Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another great publication by Children's Book Press...

Sepia brown
Cocoa brown
Ocher brown
Beige brown
Sandalwood brown
Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown

Have you ever thought of how special and valuable the color brown is? Well, Malathi Michelle Iyengar did! Tan to Tamarind Poems About the Color Brown is Children's Book Press recent release! The poems found in this book will be a delight to read aloud and a treat for anyone with an appreciation of juicy, extraordinary words. The poems, along with the illustrations created by Jamel Akib explores the different spectrum and beauty of the color brown from a cup of cafe con leche to maples leaves in the fall. But of all the things that this book offers to the reader, the strongest and most important message is that no matter what your skin tone, each is unique and beautiful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry Friday

New Book and Poetry Friday...

I have recently purchased the book Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard. First, I have to admit I am a big fan of Georgia Heard, she is my poetry queen. Her book Awakening the Heart is one of those books that do not stay in my bookshelf for too long. I use it constantly. I was excited to see her new book of list poems where poets like Eileen Spinelli, Jane Yolen, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Bobbi Katz, Elaine Magliaro, Patrick Lewis, among others are having a wonderful poetry reunion. How can anyone resist a book like this? I have read this book over and over in the last couple of weeks just because each poem is an inspiration, an idea, a seed waiting to grow. I have recently visited Elaine Magliaro's blog : Wild Rose Reader and was reading this wonderful post about Things to do: List Poems. Please take a moment to visit this post because it is packed with wonderful ideas and poems written by her students.
Her posting inspired me to write this poem on a day I was feeling nostalgic, and really missing my family. Did it help me to write this poem out? Absolutely! Awww....the magic of poetry! The round up today is at Under the Covers.

Things to Do When You Are Feeling Blue

by Stella Villalba

cuddle up with a
good book.
write in your journal
just vent.
take a short nap
wish for sweet dreams.
wear your favorite color
all day.
have your favorite ice cream
with a scoop of Hersheys.
lie on your back
dream away.
catch the first star
of the night,
make a wish.
take out your roller blades
and skate away.
walk to the closet park
and swing on the swings
turn on the stereo
play your favorite song.
and if none of these work
just remember
today you were here.
today you made it.
You are strong.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lately in Life I Have Been...

thinking and missing my grandma
feeling very very thankful about my mom

enjoying this amazing South American sun

eating tons of fruit salads

playing with my godson everyday

loving our pink and orange sunsets

photographing my family everyday moments

wishing for distance not to exist

painting with watercolors with Fabrizio

having sweet-sour feelings frequently

immersing myself in poetry in Spanish

wishing to have a library card here

reminiscing unforgettable moments with friends

struggling not to worry about school while I am here

loving my coffee moments with mom

breathing a clean air

admiring people's strengths

resisting (without success) checking my school email

cooking with mom without recipes

anticipating spring in the States

loving, wishing, praying, thinking...

What have you been up to lately?

Hope all is well.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Forgive my absence from blogging....

but I have a good excuse. I am home in South America. I am very happy to be with the family for a couple of days. Time to press the reset button. and time to take a break from the Internet World. At least for this week. Happy Easter. I hope you are all enjoying the company of your loved ones.
I know I am.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poems by and for Teenagers

Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers
I really enjoy the work of Betsy Franco. And I also like the way her work extends  with children of all ages. Falling Hard 100 Poems by Teenagers Edited by Betsy Franco is a collection of 100 Poems written by teenagers. The topics run from new love, to heartbreaks and everything in between. I love reading work done by children and teenagers alike because their work is an output to their feelings, frustrations, dreams, hopes, fears. Like Lester Laminack would say, "Reading is Breathing In, Writing is Breathing Out." Another reasons why I enjoy reading books like these ones is because these teenagers were giving a chance to write for a bigger audience, they were giving a chance to write for a meaningful purpose, and we have to celebrate that! Great job Besty Franco making things happening with these lucky teenagers!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday
Name calling is one of the most hurtful things that happen among people regardless their age. This week when one of my students got called something terrible, he came to my room to cry, to tell me all about it. My heart was boiling in a combination of despair, frustration and sadness. Being an immigrant myself,  I know there are certain things one must go through when you live far away from the ones you loved, from your culture, your language, your little end of the world. It is not an easy journey but one we must face. I wrote this poem and would like to dedicated it to one of my ELL students whose tears became mine, whose frustration became mine when he got hurt with words. 

