Wednesday, December 10, 2014


© Jorge Royan / / CC-BY-SA-3.0
The proverbial light bulb comes on.

 I have an idea!
 I am thinking... and  like a flash,  a new thought enters my mind and erupts in an explosion, a mental rush of energy and activity.

For me. and maybe you, too, this most often happens at night just when I am drifting off, not yet asleep but not truly still awake-- or when I am beginning to wake, yet still floating on a sea of thoughts and images.  It begins in the back of my mind-- an inkling-- a burst, or on that rare occasion, fireworks and a  full-blown  idea, complete and ready to air and share.

Maybe it is an idea for writing something that has been poking at me for days or even months.

That happened the other night.  I have been wanting to write more about Ferguson and the police and racism and all that is going on right now.  As I lay in bed it occurred to me to combine  my love of short and formal forms ( haiku, haibun, ghazal, pantoum) along with some free form structures to create a repetitive, multilayered which the same ideas get turned  over and over to show each facet of  the ugly crystal  from which we can't take our eyes away.

Click here to read a draft of this piece, Ferguson: A Nightmare-- No Matter What (Form), which is still under construction.

 Maybe it is an idea for how to accomplish something in a situation that is unusual in some way.

 I will be  working this afternoon with teachers in a local school district for their early release session.  I have been pondering how to share the mentor texts I will be using for the session with this large number of folks--about 100 teachers. In smaller groups, I  usually pass the books around so the everyone can touch and see.  Late last night in a flash it occurred to me to put two or three books on each table. A compromise of sorts.

What do you do with an idea?

Kobi Yamada helps us thing about this question in his new book What Do You Do With an Idea?

This is the question the little boy in this story faces:

One day I had an idea.
"Where did it come from ? Why is it here?"
I wondered, "What do you do with an idea?"

He goes on to share how "strange and fragile"  the idea was and wasn't quite sure what to do with is.

His idea is pictured as a small egg-like creature with legs and a crown.  The idea gets bigger and more important, is fed by the boy, and receives various  responses from his friends and other people.
Some discouraged his idea, but the boy continues to work with his idea.

In the end, he learns that not only can an idea grow, but when it is shared, when it bursts forth and flies, one idea can change the world.

What idea have you been feeding and growing that might make a difference in your home, community or the larger world?

What idea is following you?

Like the old riddle, Which comes first the chicken or the egg? we may wonder which comes first-- the idea or the need for the idea.

In Yamada's story, the idea comes first and his main character must determine how to use the idea.

But sometimes we, instead, encounter a situation in which we desperately need an idea.

The old saying goes, Necessity is the mother of invention.

In The Flat Rabbit by Bardur Oskarsson, a dog and a cat are in this difficult spot.  They have come across a flat rabbit, a dead rabbit, lying in the road.

What must they do?  They need an idea.

They brainstorm idea after idea, seeking a suitable way to honor the rabbit and a fitting sending-off.

They went to the park to think.

At least the dog was thinking--so hard that his brain was creaking.
Where could they move her? And what if somebody found her and ate her?
They could leave her outside number 34, but what would people there think if  they saw a dog and a rat bringing back their rabbit, totally flattened? No good would come of  that.

And so their thinking and ideas continued...

Students will love following the thinking  of the dog and rat, as well as matching it with their own ideas.

What else could Cat and Rat have done with the flat rabbit?

What do you do with an idea?
Where do we find ideas?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Reflect on how you develop new ideas.

When was the last time you got a great new idea?  

Where were you?  How did it occur to you?

How did you feed and grow your idea?  With whom did you share it?

What were the reactions and respsonses of others to your idea?

Write an essay on the process of developing new ideas.

Write a poem tracing the birth and growth of your latest idea.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Photo by Jamelle Bouie 2014

August 9, 2014
A black boy is dead
a black boy is dead,
and a black boy is dead and
still another
black boy is dead

November 25, 2014
another black boy's life--

And fire erupted
across the nation
blazing in the hearts
of those so long
pushed to the wrong side
of the law
held under the prisons
of prejudice
while constitutional rights
beg for a chance
to rule for all
to serve all
to indict
the injustices
the ignorances
the ugly
truths that taint
our nation
our world,

But another black boy
is dead..
and  again and still
nobody bears the burden
of guilt.


