April 12, 2016

Monday, May 12, 2014

In Residence: Fibbing in Third Grade

Writerly Friends, this month I am in residence at Northfield Elementary School.

What does "in residence" mean, exactly?

Fifteen years ago, when our family moved to Maryland, I applied to my state arts council's "Arts-in-Education" program. Through grants, often matched by a school's cultural arts budged, the program sends opera singers, playwrights, painters, bookmakers, mosaic artists, dancers, and others into schools around the state.

Some artists visit for a day, conducting assemblies. Artists-in-residence like me work with smaller groups, over a longer period of time.

The teachers and I have lost count of how many years I've been visiting Northfield -- at least eight. Instead of meeting with the whole school, I work with one grade: third!

There are five third grade classes at Northfield this year. Every day that I visit the school, I work with two different classroom groups.

The grant pays for a certain number of sessions. It works out to five workshops for each third grade class, a few meetings with the third grade educators, and a Poets Tea at the end of the residency.

At the Poets' Tea, we show off work like these
third grade portrait poems in response to fine art.
I'm sharing this background now because ...

this week I make my first appearance as a regular children's poetry blogger at Michelle Heindrich Barnes blog, Today's Little Ditty! I'll cover the poet-in-the-schools angle. Other members of Michelle's poetry team include Renee LaTulippe, Buffy Silverman, and Carrie Clickard.

I love having a long-standing relationship with a school, where I return  year after year. Older students see me in the hall and say, "It's the poet! I remember when you came to my class!"

We started this year's residency with Fibonacci poems, a form invented by Poetry Friday blogger Gregory K. Pincus

If you'd like to check out my Fib workshop lesson plan, you can read it at this post

Since we spend time talking about the Fibonacci math sequence and how it describes a pattern we can see in nature, I encourage the third graders to choose a scientific topic for their fibs. Today's poems are about plants and animals.

by Alastair

green world
soil, water, and sun
nature within the shining Earth

Green Earth, from NASA's Earth Observatory site.
In a Fibonacci poem, the poet starts with a small idea ... a single word, but he must use description, detail, and sometimes action -- as in this young man's exciting poem -- to reach those longer lines.


Be scared.
Shark Attack!
They want to eat you.
It is not fun getting chomped up.

What I love about the Fib form is how it encourages stretching. The poet isn't simply building from one, two, and three syllables on a line to several syllables. As the poem develops, so must the complexity of thought. Watch how Emily uses this technique to build to a 13-syllable line.

by Emily M.

Climbs trees
Lives in rain forests
Off ground, away from predators
Mysterious looking, thinking of a plan to escape

Meller's Chameleon, from National Geographic
Thank you to the Northfield teachers and families for giving me permission to share the students poems! I hope to post new poems regularly throughout May until our Poets' Tea in June.


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What an impact you must be making to have a student greet you like that, Laura! I think I'm just excited to have you in residence at Today's Little Ditty. :)

I can tell it didn't take these 3rd grade poets long to jump in with both feet either. Fabulous fibs!

Buffy Silverman said...

Love your third-graders poems!!

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Michelle and Buffy. The students are very excited to see their work posted online. Thanks for visiting and sharing a compliment.