Monday, October 14, 2013

Excited to Have A Poetry Group Again!



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             All of a sudden, I'm busy at work! I'm reading three PD books with three teacher groups at school, facilitating a book group with students, prepping for a speech group, and teaching a poetry group for a while as they write, revise and prepare poems for the River of Words annual contest.  These meetings are in addition to meeting one on one with teachers, about their work and how its going, always a celebration of the good things, and the talk about that which doesn't appear to be going as well.  There are few things I enjoy more than all these different kinds of conversations.  I like my job, hope you can tell!
            My wonderful poetry group began today.  I know almost all the students, have watched them grow up at our school, even worked with them in other groups, and they are now in what we call "Advanced School", middle-school-aged kids.  They are sophisticated (mostly), interested in doing well (always), and wowed me immediately.  I was given a "first" poem by their teacher last week.  I had read through them, and made a few "private" notes.  I saw glimmers of poetic wording in each one.  


           When we met today, I wanted especially to do two things:  help them think of themselves as poets and discover what they already knew.  At the beginning of Opening Minds, Peter Johnson writes: "As teachers, we choose our words, and, in the process, construct the classroom worlds for our students and ourselves."  We did not share any of our own words today out loud, but we spoke of them.  I started by sharing a few poems I found by other students on the River of Words site.  In an open discussion, I asked this question: "As a poet, what poetic devices do you see that these poets have used?"  I was delighted with their answers.  They knew many of the words, like line breaks, onomatopoeia, different uses of punctuation, line spacing, and others.  The good in this?  I had let them know that I considered they were already poets who "knew" something of this tricky thing called "poetry".  
                 Next, we discussed what revision means to them, how they like it or do not, how they approach it.  They weren't very talkative here, as I expected.  I had a few quotes ready to share and a poem by JoAnn Early Macken, found here.  They created a list of things they considered important from her poem.  And finally, I asked them to take their own poem, not to read aloud, but to share a couple of devices they had already used.  Again, they were eager and ready to share, and I had a beginning idea of what they already knew.  At the same time, I had communicated that I believed they HAD already known to use some of these poetry tactics in their writing, and that it is a deliberate choice.  
             I love having poetry groups, will show the groups some of my own revising next time, which I told them I would do.  I gave them a short list of some ways to start, with words, with line breaks, choosing a different POV, and gave the expectation of bringing a new draft next time.  I am excited and I think they left excited as well.  

http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/center-for-environmental-literacy/river-of-words/art-poetry-galleries

Nine students writing 
Their slices of poetry
A special beauty
linda baie (c)all rights reserved






42 comments:

  1. Your poetry group sounds like a wonderful, safe place to share the work of writers. I love that you use Johnston's words as your own "mentor" for this...as well. Johnston words are usually not far from my heart as I call my students, even those who struggle mightily, "readers, writers, poets, and thinkers." If we think we have potential to be, we are on the road to being.

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    1. As I am re-reading Johnston's book, it is at the forefront of my mind, but I return to it so often, Anita. I love your final line! Thank you!

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  2. I am loving your energy and focused passion. I discovered Peter Johnson during our Summer Institute and I wished that I was back in the classroom to make good use of his work but who says he just writes for kids, right?
    I love reading your adventures.
    Bonnie

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    1. As you can see, I am excited to be able to translate Johnston's work in new experiences with students. Absolutely, they belong in all our lives, Bonnie! Happy you mentioned this! Thanks!

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  3. Now I wish I could be a part of your poetry group. Thanks for sharing your inspiring ideas. I'll let you know what I do with them. They demand action!

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    1. Oh, I hope you do share what you do. Thanks for the response!

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  4. Writing group, poetry group, PD groups...you are a busy lady!

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    1. It will be a fun time, I think, with a few bumps here & there. Busy is good too! Thanks Tara!

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  5. What a wonderful group, and what a blessing to have you lead it.

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    1. Thanks, Katherine-I am looking forward to more!

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  6. creative buds blossom --
    mastering poetry,
    inside and out

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    1. Just a lovely response, Tabatha. Thank you!

