April 12, 2016

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Poetry Friday: You're Doing Math in Poetry?

Welcome, Northfield Elementary School poets! It's Poetry Friday!

This week's host is Liz at Growing Wild, and that's no Fib.
Stop by for more poetry links from around the Kidlitosphere.
This week, I began one of my favorite annual poetry residencies at Northfield E.S. I have leading poetry workshops in the third grade for seven years. Maybe eight. The teachers and I lost count.

What's new this year? The Common Core curriculum has come to Maryland and classroom teachers are adjusting to the new standards. I've heard -- and observed with my own 7th grader -- the good, the bad and the ugly of the Common Core.
One element that people are shaking their heads about: writing in math. In middle school, it looks like a three paragraph essay explaining how you solved a problem.

In my poetry classes, it looks like this:

A mathematical graph of the Fibonacci sequence PLUS
science (Fibonacci spirals in nature) EQUALS


The Northfield third graders are a brainy bunch. They quickly saw that we could take the Fibonacci numbers and use them to count syllables, creating a poem that matches the numerical sequence.
To read my full Fibonacci Poetry lesson plan, please visit last year's FIB POST. Also, check out Poetry Friday blogger and Fib inventor Greg Pincus's explanation of the form.
Common Core is doable... when you give teachers some flexibility to be creative and teach. The Northfield poets deftly wrote POEMS about SCIENCE using a MATHEMATICAL sequence. Let's give them some snaps. (We don't clap in poetry class. Snaps put us in a rhythmic mood.)
Here are two poets from Ms. Pruitt's homeroom, and their super, scientific, sequential Fibonacci poems.
Ally K.

buzzing when they fly
sense of responsibility
I found Ally's last line to be fascinating. Bees are following their instincts when they collect pollen. Yet, their behavior is responsible for the health of the plants they pollinate.

Another Pruitt poet took a favorite subject, orangutans, and went all the way to 34 syllables with his scientific information about the primates.
Teddy J.

In the
treetops there
are orangutans
swinging from vine to vine. Then they
jump around to the ground to scoop up durians. They
then climb back up to the tops of the trees to make a leafy nest to sleep in, but the
baby one doesn’t want to go to sleep. The mama orangutan sings her little one a song and
     he goes to sleep. Good night, “forest people!”
Originally, Teddy wrote "scoop up yummy fruit" in line 7. But he knew so much about orangutans -- I had a feeling he might know the name of this primate's favorite fruit. Sure enough, he did, and "durians" was the perfect number of syllables for the line.

Durian fruit from
I'll be blogging about our poetry workshops for the next several weeks. Thanks to the teachers and families at Northfield for inviting me to visit again this year, and for giving me permission to share their talented third graders' amazing poems.


skanny17 said...

THANKS, once again, marvelous Laura Shovan! This is a great post and will be so helpful to so many teachers. LOVE!!
Janet F.
AND the photos.....hey can you do me a favor? Some day go to that school of your kids, hang some parkas (beg, borrow, steal) and take a photo? I will make it worth your while are your new glasses? These fabulous Fibs must make up for the crushed pair!! Did you get a new kind of frame? Always one of my toughest decisions.
PS My very good friend lives in Rogers Forge! When I get to B-more I will let you know so maybe we can say hi and I can hand deliver my appreciative bribe gift!! Still love the whole "you had a photo of those parkas, right???"

Robyn Hood Black said...

These are wonderful, Laura! Thanks for sharing. I just linked to this post from mine today, where I'm celebrating student work.

Go, Northfield Third Graders!

Mindy Abbott said...

I am so impressed with your teaching, collaboration with Northfield's wonderful teachers, and especially, with the creative work of these students! Amazing!! Thank you for sharing <3 Mindy A.

Liz Steinglass said...

These are wonderful. I want to be a kid in one your workshops. I really like how far Teddy takes his poem.

Have you seen this video by the math doodler?

Buffy Silverman said...

Love this math/science/poetry combo--and it looks like your third graders wrote amazing poetry!

Linda B said...

Beautifully written Laura. The students must love you coming & how great to have a tradition of it. You now have a long line of older students carrying on your lessons!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Wow, who woulda thunk it?! What an awesome example of creative problem solving.

Tabatha said...

I love the addition of "durians" -- that whole poem is great! Ally's, too :-) Looking forward to reading more.

Bridget Magee said...

These third graders have mad skills with Fib poetry! What a wonderful integrated lesson for us all. Thanks for sharing, Laura! =)

Mary Lee said...

Math+Science+Poetry=perfect response to the CCSS!!

Ruth said...

I love the way you blend poetry and science. These are wonderful!