Thursday, May 28, 2015

In Residence: Due Stanze

Welcome back to Northfield Elementary, readers, where I am spending May as the poet-in-residence.


Throwback Thursday:
One of my favorite residency photos.
The third grade poets have practiced word choice (list poems) and figurative language (animal simile poems). Today, we are working building on the list poem and learning about stanzas.

The word "stanza" comes from the Italian word for room. Often, I start this lesson inviting the students on an imaginary walk through my house. They expect to see a plant, some pictures, and maybe a coat rack in the entrance way. There is probably a microwave, stove, and sink in the kitchen. Is there a bed in the kitchen? No! The kitchen is for cooking.


Is it so strange to have a bed in the kitchen?
Design Bug doesn't think so.

We talk about the way the rooms of a house are organized around the purpose of each room. So why are poems organized into "rooms"? Each stanza might have its own purpose or main idea--kind of like a paragraph in prose writing.

The simplest way to teach stanzas is writing opposite poems. You can find a full description of my workshop here.

And this post has a poem-walk of the model poem, "Swift Things Are Beautiful" by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

Now entering la stanza della poesia, please welcome poets Avery,  Setutsi, Jen, Anlan, Arushi, Johanna.



Avery I.

Students and Teachers

A teacher mentors:
She grades worksheets,
possibly creates and gives a test.
A story is what she reads to her students.
Teachers spend lunch alone planning lessons.

A student learns:
You contentedly do a worksheet.
Tests with a million questions may come your way.
A chapter books is read aloud to you.
Students happily eat in the cafeteria with their friends.

Setutsi A.

Good Weather and Bad Weather

Good weather is bright sunshine.
In the night time a beautiful sunset brightens
the sky and hides the moon. Cool, crisp
weather blowing the leaves f one side
to the next. That is when it is not too hot
and not too cold.

Bad weather is rainy dark days
with lightning roaring up in the clouds.
Cold, snowy days, with foggy weather so you
can’t see too well in the distance. Snow is
freezing on your cheeks and ears. It makes
them turn pink.

This rosy-cheeked cutie is graduating
from high school on Saturday.
Congratulations to our Robbie!

Jen T.

Imaginary and Real Animals

Imaginary things are cute.
Unicorns that fly high in the sky.
Dragons breathing fire to burn things down.
Invisible koalas soaring over the town with no one noticing them.
Fish that don’t need water to live.

And real things are cute.
Horses that go galloping through the forest
Birds flying in the sky looking for food.
Koalas climbing in the wild of the forest.
Fish roaming and exploring the ocean.

Anlan L.

Cute and Creepy Animals

Cute animals are cool:
The playing feeling in a dog. The sound
of a cat purring at me. The eyes of
a bird staring at me, and the fur of a hamster
I am stroking.

Creepy animals are cool:
The 8 eyes of a spider
staring at me strongly. The scary hiss
of a cobra. The claws of a lobster pinching loudly,
and the teeth of a shark going up and down.

Arushi A.

Wild and Tamed Animals

Many animals are wild.
Lions pounce on their victims.
Tigers roam around secretly.
Sharks can smell their prey from a mile away.
Eagles soar high above, always watching.

Many animals are tamed.
Dogs light up your mood when you’re sad.
Kittens cuddle up with you beside the fire.
Canaries chirp a sweet song in their cage.
Goldfish wait patiently for their food.

Johanna A.

Extinct and Alive Animals

Things that are extinct are supposed
to be that way, because how would you feel
if a Tyrannosaurus Rex was running around or Spinosaurus,
Gigantosaurus, and Carcharodontosaurus and their pointy
teeth everywhere.

Things that are alive are supposed
to be that way. Then how would you
feel if a rabbit, or deer, or bird, or dog running
around everywhere with their soft hurt.

Read more about Carcharodontosaurus

Thank you to the Northfield ES community for hosting this annual residency. I appreciate having permission to share the third graders' poems.

Readers, the students love hearing feedback from you. Please leave a comment about our opposite poems.

Look for more opposite poems from the Northfield third grade poets tomorrow, Poetry Friday. Addio, poeti!

