Aside

Happy Spring!

After an unexpected break from blogging (hmmm…perhaps our fabulous school production of “Annie” or the After School Scholars literacy group had something to do with it….) I’m back today with a post about our poetry work in Grade 6.

[SPOILER ALERT!] We have recently finished reading Sharon Creech’s book, “Love That Dog”. Wow! I love this book, and love more so the fact that my students loved it too. The book is narrated by, “Jack”, who is challenged to write poetry (along with the rest of his class) by his teacher Miss Stretchberry. The book is Jack’s free-form poetry, mainly in the form of a conversation with his teacher about writing poetry. Jack refers to many poems that he learns in class, such as The Red Wheel barrow by William Carlos Williams (“so much depends upon a red wheel barrow…..”) and poetry by Walter Dean Myers, Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, and more.

Here is what we learn about the effect of poetry writing on Jack:

  • it empowers Jack to see beyond stereotypes, specifically the stereotype that (according to Jack), “only girls write poems”
  • it helps Jack come to express his emotions, and to come to terms with his grief over the loss of his beloved dog, Sky
  • it gives Jack a focus other than his grief (poetry of other authors, writing in general)
  • it empowers Jack to have confidence in himself as he becomes very skilled at writing
  • it helps Jack connect to the world beyond his classroom (e.g. writing to and visiting with a published author/poet)
  • it helps Jack to see that his thoughts and feelings are meaningful, and that his words can effect change

He also learns about many literary devices and how to write in the style of another author. The list of what Jack learns could probably go on and on. The best part is that WE learned these lessons as well, through Jack’s experience 🙂 I can’t recommend this book enough.In addition to learning that poetry does not have to have a steady meter or rhyming, we also revisited metaphor, simile, alliteration and onomatopoeia. Jack eventually writes a shape poem about “Sky” and we followed suit by writing our own shape poems.

Today, we wrote our own free-form poetry and it was scary! At first, students went through the same emotions that Jack did — fear, embarassment, and a general sense of befuddlement at trying something new. By the end, everyone was engaged and taking lots of risks.Some students asked “Is this going on our report cards?” (*sigh*) which led us to revisiting the difference between formative and summative assessments. I collected our new poetry portfolios, and was amazed to hear students ask why we weren’t sharing our poems right away! This was very different from Jack’s initial shyness at promoting his own work.  A large group of students, mainly boys, insisted upon reading their poems to the class today. It was delightful! They were brimming with humour and excitement. I believe that Jack really inspired the students and I’m glad that they all believe truly that anyone can write poetry.

Anyway, with the students’ permission, here are some wonderful first few poems: [I would be grateful to anyone who knows how I can format the line spaces  in WordPress so that there isn’t double spacing everywhere.}

Thurs., May 31st, 2012

by Ethan B.

No

I can’t do it

It’s way too hard

Maybe I’mn not cut out for this

Wait

I have one:

So much depends on money;

but what is money? That is the question

Is it good to be stuck on wealth?

Is it good to love money?

Well?

Was it good?

It could use some work….

but

like I said, I’m not cut out for this

Maybe –

just maybe –

I could think of something

It would be a miracle

but

like I said, I’m not cut out for this.

Think.

Think.

Think.

Treasure

by Warren G., Class 6F

My monkeys make money, mounting millions of macaws

flying

far

away

where the sun lay softly,

its head upon the horizon,

there the macaws will find it glinting,

swooping down in a cloud of red, yellow, green, and blue,

knowing

the shine of treasure.

[This poem has a rather “Zen” quality….]

Cow

by Ethan I., Class 6F

Why cow?

What does cow do?

Cow does what cow does.

Cow sits,

and stares

and does what cow does.

Cow sits, and stares

into nothingness.

Why?

Because that’s what cow does.

Sadness

by Emily W., Class 6F

Sometimes

when I’m sad

I just go upstairs

to my four colour

Bedroom

and lie on my bed

     and

        think

I think of

sad things

I become

sadder

but I

     can’t

          cry

So I think of

happy

    things

and then

   I

     cry

but they are Happy tears

so i cry

   my sadness

away

and I

     feel

         better

I’m still sad

   but I’m

      happy too

That is a

good

    feeling.

May 31, 2012

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