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Okie dokie--welcome back, PBJ! Would you elaborate on the writing exercise you talked briefly about last Friday?
What I said last Friday was that it was more an approach than an exercise. I like to use poetry models when I work with young readers. I try to show them poems by published poets, but also poems by their peers. When you’re in the 4th grade, Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost may not impress you, but reading a poem by another 4th grader may be just the motivation that you need. And before I turn the kids loose to write, we read the poem, and I give them the chance to talk about what they notice in it. Then we do something a group rough draft so they can begin to see the writing process in action. Then it’s time for them to write.
One of the poems I use is based an an English street poem called “I’d Rather Be.” Here are a few lines:
I’d rather be hands than feet.
I’d rather be honest than cheat.
I’d rather be a bed that a seat.
I’d rather be a blanket than a sheet.
- I give the kids a copy of this poem, which runs about 20 lines.
- I break it into 3 parts and have a different student read each part. (Part of every workshop is reading aloud!)
- I then ask the students if they detected any pattern in the poem. Rhyming poems generally follow a pattern.
- The kids can identify 3 ingredients of the pattern: end rhyme, repetition of “I’d rather be” at the start of each line, a comparison or opposite in each line.
- Taken together, these 3 ingredients give the 4 part of that pattern: rhythm.
- Before I turn the kids loose to write 3-4 lines of their own “I’d Rather Be,” we try to create an example of 4 lines out loud. The kids are usually quick to get the hang of it.
- Just to make sure, we try another 4 lines with a different end sound.
- Then they are ready to read.
- After 10-15 minutes of writing, it’s time to read examples aloud. Usually, there are many takers.
The kids write stuff like this:
I’d rather be wood than concrete
I’d rather be huge that petite
I’d rather be gloves than a hat
I’d rather be a ball than a bat
I’d rather be hands than toes
I’d rather be a finger than a nose
I’d rather be love than hate
I’d rather be alone than a mate
Sounds like an exercise that I can take directly to the classroom--and one that packs a lot of punch, Paul. Thanks again for dropping by! (AND surely that English street song is the origin of Paul Simon's El Condor Pasa (If I Could)...)
Readers, here's a preview from Candlewick about Paul's latest collaboration with illustrator Chris Rashchka (for a chance to win an autographed copy, see our latest Give-Away which ends 4/22/15...enter at the end of last week's post):
A celebrated duo reunites for a look at poems through history inspired by objects—earthly and celestial—reflecting the time in which each poet lived.
A book-eating moth in the early Middle Ages. A peach blossom during the Renaissance. A haunted palace in the Victorian era. A lament for the hat in contemporary times...In The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects, award-winning anthologist Paul B. Janeczko presents his fiftieth book, offering young readers a quick tour of poets through the ages. Breathing bright life into each selection is Chris Raschka’s witty, imaginative art.
Thank you for reading this today.
posted with affection by April Halprin Wayland and Eli (who--at this very minute is ripping apart his beloved stuffed animal, Rabbit)here.