativity zone is such a wonder-filled experience!  Sparks fly; mind races; thoughts pass by in streams of bright-colored digital inspirations.  When I start creating, I am lost in time, transfixed until I suddenly look up. "Oops! I am almost late for ..."  

The zone is in a wonder space, a creativity playground. It is not a fancy place. Unlike a child's playground, any spot will do that has a place to write, create, and revise. Digital tools, a computer, and iPhone are necessities in my wonder space. In addition, fancy paper, colored pens, and a glue gun are tucked into my literacy toolbox for any spontaneous DIY projects. I shared my wonder space with grad student teachers last week at my ELA Summer Institute. With a bit of passionate prompting, they entered the zone to create their digital designs and digipoetry. You can see what they created while in the zone here.

Giving and receiving is part of the creative process. Beside designing summer poetry swaps for Donna Smith and Linda Baie, I have been inspired to create digipoetry while observing nature. A couple of days ago my family took a quick jaunt to the beach. Our stay was short for the afternoon heat was rising and we noticed a dramatic difference in the sky. From gloriously bright to cloudy gray, it changed its look and sent us off trudging through the sand back to the car.

For the Embraceable Summer Gallery collection

Being in the zone, means that there are other poet colleagues there as well, creating in their wonder spaces.  A couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Ruth Hersey.  A postcard arrived but it was not from Haiti.  Ruth was visiting family in Kentucky where she was visiting family and decided to create a summer poetry swap for me as part of the exchange started by Tabatha Yeatts. On the back of a serene picture postcard, James Archambeault's KENTUCKY, Ruth wrote the following poem. 

Spring to Summer 2019

Where Carol lives,
the seasons how up
one after another,
each beautiful in its own way.
She collects snippets of each
to fill a gallery.
Where I live
the seasons don't change much;
each month is hot and sunny
with alternating mud and dust.
I collect snippets of tropical blooms
for my own gallery.
This year I'm visiting my parents,
waiting for summer
in a world more like hers;
each morning is chilly and damp
and you can almost hear the grass growing.
I take pictures of all different flowers
from the ones at home,
snippets to fill a gallery
both Carol and I
could love.
©Ruth Hersey, 2019

Ruth's Garden of Blooms and Poem
will grace my Spring Splendor Gallery collection.

Today, I am joining the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol Wilcox's blog site, Carol's Corner.  For those who have puppy love, you will love to see 8-week-old Rooney and the poem she wrote about him.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Timeless Words

Last week, I had the privilege of teaching an ELA Summer Institute for graduate students at Molloy CollegeDuring the four days, we engaged in discourse on student-centered learning, created an interactive digital notebook, and filled it with wonderings.  Words became our tool to power up conversations and activate new pathways to learning.

I take the time now to reflect on the power of words, the foundation of conversations, the conduits for our actions. They can be inspirational or destructive. They can lead to bonding with others or entanglements. Words are the superpower of educators. With positivity, they encourage students to collaborate, think critically, and ultimately to create as learners.  

An early morning Twitter conversation among global friends inspired me to reflect upon an important quote from an inspirational leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. 'With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair the stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."  In a post that I wrote last year,  I used MLK's words as a call to action question. "Are we ready to hold the stone of hope in our hands, open the doors to positive discourse, unite as a brotherhood of peace, and never lose infinite hope?"  I revisit this question again considering the timely events in history. 

As educators, are we ready to have courageous conversations? My class discussed this topic last week as their call to action. It is my thinking that words should be used to promote inspired thinking and create plans that encourage students to collaborate as a harmonious group of learners. We must listen intently to others and be mindful of the words we use to express our thoughts. Let's model this.

Are you ready to use words as your positive superpower?

Thank you Steve Kelley, for starting the conversation with a tweet this morning.

It's Slice of Life Tuesday, so I am joining the Two Writing Teachers' community of writers to exchange words that encourage positive conversations.

Friday, July 12, 2019

In the Creativity Playground

For four days this week, I soaked in academia life in a wonder space that I created for five passionate teacher/grad students at Molloy College's ELA Summer Institute. While people around us were basking in the warmth of summer days, we were heating up our conversations and igniting sparks in our wonder space. 

As a tight-knit community of practitioners, we noticed, wondered, explored, and discovered new pathways to develop lifelong readers and writers who wonder and create, 21st-century style. Sparks flew and relationships grew each day. A community of connected educators formed as we engaged in critical thinking, creating, collaborating, and communicating. From collective commitment, perseverance and a good amount of grit and risktaking, authentic, standards-based learning experiences developed in our creativity playground. The teachers moved beyond their comfort zone many times to don the role of curriculum designers, ready to start September off with the motto #StartStrong. 