By Stella Villalba

I saw your pain
through your eyes
and I wish it wouldn't happen
but it did.

the words have been said

I saw your pain 
through your eyes
and I wish you were not there
but you were

and the words have been said.

I saw your pain
through your eyes
and I wish and wish
to protect you from it

but the words have been said

I saw your pain
through your eyes
and I knew right there
you wouldn't forget

the words have been said

I saw your pain
through your eyes
but I want you to know
I am here no matter what

even though...


Please head over to ayuddha.net for the poetry round up!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Celebrating Poetry Month as a Staff

We, as teachers know how important it is to advocate and practice what we teach. If we want our students to love reading, then our passion for reading as teachers needs to be visible and present in our classrooms. The same can be said about writing. When we show our students that we are writers ourselves, then they not only see as their teachers of writing but also as models, as writers. Every time my ELLs embark on a writing journey or project, I write with them. I show them that I also care about this topic, that I am a writer as well just like them. And it works, like magic, everytime. So at my wonderful, extraordinary school, Beechwoo
d Elementary, our dear staff listened to me read the book  My People by Langston Hughes and Charles R. Smith Jr. at our last staff development day. 
My PeopleIf you have not read this book, or if  you have not heard or read this poem by Langston Hughes, then you are in for a treat. The poem itself is so powerful, and now the book combines the magnificent photography by Charles R. Smith Jr. and you have a winning combination. Inspired by this book, our teachers at Beechwood Elementary we
lcomed Poetry Month by writing their own adaptation to the poem. The big question was...what is important to you, what is beautiful in your eyes? what makes it special? And the respond was overwhelmingly beautiful. Some teachers wrote about the efforts of their students being beautiful, some described their love for their significant other, some talked about their own children's laugh. I wish I could publish each poem for you to read it, but they are in the hallways of our school as a reminder to the community that we are not only teachers, but writers and poets as well. Here are the pics that I promised. This is how our school welcomes and celebrates Poetry Month...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Finally April! YOU arrived....

There are so a couple of reasons why I love love love April...

1. National Poetry Month is celebrated! A whole month dedicated to poems!
2. Spring is in the air. Look around your city, the cherry blossoms are telling us: new season, new beginnings.
3. My World/Mi Mundo was born in April 11, 2008.
4. My mom and my little Fabrizio's Birthday is in April.
5. And of course....SPRING BREAK (at least for us in Whitehall City Schools!)

Now, let's go back to reason # 1 in the list: National Poetry Month. There is a special place in my heart for poetry, and there is a special place for poetry in my ESL classroom. I have learned throughout my years of working with English Language Learners that regardless of what level of second language acquisition a child is, he or she can still have an appreciation for poetry. So, friends, please don't be afraid to introduce, practice, read, explore, and write poetry with your ELLs. My students guide my teaching and they let me know how much they love free verse. Books such as Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, Love That Dog and Hate that Cat both by Sharon Creech, Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli, Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, Naked Bunyip Dancing by Steven Herrick are all examples of free verse novels that I have used with my ELLs and let me just say: They loved it!  The relax and supportive atmosphere that these stories provide have all contributed to the success. 
Today, I would love to share with you a new poetry book for our delight: My Hippo Has the Hiccups by Kenn Nesbitt and illustrated by Ethan Long. I was so excited to get this book in my hands not only because of the many wonderful poems that this book contains, but also because it includes an audio CD! What a treat is to hear the author read some of his favorite  poems. 

My Hippo Has the Hiccups with CD: And Other Poems I Totally Made Up

Let me just add my two cents on audio CD and its powerful connection with teaching ELLs.  When an ELL has the opportunity to listen to a poem being read aloud, he can just relax and enjoy listening to the poem and the language being used. It provides support and a model for pronunciation, intonation, pitch and stress. So I am excited to add this CD to our listening station and invite the students to sit back, relax and enjoy some wonderful poetry by Kenn Nesbitt!

Tomorrow, I will post some pictures of how WE at Beechwood Elementary welcomed National Poetry Month. Stay tuned, the pics are really cool!