In Residence is an ongoing series this month. If you missed previous posts:

First Student Responses: "Words in My Pet Goldfish," "Words in My Bed," "Words in My Life"
In Residence: Poetry Friday Words: Poems by Laura S., Jason Y., Jeffrey G., and Isa L.
In Residence: The Simile Zoo: Poems by Sabine S., Asher, Cecelia D., and Evelyn D.
In Residence: Day 2 in the Simile Zoo: Poems by Allie L., Makaela M., Parker P., Matthew L., Vincent T., Lila R., Naomi C., and Julia J.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Poetry Friday: Poetry in Medicine

I'm taking a break from my month-long "In Residence" series today. I have a day off from teaching elementary school poetry workshops this Friday. Instead of writing, I'm reading poetry.

We're rounding up
at Matt Forrest Esenwine's blog today.
See you at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme
for more poetic posts.
One of the great poetry mentors in my life is Michael Salcman. In addition to being an accomplished poet, Michael is a neurosurgeon and art historian.

Michael has just published Poetry in Medicine: An Anthology of Poems About Doctors, Patients, Illness, and Healing. Although it's only been out for a few months, this anthology is has already become THE book on this topic.

I had a wonderful conversation with Michael about the book, poets' views of doctors, and what it's like to be a poet-physician. You'll find that interview posted at Little Patuxent Review's blog today.

Michael selected a detail from this painting,
 The Agnew Clinic by Thomas Eakins,
for the cover of Poetry in Medicine.
Shop local! Order Poetry in Medicine
from Baltimore's Ivy Bookshop.
Michael features another poet-physician (and a surprise cameo) in his poem "Dr. Williams Delivers a Baby," which is collected in Poetry in Medicine.

Dr. Williams Delivers a Baby
by Michael Salcman

Dr. Williams was making his rounds:
one dilapidated house, then another,
powdered oxygen on the aluminum siding,
brown shingles on the roofs.
In between visits, he’d sit in his car
a notebook on his lap and arrange words—
instruments on a surgical tray—
uterine sounds blunt as tire-irons,
scalpels sharper than paper.
Often a cry from within the house
would bring him running past its yard,
past a tomato plant or wheelbarrow or red hen,
things he took in as he sprang
up the porch steps, hoping the family
was already in the parlor, had put the kettle on,
had found clean towels and disinfectant
to swab the wound or welcome the crowning head.
He put down his old-fashioned doctor’s bag,
a satchel peaked like a dormer at both ends,
his initials stamped in gold, long ago faded,
and took off his wool overcoat. Tonight,
he noted the burdened book shelves,
responsible chair, the goose-necked reading lamp,
the desk loaded with papers, writing tools
and a folding pince-nez: the father
was a professor or writer of some degree,
who could afford both coal and electric.
He suspected they were Jewish, the mother
of German ancestry, the father Sephardic—
but had no reason to know. In truth
he had only a cursory familiarity with their tribe
and knew no Hebrew. But the mother’s cry?
Soon, it was going to be soon. He timed her pain
until a dark spot between her labia grew
and it was time to prep and drape her;
then he encouraged the head with a gloved hand
turned the shoulders and delivered the rest.
Dr. Williams told the father it looked like a writer,
this noisy boy, vigorous and exploring.
They would name him Allen.


Poem shared by express permission of the author.

You can find another interview about Poetry in Medicine at WYPR, Baltimore's local NPR affiliate.

To check out my "In Residence" series of lessons and poems from Northfield Elementary, visit yesterday's post.

In Residence: Day 2 in the Simile Zoo

Greetings from the Simile Zoo!

Find this vintage postcard on Amazon.
The third graders at Northfield Elementary are continuing to write about animals, and how they can symbolize emotions and personality traits.

Teachers: I posted instructions for this lesson a few years ago.

The Simile Zoo: Lesson Part 1
The Simile Zoo: Lesson Part 2

Today's zoo tour guides are Allie, Makaela, Parker, Matthew, Vincent, Lila, Naomi, and Julia.

Allie L.

When I feel clever,
I am like a green fox.
When a predator comes close to me,
I stay calm
and then I think of a plan
and my eyes flash and look innocent.
Then I trick them with my cleverness
and scamper away with a smile on my face.

Vintage postcard from Zazzle.

