April 12, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Details, Details

"A poem is a window that hangs between two or more human beings who otherwise live in darkened rooms."  -- Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stephen Dunn

One of my favorite things about writing poetry with children is the details they share. They write about things I have never done, like ski racing, using vocabulary and facts that are new to me.

Each time this happens, the young poet is opening a window -- for me, but also for teachers and peers. In their poems about sports, dance recitals, or just sledding with a parent, these young authors are opening a window for readers, giving us a broader view of who they are.

See yesterday's post for a description of the activity-poem lesson. Below are two third-grade responses poem.

I love how the details Helen chooses for her poem make time seem to slow down.

Piano Lesson
by Helen Y.

I sit on the bench with my big stack of books.
Mr. G reaches over the piano and takes the
metronome. I hear a drum beat and begin the piece. Tick, tick.
The keys feel like my school desk, but they look
like a huge black, white, brown zebra being groomed
by my fingers. In the small basement, I smell the
smell of summer. The sound of the door distracts me.
Jane is already here? Whoops, wrong note. "You have totally
no dynamic!" says Mr. G, laughing very hard. "Keep this
for one  more week!"

Marcus' poem is fast! Look how he uses the specific vocabulary of his sport to include the reader in the world of ski racing.

Ski Racer
by Marcus A.

I wait at the start. Racer ready?
3, 2, 1 GO! I hear my team cheering
me on and my skis scraping
the ice. feel the cold through  my
speed suit and the weight from
my helmet and jaw guard and the
gates hitting my pole guards.
The course looks intimidating. Two more
gates and I finish!

Again, thanks to Northfield Elementary staff and families for giving me permission to post student work.

Tomorrow is Poetry Friday. I'm going to take a break from student work to honor Maryland poet Lucille Clifton, who died earlier this week.

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