Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Showers of Couplets, Cinquains, and Haiku Rain Down in April - Nat'l Poetry Month

Yes, April is National Poetry Month. Established in 1996, the Academy of American Poets dedicated this month to celebrate poetry in schools, libraries, book stores, and literary organizations throughout our country.

There are so many events transpiring, and one of my favorites is following "30 Poets 30 Days." Well-known poets share some of their unpublished poems. (Cool, huh? And there are some AMAZING verses found there!) Some of our schools sponsor Pocket Poetry where EVERYONE carries poems in their pockets, and then they recite those poems at every possible chance. Other schools, like West Jordan High, hold Poetry Slams during April. (I can't wait to attend! So fun!)

Jordan Council of the International Reading Association (JCIRA) invited Brad Wilcox, author and BYU professor, to commemorate this fun occasion by speaking about the "What, Why, and How" of teaching poetry to our students. Here is a summary of what he shared with members at the April 12th meeting.

What is Poetry? 
  • "Pretty thoughts dressed up in pretty words." ~ Val C. Wilcox, Brad's mother who knows EVERYTHING!
  • Poetry is orange juice CONCENTRATE; if you add the 3 cups of water, you have prose." ~ Brad Wilcox, who listens to his mom!
  • "A poem begins more felt than thought, and ends more thought than felt."
    AND "Poetry begins with a delightful experience that becomes wisdom." ~ Robert Frost
  • "Poetry is music in words and music is poetry in sound." Wm. Wordsworth
  • "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know it is poetry." ~ Emily Dickinson
Why Poetry?
Why Poetry Indeed?
by Alex Nobel
Why poetry? Why indeed? Why life? Why communication? Why awareness? Why growth? Why sharing? Why love? I like to think of a poet as one who understands the unversal harmony and beauty of things .... This poet-possibility resides in each of us. In me. In you. You will find your way. I will find mine. And it will be a beginning.
Why poetry? 
  • BRAD'S practical reason: Because poems are short, teachers and students can work through the ENTIRE writing process in a short amount of time. 
  • Renae's reason: Poetry is a GREAT way to teach word choice because each and every syllable must be carefully chosen to share the just-right message.
How to Teach Poetry?

