An Open Door to Teaching Poetry

coaching, poetry, professional resources, reading, writing
Walls that teach can be the doors that open our minds.

When I heard the adjustment counselors say that we all need outlets for discussion and expression in their hour-long summer PD, I *immediately* thought of poetry. Poetry is perfect for social-emotional work, and don’t we ALL need more of that? I agree.

So while I’m working with second grade this year (YAY!), I’m letting my office door do some passive coaching, and I’m going to focus on poetry this year. I’ve gathered some resources for teachers to peruse on their long, physically distanced treks through the Connector. The WHY, WHAT and HOW of teaching poetry is all there as well as some tips and tricks that I’ll continue collecting all year. I’m planning to share different mentor poems every few weeks. Right now, the poems are back-to-school themed: “Ready” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and “To a No. 2 Pencil on May 1, 2020” by Kimiko Hahn. Teachers can even snag copies of these poems by taking one from the plastic sleeve. Anything to make teachers’ jobs easier!

I can see embedding poetry into morning meeting, replacing one Reader’s or Writer’s Workshop lesson per week, or even some asynchronous work during students’ independent hybrid times with some poetry exploration. It’s truly a wonderful way to develop students’ literacy skills AND their sense of self. It does it all.

Happy reading and writing!

Literacy Links – Volume 76

coaching, literacy links, poetry, reading, writing

Screen Shot 2020-08-21 at 9.04.12 AM

I may be a little late to the back-to-school-read-aloud roundups, but here’s my Back to School digital library! I kept it super simple so that you can copy the linked read alouds to put in your own digital Bitmoji library for your students or just have available for the first days of school. Clare Landrigan first introduced digital libraries to me back in the spring, and they’ve been a VERY useful tool that I can see using in the Now AND in the After. Here’s her, “Creating a Community of Learners” digital library to kick off the school year. #classroombookaday creator, Jillian Heise, also has a brilliantly curated book list of read alouds to launch learning that could easily turn into a digital library. Happy reading!

Here is another summer roundup of literacy links if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 73 (Last for 2019-2020 year)

book list, Harry Potter, Just for fun, literacy links, poetry, professional resources, summer, writing
Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 9.23.02 AM

Dear teaching,

From the moment
I wrote on Mrs. Francescutti’s chalkboard during student teaching

and gave fourth graders
word search advice
in an evergreen Lake Forest Park classroom,

I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all–

From my creativity and money

To my loneliness and energy.

As a twenty-something

deeply in love with you,
I never saw the endless standards,
stacks of papers to grade,
or hours of lost sleep.
I only saw students

at the beginnings of their journeys.

And so I learned.

I read books cover to cover
and observed countless classrooms,
growing my pedagogy with
each page,

each visit.

You demanded everything.

I gave you my heart

because you yielded so much more.

I taught through the fatigue and hurt

Not because problem-solving called me
But because YOU called me.
I do everything for YOU.
Because that’s what you do
when someone makes you feel as

alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave me my be-the-change-you-wish-to-see dream,

and I’ll always love you for it.

But this year’s crisis challenged me to my core.

These past three months I gave you more than I actually have.
I think my heart can take the pounding.
I think my mind can handle the grind.
But I’m so, so tired and so, so worried.

And that is going to have to be OK.

It’s so unlike me, but I’m ready for this year to end.

Let’s savor every moment we have left together —
The good and the hard.
We’ve given each other

All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what the summer and fall bring…

I’ll always be the teacher
Wearing the silly costumes,
Surrounded by books,
With a clipboard, pen, and notebook nearby
Happily reading and writing

Page after page after page.

