The Principal's Journal

Weekly reflections from Union School

Poetry Doesn’t Take a Vacation


Poetry doesn’t take a vacation

You may find words traveling in couplets or stanzas

arranging themselves on billboards and menus.

Words whirling and swirling  around you on airplanes

with passports and tickets, and great expectations.

No rest stops for haiku, no breaks, no free time.

No retirement for rhythm, no week-ends for rhyme.

Poetry doesn’t take a vacation.

Poetry is always, forever, full time.

Have a wonderful vacation and may you find a place for poetry where ever you go and whatever you do this coming week.   


diverse books










Inspiration is everywhere


Where do you find your inspiration for writing?  Try looking back on your day.  Here are some of my day’s highlights:

  • I read Kindergarten students’ writing and conferred with them about their How to books. Thanks to Landon-I now know how to pet a dog.  (I could “steal” his idea and write a poem about how to pet a dog.)

  • I saw Third grade partners helping each other figure out real world problems related to volume and capacity!  Wow-I didn’t learn those concepts until  high school.  (I could write a poem about a fish tank that overflowed because somebody didn’t know the capacity of the tank!)

  • I watched Fourth graders using Chromebooks to research and write chapter books about the Revolutionary War.  Yes-chapter books.  Long chapter books!  I have never written a chapter book, have you?  (Hmm-I could write a poem in chapters.)

  • I watched artists at work, creating their own Campbell Soup Can prints-inspired by Andy Warhol.  As one student explained, “We get to choose something based upon our own childhood.   So mine is   karate Soup.”   I have always wanted to try Karate Soup.  (I could write a poem about Karate  Soup.)

 Inspiration is everywhere and every day and everyone.  Hey-even a stick is an excellent topic (see below!).

The Principal’s National Poetry Challenge for the Week of April 7:  Find inspiration where you least expect it!  Write a list of 20 topics for your poetry.  

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not. . .


Why should 21st Century students memorize poems?  What’s the value when students can easily find poems on the Internet-poetry is a click away.   I believe there is value in memorizing poetry.  Here are 3 reasons in no particular order:

  1. To impress your friends

  2. To learn new and interesting vocabulary words

  3. To develop a deeper understanding of the meaning of the poem

Memorizing a poem takes repeated readings and a bit of effort. Repeated reading of any text, is also known as “close reading.”  Each time you read the poem, you may understand it in a new way, unlocking the theme or message, stanza by stanza.   And through the years of your life, your understanding of the poem you memorize, may grow and change.

The Principal’s National Poetry Month Challenge for April 5 and 6-because this is a big one:  Find a poem that is worth your time and effort to memorize. Memorize the poem and recite it to your friends, teachers, and parents.    Your poem is a special gift; you may give it away, and still keep it.   The words will always be close to your heart.


by posted under Teaching and Learning | No Comments »    





Inspired by art



Many poets are inspired  by paintings and photographs.  I love this image even though it makes me sad.  I wonder what the girl is thinking and how she’s feeling.  I wonder what happened to her pet.  What is her name?  What is her dog’s name?  I wonder if she can feel his presence on the stairs next to her.

National Poetry Month Principal’s Challenge for April 4, is this:

Find a painting or photograph that makes you wonder.

Write a poem filled with wonderings.

You don’t need to have the answers,  just cover the page with your wonderful questions.

by posted under Uncategorized | 1 Comment »    

Acrostic Agony


National Poetry Month Challenge for April 3:

I have never read an acrostic poem I liked.  They leave me cold, unmoved, uninspired, bored, and sometimes even annoyed.  I know this is a bias on my part, and I am trying to be open-minded about acrostic poems.  Therefore-the challenge for April 3, is to write an acrostic poem that actually speaks to the heart.  (Personally-I don’t think it’s possible.  But go ahead-prove me wrong!)  Check out this weary acrostic poem I found online:

silly acrostic poem

Here’s an acrostic poem about how I feel about acrostic poems:

A waste of time

Can you imagine Robert Frost writing one?

Roads less traveled, turning

On their heals chasing letters down the wrong lanes

Senseless word choice  

Thoughtless phrases no rhyme or reason

I know Carl Sandburg and the fog:

Cat feet, and silent haunches, not an F, O, G in sight. 

But go ahead. . .prove me wrong!

by posted under Uncategorized | 3 Comments »    

Don’t Judge a Poem by its Length


National Poetry Month Challenge for April 2:

Write a short poem (fewer than 15 words).  Do not rhyme.  Do not worry about capitalization or punctuation. Send an important message to the world-about your feelings or a strong opinion.  Here’s an example.  (You may even want to memorize this poem and recite it the next time someone raises his or her voice!)


