Thursday, May 29, 2014

End of Year - Grateful for my student workshop

            Diane Mayr, at Random Noodling, is our host today for Poetry Friday. Visit there to find all kinds of poetry inspiration! Thanks Diane!    

           In remembrance of Maya Angelou, I wonder if you've seen the hashtag #MayaTaughtMe, and read some of them. It's filled with tiny memories that can only be because of twitter's structure. Here, less becomes more as one reads. She taught me that being older is okay, that thriving at any age is the purpose. Have you thought about what Maya Angelou taught you?

         It’s been a pleasure working almost all my time in the past weeks with one classroom. I’ve continued to meet sometimes with other teachers, but this time it’s like being back in the classroom again. My colleague has planned numerous kinds of projects, including writing in a workshop-type atmosphere where students have the chance to make their own choices in writing.  In this kind of group, I usually have students bring some examples of texts they think is good, and we respond to those. Then, when they have writing to share, I copy all the pieces into a packet so each can “see” the words as well as “hear” them. It gives everyone a chance to think first, then give some ideas for revision to their group members. I think of myself as the facilitator, bring up different ‘craft’ skills that I notice in the words shared, and take a few minutes to give a mini-lesson, hopefully that will help each writer improve.

          These students have had lots of choices, particularly in their individual unit topic research, and how to best communicate the findings, and they have written all year, in all kinds of genres. The two groups we formed are just one of the assignments they’ve been doing. We’ve only met five times, mostly hour sessions, then they’re on their own, writing, revising, with some response, but only a bit of copy editing from me. As you will see, they’re incorporated some of the craft ideas discussed or pointed out in mentor texts, and I’m proud of them for their ease of word play, and creativity with topic, too. There are eight in the group, a mix of fourth and fifth graders.  Some chose to write only poetry, some added a quick fiction story to their poetry, one wrote a longer fiction story, and one wrote a persuasive speech. I’m sharing just one thing from each student and only the introduction to the longer pieces. I hope you enjoy them, considering the wonderful possibilities in each writer’s future work.
            Thanks to the students who gave me permission to publish their work!

       Tick Tock  by Rémy

Tick tock,
Tick tock,
An hour goes by,
And I have nothing to do.
Tick tock
Tick tock
I ask my mom what I should do,
and she said go outside.
I ask to play
but the kids say no,
an hour goes by
And I have nothing to do.
Tick tock
Tick tock

Today is Today by Abigail

Today is a day,
Like any other day.
But today is today,
And I don’t know what wlll happen.
Maybe I’ll see a giraffe at the zoo
Or maybe a monkey
Or possibly two.
But today is today.
Unlike any other.
So I’ll live it quite well
Because I won’t have another.

A Warm Montana Summer by Talia  (short story)

      Julie waves goodbye to her grandchildren. They had a few great weeks together. She remembers the great time she had with her Grandma Lucy when she was just twelve years old. That summer in Montana, the great time she spent. . .
      Julia stepped out of the car, “See you later,” she said to her mother grumpily.

       “I’ll pick you up in three weeks. This business meeting is going to be fine, but the trip with your father will be great!” And just like that, her mother drove off.

       “I can’t believe this is how I have to spend my summer,” mumbled Julia. She walked into the kitchen of her grandmother’s yellow house. Her grandmother sat in a wooden rocking chair. Julia couldn’t help but smile, she hadn’t seen her grandmother since she was six, which was half the age she was now.

        “So glad to see you dear,” said Julia’s grandmother Lucy as she got up to stir a pot on the stove. “Does spaghetti sound good for dinner?  I made my signature sauce!”
         “Yes, it sounds wonderful,” remarked Julia, as she pulled her suitcase to the guest room. Grandma’s signature sauce was absolutely delicious. Julia sighed when she saw the Winnie the Pooh quilt in the bedroom. She wasn’t six anymore; it was time for something new.

Spring Sky by Amelia

The sun blazes through the clouds,
The earth’s spotlight.
Clouds dance around it,
Crisp and white.
Butterflies flutter high towards the stars,
Dancing with the spring sky.