By now we have all read the news, seen the images, had the conversations and arguments with our family, our friends, our co-workers, and, perhaps, even some folks that we don't know or even like much.

We have pontificated on social media,  commented on the comments, shared links and....cried.

We have talked to our children and their children.

We have reminded our black sons and nephews and little cousins to move slowly, keeping their hands always in view, announcing when they need to move to reach ID, or for whatever  they have been asked to reach.

We have reminded them to remain polite--- non-threatening.

What do we say now?

What conversation do we have now?


How do we explain a twelve-year-old carrying a toy gun shot down before the police car even stops to see he is a child or if the gun if real or if...?

How do we comfort our sons as they navigate a gauntlet of prejudgments and barriers?

How do we read and write this difficult yet familiar time?


There has been much written and blogged and published and even drawn about Ferguson specifically, and the ever-growing unchecked actions of some police officers, in general.

I am offering here a small sampling of texts and readings revealing a variety of perspectives that may push your conversations to the next level.

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald Columnist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2004,  always hits the nail with the right hammer. His recent  columns offer thoughtful reflections on recent events.

The Meaning of White Privilege 12/2/14

Let's Talk About Black-on-Black Violence 11/29/14

The Rules are Really Different for Blacks Seeking Justice 11/25/14

And as we think about the notion of white privilege, Nathan W. Pyle, writing for Buzzfeed, shares a graphic lesson  presented by a teacher illustrating  this concept for his students in This Teacher Taught His Class a Powerful Lesson About White Privilege 11/21/14

While many are loudly protesting I am not a racist, I don't see color, Racism is dead-- we have a black president... we need to consider this supposed-color-blindness, this new" racism without racists."

 Is there such a thing? What does racism actually look like in 2014?

Two books help us examine these ideas of 21st century racism..


What conversations do we encourage in our classrooms?

Many have posted resources and lessons that can help promote reflective, constructive, and agentive talk.

Mary Hendra has posted suggestions for fostering civil dialogue as we engage in difficult discourse.

A multitude of excellent educational resources are available at the following must-know- must-use sites:

Teaching about Ferguson at the Zinn Education Project

Students are Watching Ferguson and Talking with Students About Ferguson and Racism  at Teaching

Teach About Mike Brown, But Don't Stop There and "This is a Test": Educating to End the School-to-Grave Pipeline in Ferguson and Beyond at Rethinking

Who needs to be talking and thinking about these issues?  We all do--black, white, young, old, rich, poor...we all do.

I was tagged by a colleague on Facebook in this thoughtful and provocative reflection, We, White Teachers of Mostly White Students,We Have a Lot of Work to Do  from the blog Crawling Out of the Classroom.

This discussion needs to spill out of the classrooms into our community institutions, especially our places of worship.  My own denomination (as yours may also ) offers  several helpful resources that can be used  not only by our congregations, but in the larger community, as well.

And finally, I again offer  the post I wrote in response to the killing of Michael Brown-- Open Season on Black Men.  It includes additional resources that may also  help heal and comfort, as well as offer strategies and solutions.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Read at least three different pieces on Ferguson,  specifically,  or racism in general.

Write a reflective essay presenting more than one perspective.

Write a poem or choral reading including several voices.

Write a letter to child  Ferguson helping her understand the complex issues..

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NCTE NOTES AND NUGGETS (Or Things I Should Have Tweeted)

Meeting new friends and fellow colleagues
Maintaining professional connections
Making and remaking old aquaintances
Mental stimulation and provocation
Musing ...
NCTE 2014 was held in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of our nation's capital.
This year's theme was Story as the Landscape of Knowledge
There were many lessons learned, some current thinking affirmed,
and much to consider and ponder.

I had many notes and nuggets to sift and sort -- many words of wisdom that I should have tweeted at the time, but was afraid I would miss a treasure while doing so.

Marian Wright Edelman
Teaching is not just a job, but calling and a mission. If it is not that for you, go do something else.
We need a new transforming movement. We need to be a transforming movement.
She reminded us of important lessons learned from Noah and the ark as we strive to become this movement:
Don't miss the boat.
We are all in the same boat.
Plan ahead.
Don't be afraid of criticism.
Remember that the ark was built by amateurs and the titanic was built by experts.
David Kirkland

Black males are at the bottom of all academic measures.
Counter narratives and qualitative data reveal literacies outside the classroom --social and cultural assets unmeasured by the quantitive data.
What do the competing narratives of quantitative data and qualitative tell us?
How does understanding the difference between their stories and data serve us?

Research and teach like our lives depend on it, because their lives do.

Story can be not real, but reveal truth.
There is always a story before, during, and after.  In story, we leave clock time.
In grief and trauma, it is important to go back to the before  to invoke memories and imagine a better future.
Stories and poems provide a framework for this.
 Here is the poem I wrote in this  interactive session as we were asked to remember a person/event:

I remember
I remember my father's eyes,
because they twinkled
like crystals
illuminating his face
undergirding the laughter
because he amused himself so
 with the devilment he studied.

Chris Crow and Pam Munoz Ryan

I couldn't help myself-- these are the books I purchased while listening to these two authors who are creating new forms/new structures each time they write.


That is the number of soldiers that died in 1968 in the VietNam War.   That is also the number of syllables in this novel, set during the same year.  976 haiku containing 16,592 syllables--one for each soldier that died that  year.

 Crowe told us how this unique structure came to be. He also includes this information in the author's note in the back of the book:

I started thinking about the number 17 and the other numbers that appeared in the story and wondered how I might use them. What else relied on 17? Well, haiku has 17 syllables; maybe I could have my character write haiku as a hobby. Or maybe I could divide the book into 17 sections and have a haiku introduce each section. What else? Was 1968 divisible by 17? It’d be cool if it was. ... 
The number 1968 isn’t evenly divisible by 17, but 16,592 is:16,592 divided by 17 equals 976. 
Then a jolt of creative surprise shook me. What if I wrote the novel entirely in haiku? What if the novel contained one syllable for every U.S. soldier who died in 1968? What if the entire story were contained by a syllable count? It sounded crazy. It sounded like a stupid gimmick. It sounded impossible. But I decided to try it anyway.

Also, my kind of book-- I can't wait for it to arrive.

It contains 3 novellas, a fairytale, and a short story, all connected by a single harmonica and woven into one novel, blending history and fiction, transcending three time periods and settings.

As it pushes the boundaries of structure, form, and genre- I wonder if novel is large enough to describe this accomplishment.


In search of a full vision, she urges young black women to engage in, writing--collaborative and individual writing --to counter power, to represent self, kinship and friendship---writing in which histories, identities,  literacies and society must intersect.

The students in her five-week writing institute wrote a preamble--a pledge, a call to action of sorts--which was recited at the beginning of each session:
We, the Sister Authors, write for then, now, and
later to honor those before us and to inspire
those who are yet to come. We write because we
will not allow those who aren’t us, speak for us,
judge us, or tell our stories. We all bleed blood
but society has chosen to look only at our skin
color. In order for the world to hear our voices,
we must be brave enough to let them be heard,
so we write to advocate for change. While we are
young, black, and female, we are individuals.
Our stories are uniquely beautiful. 
We cannot hold it in, we write it out!
This collaboratively written preamble was modeled on the 1831 Preamble from the Female Literary Association of Philadelphia and captures the spirit and challenges facing these young women.

Muhammad challenges us in the final words of an article related to the work she shared at NCTE:

As teachers design writing pedagogy for
students, we must establish a “literary presence,” or
an environment in which students can share their
voices and visions as they explore themselves through
writing. If students are able to use writing as a tool to
learn more about themselves, they may then counter
hegemonic or misaligned classroom practices. When
writing instruction is approached in this way, it is
liberating for students and becomes essential in
shaping the trajectories of their lives.
To read more about her research and the writing institute click here.

In closing, she offered the words of Alice Walker, which for me summed up this entire convention:

Rebellious. Living.
Against the Elemental Crush.
A Song of Color
For Deserving Eyes
Blooming Gloriously
For its Self.


Story as the Landscape of Knowledge

Are the landscapes we are creating large enough to include everyone?

Is there space for the poor, the black, the brown, the yellow, red and white, the migrant, the immigrant, the refugee, the woman, the LGBTQ, the troubled male, the excluded, the marginalized.... the other and the other?

