Tinkering With Voices in Poetry


Illustration by Melvina Kurashige

Tinkering, playing around, experimenting: that’s learning. So when Kevin Hodgson [@dogtrax] read my “On Starting: A Poem for Three Voices,” he suggested recording those three voices in a podcast.

Kevin invited Melvina Kurashige [@mkurashige] and me to an online, collaborative sound recording tool called SoundTrap [there’s an app too.] With just a few tests and his great Google doc tutorial, we each recorded the voices for the poem. Melvina created the illustration [above] and Kevin added music and transferred the recording to SoundCloud.


I wanted to create an animation, but I did manage to create an illustrated version of our poem by drawing illustrations in SketchBook and importing them into iMovie. I downloaded the SoundCloud version and matched the timing of the recording to the images. I added in Melvina’s illustration and, of course, the credits.

On Starting on YouTube    On Starting at Soundcloud


I was impressed with how easy SoundTrap is use; a collaboration with students would work with a light learning curve. Imagine students creating their own poems for two voices, or creating a podcast for the school. See the SoundTrap Edublogs for more about an education edition. To get a feel for how to use it, check out their Tutorials at Vimeo.

I’d like to thank Kevin for making it happen — he wrote about it here: “Tinkering with Voices/Playing with Poems” — and to Melvina for accepting the invitation and taking the initiative to create the SketchNote of the poem.

Now, go tryout SoundTrap [there’s an app too.] in the free version to see its versatility, and then… share what you do with it! Really, you’ll have a blast.


Illustration by Melvina Kurashige

sol17 DoodleaDay 5 DigiLit Sunday

FullSizeRender 45 doodleaday_nature.jpg

Today is Sunday. It’s great for two reasons: Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday and it’s the best day of the week for me. And today’s DigiLit Sunday is about Slice of Life, a March writing challenge by the The Two Writing Teachers that asks us to write every day in March about a slice of our lives, a moment in time.

So today I ask you to join in the writing, to write, because it is “hard fun,” as Donald Murray shares, and because writing clears and clarifies the mind. And in these challenging times, we need that. Won’t you join?

I love Sundays. For most of our Sundays together, my husband and I enjoy the light of day shining through the window as we sip our coffee, his black and mine with cream. We spend hours reading and conversing on any topic: news, politics, history, nature, discoveries old and new, how things work, philosophy. It’s relaxing and freeing to have no hurry pushing us.


Not only does Scott brew the coffee, he also makes breakfast: eggs, many ways. So the day is extra special for me.

In years past, we had hopped in the car to visit grandkids two hours away — but they do grow up 🙂 so we do that less.

Many times, during the school year, I would spend the afternoon and evening on planning for my next week as middle school teacher. But now, I’m retired. Note to teachers: take the day off; your time is precious. [Not that I regret it– I loved it, but teachers shouldn’t have to work so many hours.]

Most of the time we take a walk or hike around town or around the hills of our little rural town.


Mule Deer in the credit union field

coulee art.JPG

Coulee Art [and yes, we probably know who did this]

Many of my nature photos come from these walks [which we now take almost daily]. This Sunday, these fall leftovers still shared their colors:


Oregon Grape


Oak Leaf [not native to our area, but planted in the park]

Other times we hop in the car for that traditional pastime from both our childhoods: the Sunday drive. Today we drove along Banks Lake, which is still mostly frozen over from the cold winter.


Banks Lake in the Grand Coulee [an irrigation reservoir with year round fishing]


Steamboat  Rock [history]

Banks Lake is surrounded by the Grand Coulee walls. [See Glacial Lake Missoula history]


Moon over Coulee Wall

Following the highway we turned off at Dry Falls, the largest ever waterfall, but created during the Ice Ages.


Dry Falls State Park [part of Glacial Lake Missoula history]

That lake is 350 ft below viewing area!

There we turned around and headed the long way home around through the plateau wheat fields around Hartline, Almira, and Wilbur. We detoured to Govan to take this picture of what’s left of a one-room school house:


Govan School House at Sunset

Sundays are a Slice of Life each week. My walks are a Slice of Life each day. In these days of darkness with a totalitarian leaning president, be sure to take care of yourself. In everyone’s life, to celebrate and to reflect, write your moments, your Slice of Life. Be with your family; enjoy nature, whether you walk the cement jungle or the rural trail. And share your moments and their relief; let the doing, writing and sharing renew your spirit and connect you with others.

As a teacher, my students loved Slice of Life; I’ve written about it here and here. For strategies for writers to revise their slice moments, see the work of Ralph Fletcher and Steve Peha. They both provide for strategies for writers workshop and the six  traits of writing. Through Slice of Life and writing strategies, students learn what Donald Murray expressed, “Writing is hard fun.”  So often over the years, students have said during writing class after sharing, “You’re right, Ms Edwards, writing is hard fun.”

So, for reflection and learning, for hope in good and hard times, write for some hard fun.


Thunder rumbling

Angry words

Daily insults

Inhumane turmoil

Get up

Stand up

Walk out





People laughing

Welcomed smiles

Daily kindness

Community cares

Lift up

Stand up

Walk in

Shake hands




Reflect inward

Connect thoughts

Write down moments

Humanity grows.