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  7. This sounds heavenly, Linda. Such lucky students. I love how you are using Peter Johnston's work. I think everyone, including parents and all teachers at all levels and all administrators would do well to read and use the ideas, too! How delightful to be able to have a Poetry Group at school. Can't wait to hear more, Linda!
    Janet F.

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    1. Thanks Janet, wouldn't it be fun to have you visit to talk to them? Whenever you're west...

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  8. I look forward to hearing more about your group. It sounds like it is off to a great start. I still remember a lunch time writing group that my high school English teacher did with us when I was a freshman or sophomore. I am glad that the kids in your group are getting this opportunity!

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    1. I'm glad too! It's fun to hear that you remember your group. This will be a great group I think-wish I had them for even longer! Thank you!

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  9. I'm already looking forward to hearing more about this group and watching them grow and develop because I know you will share their journeys. They are lucky to work with you!

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    1. It will be good to tell how the group moves forward into more experimenting, having such fun with their writing. Thanks, Robin!

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  10. What an encouraging post! At a time when so many are complaining about the common core and all the work, it is refreshing to read about the treasures that are still found in our schools and in our classrooms. Thank you Linda!

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    1. Thanks Jaana. I appreciate your response. It was lots of fun for sure!

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  11. I know those kids felt smart when they left, and they have energy to meet the challenges that face them. What a great way to develop a community of learners! I think they will keep you on your toes, but they couldn't have a better leader.

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    1. Yes, I "know" they will keep me doing my own learning, too, Elsie. Great point! Thank you!

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  12. I could use a virtual poetry group. I haven't written poetry in longer than I care to admit.

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    1. Why don't you host one, Stacey? Might be interesting! Thank for the idea!

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  13. I'd love to be in your poetry group!

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    1. We would have a great time, I'm sure, Mary Lee! #CyberPoetry!

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  14. I am always amazed at what you and many of the people in this group do on a daily basis. You are an inspiration as to the potential I have within myself- the children I can reach and the lives I can touch. Thank you again, for showing me there is so much more to "teaching" children.

    I also like the virtual poetry group idea!

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    1. Wow-I'm excited that this inspired you, Leigh Anne. Hope you go right into the classroom and find out what you can do, then share with us! Maybe a virtual poetry group would be fun? Thanks!

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  15. I wish I lived closer and could join this group. How wonderful to teach such a receptive and smart group! I know you will grow, too, as you share with them. I want to get my students to enter River Of Words this year. I actually had a finalist last year. We wrote watershed poems today. I'll be posting about it on Friday.

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    1. Wouldn't it be fun to teach a group together, Margaret. The River of Words contest is a good one to send work to. We've had local winners, so will keep trying too for the nationals. Best wishes to your poets!

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  16. Your delight and enthusiasm shines. I love how you've described your poetry group. Thanks too for the link to the River of Words and the Macken piece! Your timing is perfect for me as students in my poetry club are hosting a virtual open mic next week and my mind is a buzz with poetry!

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad I hit you at the right time, Lee Ann. What fun. It's such fun to share on the mic. The kids are very serious about that. Thanks for telling me!

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  17. Linda,

    You, taking the time...
    Showing your nine the model...
    Starting with the words!

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    1. This is inspiring-two poems in the comments! Thanks so much Amy!

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  18. You must be the "rock" of your school, connecting so many people with one another, facilitating so many groups - peer work. The poetry work sounds exceptional, students learning about poetic devices, revision, and more, together. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. As I wrote, I think it will be a wonderful group and look forward to our meetings! Thanks Maureen.

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  19. I want to be in your school Linda!

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    1. We have a great time, Tammy. Wish you could at least come visit!

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  20. What a joy that group sounds like! I wish I could come! I love how deliberate you are in your teaching about poetry, even during this first session. What a wonderful application of Peter Johnston's work - he'd be proud of you, I think!!

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    1. The work we do & the beliefs of pushing personal responsibility as much as possible onto the students make it easy to incorporate Peter's beliefs, too. I appreciate your comment! I think it will indeed be a great group!

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  21. Whew! What a list, but it sounds like a fun list. The poetry group sounds amazing. I wish I could sit in for a moment and see those writers in action.

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    1. I wish you could too, Betsy. You would be a lovely addition to our group! Thanks!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!