Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What do you guys think?

I spent an hour rearranging pieces in our learning space. More conducive to collaboration and learning, I think.

Find your spot 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What's your dream?

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. 

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

It's 11:00 o'clock and I should either be in bed with a book, winding down and ending today or well, asleep.  Instead, I am here. Writing to you because I needed to share this video I stumbled upon earlier today but required a few more minutes to watch, absorb, love and appreciate in the quiet of my living room.  I still need to prepare my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow but I don't care.  I will fix that after I press Publish.  Right now though, I'd love for you to watch this short-long documentary about different kids from all the over the world and their dreams for the future.  

What's your dream? How do you envision the world years and years from now?   Leave a comment below and  let me know.  I would love to hear about it.  Or, blog about it so you can add other media.  Until class or my next post loves, good night.  

Monday, 26 November 2012

You are here— life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse. ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Hello, hungry young poets.  Just checking in...

How are your poems going?
Are you flowing or are you stumped?
If you are a little stuck and find yourself staring at white space because of the voices in your head ... well,
say it with me, ignore them both. 

Ignore both of them' by Eleni Kalorkoti

Whether it's that reason or another, here is what I have to say to that...

piece by UK illustrator Dale Edwin Murray
Seriously,  I've seen a lot of great work. From sitting with you and/or lurking in your google documents and blogs, I see you.  So chop, chop.   :)  You can do this.

Now, flowing or needing that little nudge, here are more tips to consider while you compose your verses.

  1. Don't tell the readers what they already know about life.
  2. Don't assume you're the only one in the world who suffers.
  3. Some of the greatest poems in the language are sonnets and poems not many lines longer than that, so don't overwrite.
  4. The use of images, similes and metaphors make poems concise. Close your eyes, and let your imagination tell you what to do.
  5. Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next.
  6. What you are writing down is a draft that will need additional tinkering, perhaps many months, and even years of tinkering.
  7. Remember, a poem is a time machine you are constructing, a vehicle that will allow someone to travel in their own mind, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to get all its engine parts properly working.
original source (c/o Mr. R.) 
Finally, just wanted to share an all time favorite poet reading cum short film.  
Tada! Tim Burton's "Vincent." It's one of his earlier pieces and something that inspired me today.  I love stop animation, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Price's creepy voice, Burton's work and style and'll see what I mean. Just watch. 

“And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrased, perhaps also protesting. But don't give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers--perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life.” 
― Rainer Maria RilkeLetters to a Young Poet

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Note to Self: Write to Think and Acknowledge the Beauty of the Journey

And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”
Mary Oliver

Hi guys.  
It's a quiet rainy Sunday here in the east coast in Singapore and I am embracing the fact that November, the second to the last month of 2012, is drawing to a close.  
the somber Saturday sky: been thinking of this post since yesterday
Can you believe it?  
Just a few more days and December will bulldoze its way into our lives only to just as quickly end another year and begin a new one.  Wow,  what a year it has been, right?  The first term has come and gone and I must say, it's been a pretty amazing, challenging and loving journey.  I have learned am learning a lot and as a self confessed life long learner, I would not have it any other way. :)  
Happy feet
New beginnings: The first note on my desk before classes began
Last week was particularly interesting.  From having great conversations with my colleagues/friends reflecting on our practice (post the parent teacher conferences), being interviewed for an article on colleague collaboration for Dunia (care of Mr. Plaman), attending Dylan Wiliam's sessions on formative assessment (I was mind blown), planning new things we can do in our learning spaces with Mr. R and Mr. T (that's always fun and enlightening), to sitting down with your parents to talk about your successes and areas of growth (we talked about ours, as teachers, too), I was on a roller coaster ride of massive information, feelings, thoughts, insights and opinions.  Up and down I went with everything I was thinking and feeling inside; moving from one important thing to another, my mouth agape, screaming in the dips and dives where sometimes, no sound would come out.  Which is why, I sat in my head for awhile, to mull, argue, assess and process it all.  I needed to make sense to myself I guess and I chose silence on the grid to be able to that.  I am still processing actually, so please bear with me as I write while I refine my thinking.  If I wait another day to write though, I will  spontaneously combust.  
Too many thoughts and trying to catch up
Anyway, the best part about all this is, it's not yet over.  There is more to build, share and learn with and through you.  The community is growing.  Trust is solidifying. Deep and meaningful reflection is happening.  I can see the slow build of voices and relationships and communication lines forming before me and I really wanted to write about that and acknowledge the beauty of this journey today.

