Ode to a Wrestler’s Parents' Nerves
DJRobMan is at the Cougar wrestling tournament in Thurmont, MD tonight. He made it all the way to the final round! I’m waiting for a phone call to hear how he did. He was pretty pumped about one of his matches – he won by tech fall.
To help me bide the time, here is an ode by Gary Soto that I’ve been using with middle schoolers.
Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes They wait under Pablo’s bed, Rain-beaten, sun-beaten, A scuff of green At their tips From when he fell In the school yard. He fell leaping for a football That sailed his way. But Pablo fell and got up, Green on his shoes, With the football Out of reach. Now it’s night. Pablo is in bed listening To his mother laughing To the Mexican novelas on TV. His shoes, twin pets That snuggle his toes, Are under the bed. He should have bathed, But he didn’t (Dirt rolls from his palm, Blades of grass Tumble from his hair.) He wants to be Like his shoes, A little dirty From the road…
You can find the poem in Soto’s collection, “Neighborhood Odes.” I got it from my favorite kids’ book on poetic form, "A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms," edited by Paul B. Janeczko.
Do a search on the title of the poem and you’ll find lesson ideas for “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes,” including classroom reproducibles from Scholastic.
Last week, I took this lesson to Bonnie Branch Middle’s GT Writers’ Guild.
(There's a description of Howard County, MD's G/T Writers' Guild program at this school website. It's not Bonnie Branch, but you'll get an idea of what the program is about. Full disclosure -- I co-chair the county's G/T Advisory Committee.)
Janene Sharbaugh is the G/T Resource Teacher at Bonnie Branch, which is in Ellicott City. We chose a lesson on odes because she wanted students to work on word choice.
In this lesson, we use the celebratory wording and grand metaphors of an ode to describe common objects. The exercise shows students that the words we select can shift the readers’ point of view.
Our discussion of “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes” and a writing exercise for middle schoolers tomorrow.
P.S. He won first place!