Below is a compilation of image poems created on the Bunnee platform by the secondary teachers who studied with me from five different districts on Long Island and in Brooklyn: Cindy Chambers, Christine Gallehugh, Jeanne Glynn, Melanie Picchioni, and Sari Schulman.

Click on the Show Pages button to see the work. You can go to to see the larger version.

This is one sample of the work that was created at the ELA Summer Institute. From a vulnerable stance, each teacher designed her image poem and subsequently presented her work. An additional surprise followed this activity when Christine replicated the mini-lesson with her five-year-old daughter, Lucy. With her mother's help, Lucy dictated a poem and chose an appropriate image. Lucy's poem will also appear on Twitter under the hashtag, #SpringSplendorGallery. In the future, I will design that global gallery of artistic expressions and send it out globally. 

Now, I'm off to be immersed in more poetic goodness at the Poetry Friday Roundup at the blogsite of this week's gracious host, poet/photographer educator, Jone Rush MacCulloch. Jone is sharing a poetry fortune cookie swap sent to her from Tabatha Yeatts, the creator of the Summer Poetry Swap.  

*It will be appreciated if you leave a  comment for the teachers and Lucy so they can add it to their glow and grow statements. They are newbies to the connected colleague world.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer Joy

It's that joyful time of year when life on Long Island seems to be full of a carefree,  relaxed sand-in-toes type of spirit. School is out. Laughter is in the air. Summer hues brighten the landscape, and seashore breezes refresh the mind, body, and spirit. It is a joyful time of year to explore, play in the sun, relax, and recharge. 

I pause momentarily before the day starts to reflect on my writing life, realizing how nature influences my thoughts and sparks ideas.

This is my 2nd attempt at writing a cherita
my tale of the opening of the summer by the sea concert series.
My 1st cherita is also about beach life and can be found here.

While so many ideas float through my mind, I find peace through noticing nature and writing about beachlife here on Long Island. May your summer days be filled with joy as you embrace summer.

You are invited to share your summer life moments with me at the hashtag #EmbraceableSummer on Twitter, at my gmail, Instagram, or FaceBook accounts for a future gallery of artistic expressions.

Take a stroll with me to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Tricia Stohr-Hunt's blogsite, The Miss Rumphius Effect. Tricia is blending a letter written by her grandmother during war times with the prompt, heat, as her guide. It is quite interesting so you may want to stroll over to her site with me. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer Beach Tale

As a matter of habit these days, when the sun appears everyone runs outside and so it was last weekend. My husband and I took a short car ride to the beach in the late afternoon after the dark clouds turned bright. As we approached the beach parking lot, a small group of piper plovers was sunbathing in spillage of water from the pond nearby. While they splished and splashed, I moved closer with my iPhone ready to take a photo when my husband called out to me to stand back. 
"Stand back, these endangered birds are very protective of their young. They will attack you if you closer to their territory."
I gingerly moved away but all to my surprise the entire group flew instantly into the sky and started hovering closer to the ground. 

Realizing that I was close to being bombarded, I called to my husband to wait for me. Feeling like I was on the set of the Birds trying to dodge attacks, we headed for the beach pathway and a peaceful walk to shore. As we passed the piper plover protected habitat, we saw hundreds of birds sunbathing and parading around their nesting ground. One photographer was off to the edge of the habitat quietly waiting for a chance to photograph these small, endangered shorebirds. 

As we watched the plovers, suddenly with remarkable speed and sound, they gracefully flew in a beautiful grouping from sand to sky. They swooned and called out to one another as we slowly walked across the beach. Then, suddenly one plover decided to swoop down, buzz around my husband, and peck his head. With a jerky movement, he grabbed his head to make sure he had his hair in tack. I was surprised by his frantic swatting of the air and immediately put my hands up to protect myself but by then, the plover ascended up into the sky. 

While my husband did not think this was a malicious act, he realized the plover was protecting his territory. As we moved a little bit further away from the fenced-off protected area, we realized that there is an instinctive need for both birds as well as humans to protect their young.

Greg Gard, 1-day old piping plover chick, Nickerson Beach
skywings take flight 

swooping and swooning
over sand-colored dunes

beachgoers walk peacefully
until head-pecker
©CV, 2019
(The above poem is my first, humble attempt to tell a story using the cherita format.)

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday so I am off to join Two Writing Teachers.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Reflection at Sunset

The timeworn idiom, "One man's trash, is another man's treasure," is one that has become a statement of truth for me. Last week, writing friend, Linda Mitchell, opened up her box of "clunkers" for Poetry Friday friends to choose and turn one into a poem, a keepsake treausre. My choice was flitting, fluttering, flying. I immediately was drawn to those three words because of the alliteration. The words flowed off my tongue in such a lyrical way that I knew they could work for me. While Linda may have turned it aside as a clunker, I brushed it off and repurposed it.

