I like the way the syllable count forces language, creates opportunity for new thinking. Today’s prompt from Ethical ELA asked writers to come up with a line of a poem and continue with poem using the same number of syllables in each line. As I walked the beach this morning, I kept thinking about the monsoonal moisture promised by the weather forecasters–and the fact that I know it won’t result in the rain we need so much. I found myself obsessed with rain as I walked, counting syllables in my head. Here’s the resulting draft and the beautiful sky last night that fueled today’s obsessive thinking.
Word association, make a list…it all seems too simple. But it’s not. It’s actually genius! Many thanks to the folks over at Ethical ELA and the Open Write for yet another day of inspiration. Today’s prompt took me to a favorite ice cream place in Ventura…and then back in time.
A treasure hunt is the perfect way to start a day! That’s how I felt when I read the Open Write prompt today on Ethical ELA. I took a little different pathway on my treasure hunt and let my walk this morning uncover the treasure.
After my experience with #verselove in April, I have been looking forward to the Ethical ELA open write (5 days in June with writing invitations like those in April). I eagerly opened my email this morning and followed the link to the blog post where the invitation offered Things you can do with an orange as a mentor text provided by Allison Berryhill.
I spent my morning at the beach–first with a gorgeous low-tide walk and then staying to watch the Switchfoot Bro Am surf contest. As I watched the surfers play on nature’s waves, a poem began to form. While this is certainly still a first draft, it was fun to play around with the idea of things you can do with a wave.
Weirdly enough, this school year ended with 2 minimum days–on a Monday and Tuesday. With the class party dealt with on Friday, what do you plan for those last days of school with first graders?
Inspired by a post I saw on Two Writing Teachers, we began our last two days of school by creating a character–a puppet of sorts–to feature in our writing and to prime the pump for some possible summer writing.
Yesterday morning armed with cardstock, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, and colored pencils we began creating our characters. Students knew I would make an egret. (They know I love egrets and often feature them in my writing) I demonstrated one way to put a character together…and also started talking through a story featuring the character that was brewing in my head. And then they were off…
As they crafted and created they were also having conversations about their characters. They talked about where the characters lived, their special features and coloring. All the perfect pre-writing you always wish for (and sometimes doesn’t happen). I love this time in the school year when students are comfortable and confident, allowing the creative juices to flow. Once completed, we left the character puppets to dry on the counter.
Today we began with our sketch pads, setting our characters in their places, giving them action and a problem to solve. And again, as students sketched and colored they also talked about their stories.
At this point students were eager to write. We talked about adding dialogue and thoughts, sound words, and setting. And on this very last day of first grade, these students wrote and wrote. They loved that they were filling the page (or more) with their writing. They were excited to read their stories out loud and they were willing to add even more details.
The added bonus is that they also created a list of other stories featuring this character that they may write in the next hours or days or weeks. They left with their notebooks and sketchbooks and their character in hand…and their brains primed and ready for some summer writing (I hope)! I leave the school year knowing that my students left on this last day of first grade as writers, knowing they can put their stories on the page for themselves and others to enjoy.
Would I have students write on the last day of school again…the answer is a resounding YES! It was a wonderful way to spend our last days together, immersed in this community of writers developed over the course of the school year. There were so many things that were hard about this year of teaching, which makes me even happier that these last two days were a joy…for me and for them. They and I left the school year wanting more…that wonderful bittersweet feeling of being happy and sad all at the same time.
On this last day of April, Sarah over at Ethical ELA has invited us to claim the title writer or poet modeled on the poetry collection I Sing: The Body edited by René Saldaña, Jr. The collection of poems thread struggle and celebration within what we are told and what we believe about ourselves. The poems uncover memory and anger and hope. I decided to explore the identity of writer in today’s poem.
Who doesn’t love a poem about a poem? Today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA was presented by Glenda who also shared a mentor poem and video by Darius V. Daughtry, what can a poem do? Daughtry’s poem begins with a series of explanations of what poems don’t do, then pivots to what poems can do. For my own poem, I decided to focus on what poems can do without the examination of what they can’t or don’t do.
Today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA is just the kind of challenge I tend to resist with poetry: a formula and rhyme. But I pushed myself to give it a try anyway…and maybe learned some things about myself in the process.
Today’s #verselove prompt, hosted by Shaun over at Ethical ELA invites poets to “re-encounter the familiar.” I’m guessing it will surprise no one that I chose to re-encounter the beach. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny spring day…until I got to about 2 blocks from the beach. There, a heavy, dense, thick fog stretched along the coastline, nestled next to the blue sky, so close…but also so far away.
Today I went in search of a found poem, a poem where words are borrowed and arranged to create something new, something fresh, something meaningful out of the words collected from others. I printed the article, The Power of Teaching Poetry: A Conversation Between Renee Watson and Linda Christensen from Rethinking Schools and as I read, I marked words and phrases that spoke to me. Later, I typed those words and phrases into a document and then started arranging, rearranging, repeating, excluding until I came up with a poem that says something that matters to me.
Many thanks to Amy over at Ethical ELA and #verselove for today’s prompt and the inspiration to find my own poem in my own way.