And we’re writing!

IMG_1077I am excited to take part in Poetry Friday, where writers share their love of all things poetry. Tabatha hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at  The Opposite of Indifference.  She is celebrating the release of Imperfect, an anthology of poetry about mistakes for middle schoolers. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

In my last post I wrote about some poetry lessons that had started well but ended flat. I was worried that the learners I work with might not be willing to stick with me if I didn’t get it together. Several people shared ideas about things that might work to help keep my students engaged; one that really resonated with me was that I don’t need to separate assessment from the play we’re doing. I could go on – and I probably will at some point – but I honestly think part of our success today is because I said, “Hey, you have all these great ideas in your writer’s notebooks & it’s Friday, so let’s just play.”

I showed them some cool thing – sijos and kimos; nonets and golden shovels – things they’d never dreamed of. They loved it! They wrote for at least 30 minutes – and when I said it was Poetry Friday and I could share some on my blog… FIVE asked to be featured. Then, we ended the class by starting a group “I am from” poem. They’ve asked to finish it on Monday. My students never cease to surprise me.

Golden Shovel poem by J (Party in the USA)
So Emily and I said, “Yeah
the song is old, but it’s
a fun song to sing, a
good jam to dance and party
to, especially when you are in
the basement alone, or in the
room and partying in the USA.”

Golden Shovel poem by T (based on his own I Am From poem)
When I was young
The very best food was my mom’s chili
Then going to my uncle’s to play hockey
Those were the best days


Lost Home Nonet by S
A place that felt like home is gone now
Here in Ottawa is uneasy
It feels like something is wrong
Where is my freedom now?
Will I find it soon?
Sweet potatoes
With sweet peas?
Teddy Bear?

The beginning of our “We are from” poem
We are from long cold winters
Icy roads, I almost got hit by a car,
Snowball fights that last all day.
We are from snowflakes that fall with the maple leaves,
Skating on the Rideau Canal for beaver tails,
Skiing and snowboarding down the hills.
Skating on rinks, hitting the puck, cheering our teams.
Yet we live for the months of summer
Expired Ferry Express tickets,
The days we spend outside, the nights we spend with our families.
(More to come – the bell rang!)


23 thoughts on “And we’re writing!

  1. They sound like very active kids! Dancing, skating, skiing, playing hockey, spending the day outside.
    S’s Lost Home nonet is poignant. I like using “uneasy” to describe that feeling of not being settled, not really relaxing. I hope the answer to “will I find it soon?” is “yes!”


    1. Thanks, Tabatha. I feel like I wrote back to you, so forgive me if this is a repeat, but I loved your observation of how active they are. Not long ago (at the beginning of the semester) they described their lives as almost dystopian in their lack of connection. Your comment has helped me see how much they are revealing now & also that they are, as a group, much more active than they revealed individually. I can’t wait to share this with them.


  2. Funny, I hadn’t noticed how active that poem is – and at the beginning of this semester we had a day where I thought I might be living in a dystopia: none of them had been outside, talked to a person (besides their family) face-to-face, done *any* reading besides memes… I was shocked. It was also mid-winter. I’m going to point out how active they really are – they’ll love that. Such a great group of kids. And yes, S. Poignant is exactly right.


  3. Using that wonderful variety and choice makes all of us excited, students, too. It sounds as if you’re on your way, Amanda. The poems show various moods, too. I love seeing a glimpse of what your students are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to admit, I used the forms because they get my fingers tingling & because I’m seeing many adult bloggers use form as inspiration as they write a poem a day this month. I’m glad it worked!


  4. How wonderful to feature their work on your blog! This space provides instant publication. I love that they responded so well to the invitation to play. The longer I teach, the more I think every class should look and feel like kindergarten! That’s my goal in all my college courses: how can I make this like kindergarten? It’s so incredible to me what our students will do with the right environment and conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the biggest shift I’ve found in my teaching of late, this move toward discovery learning. I’ve always been pretty constructivist, but when I was teaching 12th graders headed to university I could afford to get a little lazy. They claimed to *like* old school teaching because it was less demanding. Now, with this new challenge, I am trying to live my philosophies & boy oh boy am I on a steep learning curve: new age group, new needs. I have so much to learn. (Always)


  5. So exciting to see the bouncing back you accomplish when their interest wanes. I gotta run… but I’m want to come back later today and comment on the student poems!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this image in J’s golden shovel: “good jam to dance and party / to, especially when you are in / the basement alone,” There’s such a wistfulness in S’s “Lost Home” … I like how the first line “A place that felt like home is gone now” makes me think that perhaps that place never really was home . . . and then the last line, states after several questions — “Home” … like an acceptance of the now place. T’s first line, “When I was young…” pulled me immediately into his memories. And then on “Where we are from,” I noticed how the first line opens the poem with “long cold winters” and where we are from is defined by the seasons. In the fourth line, I love “snowflakes that fall with the maple leaves.” It makes me realize how early the long winter begins. With “Yet we live for the months of summer” I feel a turn from winter and a longing for a season that is coming.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my goodness, Alice, what a gift! I cannot wait to share this with my students. That someone besides me should see so much in their writing. They are going to be astonished! Thank you – just, thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As with reading, I believe kids love poetry. They simply don’t realize it because they don’t have good experiences w/ it. Like your student, I love “Party in the U.S.A.” That song makes me happy. I see the class “Where I’m From” as a brilliant way to help build community. I’m stealing this idea. It’s wonderful! And I learned a new term: nonet. Now I need to look it up. You know that saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, you can teach an old lady new [poetry] tricks. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned this month, and I’m downright shocked with the writing I’ve done. Keep encouraging your young poets, and tell them this old lady says it’s never too late to write poetry.


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