Crossing Borders with Juan Felipe Herrera

This is the fifth installment in a series at #TeachLivingPoets. The Poet Laureate Project features a different U.S. Poet Laureate each month during the 2019-2020 school year. Guest author Ann Cox highlights one or two of their poems, suggests activities to use these pieces in the classroom, and touches upon their contributions to the promotion of poetry in logoAmerica. Ann Cox has over 20 years of experience teaching high school English, including AP Lit, Creative Writing, and Speech. She also spent several years as a teacher consultant for the Illinois State Writing Project.

This month’s featured poet is Juan Felipe Herrera, who served as Poet Laureate from 2015-2016 and was the first Latino to hold this position. In addition to poetry, Herrera has also written children’s literature and young adult novels. He has won numerous awards for his work. Continue reading

Burning the Old Year

Today’s post is by guest author Jessica Salfia. Jessica is the Co-Director of WVCTE and a teacher, writer, and activist.  Her writing has appeared in the Charleston-Gazette Mail, West Virginia Living Magazine’s Blog, the WVCTE Best Practices Blog, and multiple volumes of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers. She was the winner of 2016 and 2019 West Virginia Fiction Competition and recently had her poem, Rootbound, selected for the 2018-2019 Woman of Appalachia Project. She is the co-editor of the book 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike out now from Belt Publishing. Jessica currently is a teacher at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia where she teaches AP  Language and Creative Writing and advises the Multicultural Club and the Literary and Art magazine. When she’s not teaching, writing, or advocating for West Virginia and public education, you’ll find her in the woods with her three kids or paddling down a creek somewhere. 

For many of us, the New Year is a chance to start over and begin again—a fresh slate, an empty notebook of pages yet unwritten. For our students it is no different. They return to our classrooms after winter break looking forward to new classes and a fresh start.

In my Creative Writing class at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia we begin the New Year by “burning” the old one using Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Burning the Old Year, as a mentor text for thinking and writing. Continue reading