Friday, August 26, 2016

Write With Heart

Within spaces of communication,
our words become an experience,
a single voice living inside
with a chance to leap 
from the heart.
©Carol Varsalona, 2016 

Each 2016 Poem Swap that I received this summer had its own significant focus and voice flowing through its lines. They were genuine gifts of authentic voice with words written from the heart. 

Keri Collins Lewis' package arrived in July with a note on the back of the envelope that said, "Do not open until Aug. 22 (if you are a rule follower)-This is Poem Swap #5." I was intrigued by the package and the thought and desperately wanted to rip open the package.  Half-heartedly, I waited. The contents of the package were well worth the wait. Keri wrote a lovely poem, added an image that tied in beautifully with the poem she created and then laminated it into a large postcard-like shape. 

ideas spark
fresh perspectives
©Keri Lewis, 2016

Keri wrote a poem for me to capture what she calls "the fabulous spirit you share on your blog." I am grateful for this poem of wonder that brings to life words like spark, perspectives, renewal, and rebirth. I am deeply touched by her note. Beside the poem and card, Keri included two mini pocket journals to store my snippets of thoughts and subsequent word weavings for subsequent galleries. 

As I prepare for future PD presentations, I hold dear the poem swaps that have been sent by Jone MacCulloch, LInda Baie, and now Keri Collins Lewis. Their friendship and words sustain me as I continue to create digital galleries and word weave new inspirations. I thank Tabatha Yeatts for creating the 2016 Poem Swap that was a huge success in my eyes. 
Quick Request: Please forward me any offering you may have or wish to contribute to my newest gallery, Summerscapes, because I will start designing it during the first week of September. I have received many digital poems, photographs, and music from inspired writers and photographers but seeking more from colleagues who have created alongside me this year. 
Life is full when the heart speaks softly of what's felt inside.

After reading several posts, I felt drawn to the above quote
and created a digital to accompany it.

Today Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up: Open House so we can all visit here.  Heidi has an original poem of her own that greets readers as they open the page. Join the fun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer's Voice

Summerscapes, summer mini-cations, can be found near and far from home. While I favor mini-trips to the Long Island shores, Central New York State in summer is a beautiful sight.

I like the feel of the road as summer meets country.
Bountiful fields of wild flowers line the curbs.
Blissful sights continually appear:
endless red barns, cornfields, grazing cows, 
and ice cream stands tempting passerbyers 
to stop for a luscious taste of summer.
Fresh produce and hand-carved furniture 
pop up along the way,
while a quaint Victorian house, 
surrounded by a wild garden,
peeks out to say hello. 
Life is not as I know it 
along these country roads of 
once-traveled Erie Canal towns,
until a familiar sight appears: 
beach signage, luring me to stop for a
quick nod to summer and the capture of a
delightful summerscape moment or two.

Summer’s voice echoes across peaceful ripples
gently swaying life to slow-down mode-
the lake responds with quiet beauty.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. I am adding this post along with other slicers to honor the art of writing. Please visit the site here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Performance Poetry

Poetry is an art that is more than a written experience. Its flow can be expressed gracefully in dance, artfully in drawings and paintings, visually in photographic series, and powerfully in oral performances. In performance poetry, poets present their unique voices and styles as they engage in poetic presentations on stage in front of live audiences. There is a rhythm and exuberance in their performances as exhibited through intonations, gestures, and overall delivery. 

Taylor Mali, a slam poet, uses his voice to project rhythmic thoughts on the topic of teachers. Brod Bagert brings his humor to his performance poetry that is often written for children. I have heard both poets present on stage at the NCTE and ILA Conferences and have been enthralled by the way they capture their audiences. 

What drew me to the topic of performance poetry was a postcard from Tanzania sent to me from Margaret Simon as a response to the 2016 Poem Swap package I sent her. 

After I received the postcard, I wondered about the Tanzania Experience so I engaged in an internet search. Subsequently, I found a wonderful performance poet, Zuhura Zu Senge'enge, on Facebook under the page, Tanzania Poetry. Zuhura, called the African Lioness, launched her CD last month with a performance that you can hear below. She dedicated her poem "to all the women around the world...for your contribution in building and shaping the world."  

Zuhura, Taylor, and Mali use their talents to project their voices out into the world through the power of poetry. If the giraffe in Margaret's poet could speak poetically, what might he say about his homeland to visitors?