Makaela M.

When I feel frightened,
I am like a squirrel.
I run up the nearest tree. The food that I
stuffed in my mouth stays there.
I stare… and stare… and stare.
I run to my burrow like I run to my room.
Should I run or should I freeze?

Parker P.

When I am brave
I am like a wolf.
My face looks mean
with sharp teeth. My body
is not scared. I go out at night.
I’m a good swimmer, like
I’m trying to eat a seal.

Matthew L.

When I am thinking,
I am like a raccoon.
I am great at problem solving,
as raccoons can lift the lids
off garbage cans. I am agile
and steady as the raccoons can
climb up walls and steal food.
I am like a raccoon in
many ways when I’m thinking.

From Postcard Locker
Vincent T.

When I feel smart, I am like a
raccoon. I finish problems quick as if
I was running through the night. I work
slowly and carefully like I am taking a
lid off the trash can. I work my way
slowly down like as if I was a raccoon
lowering myself down a wall that’s
coming down from the attic.

Lila R.

Turtle

When I feel embarrassed,
I am like a turtle.
I hold my head low, as if
I had a shell to hide
away in. I walk away
slowly, as if I was as slow
as a turtle. I try to hide, as if
I was blending in with my
surroundings. I draw attention
to myself and feel like I need
to hide, but I can’t run away.
I really feel like a turtle when
I’m embarrassed.

This vintage postcard is from Russia!

Naomi C.

When I feel happy,
I’m like a bird.
I feel free like a baby bird that just learned
how to fly.
I fly with my flock and make my
friends crow with laughter.
I watch with joy as my little sister
hatches.
Even though I’m a blue jay, I still feel
bright as the sun.
When the sun rises, I rise with it.
It seems as though it’s singing, so I sing with it.
The sun is fading, it’s like it’s going to sleep,
so I must go to sleep with it.

Julia J.

When I feel tired,
I am like a sloth.
I climb into my bed like a
sloth climbs into the trees
after a long day.
I try not to move.
My body hurts. I lie in bed
all night.
I fall asleep to the sound of
swaying trees outside my window.
I hear the sound of owls hooting
and the sound of bats’ wings flapping.

Sloth Valentine postcard from Zazzle

In Residence is an ongoing series this month. If you missed previous posts:

First Student Responses: "Words in My Pet Goldfish," "Words in My Bed," "Words in My Life"
In Residence: Poetry Friday Words: Poems by Laura S., Jason Y., Jeffrey G., and Isa L.
In Residence: The Simile Zoo: Poems by Sabine S., Asher, Cecelia D., and Evelyn D.

Than you to the Northfield ES community for hosting this annual residency. I appreciate having permission to share the third graders' poems.

Readers, the students love hearing feedback from you. Please leave a comment about our simile zoo. More animal poems are coming soon.

Next week, I'll be posting the third graders' opposites poems. But first, a special poem and interview for Poetry Friday as we look at the stunning new anthology, Poetry in Medicine.

Friday, May 15, 2015

In Residence: The Simile Zoo

It's Poetry Friday. I'm late to the party, because I've been spending the day at the Simile Zoo.


Diane Mayr is serving today's
poetry posts. Visit Random Noodling
 for some tasty words and poetic company.
"The Simile Zoo?" you say. "Never heard of it."

My Northfield Elementary third graders learned about similes in the second workshop of our residency. Today, I'll introduce you to the angry beasts, lazy sloths, and happy birds they created -- all animals that represent emotions or feelings.


Teachers: I posted instructions for the lesson several years ago.


The Simile Zoo: Lesson Part 1

The Simile Zoo: Lesson Part 2

My warm up for this lesson is a Zen drawing exercise. We draw our hands without looking at our papers (eyes stay on the object we are drawing). It's not the drawing that's important. Instead, we put the focus on simile building. Look at those strange drawings. What do they resemble? The process is similar to finding a shape in the clouds.


Here are some hand drawings from Ms. Hilliard's class. Check out the similes students made.



It looks like a starfish flipping over.

It looks like a tooth with a chip missing.

It looks like a MONSTER!
Now, please join me and the third grade poets on a tour of the Simile Zoo.

Sabine S.

