Archive for the ‘reading and writing links’ Category

YA isn’t just for YA’s

Young adult (YA) books are saving publishers right now. The market is huge and expanding. This article on the Young Adult Library Services Association page (YALSA) talks about the rise of readers reading YA that are, as the blog puts it, “less Y and more A”. Adults that aren’t teachers, librarians, or people in the publishing business are discovering the young adult genre is filled with well written, interesting books. I encourage everyone to check out the YA and Teen sections of their local bookstore, library, or favorite online store. You can see the YA books I’ve read on here on Goodreads.


I’ve moved

Well here I am at WordPress.

I think that this will lead to a better experience for me and my reader -that’s not a typo I don’t think people read this, but prove me wrong, leave a comment, cast your vote in the poll below. There are more opportunities to customize the formatting and content of the blog. I’ve been using this site for awhile now in my classroom and am very comfortable with it and I’m happy to be here. Are you. . .

Do you think WordPress is better? Or do you want me back at

And a Cookie Shall Lead Them

I wrote this on October 14th, 2009 during a literacy conference. The prompt was to write a “This I believe”. This I believe is an NPR program, click the link and read/listen to a couple they range from hilarious to heartbreaking. I thought I’d share mine with you. I hope you like it.

“It had to be you. . . . it had to be you” I held out the warm cookie at arms length as I swung in circles and sung to it, melted chocolate splattering the walls. I believe in chocolate chip cookies. Just out of the oven warm with the chips a little melty, it’s like a hug for your taste buds – a part of your body that is sorely overlooked in the hug department. It is also a metaphysical hug for your soul. Can you eat a chocolate chip cookie and stay mad? I dare you to try, it may take more than one but they will overcome the anger. It’s uplifting, chocolate does contain caffeine and releases feel good endorphins, no one bites into a delicious chocolate chip cookie and frowns. You cannot help but feel good while eating a ccc.

I believe that sharing a chocolate chip cookie is a very personal and intimate act. Unless you have one of the oversized platter sized cookies, it’s tantamount to giving away a little bit of paradise – what could be more personal then that.  When you find someone who will break their cookie in half and share it with you, you have found a true friend – a keeper. Even if the half that is shared is the smaller of the two, that person is still a cut above the rest and  should be celebrated. If that person gives you the larger half – well then you have found a truly generous soul. For those who will not share, this speaks volumes about that person’s personality and world philosophy. I bet George W. not only doesn’t share his cookie but wants the cookies of the people around him too and is willing to invade their plate to get them.

I believe that ambassadors, hostage negotiators, and anybody that brings bad news to people should be trained in the baking of chocolate chip cookies.

I believe that chocolate chip cookies, like people, vary from cookie to cookie in size, shape, color, and texture but all have the same basic ingredients, are good when freshly baked and if they’ve been around for a while, are best when accepted with love, and dunked in milk.

I believe that chocolate chip cookies can make the world a warmer, larger, meltier, and more delicious place.

More Poems by Pirkl

If you haven’t read the first poetry post you should, but if you refuse you should know that I wrote these poems because I assigned my students to write them.

Mr is my first name
Reading is a favorite past time
Photography is enjoyable
Interested in many things
Really into tech toys
Kind of odd sometimes

This is based on free association. You start with one word (Bananas in this case) and free associate a list of words. You then use that list of words to create a poem, using the first word somewhere in the first line, the second word somewhere in the second line and so on.

I’m going bananas I think
memories peel away like
ninjas slipping through
the ice cold night
skating on the surface
like a mug of hot chocolate full
of marshmallows

This poem was done with this magnetic poetry site and was just for fun.

translucent yesterday
slow flowering
prisoner of yourself
pierce this sad secret
trust the sacred window

Hodge Podge

Well, we’re a couple weeks into school now and starting to get into the groove; 5 am is starting to be a little easier to see each morning. My classes are deep into poetry now and I can smell propaganda on the horizon (it smells like freshly baked bread, but is really just a ball of dough in the oven). The grading program is finally ready to be used and I’ve entered all my assignments so far and inputted 3 of my 4 class grades.

