I use the same model poem for elementary and secondary students, Gary Soto's "Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes." (There's a printable version for teachers here.)
With younger students, I ask everyone to take off a shoe and write an ode to it. They need a tactile object to smell, touch, and see in order to write a juicy ode. I've posted the full lesson and some elementary responses here.
Middle schoolers understand the use of tone in a simple ode. The words and phrases we use give the reader a new, elevated experience of an every day object. These students no longer need the support of an assigned topic.
I've had wonderful odes on the EXIT sign in the classroom, a bookmark, and in Sarah P's very juicy ode, an orange.
Ode to the Orange
by Sarah P. (7th Grade, St. Jane Frances School)
The small sphere of sunshine
is revealed as the knife
slices into the golden flesh
of the orange halves.
Juice swells from the orange,
ready to burst
as it d
from the knife
like the color of
The golden tiles of the orange
like glass forming a mosaic.
As the fragrance
of the orange rises
the divine aroma gathers around me,
tempting me to take a bite.
I can’t resist and sink my teeth in,
getting a sneak peek of heaven.
Posted with permission of the poet and her family.
I love Sarah's playfulness in this poem. The descriptions themselves aren't enough to capture the experience of eating an orange, so she uses some concrete-poem techniques to add to the reader's sensory experience of this "bright object."
Thanks to St. Jane Frances School in Pasadena, MD for allowing me to share student work. I'll be back with more middle school poems tomorrow as we gear up for National Poetry Month.