April 1


Tomorrow we begin a new month, my favorite one-April!  Did you have a chance to read the comment-poem responding to yesterday’s post?  This amazing poem was written by a fourth grader who just happens to be studying The Revolutionary War!  This made me think about why people read or write poetry.  Here’s a beginning list:

  1. To have fun and laugh (Thank you Shel Silverstein.)

  2. To learn or teach others about the world (Thank you to our fourth grade poet.)

  3. To express and share our feelings and emotions.

  4. Oh yes-I almost forgot:  To change the world.  Why not?

change the world

Today’s poetry challenge for Union School students (and their families) is inspired by Rita’s poem:
Find, read, share, or write a poem that teaches the reader something important! Rita’s poem taught us about Paul Revere. Here are some poetry books that teach us about insects:



We’ll have an opportunity to change the world later in the month!

by posted under Celebrations, Teaching and Learning, Uncategorized | Comments Off    

National Poetry Month


March was Bell Peppers and Broccoli Month.  On March 3, you may have missed I Want You to be Happy Day.  On March 18 I was otherwise occupied and I regret to admit I missed Awkward Moments Day.  Fortunately, April is around the corner and I’m gearing up for National Poetry Month. (For some strange reason, this month-long event did not pop up on my BlogEnergizer app, which now makes me question the validity of  Bell Peppers and Broccoli Month.) Last year I made the foolhardy pledge to write a poem a day.  30 poems in 30 days. I’m still recuperating from the exertion.  This year, I will try to spread  my passion for poetry with suggestions, ideas, and I hope some inspiration for you and your family.   Each blog posting this month is intended to be read by or to Union School students.


Pre-April Inspiration:

First find a funny poem. Then read it to a grumpy person. Finally write a funny poem and share it with Mrs. Katz.  Here’s one from Shel Silverstein.  Notice the rhyme and repetition!



 And now-you have 2 more days to eat your bell peppers and broccoli.  Enjoy!

March, Music, Math, and More


For some reason, I haven’t been able to upload the photographs I’ve taken on my Ipad, to my blog these past 2 weeks.  Next week-I will get to the bottom of it. For now-words will have to do:  

Last week we celebrated Music in our Schools Month (March!) with a delightful sharing assembly that included many solos, duets, and small group ensembles performed by students and staff.  Union School learners of all ages are studying piano, ukele, guitar, flute, voice and even the harp.  Imagine, the poise and confidence and courage needed to perform for over 300 people.  The end of the assembly brought a surprise for all-a second grade “flash mob” with students and teachers dancing throughout the gym to the song Happy.   Early last week, Mr. Buccetti and Mrs. Persa planned and organized an evening event for families to play math games and have some fun with new challenges.  Our fourth grade math club students were on hand throughout the evening, helping families learn and play new games, find new apps, and navigate math game websites in our computer lab.

And this week?  It was all about parent/teacher conferences.  We love this opportunity to meet with our students’ most important teacher   (Yes YOU!)  to share student work, celebrate growth, and develop  plans for meeting new goals.  Thank you PTO for the delicious treats-the soups, desserts, fruit, and even iced cappuccinnos!  You know how to keep teachers charged and recharged.  Next week-I’ll have pictures and we’ll see what April brings.  

by posted under Initiatives | Comments Off    

It may be cold outside, but inside Union School. . .


This week at Union School students have been keeping warm by helping others and celebrating the power of persuasive writing.

First graders and students from our specialized learning center, engaged in a community service project to make tied fleece blankets in Honor of World Down Syndrome Day. This project was begun by a Union School parent, who with her first grade son, has been making the blankets at home and donating them to local hospitals for young patients. This first grade mom taught the children how to make the blankets, distributed written directions, and shared photographs and a beautiful story about a special blanket her son had received when he was hospitalized as an infant.  Working collaboratively, students created six blankets that will be donated to CCMS and Yale Medical Center.  Many families also volunteered to make more blankets at home.



Kindergarten students warmed their grown-ups’ hearts through their persuasive writing  during a Kindergarten Writers Tea. Second Graders  took the traditional red carpet indoors, during an Academy Awards ceremony complete with  Paparazzi, and “designer” outfits. Students have been writing persuasive letters, nominating their favorite books within multiple literary genres. “The judges” voted for books based upon students’ persuasive letters.  Categories included:  Best Fiction, Best Nonfiction, Best Illustrations, and Most Entertaining.  All students received honorable mention awards, and as they say in Hollywood: All of the nominees were winners and felt honored indeed!  So cold March winds may be blowing outside-but inside we are on fire learning every day.

red carpetawards


by posted under Celebrations, Teaching and Learning, Uncategorized | Comments Off    
« Older Entries