Love you always,

Ms. Vigna

(my copycat poem of “Dear Basketball” by Kobe Bryant)

Here is the LAST official roundup of literacy links for the 2019-2020 year if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:


Literacy Links – Volume 69

book list, literacy links, online learning, poetry, summer, writing

Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 2.43.25 PM

Last week, I hosted a PD for my staff on creating Bitmoji digital libraries that you can access HERE. Before showing them how to build their Bitmoji digital libraries, I sprinkled in some PD on classroom libraries, how to curate a collection, and digital book platforms. Together with the how-to portion of the session, I don’t think I’ve ever talked THAT much during a PD! Afterwards, I reflected on how I could’ve avoided yapping for so long: HOW do you show people how to do something tech-y without telling them everything?! Regardless, it has been SO fun seeing everyone’s creations they’ve shared with me! I’m collecting them all for some summer reading fun at Center School. Stay tuned!!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 64

book list, literacy links, online learning, poetry, reading

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 10.20.35 AMThe book fair coordinators at my school arranged for an online book fair! Usually, I clear my schedule the week of the Book Fair so that I can attend as many classrooms’ visits to help kids find just right books. Since we’re all in quarantine though, I decided to book talk my way through the digital flyer that they sent home to families. After filming my book talks, I gathered book trailers for many of the books I recommended. Check out my recs here!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 62

Harry Potter, literacy links, online learning, poetry, reading


Online teaching is no joke. This annotated snapshot of my materials sprawl for my recent PD alludes to my discomfort with teaching online. It makes me wonder: what does *students’* discomfort with *learning* online look like? We’re all doing our best in a situation that none of us signed up for, and I remain in awe of teachers around the world. They are my heroes. ❤

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 61

grammar/conventions, literacy links, online learning, poetry, professional resources, writing

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 3.46.36 PM

What does a literacy coach do in quarantine? Reformat PD for teachers so they can access them on-demand and remotely! The first remote learning PD I developed was Writing Clinic #5: Demo Pieces. I decided to gather all of the Writing Clinics on a Padlet in case teachers had time to explore previous Writing Clinics. My latest quarantine PD is “History in the Making” Journals. It’s a flipped PD, which means teachers will explore the resources I’ve gathered and tinker with their journals on their own. Then we’ll share our experiences (NOT journals) in a Zoom on Wednesday, April 1 at 3:15. I’m really excited about continuing to offer PD online. 🙂

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 58

Harry Potter, literacy links, poetry, professional resources, reading

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 2.47.47 PMPotterheads getting inspiration from The Important Book to craft stanzas
about Harry Potter people, places, and things.

This year was the third iteration of the Harry Potter Club, and it was my favorite yet. For the first time, I ran it like a workshop, which is my teaching model of choice (Why it took me three years to make this move perplexes me!). Even more amazing than the change in model is how much more I focused on writing activities. Each session introduced a new writing activity, and I’m so pleased to report that students opted to do each with enthusiasm and passion. Each of the writing projects are being bound into books now and will soon be permanent additions to my faux Hogwarts Library. Next year’s goal: Get Potterheads reading Harry Potter books while they’re during Harry Potter Club season.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:


Literacy Links – Volume 57

book list, literacy links, poetry, professional resources, reading, writing

Screen Shot 2020-02-28 at 2.40.55 PM

On Monday, I hosted my fourth Writing Clinic. This one focused on revision, and while the attendance was the lowest yet, I still enjoyed the opportunity to present, discuss, and support. Plus, teachers got a chance to make a revision microprogression for each of the big three genres (narrative, information, and opinion) and start a revision toolkit, complete with revision shades. 🙂

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 49

book list, literacy links, poetry

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 1.19.47 PM

Last week, I hosted my second Writing Clinic for Center’s teachers. This clinic was about pre-writing with a focus on talking and making. The making was inspired by Angela Stockman’s work. Since you can refer to the brain dump I did on a lot of her make writing ideas in Literacy Link – Volume 48, I’ll introduce the talking as pre-writing ideas now. When I worked in a kindergarten room to help launch Writers’ Workshop in September, we made sure to introduce writing partners as part of the pre-writing process to give students a chance to orally rehearse their writing before drafting. Since then, the teacher has turned to writing partners again and again, sometimes giving students several days to orally rehearse. Their output has been incredible. What a difference talking makes before drafting!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment: