Crowd-Sourced Poem in My Pocket

IMG_0073 - CopyEach year for our Poem In Your Pocket Celebration I try to write a poem that somehow connects with what I love.  This year, I had an idea.  Since I have talked to the students so much this year about what I hope our library represents and how I want them to take ownership of the space, I thought it would be perfect for them to help me write about that.  Also, I often hear adults telling students that “the library is a quiet place”.  While that is true sometimes, it’s not really the kind of library that I think we have here at Barrow.  Putting these 2 thoughts together, I created a Google form with some various stems about our library not being quiet:  Our library is not a quiet place it’s a…, In our library you can hear…, In our library you can see…., In our library you can feel…

I emailed the form out to students and also sent it to teachers so that they could do it with their whole class.  After lots of submissions, I went through and pulled lines to use in our poem.  I used at least one idea from every entry that was submitted.  The following poem is the one that I will carry in my pocket Thursday and Friday and read into the microphone to start each poetry reading session.

Our Library is NOT a Quiet Place

A Crowd-sourced Poem By Barrow Students


Our library is not a quiet place

It’s an energetic, media place

a chatty and productive place

a sort of noisy place

You can hear

people talking creativity

the beep, beep, beep of the checkout machine

kids discussing books

pages flipping

fingers typing across keyboards

fans whirling

projects connecting with the world


Our library is not a quiet place

It’s a reading place

a cheering place

You can see

shelves lined with well-loved books

happiness for a nook

people reading

smiling faces

kids enjoying, researching

checking out books on their own

children running, shouting, free

imaginations soaring


Our library is not a quiet place

It’s a wild safari

a wonderful, awesome place

you can feel


the hum of energy


warm and safe

complete and overjoyed

calmness, floating




Our library is not a quiet place

It’s a word place

A big, loud punch in the face place

Sometimes a rambunctious place

Even an aggravating place

You can hear


kids laughing

mentors reading

Quiet talks about books

Authors and experts skyping

Students blogging and commenting


Our library is not a quiet place

It’s a living space

Buzzing with awesomeness


Our library is not a quiet place

It’s everybody’s learning base

In Our Desks: A Collaborative List Poem Across the Miles

IMG_0427Shannon Miller and I have been trying to connect our 2nd graders again, but it has been such a challenge to find a time.  Today I had a window of time that might work, and Shannon did her very best to make that time work for her students.  With just an hour to spare, she got confirmation that the time would work.  I quickly called my teachers who were on standby to come.  I love the flexibility that  these two 2nd grade teachers have with their students when it comes to unique, meaningful learning opportunities.  Then, Shannon and I got to work fine tuning what we would do.  We emailed, made a Google doc, and ended by Skyping with one another to fine tune the plan and plan other connections too.

Our planning sounded and looked something like this:

Shannon (at 11:00):  My teachers can connect today at 12:00.  Can yours?

Me (after a quick phone call to 2nd grade):  Sure.  This will be fun.

Shannon:  What should we do during our connection?

Me (after roaming the shelves and thinking):  How about doing a list poem?  We could use “In My Desk” and write a collaborative poem. I’ll make a Google doc for us to type into.

Shannon:  Sounds great.  (Opens Google Doc and makes a colorful title for our poem using spell in Flickr)

10 minute Skype session to confirm plan, plan a K connection, and a future 2nd grade connection.  (Walking to our next class, carrying our laptops, finishing our chat, and disconnecting)

During our Skype, I read the poem “In My Desk” by Jane Yolen, which can be found in the book Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard.  I talked with students in both states about how we’ve probably all cleaned out a backpack, desk, or something else and found something unusual.  We each pulled up the Google doc to show students.

Each of us turned down our sound and started getting ideas from our students and adding them to the doc.  The room at Barrow was filled with energy as numerous hands shot up to give lines for the poem.  The teachers and I helped students think about being more descriptive by adding adjectives and also really thinking about things that might actually make their way into their desks.  As we typed, we also saw Shannon typing.  This proved to be a great way for students to see how a Google doc could be used effectively.  We even stopped to talk about how Shannon and I were not typing in the exact same space and how I did not delete or change any of Shannon’s work (a common problem we’ve seen with students collaborating at our school).  This one skill will carry directly back to a Social Studies project our 2nd graders are working on.

FireShot Screen Capture #019 - 'Shannon Miller (shannonmmiller) on Twitter' - twitter_com_shannonmmillerWhile we were typing, Shannon tweeted the link to our doc so that people could begin seeing our poem as it was written.  In seconds, we had 48 people viewing the doc, and the kids were beyond ecstatic.  Knowing that they were immediately made into published authors with a real audience made them want to keep going.  I think they could have made this the longest list poem ever, but we had to stop.

We ended our time by reading our final poem and laughing together at our shared words.  This was so much fun.  It may have been a lightning-fast collaboration, but it was filled with meaningful, authentic learning experiences for our students that will carry into many other kinds of learning this year and beyond.

By 2nd Grade Students at Barrow Elementary in Athens, GA

and Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, IA


In our desks you will find…

one big folder

three dirty notebooks

my stuffed puppy

tiny crumbs

unfinished work

an old crumby lunchbox

two broken pencils

one moldy sock

a tree with a happy family

scraps of paper

one bright striped pencil case

two green and red notebooks

a ripped up paper

my art shirt that has a picture of a puppy on it

old, rotten, bruised banana

a piece of crusty meat

an old broken iPod

a rotten, smooshed up goldfish

a dusty box of crayons

a ripped up dictionary

some broken crayons

a sticky, green, watermelon lollipop

an old tooth that never got taken by the tooth fairy

a chewed up yellow pencil

one pair of blue broken glasses

four wiggly worms that eat rotten apples

an old broken math journal

Godzilla finger puppets

a rusty old necklace

a teared up eraser

an old bag of McDonald’s apples

my football I got for Christmas

a couple of old, smelly shoes

a slimy stuffed animal

a stale chocolate bunny

little dots of paper from my paper punch

an old bouquet of flowers from the playground

mom’s old wig.

3rd Annual Barrow Media Center Poetry Contest

IMG_0377 IMG_0378For the past 3 years, the media center has hosted a poetry contest leading up to Poem In Your Pocket Day.  The hope was that this contest would encourage students to carry and read original poetry rather than just a copied poem.  Each year participation grows.  This year, we had over 180 entries from students in grades PreK-5th grade.  It is near impossible to choose just one winner in each age bracket.  This year, we had 7 top winners.  Each of these students earned a certificate, an autographed book or journal, and their poem featured here on our blog.

Over 60 other students earned certificates for poetry in several categories including:  list poetry, science poetry, Where I’m From poetry, concrete poetry, acrostic poetry, feelings poetry, humorous poetry, story poetry, found poetry, and deep thinking poetry.  These students had their names announced on BTV and earned a pencil, pen, bookmark, or other small prize.

I can’t wait to see how this contest grows, and I especially can’t wait to listen to all of the great poems read aloud at our annual Poem In Your Pocket Days this Thursday and Friday.  Please join us!  You can find the schedule here.

Where I’m From

By Natalie

2nd Grade

I am from the Georgia Bulldogs

A cat who scratches

My Mommy, Daddy, Grandmas and Grandpas

I am from a big purple rose bush

I am from Friday Movie Nights

Eating out at the Burger Barn

I am from a family of worry warts

Rise and shines and Goodnights

I am from golf clubs and bridles

And dreaming to own a famous racehorse

I am from a big funny family

That is where I’m from!


By Patricia

3rd Grade

Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They drink nectar from pretty little flowers.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They fly around all day.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They flap down and snooze in their nests.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

It is great to meet you!


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

It is sad to leave you!

Dragons Today, Dragons Tomorrow, Dragons Past, Dragons Forever

By Cassie

5th Grade


The air beats around me as I open my eyes to see the beautiful creatures flying above my head,

Their wings beat up and down in a pattern together,


Their wings display colors like you’ve never seen, hypnotizing you, making you see colorful

rabbits hopping in front of your eyes and otters gliding through a river,

I always see wondering dragons all around, wandering, but never this close,

Never this close do I get to hear them,

Roaring and beating their wings, snapping their tails,

Never this close do I get to see them,

Flying above and away,

Never this close do I get to feel them,

The breeze blowing around me at the top of the hill and their breath down my neck,

Never this close do I get to taste them,

The sweet grass I’m chewing and the taste of the freedom and wind,

Never this close do I get to smell them,

The smell of wondering and knowing and curiosity from the young ones,

The young ones fly around, chasing each other and occasionally bumping into elder ones,

while older ones roll their eyes and beat their wings, keeping a steady rhythm through the air,

they don’t notice me on top of the hill watching them,

More dragons sweep through, gathering gusts of air whipping my long hair around,

One glides so close to me, I know if I wanted to reach out and touch it, I would have

touched its scaly skin,

For I am too a young one full of curiosity, living in the world where no man has touched yet,

Where it is peaceful,

The wandering dragons keep sailing through the sky and I don’t notice them growing

smaller as they soar farther away,

As quick as they had come they disappear back into the sky,

I wave goodbye, and as I put my hand down it seems as if a tail sticks out of the sky and

starts waving, as if the dragons are saying good bye to me too,

I take one last look at where the dragons disappeared and then look away, you can’t hope

wandering and wondering dragons to stay forever, because it’s not in their nature,…….

They like to wander and wonder.


By Hank


April is warm

April is baseball season.  Hooray!

April is rain

April is sunlight.  Doesn’t everybody love April?

April makes grass green

April is the Final Four and the championship and go Louiseville!

April is the best season

April is when lots of plants grow

April is when people play outdoors

April is school time

April is when it is dark in the morning and light at night

April is when more sports go on.


by Sadie

1st Grade

Fireworks glisten in the air!

Boom! Crash!

Sizzle!  Everywhere.

The colorful colors of light

But when it goes out

It’s the pitch black dark.


The Soldiers Lying on the Battlefield

By Taylor

5th Grade

For the strong and the powerful, the ones who lie to rest, all soldiers

who gave their lives, all soldiers who risked their lives for our country.


For our country, to be one people and stay one people.


Our one people, lying on that battlefield, never returning to the

country that will still be free, everyone still free, but them lost, them to never

be found, to always be missing.


Yes it’s them on the battlefield that kept our country one people.

Them, that kept us free.  Them, they deserve to be alive more than any of

us.  Them, lying on the battlefield.


This is the power of war, this is the power of one bomb, of one

missle, one gunshot, one person with a knife in the forest, this is what it

does to one people, many people.


Thank you veterans lying at rest for giving your life for this nation.

Thank you veterans wounded for everything you lost.


Thank you veterans here before me for going out to war and fighting

brave, as a reward you come back with scars and bruises that show you’re



Thank you for fighting the fear, for facing the bombs, and missiles,

and one person in the forest with a knife, for keeping us one people, for

keeping us all free.


You deserve the best, you gave me a beautiful nation to live in, and it

was you, you deserve the thanks, you deserve to be one people.


You and soldiers lying on the battlefield.




By Eli

4th Grade

As the fires rain down

as the gunshots are heard

as the trees burn I wonder

I wonder what caused this

why do we turn on each other

what drives us to kill

why does hell rain from heaven

and why does mankind discriminate,

When we love each other

or do we

and when the bomb drops on only ashes,

what have we achieved






what do we achieve

every move brings us down with a weight







what did we gain when we made the bomb

what did we achieve when the cities


human torches


all hell rained down

that day

as the towers fell

as the planes exploded

as the harbor sank

all hell rained down

what do we achieve

do we become godly

or devilish

do we gain power

or lose money

do we become popular

or outcasts







when all hell rains down

Here’s a gallery of our winners from this year:

Not A Box Display

IMG_0400As part of the participatory culture of the Barrow Media Center, we like to feature student art exhibits.  We haven’t had as many this year due to our temporary space while our school is rebuilt.  However, today one of my favorite displays returned.  Ms. Foretich, our fabulous art teacher, setup the PreK Not a Box display.  Students read the book Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and designed their own artistic creations out of boxes.  This book always inspires creativity.  One of the things I love about this display is how each design is accompanied by a digital photograph of the creation that is labeled so that visitors can understand what each box represents.   In the future I could see this project evolving to include some QR codes to make the exhibit more interactive.  There’s always something new and innovative that we could include.  Time always creates some limitations on what we can do.  If you happen to be near the Barrow Media Center, please stop by and take a look.  If not, then take a look at the gallery below and feel free to leave comments for Ms. Foretich and her students.

Found Poetry with the Word Mover App

IMG_0392I always love collaborating with Ms. Hocking in Kindergarten.  A few weeks ago, she shared a great iPad app by Read Write Think called Word Mover.  It’s basically a magnetic poetry app.  You can choose from a word bank or from several famous works such as the I have a Dream speech and America the Beautiful.  In each word bank, you can also add your own words, change the font, and the color.  You can also choose from several backgrounds to put behind your poem.  Students drag the words in any order that they want to create their poem just like you would do with magnetic poetry on the fridge.  Students give their poem a title and save it to the camera roll.  From there, you can use the image however you want.  Ms. Hocking plans to display the poems on her smart board during April.  IMG_0393

This was a great tie-in to found poetry.  We also talked about how you could walk the halls f the school and borrow words from the student work that is hanging on the walls in order to write  a new poem.  The Kindergarten class used this tool without a lot of instruction.  Ms. Hocking and I walked around and helped students with questions.  The most common help needed was being able to read one of the words.  They really didn’t have problems using the technology.

Take a look at the poetry gallery below.


More Great Little Free Library News

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

I love that I get to continue to share great news from our Little Free Library Project.  Here are some more great things that have happened:

  • We were approved to put our library at Lay Park.  This was in response to a student letter and a great phone call with Randy Haygood, facility supervisor
  • Camilla Bracewell, amazing superhero library volunteer & Barrow grandparent, became a supporter of our project through a donation and conversations with people in the community.
  • Our Little Free Libraries are now registered.  We received our signs in the mail!
  • Our libraries are now in art waiting to be painted once we have a design decided.
Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin's Amish Country.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin’s Amish Country.

Exciting Little Free Library News

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Two major things happened today with our Little Free Libraries.  I began talks with a possible location for our 2nd library and our 2 libraries were delivered by Home Depot!

I have to say again that we went into this project with a lot of faith in our community and amazing things are happening.  Here are a few recent things:

  • Several students from other grades have come to tell me that they are cleaning out their home libraries to bring us books that they no longer need.
  • Several people have brought in books to fill the libraries already.
  • People donated money during the book fair which was almost enough to register both of our libraries.  The 5th graders are about to each bring in $1, which will help us reach that goal.  Our library numbers will be 5559 and 5560
  • A student who wrote a persuasive letter was beaming when he found out that his letter had been received by the recipient.
  • Home Depot #0129 continues to be a very generous donor to this project.  They have built and donated both libraries and are now working with our art teacher to get supplies for painting the 2 libraries.  They will also help us with the final supplies for installing both libraries.  I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.  They definitely have my future home improvement business!

5th graders immediately came to see the 2 libraries

IMG_0366 IMG_0365