The Genius of Youth

Posted: June 14, 2013


Did you know that Langston Hughes was only 18 when he wrote his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”?  He had just graduated from high school. Here is a recording of him talking about where the poem came from and why he wrote it. He also reads it for us!

You are never too young to be a “real” writer. I am constantly amazed by what my students produce with sufficient time and attention given to their writing.

Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

Lovely Summer

Posted: June 7, 2013


“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”



– Henry James


“Come with me,” Mom says. “To the library. Books and summertime go together.”

– Lisa Schroeder


“Green was the silence,
wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.”

– Pablo Neruda

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“There’s an air of love and of happiness / And this is the Fresh Prince’s new defintion of summer madness.”

– Fresh Prince, Summertime

Pixar’s Secrets

Posted: June 3, 2013

Emma Coates gives us her secrets!

Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

A Daily Routine

Posted: May 22, 2013

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A great article over at BrainPickings about the importance of routine!


A writing workshop help makes writing a habit.

Aristotle would agree: A writing workshop help makes writing a habit.


Creative Writing Prompts

Posted: May 13, 2013


Poets & Writers has a collection of great writing prompts on their website. They include poetry, fiction, and — hooray! — nonfiction (my personal favorite).

Browse through online newspapers for stories that took place on the same day at least ten years apart. Write an imaginative essay based on…

Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsense poem, Jabberwocky, being performed on The Muppet Show!


Mark Twain

Posted: May 8, 2013

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Mark Twain

From St. Nicholas Magazine, August 1916. From the Dave Thomson collection

From St. Nicholas Magazine, August 1916. From the Dave Thomson collection

Inspiring Students

Posted: April 22, 2013

I am so proud of my former student, “E. Regina.” I worked with her for about three years, and she is now working on her fifth book! She also won a 24-hour short story contest. (I didn’t work with her on the story. She did that on her own. They grow up so fast!)

She is bound and determined to get published and I have no doubt she will achieve her dream. She writes: “I want to break the boundaries of what people believe teens are capable of.” Love it. Check out her blog! It’s full of fine writing and very good advice. You can read her award-winning short story here.


E. Regina, writer, teen

E. Regina, writer, teen


New Poetry “App”

Posted: April 20, 2013


Is it hard to find time to sit down and read poetry? Well, there’s a new “app” called Poetry Daily. You can download it for FREE at the iTunes store! The “app” will send you one poem every day.

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die every day
for lack
of what is found

–William Carlos Williams

Linda Schrock Taylor

Posted: April 13, 2013

Linda Schrock Taylor has finished her first book! I have been reading her essays online for years. Back in my corporate days, I would sit in my cubicle and admire her deft critiques of public education. Most people recognize the symptoms, but so few can diagnose the problems. She could, and what I liked about her was that she seemed so “old school.”

She believes in things like handwriting and phonics. She is big proponent of homeschooling. She writes articles like “Two Books and a Blackboard: How We Used to Do It.” When I got my first classroom teaching job last fall, I sent her an email that said, “Help! What can you recommend to me?” She graciously responded with a long list of suggestions that have proven most helpful to me throughout the year.

If you are a homeschooling parent, or a parent who is concerned about your child’s reading, writing, and spelling skills, I highly recommend you check out her essays here. (Warning: There is a bit of politics mixed in.) If nothing else, her conviction is infectious!