I mean check these out...just SOME of the original poetry by some of the 7th Graders:

I know that many of your pieces are still tucked in notebooks and Google documents waiting to be uncovered, polished and revealed...and am thinking it's just a matter of time, right?  Like I said, I can't wait to read, ask questions, listen and talk about your work with you.

And whether you are a Gr 7 or 8 student, it would be worth it to check out the Grade 7 lists of ten things you know to be true too (refer to my Gr 7 bundles at the right hand side and click on any of their blogs).  The lists thus far have been honest,  revealing, inspiring, funny and well, true.  :)

Now, two more things to mention as I high five this amazing journey... last week I was really moved by this

and this ... where my response began with...
“listen: there’s a hellof a good universe next door; let’s go” - ee cummings
Yes, Mr. Raisdana has made a habit of sending me links to amazing blog posts and videos, this being one of them, at midnight right before I close my eyes, after I've said good night to the air and my book. And am grateful. Because in the end, all this awesomeness tends to fill my dreams. 
...which actually led to the spirit of this blog post.

I mean, I can't help but feel like, we are all in this together -- from the successes to what make us vulnerable, insecure and scared to the growing pains, misunderstandings, confessions, redemption, clarification and celebrations -- we are becoming and can be everything we say we are.

Ginsing 2012 Flower Power
The UWCSEA Learner Profile:  from Theory to Reality 
Because look at just some of these responses (intentional or not) to Solal's blog post :
Mizuki. Eric. Sid. AroniEthan. Hazel. Ella.

and some of the blog post comments by other UWCSEA students on his heartfelt entry:

Through this, I see your heart, UWCSEA.  I feel its pulse, its size, its immense compassion and integrity.  I am very very grateful for you.

And as Mary Oliver asserts and asks,"Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?"  My answer is a resounding yes; a Yawp!, in fact, which brings me here, exactly where I need to be. :)  Ah, the rain has stopped and the sun is slowly making its presence known.  I think I will step outside to feel the sun on my skin on this special Sunday.

before I go, here is something for all you, with a special shout out to Solal and Michelle and to everyone out there feeling all these massive feelings, good or bad.  I leave you with Thandie Newton's TED talk on embracing otherness and embracing ourselves.   It has everything to do with you and me, poetry, prose, art, the self, and the danger of the single story.

Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?"  What will your response be?  Would love to know what you are thinking.   :) 

Inside this new love, die. 
Your way begins on the other side. 
Become the sky. 
Take an axe to the prison wall. 
Walk out like someone 
suddenly born into color. 
Do it now. 
You're covered with thick cloud. 
Slide out the side. Die, 
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign 
that you have died. 
Your old life was a frantic running 
from silence. 

The speechless full moon 
comes out now. 


-- Version by Coleman Barks 
"These Branching Moments" 
Copper Beech Press, 1988 

Friday, 23 November 2012

As promised ...

Hi Grade 7s. 

I have been reading your lists of ten things (you are grateful for or things you know to be true) and first thing I want to say is thank you.  A lot of you took the task seriously and shared a lot of meaningful bits --big and small; from what makes you laugh, what makes you feel loved, what makes you think, consider, wonder, trust, what you value, to what scares you, what makes you vulnerable, what makes you feel free, feel like yourself...everything that makes you who you are - as friend, sister, son, daughter, brother, music lover, techie, artist, pet owner, reader, clown.  Thank you for that.  Second thing is, I have been reading the poetry that came of that (and also from sitting with a lot of you to talk about it) and in a word, wow.  Whether you were inspired by the material on your lists or not, your putting your heart on to the work and the page is the essence and foundation of poetry that moves, inspires and changes.  Amazing work, guys.  I can't wait to sit down and conference with the rest of you.  :)  

Now I know I have been silent for awhile and there is a reason for that (which will be explained in a post coming up soon after this).  But as promised, here is my list of ten things I know to be true.  