Coffee Photo: Sheri Edwards, AttributionNoncommercialShare AlikeFlickr

Deer Photo, by Scott Hunter, used with permission

Nature and Drive photos, Sheri Edwards [Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

Doodle by Sheri Edwards


This post is:

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today:  Make a stain with a drink; Doodle it into something.

Doodling Song: It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals


Part of Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday


Scrambled Secrets #sol

7089121211_b8e1898dd9_nWhat’s your favorite breakfast?

I like to break my fast with scrambled eggs. I don’t want any fluff for breakfast, not that silly rabbit’s Trix in it’s bright pink package or its friend the chocolate puffs.

Nope. I love the aroma of scrambled eggs freshly fluffed.

I can imagine the morning now. I pull out the medium glass bowl, the middle bowl of the turquoise pyrex set Scott’s mom had.

I reach for the medium-sized frying pan and toss in a pad of butter, turning the heat up to just below medium high.

I crack open one egg and gently let it plop into the bowl. I repeat with one more egg. Then I add an egg and a half of cream.  What’s an egg and a half?  I imagine how much cream would fill an egg shell, that’s what.  With a small wisk, I whip the eggs fluffy.

Now the choices. I choose a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese — the real stuff too, not “light.” I sprinkle in about a tablespoon of dill weed and a half teaspoon of tarragon. I slowly stir those in with the mess of eggs, just as the butter begins to sizzle in the pan.

Carefully, I pour from the bowl so the fluff of eggs just slip across the pan, sizzling a song the yellow mass can dance to while I return to the fridge for the last item: whipped cream cheese. I scoop a dollop and drop it onto the eggs in the center. I repeat four more times around that center dollop, and them begin to swish up the eggs with a wooden spoon to finish the scramble, smooth, not lumpy.

I swish the scrambles out of the pan and onto plates, topped with two sprigs of chives. The aroma wafts up as I bring the plates to the breakfast table. Salt is added then to taste. “Mmmm,” Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.

Now that’s a good morning, where all the secret choices scrambled together create a wonderful and pleasing effect. It’s rather like the classroom, when the small choices allowed in kids’ learning allow each student the chance to scramble up ideas and skills on their terms, becoming focused on making just the write word choices. The sizzle in the classroom sharing those choices are not fluff, but are the stuff of engaged authors, a wonderful and pleasing effect for all of us.

What about your breakfast? Does its secrets motivate your day?



My writing choices:

Description Sight: “I pull out the medium glass bowl, the middle bowl of the turquoise pyrex set Scott’s mom had.”

Description Sound: “the butter begins to sizzle in the pan.”

Details: I like to break my fast with scrambled eggs. I don’t want any fluff for breakfast, not that silly rabbit’s Trix in it’s bright pink package or its friend the chocolate puffs.

Dialogue: “‘Mmmm,’ Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.”

Alliteration/Consonance [m and s]: “‘Mmmm,’ Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.”

And did you notice how I expanded the idea into the classroom? How I compared the choices in my scrambled eggs and its culinary delight to the choices made by students  and their sharing and engagement.

What writing choices do you see?


Image Source: Flickr CC 2.0  by Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife

Diigo in Writing Class

How does Diigo help improve writing?

The Web 2.0 of Diigo’s highlight, annotate, and bookmarking abilities lets students personalize the information and punctuate their own online work with that information. For example: Here a student simply highlights the information she needs to review later in her document (wiki, MS Word, presentation, etc.) in order to analyze the information for her needs. (Note: Student names are pseudonyms.)

Student highlights research on poverty.

Student highlights research on poverty.

By gathering the information needed, the student is able to synthesize the ideas into his/her own connections— “I don’t know what i would do if i lived in Africa after living in a beautiful Vally between the hills with enough money to go places and have food.” This student began to notice and consider homeless people living in poverty in her own community; who knows what project would have developed with more time.

By saving the information to a Diigo group, students can connect with each other and share the important ideas for discussion or writing later:

diigoplanecrashWith the ability to share annotated bookmarks, students learn from one another and from differing viewpoints. Their sharing imbues the facts with personalized connections, allowing students to write with more voice and with connections that explain the facts. In short, students write from a deeper knowledge base.

In addition, after students write online (Google Docs, Wikis), the teacher can “Diigo” feedback. What was well done in the writing? What still needs improvement? This fifth grade student read the first annotation about the need to add examples. She added the details. Next, I recognized her addition, and added another suggestion:


From the Diigo feedback, the student revised to include the details needed:

“Theres place were you could go shopping for baby’s. There are Cribs,Blankets and Shoes for babies.Now there is a store that is called Jewles.Jewles is were you could buy necklesses and bracelets and earring.Thats for girls of  corse” She emphasized the changes with bold herself.

Through individual or collaborative Diigo annotations, students connect to facts in ways that allow comprehension and connections that deepen their understanding.  Through Diigo annotations for feedback, students easily understand what aspects of their writing need improvement. Diigo is our friend in the writing classroom.

Note: Another Diigo Reflection here.