Posts Tagged ‘Allan Wolf’

Poetry Friday is with Tara at A Teaching Life.


Gifted by Nature Day was coming up, and I had forgotten that it was my job to do a poetry activity.  Yikes!  What would I do?  Some middle school students would be doing a play based on The Jungle Book.  Their teacher explained in an email to me that the theme would be Be Yourself. 

I typed into Google search “Bio-poems.”  I didn’t want to use the same ole bio-poem form.  Up pops one of my favorite performance poets, Allan Wolf.  On his website, he had this mentor I Am poem.

I created a document that outlined each line.  As each student completed their art activity, they came over to my poetry table.  My first question was “Do you know what alliteration is?”  Most of the kids didn’t recall this term, but that’s OK.  I taught them very quickly, and they said, “Oh, yeah!”

Writing that first line proved the most difficult.  The students I was working with are gifted, and there’s nothing better than watching a gifted kid feel a challenge. Encouragement came from other kids who had found a first line.

Wyatt was happy to share his first line. “I am an All Star Athlete.”

Noah, who loves to hunt, created, “I am a hard-headed hunter.”

A young Laotian girl named Patra sat next to me and said with complete honesty, “I am a little, lovely lark.”  I encouraged her to use that metaphor throughout her poem. Her teacher texted me a copy to feature here.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I wonder what it’s like to fly.
I hear people talking.
I see the puffy, fluffy clouds.
I want to fly.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I pretend to fly.
I touch feathers.
I worry when I’m late.
I cry when–I don’t cry much.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I understand Laotian language.
I say, “Ha! Ha! Ha!” (me laughing)
I dream about flying.
I try to do my best in school.
I hope to grow wings!

I am a little, lovely lark.

Patra, 3rd grade

Jacob missed Gifted by Nature Day, so I presented the activity to him back at school.  He decided to take his poem in a different direction and become a planet, specifically Mercury.  You can read his poem here. 

This form worked for multiple elementary grade levels from 2nd graders to 6th graders.  If you chose to use this activity in your classroom, I’d love to hear from you.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink.


Allan Wolf…
Just like the animal
Allan Wolf…
Just like the animal

We chanted these words back and forth in a delightful performance at the Lydia library. Allan Wolf performs and teaches about poetry with pizazz. He makes poems sing, shake, and shine.

I invited my students to join me in seeing Allan Wolf’s performance at the library. Four of them came. I loved seeing them and catching up on what they are reading and doing this summer.

Allan Wolf engages the audience.  Through singing and dancing, he demonstrates how poems are musical. We all wiggled, made sound effects, and echoed to participate in the fun of poetry.

In this video he is showing kids how nursery rhymes are our first exposure to poetry, and they work because they rhyme. But mostly, the kids are just enjoying his humor when he gets the words wrong.

My students write a lot during the school year and for Poetry Month, they write a poem every day. Kaiden wanted to share his favorite poem “Wonder” with Allan Wolf. After the performance, Allan continued to engage with my students. Erin told him about our Slice of Life challenge and how she hates having to write an SOL every day.

Allan turned to a box on the table that he hadn’t used in the performance. He was sharing a secret with just us. He opened it to show two vials, one looked like water, the other thick syrup. He explained the process of getting syrup out of the tree sap. The sap must be boiled down. Then he showed them a gallon jug of tree sap. “It takes this much sap to make that much syrup.” That’s how writing is. You have to write and write to get the best, sweetest writing.

Allan Wolf did more in that metaphor moment to bridge the summer to next school year than any summer program could. His performance was fun, but the time he took to interact with my students and me afterwards was invaluable. Authors are my heroes.

Allan Wolf maple syrup

At the beginning of his performance, Allan points to words on a makeshift clothesline to introduce himself. When he talks about the word “author”, he pronounces it with two gestures: “Aw” with sweet eyes and soft voice, and “Thor” with a raised arm as if he is holding a torch and a strong voice. Because authors are both sensitive and brave. Allen Wolf is a true “Aw-Thor”!

A selfie with Allan Wolf and Sami Sion, the best librarian ever!

A selfie with Allan Wolf and Sami Sion, the best librarian ever!

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