As I’m writing this, and I started to write this over the weekend but had so much grading to do put it off, I realize that this is kind of boring. What is really on my mind is the gay marriage issue that will be voted on in Maine this November. Let me see if I can squeeze some more day to day stuff out before I begin to rant.

I am reading The Italian, by Ann Radcliff; again. [The title links to an ebook, author to info] I had to read this book for class during my undergrad and {gulp} didn’t finish it. It isn’t a easy book to read and I think that without the unofficial concentration in 18C literature I would not have decided to re-read it and be getting it this time. It reeks of the Gothic sublime. Supernatural innuendos, long soliloquies about the beauty and majesty of the scenery and how it moves the characters towards their own sublimity through association. It does have all the elements of a great tale though, unrequited (so far) love; creepy, evil monks; a kidnapping; a chase and pursuit of the kidnapped and subsequent daring rescue from a self obsessed, power hungry/abusing abbess; and comedic scenes – I’m surprised some Hollywood director hasn’t made a crappy movie of it [they may have and if you know please comment and tell me about it]. I’m on pg 215, not quite halfway, and finding myself enjoying it. This is much different than the first time I read it and it proved to be a potent sleep aid, much like I’d imagine a shot of elephant tranquilizers would be.

I’m really digging the new Weezer song, “I want you to”. If you click on the title of this post it will take you to the site and you can listen for free – tell me if you like it. It plays on a loop – I think I’ve heard it 12 times now and I’m not sick of it yet!!

Pondering prompts

If ice cream sandwiches ruled the world. . .
Then I realized that those weren’t my shoes.
Which is better, Facebook or Myspace and why?
Free write (of course)

These were the In Class Writing prompts I came up with as students watched as class was starting. Ignore the fact that I wasn’t totally prepared. Normally I don’t require that they share, it’s optional, this time I told them that they would have to share with their neighbor, they would have the opportunity to share with the group later in the week. I went over the choices, told them they had 10 minutes and sat down to write in my comp book. I started writing about ice cream sandwiches, the topic left me cold so I switched to the second topic – I didn’t get far. None of the topics really got my creative juices flowing, so I began writing about that, musing that I would perhaps change the prompts for the classes that followed. I brainstormed some prompts for future ICW’s (I won’t tell you now, I don’t want to ruin the surprise).

I left the prompts alone. The kids really liked them, I had one student remark, “Why did you have to put all these good ones on one day? Couldn’t you spread them out?” He came up later and asked if I would put some of the choices up again because he wanted to write about all of them. I told him to write them in his journal and he could choose one as a free write.

I was totally bored by these prompts, I’m not sure if it is because it’s Monday or the fact that I spent all weekend grading drafts of persuasive letters. Whatever the reason, nothing was coming out of my pencil. The kids were fired up though – usually I am too, especially with the prompts involving food, (it’s kind of a recurring theme that started with the line – “And that’s why you can never trust an orange” which come up in kids writing still).

What if we. . .

We do in class writings (ICW) pretty often. I give 3-4 things to write about, one is always free write, and we write for 10 min or so. My rule was that they had to write for the entire time, even if it’s “I’ve nothing to write I can’t believe he’s making us write even if we have nothing to write about. . . ” When we first started this I would have to direct kids to keep writing, pantomiming writing across the room. As time has gone on a cry of dismay goes up when I call time, “A little bit longer” “I’m not done” “Waaaaaiiiit” The increase in activty extended to the sharing portion afterward. More and more students are willing to share what they’ve written. Last week an amazing thing happened: A student suggested that we take an entire class period to write, and then the next one to share, there were head nods and noises of agreement around the room – they WANT to write now, they look forward to the ICW’s, they ask “are we going to write in our journals today?” and are disapointed if the answer is no. This has been one of my proudest moments. I’ve modeled writing, I write alongside them, I validate and encourage their writing by providing the opportunity to share in an environment that we’ve created that is safe and supportive. I was floored by their desire to devote an entire class to writing and am in the process of working that into my plans. I’ll let you know how it works out!

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