The Graceful Swan – Illustrated

Here’s another illustrated collaboration with Anna Fox!

Like it? Support the Kickstarter to get art like this into the e-book!Web Image_Sally Swan.jpg

A huge thanks to the people who already have supported! If you love Anna’s art, then we need your support! Check out our stretch goals:



[Blog] Announcing the Anti-Testing Kickstarter!

Support my Kickstarter and get your own book of anti-testing poetry!

Readers of this blog know I have…feelings about standardized testing. Throughout my weeks of monitoring PA state assessments for 10-year-olds, I’ve been resisting in the way I’m best at: by writing silly poems when I’m supposed to be doing other things (e.g. monitoring PA state assessments for 10-year-olds).

As it turns out, many of you have feelings about standardized testing as well.

I’ve been really excited about the positive response these anti-testing poems have gotten, in part because it’s been a great way to combine silly writing with advocacy for something I think is important. And I want to build on that. So…

I’m producing a book of anti-testing poetry – and I’m launching a Kickstarter to fund it!

Please consider supporting my Kickstarter and buying your own e-book, chapbook, or hardback:

Things to get excited about:

-Artwork by Anna Fox!
-Never-before-seen poems!
-Opportunities to spotlight anti-testing work around the country!

I hope you’ll consider joining this project! Also, please share with your networks — this is about generating a conversation, so let’s spread it as widely as possible!

Links to some of the testing poems published on this blog:

Testing, Day 1: New Testing Mandates
Testing, Day 2: Beat the System
Testing, Day 3: ABAD
Testing, Day 4: Marvin K. Parker
Testing, Day 5: Bright
Testing, Day 6: Stamina
Testing, Day 7: Testing Instructions
Testing, Day 8: Inspirational Slogans
Testing, Day 9: The Pledge

The Legend

[Check back soon for a special announcement — or click the “Follow” button to be the first to hear!]

Who’s the coolest
Kid in school?
Shawn Mermaids

Who do we
All want to be?
Shawn Mermaids

Those piercing eyes
That silky hair
Those teeth that make you stop and stare
And gasp, “Wait — who’s that over there?!”
Shawn Mermaids

Rides a scooter like it’s flying
Plays the tuba — now we’re crying
No one’s like him. But we’re trying
Shawn Mermaids

Black belt in Tai Chi
Has a law degree
Who we want to be
Shawn Mermaids

Testing, Day 9 – The Pledge

Last day of standardized testing. One month and many, many hours later. Thanks for joining me for this journey.

Last poem. This is what I’ve been reduced to.

I pledge allegiance to test security
I will stand up for testing purity
I will put tests above all else
My classroom, social life, and health
Won’t speak unless it’s test-aligned
Ban non-test items from my mind
For tests are knowledge. Tests are proof
Tests are uncontested truth
I love the tests. I now confess it
(I must, because the state law says it)

Testing, Day 8 – Inspirational Slogans

Last week of testing! Science this time.

This one is dedicated to everyone who feels seriously grossed out by PSSA pep rallies and those viral videos about how cool testing is.

(Literally half of these were pulled directly from a bag of inspirational pencils and bookmarks I was supposed to give out to the kids.)

“Do your best!” “Rock the test!”
“OMG! (hashtag #Blessed)”

“Breathe!” “Go slow!” “Think!” “YOLO”
“Time to show what you know!”

“Take your time!” “Keep on trying!”
…Now will you please stop crying?


Testing Day 7 – Testing Instructions

So every day I have to read the same instructions which start with “We are ready to begin the test” and then continue for three more pages. It’s literally basic instructions on how to fill in a multiple choice question. I have to ask them to check not only that their name is on their test books, but that the numbers printed on them haven’t magically changed overnight. Anyhow, this is dedicated to everyone who has to read or listen to the same instructions, day after day after day after day…

Testing Instructions

At this point now, students
We’re ready to start
We’re not quite at that part

Today we’ll do Part 9
It’s 12 different sections
I’ll explain them, but first
Do you have any questions?

Anyone? Anyone?
Then I’ll move on
Please open your test books
To page 31

Now look at the first box
Please quietly read it
I’ll also be reading
Out loud if you need it

It says: “You are ready
To start your test session
Step 1: Using a pencil”
Let’s pause — are there questions?

Anyone? Anyone?
Then I’ll read more
–Yes, I know that we’ve read
This all ten times before

You did not raise your hand
That’s a test violation
I warned what would happen
In this situation

Yes, Officer Palmer?
Your help is awaited
Our test code of conduct
Has been violated

Please drop your test book
In the shredder downstairs
You’ll have to start over
Your new book’s prepared

Apologies, class
Back to what is allowed
Read Box 2 to yourself
While I read it out loud…