Monday, April 1, 2013

Poetry Lessons - Finding Play

           It's time to return to the Tuesday Slice of Life hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers!  Come check out all the posts people share.


     
           It’s also Poetry Month, and here at Teacher Dance on Tuesdays I plan to share a poetry lesson I've used in the past.
           
To the right of this page lists the writers for Irene Latham's progressive poem during the month at Live Your Poem.You can read the lively and interesting poem that was created last year here.   

        And, if you’ve followed along with the March Madness Poetry competition, it is coming to an end.  Soon, you can vote for your favorite poem of the Finals!  Here’s a link to the site.

        Finally, you’d like to see more of the spectacular happenings occurring in April, check out Jama Rattigan’s blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  I think she’ll be adding to the list as she finds out more, so keep checking in.

         I found a quote that fits the lesson I'm sharing today about revision.  
              "Wanted:  a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket." - Charles Simic


       As I worked with my student poets, we discussed poetic devices in various ways, what poets do to communicate meaning, how they look at the writing of the words, the white space of a poem, too.  One part of revision I wanted my students to work toward understanding was line breaks.  We had examined more than one poem's line breaks, speculating why the poet might have moved to a new line.  Could it be for emphasis, or to slow down?  Several reasons are shared.  I used the Eve Merriam poem "This Face In The Mirror"  to do this.  

      But first, I gave them the following on a page with the group of words from the poem randomly mixed.  They were free to use them as they chose and write a poem, working to give good line breaks.  It was a big challenge to make the words fit, and some did, but created a different poem.  That was okay; I didn't expect them to completely replicate the poem, but given the words, to make a meaning they thought was good.  It's a fun exercise that can be done with many short poems.


and            and             in                the              mirror  
stares                my              me              cringe                  agree 
demanding         who            are             you             what          
taunting             you             don’t                   because      will
chastened          I                 and               this             at
then                   face            even           know                   you
I’m           young         become      I                 out
tongue               stick           still

     After everyone shared his or her poem, we then examined Eve Merriam's work, discussing why she might have changed to another line, made some longer than others, etc.
This placed emphasis on poets' choices, again making meaning with deliberation.


         The Merriam poem begins,
                            This face in the mirror
                             Stares at me
                             demanding, Who are you
                                                          You can find the rest here.


        
         


34 comments:

  1. I love the idea of giving a set of words to children and letting them manipulate them with line breaks. I will have to try this...thank you!

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    1. You're welcome Elizabeth! I hope you'll enjoy the lesson & the learning!

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  2. That sounds like a great lesson! May try it with a homeschooler friend! I know, I'm up to late, or awake too early really! I'm going to go back to bed until the real morning now.

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    1. Wow, Donna, I see the time! Are you working on B?

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  3. You are right, Linda - this is a wonderful lesson in making meaning with words and sentence structure a deliberate, writerly choice. I'll have to try this out with my students.

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    1. Thanks Tara. I think it will work well with your sixth graders.

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  4. Poetry taught right can be such a powerful thing for student writers.

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    1. I always found that students appreciated the learning of making their writing better, too. Thanks!

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  5. A great lesson that touches on so many decisions a writer has to make. It really slows down the process for the kids to understand all the decisions that need to be made in the process of composing. I will be looking forward to your lessons on Tuesdays this month.
    How cool would that be if we can gather at All Write!

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    1. Thanks Elsie. Slowing down is such a goal always. (I hope I can make it east!)

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  6. I love this lesson. It is so difficult for me to teach this concept of line breaks. This is a great way to help students see the thought process that goes into decisions like this. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. It isn't easy to help students understand that poet do make those choices of lines. I hope this will help! Thanks, Andrea

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  7. What a great lesson idea! What a great way to get students to think about the meaning behind line breaks - and to show how individual and varied poems can be. I'd love to see some of their results, how they played with the words. Thank you for this!

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    1. Hi Maureen, thank you. Unfortunately I don't have the results now. It is a lesson I haven't taught in a while. Maybe I'll get to in a classroom soon?

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  8. Very interesting idea for poetry Linda. It makes me want to see what I can create with those words! Maybe I just will...

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    1. It would be fun to see, Robin. I hope you'll post or send it back! Thanks!

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  9. There are so many possibilities with this manipulation activity. I think my little ones could even do some of it. Thanks, Linda! xo

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    1. You can use another poem, too. There are other little poems perhaps better for the younger ones. Have fun! And thanks!

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful way to get children creating.
    We are going to create a poetry book by the end of April - from poems they have been creating all year along with the many I hope we will create this month.

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    1. Doing anthologies is so much fun and celebration, Beverley. Everyone is so pleased with the work.

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  11. We are starting poetry next week Linda. I think this is a great idea that even first graders can do. I'm going to borrow it (and probably more of your ideas) for this month. I hope it's OK Poetry is not something I'm very good at. I also wanted to say thank you for always leaving me such nice comments. You are always the best part of this blogging life. Happy April!

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    1. Please do use it Tammy, & I'd love to know how the first graders do. You might have to find a different, more accessible poem, but it'll be fun to hear what happens. If you want a great poetry book for young kids, try Knock At A Star. I think it's fabulous! And you are welcome. I love visiting you!

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  12. Linda, thank you for sharing this. What a great mentor text and lesson idea!

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    1. Thanks Deb. I wondered if you could use it for your older students?

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  13. What a great way to explore line breaks! I'm definitely going to steal this sometime! (My ELL students really hate poetry, so I really want to do a mini-unit on it with them.) I have always LOVED poetry, but I understand how it's hard for students, and I don't know a lot about how to teach it... thank you for helping! I'm looking forward to hearing about more of your poetry lessons!

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    1. There are some good poems available Jennifer, for older students and for those who might feel a little apart from others. Look for the lesson for "Ode To Pablo's Tennis Shoes" by Gary Soto. It's a wonderful poem & speaks so beautifully to adolescents! I hope you find some good ways to get the students interested.

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  14. Linda,
    I always think it is interesting to give students a poem written in paragraph-like form to see where they would make the line breaks. Computers make this so much easier to play with in our writing. I often wonder about the reasons poets choose to break lines where they do. Interesting.

    Thanks for sharing this lesson. Love Eve Merriam.

    Cathy

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    1. Glad to hear the paragraph idea, too, Cathy. I think a key is slowing students down so they will "think" more carefully about whatever they are students.

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    1. I hope you will, Mary Lee. It's a good practice for anyone!

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  16. Linda, great lesson idea and round up of poetry sites. I just went to Jama's blog, and I'm wondering how I'll ever keep up this month! Thanks for your comment on my poem. With so many wonderful poets posting this month, it's a bit intimidating to jump in.

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    1. You are welcome to all, & I really liked your poem, Ramona! It is busy during April, isn't it?

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  17. What a great exercise! I'm going to add it to my bag of tricks!

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    1. And you could use one of your own poems, too, Susan!

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