I hope Linda agrees that her passed on words paired with a stunning photo will become a treasure for my Abundant Autumn Gallery. In addition, the words fit nicely into the context of my week that had me flitting from place to place, fluttering in and out of professional development projects, and sending my voice flying. A gorgeous nature photo by #chazchaz from South Africa brought to me by one of my PLN friends, Al Dhalla, combined with Linda's words allowed me to play with language and find the inspiration to write. 

I now present Linda's clunker incorporated into my poem, Sunset Dreams

   Sunset Dreams

   Sunset ignites in indigo skies.
   Flitting, fluttering, flying
   words pop-up, wiggle, wind
   into a universe of ideation,
   cleansing and fortifying 
   the sanctity of thought.
   In the sweeping indigo sky,
   serenity settles in at sunset,
   laying thoughts to rest.
      ©CV, 2019

Photo by #chazchaz via Al Dhalla

Now I am off to Poetry Friday to post this offering. Our host this week, Buffy Silverman, has a wonderful review of Rick Lieder's book, Hello, I'm Here. This book is sure to delight children with its vivid photos of a newly-hatched baby crane chick who relates her story through a first-person poem. Buffy followed this review with an original poem, Advice to a Baby Chick, she wrote for Today's Little Ditty June Challenge.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Raining Again

early morning
gray day warning
quiet surrounds
heartbeat pounds
crackling sounds
start their rounds
©CV, 2019

Rainstorm, while crossing the Verrazano Bridge, 2017

Rain is not a unique sight here on Long Island this season. Since we missed April showers in abundance, June is bustin' out all over with rainstorms. But this morning, the interjection of loud, reverberating thunder claps startled everyone in the house and sent us racing for the windows. 

Please view the following nature photos that illustrate Mother Nature's changeable nature from a day of sunshine to the next day filled with rain. These photos and poems will be at the hashtag, #SpringSplendorGallery, on Twitter waiting for the design of the future gallery.

Rainstorm in Pittsburgh by Jessica Bigi

After the storm in Lexington, Kentucky by Ruth Hersey
Rainbow in Maine by Donna Smith
At the End of the Rainbow by Molly Hogan, Maine 

Rain is not just happening here in the USA. There is a hashtag, #rain, that shares photos from around the globe. 

To validate my thoughts about the rain, I quote my poet friend who experienced the rains during a recent stateside visit to her family in Kentucky. 

"This has been the Aprilest June ever."  -Ruth Hersey

There is tranquility in the house now that the rains have quieted down.
May Langston Hughes' poem and my digital artwork of Long Island fill your day with peace. 

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday where I found a digital inspiration that seems to fit in with my post. I was filled today with the shock of thunder but now my neighborhood is filled with the lulling chirps of the birds once again. 


Thursday, June 20, 2019

June Vibes

Summertime makes a grand entrance each year as children and parents move into a relaxed mode of living. There are family outings, mini-trips, vacations, and fresh air fun. Everyone feels summer vibes that bring smiles and uplifted spirits. Here is a feel-good song, "June is bustin' out all over," that holds the spirit of June in its lyrics.

Feeling the verve of summer busting out, I am joining Michelle H. Barnes' June Ditty Challenge created by Karen Boss, an editor from Charlesbridge Publishing who is Today's Little Ditty Spotlight guest for the month of June. Susan likes the idea of "putting good vibes for kids into the world" so her ditty challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

For my ditty challenge offering, I chose to discuss the gift of reading. It is a joyful one that never stops surprising the reader with journeys to near and far-off lands, inspiration, amusement, and beautiful language to develop communication skills. My ditty poem captures my love of reading and the blossoming love for books that has developed in my granddaughter's life. Because she delights in choosing her own books to read, one of my gifts for her second birthday was a picture book that speaks to the blossoming artist that she is. Sky Color, written by my friend, the creative artist/children's author, Peter Reynolds, is a great read aloud to spark the creative spirit in any child. 

Front Cover

I dedicate my poem to my little love, Sierra, who is full of life and celebrated her second birthday this past weekend.


Dear little grandchild of mine,
summer is for old-fashioned fun-
your time to notice, wonder, and combine
outdoor merriment under the sun
with picture books for everyone.
Find the story that sends you climbing
the one that's filled with rhyming.
There are many to make you smile,
others to spark your artistic style.
Perhaps, you'll come read with me
by my roaring Long Island sea
or under your old Virginia tree.
Wherever you go,
bring a treasured book
to fly you to an enchanted nook
where summer dreams wait for you 
as book love grows during year two.
©CV, 2019

Now, I am off to visit my friend, librarian/poet, Linda Mitchell at her blog site, A Word Edgewise. Linda is the gracious host of Poetry Friday this week.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Springtime Digital Delights

Each year, spring arrives of its own accord, renewing the world as it bursts forth with color and joy! But this season, spring played peek-a-boo on Long Island as it fluctuates from warmth to dampness and chill. The thermostat read 50 degrees this morning as the rains continued to soak the earth so there were many comments about the winter-in-spring weather phenomenon. 

