Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Good Old Days (Ralph Fletcher)

at Two Writing Teachers!
Last weekend, I got to attend the Dublin Literacy Conference, an incredible day of professional learning organized by my district.  I'm so proud that I teach (and that I graduated from) a district that puts on such an exceptional event that people come across Ohio (and even from other states!!!) to attend.  (You may have seen the tweets at #dublit13!)

Last year, I was blown away by the amazing learning I came away with (and the fact that I got to meet Ruth Ayres!)  This year, the highlight was an inspiring keynote from Ralph Fletcher.  My favorite part was that he provided an opportunity for us to experience what it's like to write with a mentor text.  He showed us one of his poems, "The Good Old Days," and then gave us a few minutes to write our own poem, using the first and last stanzas of his.

Since I loved to write poetry, it was really easy for me to create a poem with the same structure and a similar feel.  This is what I came up with: (remember, the first and last stanzas are Ralph's!)

Sometimes I remember
the good old days

tromping through the creek,
muddy and laughing.

Baseball in the backyard
with my daddy's sure pitches,

barefoot in the garden,
my small rake in time with his.

Cutting tomatoes for spaghetti sauce,
my mom's smile hovering over my shoulder.

I still can't imagine 
anything better than that.

Helping Daddy in our old backyard!
After we wrote, Ralph called on a few volunteers to share their poems.  It was so much fun to hear how other people had used the same structure and themes to create something new.  Ralph pointed out how different people borrow different elements of a mentor text depending on who they are as readers and writers.  For example, some writers might just borrow the specified lines, while others might borrow the structure, the tone, the way the lines begin, and even the topics of some of the stanzas (i.e. a "mom" memory in the same place).  I don't think I would have realized that if he hadn't pointed it out, and it's an important idea to keep in mind when we use mentor texts with students!

I can't wait to "see" you all for the March Challenge!!!


  1. Thanks for sharing your learning. I never thought of that before, but now I will keep it in mind when I talk about/use mentor texts. What a sweet picture that is a perfect match to your poem. Looking forward to March too. As I type this my ipad dings that an email is there, guess who left me a comment. :-)

  2. I'm always so jealous when I read of the events people go to and the people they get to meet. Sounds fun! I can't wait for March either. Isn't it funny that we get so excited to "see" people we've never really met.

  3. Ralph is incredible. How luck you were to hear him speak. He's going to be making a cameo during the SOLSC. (Stay tuned for more info.)

    Would love to go to the Dublin Literacy Conference one day. If only it were closer...

    1. It's an awesome event, Stacey! You have to come sometime so I can meet you like I met Ruth! :-) (ok, and also because I'm sure your session would be amazing!)

  4. Hearing about the Dublin Literacy Conference makes me wish I could come. I'll have to check out the tweets. My favorite line - "barefoot in the garden, my small rake in time with his." Now I need to find a copy of "The Good Old Days," so I can try writing my own poem.

  5. I've read so much about this event, Jennifer. Great that you got to go. I saw Ralph Fletcher at my conference too, & he talked about different things-interesting. Your poem is special & that photo is too! I'm glad you shared it with the poem. I can't wait either! Here we go!!

  6. I love when people give sneak peeks into professional development opportunities. It is like I vicariously get to absorb some inspiration. I could see Ralph Fletcher speak about mentor texts 50 times and not get tired of him. Thanks for sharing your poem and pic to deepen your explanation.


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