Whose stories are we privileging, excluding, including, ignoring, lifting up, exploiting....exploring?

Whose stories are included and preserved in our museums?  Who is remembered in our memorials?  And who do we honor with our monuments?

Story as the Landscape of Knowledge

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

How can we best serve, teach, and honor today's children?

How can we include everybody's discourses, identities, and literacies in our classrooms?

What is our role in the transformative movement?

What genres, structures and forms can move us all forward into the future?

Write an  essay  exploring these questions.

Write an inspirational poem for today's students.

Create a new form/structure/genre to tell your story as the landscape of knowledge.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


It is not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear...It's like being between trapezes.  It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold on to.
          --Margaret Ferguson                                                        

Flying trepeese
Fotokannan at Malayalam Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The place in between
that space sandwiched
betwixt and  between
our memories and realities
our now and next
our was and wanted
our seen and unseen
our predicted and actual
our remembered and forgotten.

There is that place
where we hang
in the balance
for a  hand
or a foothold
riding on a gust
of liminality
searching our current boundaries
for a breach
for a hole in the fence
for a solidity in the vague margin
that will allow us to reach
the next place.

There is that space
where we float
just above
just below
our own reality
our own intentions
searching the expanse
for the lines
that will define
our uncertainties
compass our doubts
name the space
and create
our new personal place.

How do we live in those uncertain, unnameable places in between?

In An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Colin enters the inbetween via a road trip-- his friend's antidote to Colin's breakup with Katherine, the most recent of  several former girlfriends of the same name. Colin views that wandering space that we all visit as one of creation-- an opportunity to reinvent himself.

Soon Colin drove past the Hardee's and out onto the interstate heading north.  As the staggered lines rushed past him he thought about the space between what we remember and what happened, the space between what we predict and what will happen.  And in that space, Colin thought there was room enough to make himself into something other than a prodigy, to remake his story better and different--room enough to be reborn again and again.

Sometimes the space between is where we, like Colin, ascend to our better selves.

Often, it is unknowable and un-snatchable, as the space widens and separates us from ourselves.

Jill Jupen captures this elusiveness in her poem The Space Between included in Rattle #43 Spring 2014.

...I speak words
 that sound foreign
even to me:
said too early
or perhaps too late...,

Emotional  and relational situations like Colin's breakup  can send us reeling into unknown inbetween spaces. 

 Physical circumstances can also displace us, sending us into an undefined place.

In No Place by Todd Strasser, Dan find himself between home, as his parent lose their jobs and his middle-class family descends  to homelessness.

In this new space, he is confronted by perspectives, choices, and social justice issues which he had never before considered.

Sometimes  we make a conscious choice to enter the "big air" space -- to hang between the known safe and the desired goal.  Like flying between trapezes referenced in the opening quote, walking the high wire also places us in that space.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers  by Mordicai Gerstein tells the true story of French aerialist, Philippe Petit walking between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
He looked not at the towers but the space between them
and thought what a wonderful place to stretch a rope;
a wire on which to walk. Once the idea came to him
he  knew he had to do it...

As we read his story, we can't help but think about the awful space created when those same towers were destroyed in 2001.  And we celebrate, as just days ago the new World Trade Center Tower opened for business.

Finally, as we consider these various spaces in which we have nothing to hold onto, in which we hang in the air, floating in limbo-- it is important to recognize that these spaces exist also as we write.

We seek to explore our ideas and meanings, before too quickly coming to conclusions, prior to settling into a space of certainty.  

 In Critical Passages: Teaching the Transition to College Composition, the authors adopt Victor Turner's definition of liminality and design writing experiences  using artwork as a way to foster this liminality:

In his 1969 work The Ritual Process, the anthropologist Victor Turner helped spread "liminality" as a concept for explaining the experience of those who participate in rites of passage.  For Turner, liminality denotes a period in which participants are "neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial." the classroom, the goal of the liminal phase is to spend time creating a set of  potential provisional connections (among the details of the artwork), the evoking tensions that arise begin to speculate playfully,,, write a list of questions...

In other words, as we compose ( and as we live)  we remain, at least initially, in a space in between, allowing multiple perspectives and possibilities to freely enter that space.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

List those inbetween spaces and places in your personal life, your professional life, your love life, your spiritual life, or other aspects.

