This week, we will talk about something that sounds simple but takes focus and energy--something every good writer develops as a habit. I'm speaking of the simple act of noticing. As good writers, we notice with all of our senses. This week, we'll consider our THUMBS. Yes, our thumbs. They've been with us quite awhile and we probably haven't stopped to really appreciate them. Pretend that you have never seen your thumbs before and look at them, smell them, taste them, feel them, and even hear them--can you make a sound with your thumb?

Because your thumb has been around for so long, it could probably tell a lot of stories about you. What story would it tell? This week, pretend you are your thumb--try and put yourself in its place and tell a story that really happened to you. See if you can tell that story from the thumbs point of view and include details that it might have noticed.

My thumb might tell this story:
Janet and her family went on a trip to Guatemala. One day, they visited a school called Escuela de la Calle, or, in English, School of the Streets. It served children who lived on the streets or in homes that had very little money. Janet's family had books for the school and Janet had been emailing with the director of the school. She was so excited that she jumped out of the car--but then leaned back in to get her bag of books. She used her left hand, to balance as she stretched in and I found myself curled around the doorframe, helping to steady her. Then she quickly shut the door--right on me! Ouch! I felt that metal squishing me from the top of my thumb and on the bottom of my thumb. I could feel the skin ripping and if I could have screamed, I would have. But, Janet screamed for me and the door quickly popped open. Phew. I was so happy--even though I was bleeding a bit, even though I started to puff up a little bit. Janet held on to me and someone else took the books. When we went inside the school, she asked the director for a band-aid. I think she was a little embarrassed but I didn't care. I liked being all wrapped up in some white gauzy material. I just snuggled in there to heal.

Last week, we developed a community word bank--and deposited lots of wonderful texture words, verbs, great sound words and words we simply liked for their meanings. Each student then chose 12 of those words to create a poetry line. After, we  worked in groups to create stanzas for a community poem about community! We'll be doing some more group work this week--and getting down some community agreements about our creative community efforts (whew! That's alot of community). One question I was asked several times was whether or not the poetry line or the stanza had to "make sense." That's an interesting question because sometimes writing can make sense if it's used in one form of writing, like poetry, when it wouldn't in another form of writing. Our goal with these stanzas was to use our right brains, fun words, and a sense of playfulness. Each line and each stanza makes its own sense--

Here's the first draft of the 5th grade Community is...Poem

Community is soft, light, warm, giggly and funky.
Community is squishy candy, bouncy snow and boomy bacon
Community is like furry bacon that will run from a gum bow that is eating a bazooka.
Community is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, soft, chunky, run, skip.
Community is extreme.

Community is crispy, splattery, full of strudle, sleep, alchemists, falafel, love and very gooey hypostradamophus.
Community is a zombie hypostradophus slicing bwasome falafel bacon licking strudels.
Community is a squishy fly blinking suspiciously at the alchemist on the elevator eating gooey caramel.
Community is flying zombies punching slimy bacon.

Community is a crash of slimy zombie.
Community is rough and suspicious
Community is soft, gooey, melancholy falafel type bwasome elevator kind of hypostradompus eathing and licking thing that pits.
Community is a gooey cake that likes to kick caramel.
Community is a flying sliced crispy squishy slimy scaly bacon.

Community is a sticky, slimy, gooey and squishy torpedo.
Community is fluffy, slimy, gooey, and doodle strudel foop.
Community is a hard running grody bacon zombie torpedo.
Community is a hypostradompus that is eating bacon while getting pit by a zombie that bwasome and fluffy, that is licking a falafel.
Community is a zombie torpedo.

Community is people playing, jumping, running, rock smooth and crispy.
Community is squishy writing sports with caramel and falafel!!
Community is a crispy, rocky alchemist licking the squishy escalator.
Community is a grody deli-meat bacon caramel slimy fluffy clock.

Community is smooth and sometimes lumpy.
Community is rich and dark, like chocolate.
Community is writing.
Community is Lego
Community is pizza!!!!!!

Community is no guilty sprinting soccer players
Community is hockey.
Community is baseball.
Community is wobbly bumbly waterfall running chocolate.
Community is a big LEAP!

Community is as sweet as chocolate
Community is a gooey snicker doodle stuck together
Community is a sticky chocolate rainbow
Community is like wet open pizza!!!!
Community is shining

Community is a rainbow
Community is a waterfall!!!
Community is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious volleyball
Community is talking.
Community is being a BFF. I love my BFF as a sister. Me and her loves running. I like
my BFF and she likes me.

Community is fluffy and soft
Community is flabbergasted with goo.
Community is fluffy pineapples falling like chunky snow through the gooey Mississippi crisp bacon river.
Community is a warm cozy home welcome to all, even if you fly or are from Mississippi.
Community is jabberwocky and wet!!

Community is flabbergasted with gooey EPIC combs.
Community is jumping, bouncy balls exploding like pineapple flavored bazooka candy.
Community is flubbery squishy bacon exploding and dying while pineapple backflipped over crisp light and defeated the hairy, funky pistachio.
Community is soft, warm, sour pineapple with wet funky bacon.

Community is boomy like a bazooka.
Community is like sour wet furry gumbo.
Community is fluffy like mustaches.
Community is a jumbo sized group warm and cozy mingling and giggling.
Community is extreme like gumbo backflipping funky.
Community is soft, fluffy, bouncy, chunky, slippery squish, gooey, funky, smooth,
warm and wet.

Anaphora is a type of poem where the first words or phrase repeat. It's one of the oldest forms of poetry, used by messengers to help them remember--and to create rhythm.
This poem was written by a young person all the way up in New York.

I believe the sky cries because of what it sees in us.
I believe complexities come to an end.
I believe change is necessary to exist.
I believe struggles don’t last forever.
It’s never too late to reveal yourself to the world.
I believe I can.

Excerpted from
9th Grade Bronx High School of Writing & Communication
From the Community Word Project

Today, we'll write an anaphora about community--I can't wait to see what you have to say!

Wow, I'm so excited to be working with all three fifth grade classes at Isaac Dickson on the Writing to Change the World Program. We will have so much fun this year--we'll explore writing in ways that will probably be very new to you. We'll write and record radio essays that will be broadcast in Asheville. Finally, we'll take to the stage and present our ideas for bettering our world during the TEDxyouth@isaacdickson 2012. We'll be working with lots of people during the year, including Maryedith Burrell, who will teach us lots of cool techniques for making the best presentations we can--and have fun while doing them.

But, first things first...We need to introduce ourselves to each other. Let's get started with a poem by Charles Smith Jr.

                  Allow Me to Introduce Myself

                                     By Charles R. Smith Jr.

They call me

the show stopper

the dime dropper

the spin-move-to-the-left

reverse jam poppa

the high flier

on the high wire.

The intense rim-rattlin’



The net-shaker

the back board breaker


of the funky dunk


The Man

Sir Slam

The Legend

I be.

That’s just

a few of the names

they call me.