Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strong Voices Are Contagious

Teaching writing can be such a roller coaster at times.  One day it seems like they've got this poetry thing in the bag and then others...well, not so much.  At times I'm tempted to think, "Where am I going wrong?"  Sometimes it is my doing, but then I'm also reminded of this quote.

"Writing is a highly idiosyncratic process that varies from day to day.  Variance is the norm, not the exception."  
Carol Avery, And With a Light Touch 8

Today was one of those days when I concluded that they were indeed poets.  (Who knows what tomorrow may bring.) We were in need of a mini-lesson on the use of magical or poetic language instead of ordinary language.  I started off by reading a poem from one of our very own.  Sharing published poetry or my poetry is a common practice in my room, but there's something about sharing a first grader's poem that makes the writing of poetry more accessible.

(A Bat:  I'm black like the night sky like I'm invisible.)

Then I shared a published poem by Valerie Worth that contains excellent examples of magical language.
Click on the picture for a copy.

Next we revised a poem that we'd written a few lessons ago by adding more magical language.  It's nothing special you'll see, but shared writing is powerful regardless.

Finally I sent them off to find their own magical language.  I figured this wasn't going to be easy nor would 100% of them even think I was asking them to do something worthy of their time.  Thus, I found some help with this little dinger.  When I found someone writing a poem with magical language, they rang the bell and read their poem to everyone.  Needless to say, the classrooms across the hall were probably wondering about all the dinging sounds from our room.

"When children are sharing their work, the work that is going well serves as a stimulus for the others in the class.  Strong voices are contagious."  Donald Graves, Writing: Teachers and Children at Work 29

He is so right.  Sharing at the end of Writer's Workshop is  typical, but there's something contagious about sharing in the middle as well.  Here are some examples of the magic we were privileged enough to hear. (Some of these poems are from writers who struggle.  It's cool to see them shine too.)

(Grass:  A green blade growing peacefully.)
(Snowman:  A snowman sitting in the snow waiting and waiting for fun.)

(Moon: A round ball in the sky waiting for night to fall.)
(The Rain: Like rain dripping dropping peacefully in the puddle.)
(Sunflowers:  Sunflowers follow the sun as peacefully as they can.)
(Star:  A star shooting across the sky waiting for someone to make a wish.)

We have yet to arrive, but there are some good things going on with these little poets.  If you'd like to see how it all started and get your own copy of Lucy Calkin's poetry paper, click here.  (I hope no one is growing weary of my poetry posts!)

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  1. Never would I get tired of your poetry posts or any of them! Your students are doing a FANTASTIC job!! What wonderful pictures they are creating in our minds.
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Lori, I'm so glad you're not getting tired of me and my posts. Thanks for your support. I'm proud of these little poets. They're coming along.

  2. I can't wait to tell you about the lesson I did today in AP Lit. with my seniors about using what I like to call "sparkling language." It's basically this same lesson. We need to write a book.

    1. Laur, "sparkling language" - I like that. I'll have to tell the kids that they're learning the same thing as 12th graders. I'm looking forward to hearing about this lesson. If Jeff only knew there was a book here in the making.

  3. I love poetry! Your kiddos are doing wonderful!

    First Grade Delight

    1. Thank you Delighted. They are making progress for sure!

  4. Replies
    1. Jennifer, it comes in handy every so often, doesn't it?

  5. I love your poetry and I have loved using your ideas this week. I promise to post when "prom duties" are over.

    First Grade @ Klinger Cafe

    1. Tammy, I'm looking forward to checking out those poems! Happy prom duties, by the way.

  6. I love your poetry lessons- keep them coming! In fact, the guest post you did last week inspired me to help the kiddos think about using figurative language to turn the ordinary, extraordinary! I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

    Light a Fire in Third Grade

    1. Julie, I like that...turn the ordinary, extraordinary. Yes, do keep me posted. I'd love to hear about it!