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Posts Tagged ‘Teach this Poem’

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

When we returned from our holiday break, I found a poem from Poets.org in my inbox.  I subscribe to Teach this Poem, a weekly lesson plan around a selected poem.  The poem Dead Stars by Ada Limón drew me in, and I felt compelled to teach the lesson. To begin, we looked at pictures of the Orion constellation and made attempts to draw it in our notebooks.

Before we read the poem, I talked about how I love poems that take notice of something in nature then go deeper to something more profound.

We find it hard to settle our brains down, and poetry offers us that silence, that quiet space, and allows us to reconnect with ourselves, or with an idea, or with an emotion. (Ada Limón)

When reading a poem with my students, I let them take the lead.  “What do you notice?” “Are there any words you don’t know?” “What do you think the poem is about?”

Each group of students takes the discussion in a different direction.  With my first group, we discussed an interesting metaphor in this line, “I am a hearth of spiders these days: a nest of trying.”  Daniel rephrased the line, “Laying eggs of attempt.” Then we noticed that both hearth and nest are places of caring.

With my second group, theme became the focus.  What is the poet trying to teach us? She wants us to rise above the tide (the hard times) and be alive.  Landon wrote a thematic sentence, “Be alive, reach for the stars, and shine!”

In my third group, stars, constellations, and the fact that we are made of stardust became the topic of discussion.  “But mostly we’re forgetting we’re dead stars too, my mouth is full of dust and I wish to reclaim the rising–” (Ada Limón)

I pulled up an article to read from National Geographic.

Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes. (Iris Schrijver)

In response I wrote a septercet, a form created by Jane Yolen with 3 lines of seven syllables each.  The last line is from Ada Limón’s poem “Look, we are not unspectacular things.”

When I work on poetry with my students, I try not to push them to complicated analysis.  There is time for that when they are older.  I hope to expose them to amazing language, to the art and craft of metaphor, and to understand that poetry is always available to them.  Even when they are “rolling their trash bins out.”

A cherita about the stars:

You say look up

Take notice of the stars
Name the one you are

We are the star
dust of many ages
collected as unique thoughts.

(c) Margaret Simon

 

 

 

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#HaikuforHope: Approach of Winter

On Friday, my students and I read a poem by William Carlos Williams, “Approach of Winter.”  I subscribe to a lesson email from Poets.org that is designed for middle and high school, but occasionally the lesson works for my kids, too. You can sign up for the weekly emails here. 

To get in the right mindset to write about the coming of winter, we walked outside.  The plan was to go to the garden, but heavy rain the night before left multiple puddles to navigate, and then it started to misty rain, so we ran back inside.  This didn’t lead into much amazing writing, but I later wrote a small poem about that misty rain.

Approach of Winter
after William Carlos Williams

The mist
like wet dust
tickles my nose
while clouds
hover
in grey sadness
dewdrops
of icy speckles
tasting
of coming cold.

(c) Margaret Simon

In keeping with the December haiku-a-day challenge, I turned thoughts to creating a shorter poem about coming winter.

Stratus clouds hover
yellow billows bending
Sweet sugar promise

(c) Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday posts with Violet who is celebrating Canada’s Thanksgiving.

 

There are only a few signs that October is here.  The temperatures are still quite warm, but on my morning walks, the sun does not peek over the horizon until I am close to home.  The bald cypress trees in our backyard are turning brown.  And the grass is growing slower, so my mower (dear husband) can spread out the weeks between mows.

In the classroom, when the calendar changes, attention turns to the end of the month.  You know the day, Halloween!

I have subscribed to the Academy of American Poets newsletter “Teach this Poem.”  The lessons are just right for my gifted students. From this site, I introduced Robert Frost’s poem October this week.   We discussed the poem, the rhyme scheme, imagery, and new vocabulary.  We talked about odes and how an ode is like a praise poem to something ordinary.  Then we wrote our own poems, stealing words and ideas from Robert Frost.

I tried a golden shovel with my favorite line, “Enchant the land with amethyst. Slow! Slow!”

O, autumn, your winds Enchant
birds into song, the
sugarcane drapes the land
in swaying soldiers with
suits of green-gold amethyst
Step, step Slow!
Swish, swish, Slow!
Marching to harvest all.

–Margaret Simon, after Robert Frost “October”

Lani, a 6th grader, took a line from Robert Frost and built her own poem around it.

How do you know when fall is here?
When the leaves from towering branches
that loom over us fall into colorful
browngreen leaf piles to plunge into until
twilight makes its unveiling.

When you don’t have to set your
alarm-instead being woken by
The crows above the forests call.

When football starts and your bedtime
changes to fit the Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Sunday games.

When you can wear a sweater
outside and cold fronts become
more persistent.

When the flu sets in and
the doctor is occupied.

When fuzzy socks come out of
the dark hole called
your sock drawer.

When summer clothes
go to Goodwill.

When you stuff your face
on Thanksgiving.

When the days are shorter and
the sunsets more memorable.

When you grieve when it’s over.

Lani, 6th grade

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