Note: Brad shared these ideas with elementary students in mind, HOWEVER, I have used them to inspire RELUCTANT poets. While my students published traditional and fun formula poems, I also gave them opportunities to create and publish original poetry that didn't fall into any formula but their own. Remember that CHOICE is ALWAYS a great MOTIVATOR!
  •  REMEMBER "to, with, and by!"
    • Read poems TO students.
    • Write poetry WITH them and have students work WITH writing buddies/peers.
    • Time to write poetry BY themselves.
  • Build word banks: Brainstorm "spring" words, "school" words, "color" words; "sad" words, etc. Then encourage your poets to incorporate them into their creations. 
  • Publishing: 
    • When Brad creates poems WITH students, he assigns groups of students to rewrite a line and create an accompanying illustration, create a cover and a title - each student completes one part of the assignment. The end result is 3-5 different books of the class-created poem.
    • When students work in partners or individually, each poet or pairs of poets makes copies enough for every student in the class. Then he stacks the piles across a long table or several desks. Students line up and walk by, each taking a copy from every stack. Next they staple and VOILA a class book to present to moms, grandmas, etc.
    • My students organized their poems into their own books. Here is a link to my personal blog, ... good times AND seasons ..., that shares some poetry from the book I created along with my students. It also includes samples of cinquain, Haiku, and concrete poetry.
Traditional Poem Ideas: I did not include Haiku or Cinquain poetry because they are familiar to most teachers. And perhaps you've also experimented with some of the following, but if not, here they are.
  • Couplets:
    • Ex. 1
      • Teacher: Give me 2 rhyming words.
      • Students: RAY and DAY
      • Teacher: Let's create two statements using these words at the end.
      • Students and teachers: In our class is a boy named RAY; he celebrates his birth this very DAY!
    • EX 2: 
      • Teacher: Give me another word.
      • Student: HIAWATHA
      • Teacher: O----kay. I need one more word and then let's come up with another couplet.
      • Student: FRIEND
      • Students and teacher: HIAWATHA is our FRIEND; he'll be loyal till the end. (Note: The difficult word is at the BEGINNING of the couplet's first line.)
    • Literary Example: "What's with that crazy BELLA that she wants a vampire for her FELLA?" 
    • Seasonal Example: When Halloween comes 'round, assign students to write "gravestone" couplets. 
  •  Irish Blessings: Use 4 "MAYS" along with an "AND" to create an Irish Blessing for St. Patrick's Day, why don't ye?
    • Here's a famous blessing for a model:
      • MAY the road rise up to meet you,
      • MAY the wind be always at your back,
      • MAY the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields,
      • AND, until we meet again,
      • MAY God hold you in the palm of his hand.
    • Renae's not-so-famous blessing:
      • May your students rise to cheer you,
      • May your colleagues watch your back,
      • May the recession wane in coming days; the budget cuts be forever misplaced,
      • And, until school starts again,
      • May summer caress your weary bones and tired minds.
  • Free Verse; Using a thesaurus, create a PLETHORA of word strips with one word on each.
    • Writing WITH students -  
      • Pull 5 from the stack of words.
      • Work with students to create 2 or 3 sentences using each of the 5 words.
      • Quickly revise and edit the sentences - eliminating and/or rearranging words.
    • Poetry Poker
      • Distribute 5 word strips to poet-partners 
      • Allow each partnership to trade ONE strip for another still in the "dealer's" hand
      • Assign partners to create their own poem, using the 5 selected words.
Other Fun Ideas
  • ABC poem - uses all or some letters from alphabet
  • Definition poem - ____________________ is  ______________________.
    • Anxiety is an alien gnawing on you from the inside out.
    • "Love is never having to say you're sorry." (Name that movie!)
  • 5 W poem - Who, what, when, where, why: complete the questions in a unified structure.
    • Mrs. Crumple
    • broke her yard stick
    • in 6th period
    • on Riley's desk
    • to wake him up.
  • List poem - Pull out key chain, backpack, pockets and list contents along with a comment about each.
    • This key fits the lock to a house I no longer live in,
    • and this one goes to the PT Cruiser I named CreamPuff.
    • This key opens my desk drawer where I hide my chocolate covered almonds.
    • This key ... this key... Hmmm? Who knows what this key opens?
  • Phone number or zip code - Vertically list a phone number that WON'T impose on anyone's privacy, like the school's, for example. Or list a zip code.
    • Each number indicates the number of words needed on that line.
    • If zero is listed, add a 1 before it for 10 or after it to indicate ONE. 
      • 8 words:
      • 4 words:
      • 01 word:
      • 8 words:
      • 4 words:
WHEW! This post ended up being MUCH longer than I planned, but hopefully, you will find some ideas to try during National Poetry Month!

Best wishes,


Kelly said...

you left me a comment on Just Good Cents a couple months ago and I just found it. You asked if you could use my writing. Sure, as long as you give me credit. Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

link2literacy said...

Thanks, Kelly. Actually, I just commented on GoodCents TODAY! Of course, I will give you credit! Your writing is beyond EXCELLENT! Thanks for sharing your talent!


Pamela said...

I LOVED your blog on poetry. Fun! Teachers at Fort Herriman Middle School have posted our "favorite" poetry (some on posters, some just written out, printed and posted) throughout our building. We have posted a lot of student poetry and there are places where students can "react" to poetry posted on a wall. It has been rather fun! Some of my students have commented on my poetry examples that I posted on the outside of my window. I loved having the discussions with them! This has been a good experience for our students. The librarian's book club for this month concentrated on a poetry writing contest. They enjoyed that, too. Just wanted you to know!

Elaine said...

I am a huge fan of reading and literacy so I enjoy reading your blog! I don't assign summer reading for psychology but since I am adding World Civ and Honors World Civ, I may consider it for the honors class next year. BTW,some of my own children have taken Honors English classes and have been less than thrilled with the assigned readings - I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendations! If the students are going to enjoy reading during the summer, they need interesting, shorter books :)You are the best!

link2literacy said...

Thanks for dropping by fun Elaine. I ALWAYS love hearing from psych teachers! I appreciate your kind remarks! Have a great summer!