My Tanzania,
of expansive plains,
home to my animal friends,
I stretch my neck
gazing  across 
lush landscapes to 
connect with your world.
Let your eyes
meet mine.
Remember me.
I search the plains for you.
                                                                                                                                                     ©CV, 2016

Now, I would like to draw your attention to Poetry Friday with its hostess of the week, Doraine Bennett, opening her site for Round-up offerings here

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Crafting Digital Media

As I surround myself with a stack of books on the topic of creativity, I look for a common thread to inspire me. A line in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert pops out to push me to create"Don’t be afraid of reaching for your creative edge."

When we reach for our creative edge, we move just a bit beyond what we usually do to stretch ourselves. While I enjoy crafting digital compositions, I decided to move into different areas of digital literacy to mix up my approach to crafting digital media. I first purchased the app, Word Swag, since I heard it was an interesting digital tool.  As always when I am trying out something new, I ran into some roadblocks but I persevered through the messiness. If interested you can read my post on this here

Steps I took to create digital inspirations on learning that have an abstract feel for a #BackToSchool poster campaign to motivate students to create:
  • Take a photo with Photo Booth using the Pop Art feature.
  • Use Word Swag to create the saying and bring the photo into PicMonkey to add a border.
  • Be bold - try a different set of effects in PicMonkey; use the color and sharpen buttons; add another thought.
  • Design a short video with Animoto and then preserve it in YouTube to amplify voice.
  • Create individual digital abstract art jpegs in neon colors. 

  • Design an abstract art collage combining the above images in Word. Take a screen shot to bring the combined design into PicMonkey. Continue layering the images to create the final collage. 
These digital creations were crafted over two days. I used the trial and error method of creating. Multiple platforms and different photo-editing tools were involved. I could not have achieved the final products unless I became involved in the productive struggle inherent in the learning process. The concept of "play" was guiding my moves that integrated art, technology, and literacy. 

What Did I Learn:
I learned to work with new tools to create individual posters, a video with pizazz, and a collage with visual appeal while reaching for my creative edge. 

There is big magic that explodes when the learning process leads the learner to a product that validates the time spent. Is there more that I can achieve? Of course, there is an unlimited amount of learning to be had when we continue to notice, wonder, explore, and discover new paths. 

Information on the DigiLit Sunday Community:
Margaret Simon, founder of DigiLit Sunday posed the topic, Crafting Digital Media, for last Sunday's digital challenge. If interested in exploring the world of digilit, you can join the community Margaret formed on Google + under DigiLitSunday. You can access that here. You can also visit Margaret's blog site, Reflections on the Teche,  to view what the DigiLit Sunday writers contributed. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Learning is Messy!

Learning is messy is a thought vocalized by many educators, including myself. While this sounds like a negative, it has a positive connotation when speaking about the student's journey as a learner. Imagine a classroom of young writers immersed in a digital literacy project. Some are using pen and paper to create their draft, others are constructing a digital composition on their iPads and laptops. There's a great deal of buzz, flutter of papers, and tapping of pencils. Computer clicks are heard rapidly firing. Then, from a corner of the room, there are the groans, the stuck sounds, the disappointing comments followed by the pause.

-Forward steps, followed by backsteps are observed.-

From the sidelines comes the coach/faciitator guiding and gently nudging those who need support. Words like "I can't do this" are turned into "I think I can" as the teacher coach huddles the team with a positive chat. With a positive attitude, the community of learners come back onto the field of active learning to finish the challenge.

The messiness of the struggle is realized, identified, and overcome as teachers guide learners to discover new paths. From the apparent cluttered chaos of creation, grit and perseverance prevail to bring students one step closer to success, despite any missteps because dreaming big is inherent in the learning process.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday so please visit Two Writing Teachers here to read additional slices.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Savoring Summer Days

They're here! The lazy, hazy days of August wrap themselves around fond memories of my summerscape moments. 

Summer on My Mind

I taste the salt on my lips, 
turbulent seawaters' seasoning. 
I feel the sun beating on my arms, 
peeling splotches of sun-beaten skin.
I hear laughter in the waves and
Seagulls dancing before their 
Descent upon discarded food.
I notice and watch days pass,
Filling my heart with summer.
In the quiet moments
Of sunset, I savor
Time before the next memory 
Is built.
                              ©CVarsalona, 2016

On the dog days of August, I celebrate a winding-down mode with back to school in sight. I leave you to your own daydreaming mood, as you sift through your summerscape moments. If inclined, please share them with a global audience. The invitation can be accessed here

I "Celebrate This Week" with Ruth Ayres each weekend. Please visit the site here to find out how each writer has celebrated the positives of his/her week. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Beaching in the Atlantic Waters

July in Long Island always has had its heated days but this summer it seems to have been hotter than usual. 