Write questions about these spaces, as well as alternative, oppositional, and speculative details, definitions, and descriptions of your limbo spaces.

Write a personal narrative, essay or poem about the inbetween places in your life and your world.

Monday, October 27, 2014


 by Maryeoriginals
What if the sun didn't shine one day?

What if all the people in the world moved to one hemisphere?

If  we could live forever on this earth, how would that change our world? How would that change our lives?

We all speculate. We all wonder what if?

Some of these questions have no answers. At least, not answers that we can immediately access  or identify, nor answers that we can prove-- but these what if's are the stuff of imagination, of our best fiction, and our finest dreams.

But what if we take our wildest wonderings, our most far-out what-ifs and actually sought to answer them, scientifically?

What if there were books dedicated to answering those wild what ifs?

This is the unlikely mission that  Randall Monroe tackles in What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

He introduces his treasure in the following way:

This is a collection of answers to hypothetical questions.
These questions were submitted through my website where-- in addition to serving as a sort of Dear Abby for mad scientists--I draw xkcd, a stick figure  webcomic... This book contains a selection of some of my favorite answers from my website, plus a bunch of new questions answered here for the first time. 
I have been using math to answer questions as long as I can remember...

The questions alone generate interest and engage our imaginations before we even consider the thought-provoking answers.

Just ponder these sample questions from the book:
What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?
What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?
What would happen if everyone on Earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?

Not only are the answers both intriguing and surprising, but most lead us to ask many more questions.

In his recent TED Talk, Monroe answers the above baseball question, as well as a question about Google's date warehouse. His talk offers a small taste of the wonder and delight of what if  questions answered with the science, math, physics...and humor and comics.

For more amazing questions and unlikely, yet fun things to think about, visit Monroe's What If? webpage  and his blog,  XKCD: A WebComic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math and Language.

Perhaps you might even submit your own question  to

David J. Smith has written several books that help us think about unfathomably big numbers and concepts by scaling them down to a manageable, "think-about-able" size.


In his latest book,  If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers, he again accomplishes this feat, as he presents global, cosmic, geological, and human existence concepts of science and history--- in numbers we can actually imagine and consider.

He tackles the galaxy as if it were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate...

He represents the history of Earth as if our 4.5-billion-year history were compressed into a single year...

He represents average  human life expectancy  as if  it were footprints in the sand...

Smith give us numbers and objects we know, amounts and analogies we can imagine  to foster our thinking about the otherwise vast and unimaginable.

Truth be told, I think most good writing, informational or literary, arises out of a wondering-- a foundational what if.

How can I represent my big ideas?

Can I make this meaning? What if I use this form?  I wonder if I can capture this moment, that feeling, this idea ---and lay it bare on paper.

What are your wonderings?
What is your current what if?

This previous, related blog post will provide additional resources:
Wonderings, What Ifs and Other Questions

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Create a list of your own What If questions.

Select one question to answer in a humorous style.

Research this question and write an essay, answering the questions as accurately as possible, using science, math, or  history.

Draw a comic to address your question.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Keywords unlock our world.

The first thing that Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine requires is a keyword --the word that will get the ball rolling for finding the information, image, text, or item for which you are searching. 

The more precise the initial word or phrase, the faster and more closely the search will match your desired material. The more accurately you identify the key ideas, the fewer times you will need to repeat the same search. 

There are entire businesses and  digital tools, such as WordSmith , for finding just the keywords that are going to move your business’s homepage  or advertisement to the top of the search engine’s suggested links, giving you the retail advantage over competitors.

This same process applies in the non-electronic world as we use the indices and concordances in books.  We have to know what we are looking for—what word will get us to the page containing the information we want. 

So how do we determine that all important keyword? 

Correctly determining the main idea, the motif, the gist, the essence of what we are looking for is the key to  revealing the needed  magic word..

Keywords can also help us focus our attention in our work.

Teachers at Prospect School in Vermont begin collegial conferences designed to analyze students’ strengths, weaknesses and educational needs by identifying a keyword that has emerged as all data and  related conversation has been considered.  This is part of a process called Descriptive Review developed by Pat Carini.  

What keywords would emerge as you consider your students, your own children or adults that you know?