Thanks Sarah Kay, for a great idea and for putting us on a journey into ourselves that surprised us all.  Here goes ...  

Self Portrait

1. Everything happens for a reason — no matter how wonderful, painful or traumatic.  Even when I catch myself scratching my head or waving my fist in the air asking WHY?!?!!?..#$@%#!??, I quickly remember to let the worry go because if I trust enough, it all works out and mostly makes sense in the end anyway.  

2. My tattoos tell my stories, stories that make up a narrative of vulnerability, survival, life lessons, redemption, forgiveness and love gained, lost and found again.  One thing they never fail to remind me of is that pain, it always ends. (For further explanation on pain ending, please refer to number 1)

Meet Mr. Marsellus

3. Envy is poison.  Locking your gaze on someone better or worse off than you is like warm venom slowly seeping through your veins.  Soon, it'll reach your throat and close it for good.  
Slow and sure
4. Spirituality and a strong relationship with God has nothing to do with religion or blind ritual.  It's  about conversation, investment and concentrated time with Him.   

God's creation
5.  We teach others how to treat us and we define our own self worth.   
My brother and I: Happy feet

6.  I need to be that thing I am looking for before I find it, demand it, attract it and marry it. 

Joyful with a heart of gratitude
7. Everything in the dark that we bring into the light will turn into light, and gray is more fun than black and white. 

Light heals us all

Black and white is overrated 
8. There is beauty in contradiction, complexity, and diversity.  We are individuals separated by what makes us the same, connected by what makes us different. 

New Year's Day Smog in Manila 
9. I need to be alone sometimes even if I don't want to be alone sometimes.  
Ah, being alone. There's a certain dignity to it. - Singles

10. Poetry and photography heal the broken, soothe the troubled, notice everybody and everything. They have taught me to pay close attention and tell my truth/s.

Snaps of the truth
Thanks for reading. Really loved everyone's lists. Leave a comment if there's something on here that you'd like to ask me about. :) Would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Point B by Sarah Kay

For our Grade 7 classes, Mr. R and I have been sharing this amazing TED talk by Sarah Kay.  She talks about the power of spoken word poetry, Project Voice, and the joy of making different lists and transforming them into poems.  She moves us with her honesty, her vulnerability and her elegance, and she has compelled  us to see poetry as something more in the business of truth- telling as much as it is word play.   So, from point A to B, our poetic journey begins here.

If you should have a daughter, what would you tell her?  I am interested to know...

And because she is awesome, here is another poem by her called, "Hands".  Enjoy.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

For 7LTM: Learning From Home

Learning From Home

Hi 7LTM,

Here is a breakdown of tasks for you to accomplish while learning from home. :) 

1.  Read independently and log how much you read. (Start getting used to the Reading Log).  Try to read longer than 20 minutes. :) 

2.  Look over the Poetry and Prose table  (in the notes/below) and write a blog post on your main take aways.  It doesn’t have to be too long  but what I’d like to see are your ideas synthesized and shared.  Don’t forget to label your post and add some pictures.  End with a question to keep the conversation going.   

3.  Finally, look over your list (Ten Things You Know To Be True. I know, I owe you guys a post. It’s coming up).   Then walk away from your computer. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil/pen and attempt your first poem.  Do it outside. Or somewhere more inspiring than your desk.  See what you come up with.

In your shared English Folder (in Google Drive), create a new folder named Original Poetry.  Once you are done with your first poem...type it up in a google document and add it to this new folder.  I will be able to see it and give you some feedback first chance I get.

Ms. P

P.S. I sent the same thing via email and all the details are on the calendar on the site and our 7LTm English notes. :)