To rekindle a love of spring warmth and vivid green hues, I present some dazzling digital inspirations for all to witness the splendor of spring. 

Travel with me for a short virtual gallery tour of springtime 
starting with a digipoem from Massachusetts.

On Long Island a lament was heard from early springtime to today:

A lovely flower from South Carolina was spotted at Robyn Hood Black's blog.

Elementary students from Louisiana uncovered springtime in verse. 

A colleague from the 50th state embraced the spirit of springtime and together we created a postcard from Hawaii.

Lastly here is a sighting that looks like a scene from the opening of the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. but it is from Estonia.

There are many more digital inspirations in different varieties that have been collected from colleagues across the globe for the Spring Splendor Gallery. If you have not sent in an offering yet, you may continue to do so until Sunday night, June 16, 2019. Poets, photographers, artists, composers, and students take the creative challenge plunge and think spring.  

I am off to visit poet Laura Shovan's blog site since she is the host of this week's PoetryFriday. You will be delighted to read poems from 3rd grade students during Laura's poet-in-residence annual visit.

I will be on a slow read of Poetry Friday posts since I will be celebrating my granddaughter's second birthday this weekend. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Recollection of Fall

I recall a glorious walk last fall on a clear day that radiated with the sunshine of spring and the warmth of autumn. Instead of a quick jaunt to the ocean, my husband and I traveled a short distance to Hempstead Lake Park, a beautiful place for a walk.


It was one of those rare days that spoke of the majesty of the earth. Walkers congregated at different bends of the trail to celebrate the beauty of the season. The nature path strewn with scattered leaves and fallen trunks was lush with the fruits of the season. Red-orange berry bushes, popping with color, lined the path. Scampering squirrels raced hurriedly across the wooded trail as dogs promenaded with their owners. A faint hint of horse hooves clomping on the adjacent trail was evident. Serenity surrounded the inner sanctum of the woods. Only the crunching of leaves underfoot broke the morning silence. Off the beaten trail lay an expansive glistening lake that sparkled with slight ripples from the slow gliding ducks. Massive trees stood regally as their multi-colored leaves showed signs of changing colors. Two couples stood nearby to soak in the abundance of nature's gifts that were showcased under the sun. 
of morning
reflected in leaves
©CV, 2019

What I attempted above is a prose poem called a haibun, followed not by the tradition haiku but a Hay(na)ku, a poetic form that I recently learned about. I added a digitized form of the nature photo I took last fall. This sequence of poetry and digital artwork will be featured in my upcoming Abundant Autumn Gallery of Artistic Expressions


Now, I am off to connect and collaborate with online friends at Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Challenge.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


"We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep."
-William James

While alone last night, I heard a thunderous sky bellowing, rains pounding but did not lament. I knew that the earth was being replenished. When I woke this morning, a glorious spring day filled my window with sunshine. I felt comforted that the rains accomplished their task and earth was replenished. By mid-afternoon, my roses were blooming in beautiful shades of pink while the last of plump peonies made their debut, replacing droopy ones. My garden was alive with different shades of green. I wanted to capture the glory of springtime in a digital form of muted hues and so I created an artistic representation of my garden filled with greenery. 

As I searched for poetic words to accompany the digital, I came across a 21st Century poetic form, Hay(na)ku, invented by Eileen R. Tabios, so I played around with ideas. Clearly, I need to work at this form but below is an early Hay(na)ku attempt.

It is with a spirit of conscious connectedness that I compose my thoughts tonight for the week was one of connecting and collaborating.  This afternoon after my garden tour,  I sat down to connect with my Spiritual Journey first Thursday group hosted by Ramona Behnke. Her topic, connections, was an easy fit for my week of conscious connections, and so I composed a follow-up to my SJ1stT post. 

Just what is a connection? Brene Brown defines it "as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, hear, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they drive sustenance and strength from the relationship."

I am one 
traveler on
a journey called life-
one tiny part of a universe
of thoughts and spoken words,
drawing strength from communities
filled with positive energy and caring spirits.
With gratitude, I respond by capturing nature's
beauty filled with the colors of earth's splendors. 
I connect with the earth, life, and wonder of all that lies within. 
©CV, 2019

I, like others, may lead separate lives but are "connected in the deep" when we become part of a collegial community. It is a privilege to be a member of the Poetry Friday family of friends. Tonight, my artist-poet friend, Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday here.

REMINDER: Deadline for #digitalinspirations of any artistic format for my upcoming #SpringSplendorGallery are due by June 13th.