April 12, 2016

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In Residence: Poetry Stories

Greetings from Northfield Elementary School, Writerly Friends!

Ms. Grim's class began our residency with growing and shrinking poems this year. Although this prompt is simple, it lends itself to narrative poetry.

But first, I am sharing an old post with details about the grow/shrink workshop, first published in 2008.

This is why I love teaching poetry...

Yesterday, I was working with a third grade in Dundalk, Maryland. We were writing "Grow/Shrink Poems."

My model poem for this lesson is Stephanie Izarek's deceptively simple, "Under the Sky Is."

A view of the sky from the London Eye.
Photo: J. Shovan
The poem begins in the great big sky. In a few short lines Izarek takes us to a place where things are so small, "we can never see" them. You can read the poem here:

It's a wonderful first day poem. Kids love the repetition (each object in the model poem is "under" the object from the previous line). Their job is to start with a big object (the sky) and end somewhere small. Or, they can begin small (a seed) and grow the poem (outer space). Even first graders can use language and ideas creatively with a structured form like this.

One boy sitting in front was stuck. No ideas. I asked, "What are you interested in?" Shrug. "What do you like to do after school?" Shrug. "Do you know if you want to grow or shrink?" Shrug.

I noticed he was fiddling with a small, round magnet, about the size of a washer. I asked him, "Can we start with your magnet?" No shrug! A glimmer of hope.

"What do you see around you that the magnet could attract? Start small." He looked around the classroom.

A desk, he told me. I scribed. A blackboard. Then, "The City of Gold."

Wow. Did I just witness a huge leap of the imagination? Okay, he was inspired by the second "National Treasure" movie. But how did we get from a blackboard to a city of gold? Amazing.

The reluctant poet proudly volunteered to read his work to the class at the end of the lesson!

Since that 2008 post, I have created a writing frame for this lesson. If any readers would like a copy of that to use in the classroom, let me know in the comments. I will email it to you.

On to today's poets!

Mela starts her shrinking poem with a simple list of smaller and smaller objects. Her inspiration -- which adds a touch of narrative -- appears in the poem's last line.

Shrinking Poem
by Mela W.

Under the tree is a dog.
Next to the dog is a cat.
Under the cat is a mouse.
Under the mouse trap
there is a mistaking step that the mouse made.

"Under a tree is a dog."
Sam is enjoying the cherry blossoms.
I like the way that Cade's poem gives us, line by line, a vivid visual image of this pond.

Grow Poem
by Cade D.

Over the rocks in the pond is a baby tadpole
Over the leaves in the pond is a frog.
Over the grass in the pond is a dog swimming.
Over the edge of the pond
there are two boys catching tadpoles with a net and a bucket.

Tadpoles teeming in our neighborhood frog pond.
Did you notice that both of today's poems ended with action? That's a great way to leave the reader with something to think about. Did Mela's mouse get away? What did the boys in Cade's poem do with their tadpoles?

Thanks again to the Northfield community for allowing me to share the third graders work.


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Whoa! Check out all those tadpoles! Also, what an adorable photo of Sam. :) I am LOVING these "In residence" posts, Laura. I am learning so much from you and it's such fun peeking into these kids' imaginations.

Author Amok said...

Thanks for the comment, Michelle. I'm glad you're enjoying the students' poems. Aren't the tadpoles crazy? There must be millions. Sam is a very handsome boy. Lucky for him, he looks good in pink.