When I feel happy
I am like a penguin.
Penguins love fish, and I jump in joy for ice cream.
I slide on my sled down the hill
happily, while penguins slide down the ice
in joy. Penguins jump in their pool without a care,
and I’m in my bathtub, humming and
playing with bath toys.

Asher

When I feel lazy,
I am like a sloth.
My face is blank.
I don’t get off the couch. I stay in one spot.
I move very slow.
I hang of the couch.
I am very slow.
I feel very light.

Cecelia D.

When I am hungry, I am like a wolf.
I sneak food, but I must be quiet.
My face turns a grayish-pale.
My stomach grows like a wolf does.
I get VERY MAD because it hurts
to starve. And I do NOT sleep because I had

no food. A wolf feels this way, too.

Evelyn D.

When I feel scared,
I am like a cat.
I run away from my fears
as fast as I can.
I feel helpless with
my cute meowing,
for my fears are the
opposite of positive
to me. Sometimes
my running fails me
though, all I can do
is whine and cry.
People think I’m happy
though, because they
think it’s cute and
they don’t see tears.
I also may run away
to protection that loves
me like a mother.

From Cutestpaw.com
Than you to the Northfield ES community for hosting this annual residency. I appreciate having permission to share the third graders' poems.

Readers, the students love hearing feedback from you. Please leave a comment about our simile zoo. More animal poems are coming soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In Residence: The Words We Carry

My Northfield 3rd graders have finished the first drafts of their list poems. Before we move on to the next lesson (animal similes), let's evaluate the list poem workshop.

This was a new workshop for me. I appreciate the third grade team at Northfield. They're always willing to let me try something different! So, what went well?

From Steve Vernon, Storyteller

1. This was the first lesson of this residency. The children liked being able to focus on the basic element of a poem: words. Of course, we always focus on words in poetry. But Naomi Shihab Nye's model poem is about the words we carry around in our heads. She asks us to think about words we love. Starting with something so basic and important on Day 1 provided a strong foundation for future writing.

2. This is the first time I've encouraged students to plug into a model poem. Some of the third graders took the model poem "Words in My Pillow," crossed out the lines and words they wanted to change, and wrote their own words into those spaces. They responded well to having this structure for our first day of writing together.

3. "Words in My Pillow" can adapt to any topic! Because what we're really talking about is language -- words -- the poem could be called "Words in My Dinosaur," "Words in My Garbage Can," or "Words in My Suitcase." We have the structure of the poem, but also the freedom to come up with a topic the poet cares about.

Read on for the final two "Words in My..." poems from my students. As an extra treat, stop by educator Margaret Gibson Simon's blog, Reflections on the Teche. Her students wrote some wonderful "Words in My..." poems last week too!

Words in My Swim Bag
by Arielle L.

I hide words in my swim bag,
words that are WET

GOGGLES
SWIM CAP
TOWEL

All of these
words help me
win a race.

I have sounds
in my bag.

BEEEP!
GO!
SPLASH!

I have memories
in my bag too!

MEETS
HEATS
WINS
SCORES

But when the season
is over, my bag goes away
but all my words stay!

Retro swim cap, anyone?

Words in My Backpack
Aditya B.

I hide words in my backpack,
words that taste good.

PENCIL
MESSY
HOMEWORK FOLDER

No one can see them,
but I find them waiting for me.
like my brain hiding inside my body.
No one can see it,
but I know what is in there.

MATH
READING
UNFINISHED WORK
VIDEO GAMES

The words are playing together
when I’m saying or thinking them.

WRITING
NEAT
BLACK
is in my backpack.

My friends, the words
stay in my backpack longer than I do
but they never go away.

In Residence will be an ongoing series this month. If you missed previous posts:

First Student Responses: "Words in My Pet Goldfish," "Words in My Bed," "Words in My Life"
In Residence: Poetry Friday Words: Poems by Laura S., Jason Y., Jeffrey G., and Isa L.


Thank you to the Northfield ES community for what I think is our 9th year together. Wow. I appreciate having the permission to share the third graders' poems.

Readers, my third grade poets love hearing feedback from you. Please leave a comment about our list poems. (Thanks to all those who sent us a compliment on Poetry Friday!)