Gathering Guests: Poetry Love

Gathering Guests: Poetry Love

By JoEllen McCarthy, Educator Collaborative Book Ambassador

Tomorrow, April 2nd, JoEllen McCarthy, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Janet Wong, Alan Katz, and Kim Doele will be presenting during session one of our spring gathering. You can watch them at 11:00 am EST. Their presentation is called: “Poetry Love.”

“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”

April brings many things: jokes, showers, taxes.  But the most beautiful gifts of April come on poem feet.  April is National Poetry Month, with Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 21st, and many teachers and children celebrate poems during these thirty days. We believe in planting poems throughout April, and we also believe in sharing poems all year long.  So, this Saturday at #TheEdCollabGathering, we invite you to join our conversation with poets Janet Wong, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Alan Katz  and educators Kim Doele and JoEllen McCarthy as we discuss ways to spread poetry love in every month.

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Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong with Gifts of Poetry.

Author, poet, anthologist, and publisher Janet Wong reminds us to “Just try.” Poetry is an invitation. We can welcome students to immerse themselves in the language and beauty of possibilities, learning about ideas and words.  We can invite children to observe what other writers do, and we can read poems together in all content areas.  Janet will teach us ways to feed students poetry all year long with The Poetry Friday Anthology, to connect science and poetry with the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, and to celebrate poetry any day of the year with the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations.  


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Amy wearing her new bird hat.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater will bring a bit of The Poem Farm to our conversation, reminding us how we can find inspiration by studying information, examining photos, spending time outdoors, holding objects, and rereading our own and others’ words.  Writers of all ages can structure poems in a different ways, learning from each other’s favorite techniques.  Too, we can learn about ourselves as we play with language, moving words here and there.  Amy believes that poems help us figure out all sides of who we are: the silly, the curious, the wise, the serious.

f25bd1a3-2d00-422c-bc56-7b76ad3c8b2eAlan Katz author and “silly dilly man,”  is a former print and television writer.  Some may think he is a stand up comic.  You can decide on Saturday.  Alan is also the author of more than 30 highly acclaimed children’s books, including Silly Dilly Songbooks such as Take Me Out of the Bathtub, Oops Poetry and Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking. He usually leaves readers laughing and writing up a storm. Alan will demonstrate the importance of playing with words and talk about what happens when you take ordinary words and combine them for extraordinary power. 

poetry cafe

Kim Doele is a third grade teacher from Grand Rapids, Michigan who inspires a love of poetry in her own students and in her ever-growing Poetry Club of intermediate grade students.  All year long, by taking joy in poems through her classroom and club, Kim introduces her students to a variety of poets through books, through Poetry Friday, and in person with her fabulous organization of school visits.  Kim will share some of her favorite tips to help students find their poet-selves, including ideas for beginning and keeping up with a Poetry Club, suggestions for sharing poems in a variety of ways and thoughts on involving an art teacher and principal in school-wide poetry love.


Staff developer and EdCollab Book Ambassador, JoEllen McCarthy thinks poems serve as  mirrors,  windows and doors. JoEllen will share mentor texts and poetry resources that she uses in her work as literacy coach and staff developer. Sharing poetry, as Donald Graves said, provides an opportunity “for big thinking in small packages”.   We can share poems that help students see who they are in relation to their worlds and that help them better understand and appreciate the big world we all live in. Poetry offers children a great appreciation for words, for reading, for writing, and for life.

Poetry can explore a wide range of emotions.  It can allow students to play with language, rumble with words, and fall in love.  Donalyn Miller says, “Kids read what we bless.”   And this Saturday, we will bless poetry.  Please join our conversation, and join us to help spread poetry love all year long.