With April right around the corner, I launched the poem-a-day challenge with my class today. I am practiced at this launch in the classroom. I know just how to motivate my students, get them engaged with language play, give them feedback on their early attempts and keep the momentum going throughout the month.
But this year, as we all know, is different. I made a short video of myself explaining the challenge. I sent my students out around their homes today in search of “tiny perfect things.” I asked them to pick one of those things and create a list of 10 great words related to one of the tiny perfect things…and then introduced a mentor text poem.
Today’s poem was one I thought would be highly accessible. Things to do if you are a Pencil by Elaine Magliaro Is vivid and fun, and encourages the use of strong verbs and metaphorical thinking. In the remote learning environment, I realized that my examples became even more important and that my feedback was necessary to push students toward more detail and elaboration.
I’ve asked my students to both keep a physical notebook for their poems in progress and to post them on a slide deck that I started for them in Google Classroom. Here are a few examples of student pieces on day 1.
I love that they each found something they cared about to use as their subject. I’m thrilled to see traces of the mentor text, and that there is strong language use even in these first drafts. I am excited to see what day 2 brings.
And here is my poem for the day:
Be tough and hang on tight as cars whiz by
creating a storm of dust and wind.
Prepare to roll
kicked by joggers, bumped by strollers,
slobbered on by neighborhood dogs.
Listen to the stoplight chatter
and heed the warning.
Hope to land above the curb
where the soil awaits.
Hear the echoes of squirrels and coyotes
and the caws of the crows.
And dream of forests
from your pile on the side of the road.