What's a family to do when the heat reaches a record high? 

We go "beaching" because the cooling Atlantic Ocean waves are always ready to greet us for summerscapes moments. 

Take a stroll with me, #digipoetry style, 
to my favorite summerscape site, the beach.

Gentle reminder that I am collecting #imagepoems, digital creations, inspirational quotes, music, and photos for the digital, global gallery, #Summerscapes, I am designing. August 31, 2016 is the deadline. I hope that additional Poetry Friday friends will participate. 

Please visit my colleague, Julieanne Harmatz, at To Read, To Write, To Be for the Poetry Friday Round-up. Be sure to wish her a happy birthday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

We Live Our Thoughts

Within the spaces of our days,
we notice and wonder;
listen and converse.

Thoughts enter our mind,
become visitors in silence-
swirling in open space.

We watch them surface,
sharpening their edges
as pen touches paper.

At that magical moment,
words become real.
We hold them in our hands;
inhale their fragrance;
savor their taste;
digest their intent.

Within spaces of communication,
our words become an experience,
a single voice living inside.

We live our thoughts;
connect with them;
release them into the sky.
©Carol Varsalona, 2016

A slice of life came from deep inside tonight longing to be released into the universe. From a single thought, a stream of words formed into text that linked with digital design to create We Live Our Thoughts

Oftentimes, we do not linger in our thoughts, mull them over, and try to make sense of them among the rush of daily life. At other times, we feel our thoughts residing in our heart and living as a breathing voice that seeks a home. It is at this time, heart writing time, that we become one with our thoughts. Writing from the heart is an act of reflection and release. Have you ever thought of writing in this way?

Please visit Two Writing Teachers where colleagues are slicing about their small moments as thoughts meet page. 

Preparing for School: Awaken Joy

Back-To-School 2016 Thoughts

With the start of a new school year, many images come to mind. In the early days of education, the teacher was thought of as the sage on the stage who filled students' minds with new knowledge to lead them onward. With the advent of the technological age, the sage on the stage has undergone a make-over. Moving from old school to a contemporary version, the teacher emerges as a passionate awakener of learning who opens the door to inquiry-based learning, collaborative exploration, self-awareness, and self-efficacy. The teacher is more than a facilitator of learning. He/she becomes the guide and the life-long learning coach. 

Students walk through the doors on day one of the new school year into a community of learners under the guidance of their awakeners. They are guided to become young historians, investigative reporters, avid listeners, active scientists, and writers with voice who notice, wonder, explore new avenues of learning, and discover paths to pursue. Teaches as awakeners are the front-line instructors who lead the way and step aside to kidwatch happenings where learning is turned over to curiousity-driven children.

Hacks for Teachers as Awakeners to Shift the Literacy Landscape Toward Student-Led Learning:
  • Bring positivity and passion to classroom practices to motivate and engage
  • Introduce collaborative activities to build positive relationships in a culture of trust
  • Create a climate of questioning and inquiry for aspiring wonderologists
  • Offer choice to amplify student voice
  • Foster continual reflection
Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday postsPlease visit Margaret Simon's site for the return of DigiLit Sunday as the writers discuss preparing for the school year. 

Today is #CelebrateMonday, time to trend the positives in education and awaken joy. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Celebrating Energy

Streaks of creativity exploded across my screen this week as I mixed art and design with digital tools. Energy flowed like running water and words swirled in streams. I listened carefully to other's thoughts, collected digital expressions and #imagepoems from fellow writers, and felt the vibrancy of digital movement.

From the energy of New York City

where I celebrated my 40th Anniversary

to the explosion of color at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics,

I felt the energy;
carried it with me;
created; and passed it on.

Voice Matters!

I celebrate the energy that flowed this week from 
my anniversary celebration to daily writing.

Join me as I design my next global gallery of artistic expressions. 
If interested, find your summerscape moment this month 
and be inspired to create you own digital inspiration.

It is time to Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres. I look forward to hearing the positives of my colleagues' week.