Big City by Fyodor

Growing tree,
Busy bee,
Living house,
Scuttling Louse,
Candy Sweet,
Walking feet,
Barking dog,
Midnight fog.

Monsters by Adeline

   under the bed
    in the closet
  in your dreams

Death at Sea by Haden (persuasive speech)
              Out in the ocean where the ripples are small and any disturbance is quite a rare occurrence, in a place far away from prying eyes where all continents and civilizations are far, far away, where no man can see, a whale is free. Though the whale, a minka whale, is being driven to extinction with the rest of its kind. The whale seems to fly over the calm water without a care for all the troubles in the world, its powerful body intermixing air and water until they are combined as one. Extinct, you may ask, how can this creature be driven to extinction, you may think, this beautiful creature might be absent from the world because of one simple reason, whaling.

Remember by Sarah

Memories are important.
You will always have them with you.
Memories of the warm summer afternoons,
With the countless lemonade stands that you made with your best friend.
Or the memories of the times when you felt like melting into a corner,
And leaving your worries behind.

Memories are what keep you going.
They are the stories that you tell to your grandchildren,
And the thoughts that make you laugh and smile,
Even when you are all alone.

Memories are the hope that makes you trust there is a tomorrow.

So start remembering.

photo credit: Olivander via photopin cc


  1. Fabulous work from your kids! I love this line from Sarah's poem, "the times when you felt like melting into a corner." Haven't we all felt like that?

    1. Thanks Diane. For such a short time they wrote some beautiful words.

  2. What good work from your students, Linda. Especially like the rhythm in "Big City," and such lovely images in "Spring Sky."

  3. Wow, Linda! Your student's talent and your guidance have produced some memorable pieces. Bravo! I think your student Remy and I were on the same wavelength. I wrote a Tick Tock poem too! (which will be posted on my blog tomorrow) What a coincidence. Great minds think alike. Thanks for sharing. = )

  4. Very thoughtful work, with some good repeating sounds, vivid verbs. I like the description of the sun as "The earth’s spotlight"!

  5. Lovely poems and stories. They really show how diverse students are in their topic choices and how, by honoring their freedom to choose, you led them to discover their unique voice.

  6. Thank you for letting me know about the #WhatMayaTaughtMe hashtag. Somehow that is just what I want to read about her. She is a model of aging for me, too.

    I love your students' work. Haden's persuasive speech is quite poetic.

  7. Wow! This is some really great work! I like Abigail's attitude, how Fyodor paints a scene, how Adeline creates a mood, and all of their expressive word choices.

  8. Thanks everyone. For such a short while, we indeed had a great time writing together. As they will be checking the blog to see their work, thanks much for the comments. I wish I could have posted all they did, and especially Talia's and Haden's longer (and good) pieces.

  9. Such a rich and varied collection of works here! Thanks for sharing, and to the students for sharing.
    Those students are awfully fortunate to get to spend creative time with you. I'm always struck by how there's such an inherent respect on your part for their lives and expressions - kids really respond to being treated that way, freeing them up to make such thoughtful writing.

    1. Thank you for your response, Robyn. Writing is a process and I want so much for students to realize that, and to mess about with their unique personas, figuring the way forward without too much from me. Otherwise, isn't it "my" work, instead of "theirs"?

  10. As I wrote to Lauren earlier, these wonderful student poems say terrific things about you as a teacher.

    Thank you for sharing the hashtag about Angelou. Reading the tweets has been up-lifting. Maya taught me that no matter the obstacle or setback, life is about getting back up and persevering.

    1. Oh, so happy you found the tweets. They are wonderful to read, aren't they? Thanks Tricia.

  11. What a glorious workshop that must have been! Lucky you!!

  12. Memories are the hope that makes you trust there is a tomorrow.
    So start remembering.

    Love that! Thanks for sharing the lovely poems, Linda. So many different, imaginative voices.

    1. Thanks Tara, for such a brief time, I thought they did so well.


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