Words can create problems--words often arise that we all use, words that become buzzwords, but then change in meaning, become politicized, demonized, and/or emotionally charged--- and then as we use them, we no longer all mean the same thing.  

For example, formerly in education, the terms whole language, phonics, and readiness, and more recently, accountability and assessment , fall into this category.  

I deliberately no longer use the term whole language in conversation because it conjures up an image for some, of teaching whole class, for others, not teaching grammar and phonics, for others, just letting students read and write as they please, and for others still, the root of all of our current educational woes.  None of these meanings are accurate --or useful when having a discussion.  

 It is important to define and agree upon how we are using particular words for particular discussions.  It is important to decide what words mean not only in the broader sense, but in this particular moment.

We often ask students to define keywords-- they are all too familiar with the vocabulary sections of standardized tests.

Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme by Michael Salinger presents accurate, yet humorous personifications  of  standardized test-worthy vocabulary words, as he explores the meaning of each term in short poetic stories.

In Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Ray Williams examines what words mean, including their historical, political, and cultural meanings, and considers how they acquired their current connotations. Organized in alphabetical order, his “record of inquiry into a vocabulary” also notes how keywords are connected, derived, and dependent upon one another.  

Philip Nel and Lissa Paul deliberately applied Williams’s structure to current children’s literature in Keywords for Children's Literature.

We use key words when reading to gain insight into the writer’s train of thought and the internal structure of her writing.  

 Keywords move us along grammatically through what the author thinking. The author collaborates in this process, using therefore to signify she has come to a conclusion, first, last, after, before, to assist us in following her sequence.  When she makes comparisons, they are indicated by but, however, yet, unless, despite, and evidence for important points are labeled with because and since.  Continuation of earlier thoughts is indicated with and also, in addition, and so forth. 

How effortlessly we can travel through the writer’s mind and follow her logic with the assistance of such keywords. 

 Conceptual keywords further assist us in realizing, understanding, and connecting important concepts and ideas to each other to construct a conceptual framework of the writer’s thinking.  
For example, we cannot have a conversation about evaluation, example, we cannot have a conversation about evaluation, without also talking about assessment
How does the writer relate those ideas? What other words does the author connect?

Understanding the relationships and connections between words and concepts is crucial to learning and understanding. 

 In the classic picture book, The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown,  young children can begin thinking about keywords and key ideas.
Identifying the important ideas in texts and figuring out what  the author wants us to know, as well as what is most meaningful to us, is a part of reading.  Although there may be many ideas and details related to a concept, there are usually ideas that are more important than others.This text  invites readers to consider what is essential in defining or describing something. For example she describes rain in this way:
The important thing about rain is
 that it is wet.
 It falls out of the sky
 and it sounds like rain,
 and makes things shiny,
 and it does not taste like anything,
and is the color of air.
But the important thing about rain is that it is wet.
Thinking in this way, forces students to compare and contrast, analyze and evaluate, consider what is essential and what is nonessential. They must clarify their thinking and articulate it to others, both verbally and in writing. This simple structure offers them an avenue in which to engage in this critical thinking work.

Finally, Blexbolex offers us thoughtful and fun ways to consider keywords  and related concepts in his books.   People and Seasons Seasons, both by the  French illustrator,present us with concepts linked in obvious ways, such as Mother and Baby, Man and Woman, Leaf and Caterpillar, but also challenges us to discern less obvious connections as we move through the pages. These seemingly simple texts and images will generate much discussion, regardless of age, as we seek to discover connections, patterns and deeper meanings.

Maria Popova's articles about both People  and  Seasons, on one of my favorite blogs, Brain Pick include many sample illustrations.

As writers, we want to be aware of keywords and how they will assist us in organizing our thinking, our speaking and our writing, as well as helping our readers in navigating our texts.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Think about your own life as if  you were going to create an index for your autobiography.    List in alphabetical order those keywords that should appear in the index.  Can you include at least  two or three words for each letter?

Write a brief reflection on how you use keywords in your life.
Your response may include searching the internet or databases, finding information in books, using indices, or noticing the bold or italicized words in textbooks. 

Write a short, humorous story about a word that both personifies and  defines that word.

Write a poem or essay about the most important thing for a particular item or concept.