There was much to love about building a classroom community filled with mostly same-aged students and designing plans for daylong learning across all subject areas. Now, there is much to love about sitting side-by-side with one or two students at a time from across the grade levels and getting to know each as readers, writers, and fascinating human beings. Here are some random snippets from the first few weeks on the job:

3rd grader: “You know why I like science? It never ends.”

4th grader: “I like the Harry Potter books, but I kind of have a problem with J.K. Rowling’s stand on trans people. My cousin is trans.”

3rd grader: “The other reading teacher gave us lollipops if we were good.”
Me: “I’m not sure if I’m a lollipop kind of teacher.”
“That’s okay. You’re nice anyway.”

5th grader: “I always use ‘adieu’ as my first word in Wordle, but I don’t know what it means.” (a small French lesson ensued)

3rd grader: Making random words with Scrabble tiles: add…wood…one…to…make…a…bat… “No, that should be ‘add one wood to make a bat.’ This is like an equation! What do you call the person who makes a bat? This makes more sense: ‘add one wood carver to make a bat.’ “

2nd grader: “How do you spell ‘George?’ “
Me: “Your name’s not George; why do you want to spell that?”
“George was the husband of Beatrice, a WWII engineer who could fix anything.” (Likely this book, and no surprise: he likes to read informational text.)

4th grader: “I learned a new word today: toey. T-O-E-Y. When I play Words With Friends, I always check to see what I could have played for more points. Toey would have been worth 48 points.”
Me: “What do you think toey means? If something is juicy, it’s full of juice. Do you think toey means full of toes? (laughter) Let’s look it up.”
(Amazement when I open the Merriam Webster app from the first screen on my phone. But it wasn’t there! So I opened a web browser and demonstrated the “define ___” search and we found it. Toey means nervous, anxious, worried.)
Me: “I hope the rest of your day isn’t toey!”

Poetry Friday: Ada Limón Cento

Four of us Poetry Friday Peeps read and discussed THE HURTING KIND one section at a time in August. It was the best #sealeychallenge activity ever. We got more out of this book with a slow read and deep conversations than we ever would have by plowing through it in a day and checking it off our to-do list.

If you haven’t read THE HURTING KIND, I highly recommend it. Here is the book trailer with Ada Limón reading the final poem in the book.

Here is a cento I made with almost all of the poem titles in the second section, Summer. The words in italics are the only words I added.

Carol, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

Poetry Friday: Equations

Pink Sky by Margaret Simon

The striking line, “You can’t sum it up. A life.” comes from the poem “The Hurting Kind” from the book THE HURTING KIND by Ada Limón.

The poem itself, in response to Margaret Simon’s gorgeous photo, is a “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem…” poem, which was Margaret’s challenge this month for the Inklings.

Here’s how the rest of the crew met Margaret’s challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Linda B. has the first Poetry Friday roundup of September at TeacherDance.

Poetry Friday: Don’t Even Bother

(via Unsplash)
Don’t Even Bother

What’s the fuss?
I’ll give it a nudge
but only if
I must. C’mon,

Let’s kick that can down the road.

Dust disgusts me not.
I’m nonplussed
by robust drifts
of the stuff.
Don’t like it on shelves?
Give it a brush.
Don’t like it atop books?
Give it a puff. Seriously,

Let’s kick that can down the road.

I’m an adult.
I’ve hushed
the unjust voices in my head
that would insult 
this dust-encrusted home.
Trust me,

Let’s kick that can down the road.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022


The Poetry Sisters wrote bop poems this month. They have three stanzas (6 lines, 8 lines, 6 lines) and a repeating refrain. Additionally, the three stanzas should 1. introduce a problem, 2. elaborate on it, and 3. solve it. Our shared refrain was “Let’s kick that can down the road.”

My first challenge was to thing of something I’d “kick down the road” without trying to fix it. Something I can absolutely do without. Well, that’s easy…dusting!

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:

Tanita has the Poetry Friday roundup this week @ {fiction, instead of lies}

Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Next month, we’ll be writing Heidi’s Definito Poems: the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. Join us if you’d like!

Getting Ready For the Unknown

Next week I begin a new part time job that seems like it will be a better fit for my skillset than washing dishes at Sur la Table: I’m the Reading Specialist for the Clintonville Resource Center’s Kids Clubs, their after school program. There are three sites, and I’ll spend about two hours a week at each site working to help K-5 children become better readers (and writers).

I know exactly what to do, and yet I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have no classroom to prepare, no classroom library from which to easily pull books, no real context for the work we will do or real influence outside of the bits of time we will spend together.

If it was true as a classroom teacher, it is even more true now: I have to make every minute count. Guess what I’m planning to use as short texts that are brimming with all kinds of instructional moves for students of all ages? POETRY, of course! And because poetry is often neglected in the regular classroom, that is where I hope to find my opportunity for context and influence.

Just like in the classroom, we will begin by getting to know each other. We’ll start by sharing our favorites — favorite foods, favorite things to do, favorite (and maybe not so favorite) ways to feel.

