Iowa Council of Teachers of English

When I Picture My Father

When I Picture My Father

Jennifer Hartwig, Teacher-Writer

November 17, 2019

When I picture my father, I picture a truck, My father stepping up and climbing in, Ready to head to the field or to deliver grain to the elevator, Or proudly opening the door for his satisfied customer to take the wheel.   When I picture my father,  I picture a tractor,  My father perched...

Two Poems

Two Poems

Rex Muston, Teacher Writer

November 4, 2019

  GOOD TO SEE SCOTT   The rotten trunk of the dead oak at the home of my children’s mother lasted longer than our marriage ever could.   Last week it gave up the ghost, falling with an imagined death rattle across the fence into Kathy’s yard.   We bonded lookin...

Reflections of a First-Time Presenter

Reflections of a First-Time Presenter

Lisa Robinson, Teacher-Writer

October 21, 2019

The days of ICTE are ones that I look forward to each fall, not only because I know I will feel rejuvenated and excited about my profession, but because I love seeing familiar faces and sharing my passion with like-minded people. I also laugh A LOT.   This year I presented for the first time. Yi...

What Teacher-Writers Want

What Teacher-Writers Want

Allison Berryhill, ICTE Publications Co-chair

October 12, 2019

Teacher-writers gathered in the Meadows Room at 2019 ICTE Fall Conference Thursday evening to put pen to the page. Again on Friday, during "Active Voice: A Teacher-Writer Round Table," we opened our time together with one of my favorite poem-model writing prompts. Mirroring C. G. Hanzlicek's beautiful poem "What I Want Is" invites us to explore our desires. As we unspool our wants, we learn about ourselves and each other. Several attendees allowed me to share their poems. Please appreciate this collection--all written during about six minutes of warm-up time--and then set your timer and write your own. Use Hanzlicek's ...

“Caterpillars” and “Unwavering”

“Caterpillars” and “Unwavering”

Candace Berkley

October 2, 2019

Caterpillars The smell of parsley reminds me of late summer, when the freedom of June days is but a feeling fading fast into the routine of school. My mother always planted parsley in big clay pots, and the black swallowtail butterflies loved parsley. Its vibrant green, small-but-sturdy stalks capped ...

Two Poems: “The Family Farm” and “Students”

Two Poems: “The Family Farm” and “Students”

Jan Luton, Teacher Writer

August 15, 2019

The Family Farm A place of tranquility    cradled in the country. A nurturing nest    that houses good beginnings. A chameleon patch in a quilt   with seasonal changes. An entertainment   with business of production. A checkerboard of seasons   white, brown, green and g...

Practice What You Preach: Start with Brainstorming

Practice What You Preach: Start with Brainstorming

Jennifer Hartwig, Contributing Writer

July 31, 2019

I try my best to practice what I preach - as a mother, a Christian, a teacher. This summer, in fact, I had every intention of practicing what I preach - or in this case teach: writing. My writing was going to work in tandem with my 30+ year family photo collection which I was going to organize into...

The Fifth Chair Flute

The Fifth Chair Flute

May 26, 2019

I was not a great flautist, but I loved band for the music that was attempted, for the camaraderie the attempt instilled, and for the friends that resulted. This is a story about the friend I did not make…. Not even that… This is a story about the absence of a friend I never made. Early in t...

Do You Have Anything to Read Besides Gary Paulsen?

Do You Have Anything to Read Besides Gary Paulsen?

May 12, 2019

One of the biggest hurdles I faced in my first year of teaching in a small rural high school was finding books that reflected the lives of my students who spent most of their time farming or hunting. They’d burned through Gary Paulsen at a young age, and had tried or had read every other book fr...

Three Poems: “Glowing From Within,” “She Continued,” and “The Boundary Waters”

Three Poems: “Glowing From Within,”  “She Continued,” and “The Boundary Waters”

April 28, 2019

Glowing from WithinBy Karen Kayser-Kemp Ambers glow from the warmth within.The burning light draws me inTo the secrets hidden in my soulBeneath my breast, ready to unfold. A fire’s purpose is not to burnOnly warm and sooth, in turn,Those who place their feet near the ringJust wishing for some comfo...

I Spy with my Little Eye…

I Spy with my Little Eye…

April 14, 2019

A Short Story I heard something the other day about flies: As soon as they land on food, they lay maggots. I’d always thought it was like the five-second rule, you had a few seconds to shoo them away. It’s gross either way, but especially so as there's a good chance some of those maggots...

Be Like Bri

Be Like Bri

March 31, 2019

I was reading Angie Thomas’ latest book last weekend, and a quote struck me between the eyes, “All these folks I've never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.” As someone who is struggling with both anxiety and grief this school year, in addition to the common stress...

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