We’ll talk and read and draw and write. I’ll listen, ask, and notice. All very good places to begin, even when you think you have no idea what you’re doing.

Poetry Friday: August




©Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

August is a juicy piece of fruit with the seed of Fall at its center. In spite of all the lush growth of Summer, the brown of Autumn is at the heart of August. August marks the shift from the production of leaves, to the production of seeds. Life must go on, come Spring, and August see(d)s to that.

Birthday Girl Margaret has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Happy Birthday (and recently, Happy 40th Anniversary), Margaret! Glad we get to celebrate with you!

Poetry Friday: Flyfishing in the Rain


Fly Fishing, Olentangy River

It wasn’t supposed to rain,
but it did.

At first there was only the sound of water in water –
riffle tumbling over shallow stones.

Next, the sound of water in treetops –
rain approaching river
carried by wind and cloud.

Then, suddenly, the sound of water on water –
drops dimpling river,
elemental hush of reunion.

Sky water and Earth water and me – 
body made of water
standing in water
blessed by water.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022


We had a nice turnout for the July meet-up of Ohio Women on the Fly. Spirits were high as we walked from the parking lot at Antrim Lake to the Olentangy River, which runs near the south and east sides of the lake. The clouds were building, but we weren’t worried — rain was not in the forecast.

Silly us.

We got soaked. Drenched. We were soggy, and by the time we got back to cars when it was starting to get dark, muddy up to our knees.

It was great fun. It was an adventure. When was the last time you had an adventure (the kind involving lots of water and mud)? I highly recommend it.

Every time I go fly fishing, the experience is new. No two times on a river are the same. That’s why fly fishing is a sport I love.

Catherine gave the Inklings this month’s challenge to write a poem about sports. Here’s what the rest of the crew came up with, and Molly has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup to boot.

Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Poetry Friday: Woven

This month’s Poetry Sisters challenge didn’t seem tricky when the idea was hatched. Phrase Acrostics are pretty much reverse Golden Shovels, with the striking line on the left rather than the right. But then er…uh..someone suggested using phrases from the iconic poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise.” That’s when the challenge got tricky more complicated and interesting. How could we borrow phrases from this poem while still honoring the poet and the spirit of the poem without being appropriationist? Reading and rereading the poem with the intention to uphold Angelou’s purpose led me to these two drafts, which weave lines and meanings like a braided rug on a warm wood floor. Both of the titles, as well as the striking lines, come from Angelou’s poem.

Into A Daybreak That’s Wondrously Clear

But for the song of the chickadee,
still settles over zinnias, sweet peas;

like air born swimmers,
dust shimmers;

I’ll let go of the darkness of night,
rise, flutter, a monarch in flight.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022


Bringing the Gifts That My Ancestors Gave

Into. Not between or behind. Neither sideways, nor                                                    
a halfway maybe. Into, with all the force of                                                          
daybreak and tide swell. With both feet.                                              
That’s where we’re headed, so we might as well go                                                    
wondrously, wisely, wholeheartedly, with                                              
clear-eyed vision. Leading, lifting, rising into tomorrow.  

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022


Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:

Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Next month, we’ll be writing Bop poems. Join us if you’d like!

Marcie, a fellow Sealey Challenge reader, has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: The Roundup is HERE!



That’s What You Wrote About the Green Beans

Dear Sugarplum,
I picked the first of the beans today.
I’ll cook them the way Dad liked.
Overcook them, really, 
flavored with plenty of bacon grease.
There’s a cucumber ready, too.
I’ll slice it up and sprinkle it with vinegar and sugar.
No tomatoes yet
except for a few cherry tomatoes.
I ate them in the early morning, 
the way you used to
before you grabbed your bike from the little building
and headed off to the pool.
What should I have with the beans?
Maybe just a sandwich with slices of leftover pot roast.
Well, it’s just about time to go to coffee. Arby’s today.
Rae’s in Nebraska, but everyone else will be there.

That’s what you wrote about the green beans.
Or what you would have written
if you were

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022


A couple of weeks ago, Linda (A Word Edgewise) offered up her third annual “Clunker Exchange.” I chose the line “That’s what you wrote about the green beans,” and I couldn’t have been more surprised by the poem (and memories) those eight words were able to elicit. Thank you, Linda, for this beautiful not-a-clunker-to-me!

Now let’s see what you’ve been writing (or reading) these days! Are you getting ready to take part in the Sealey Challenge? Share your stack if you’ve made one! Can’t imagine reading a book of poetry every day in August? Children’s poetry books count!!

I’m going totally old-school with the roundup this week. Leave your link and a short description in the comments. That’s it. If you’re not able to comment for some reason, I’ll help: mary lee dot hahn at gmail

Poetry Friday: Already?


Is it Friday already? How did THAT happen? Must be another side effect of…what’s it called when you can’t remember words or names or dates?

Sigh. Aging is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup, and it’s a good thing I had to double check that because I had it in my calendar that I have the roundup on the 29th, which I don’t — the roundup is here NEXT WEEK! Sigh (again). The struggle is real…