As I began this section of poetry, I gave each student a “poetic license,” meaning they are going to be poets and no one can argue the point about what they see, feel, hear, smell.
We first read the poem, ”I Read a Tight-Fisted Poem Once” by Nancy Woods (screens 2, 3), located in the Intro to Poetry Power Point. After reading the poem twice, we discussed the meaning that we each could take away from this. Overall, it reminded students that in order to write about something, they need to immerse themselves in that “thing”.
I introduced the “Energy Wheel” which is an imaginary wheel (my arm spinning) that shoots off emotions or colors depending upon its speed. I share that when we write poetry sometimes it is difficult to begin so we can think about how we feel on that particular day – would that emotion be spinning fast? Or slow? What color would be sparking from it. Usually strong emotions evoke dark, strong colors (red, orange, black), while calm emotions usually create pastels or light colors.
Together, we use anger as an example – it would be spinning very fast (my poor arm), students suggest what colors will be shooting out from it (red, orange, bright yellow, black, etc).
We went with anger being red. Now it is time to practice writing some poetic lines together. Today, they were similes because we are using anger is red like ___________________. Students share with some ideas. I tried to get them to elaborate, if they don’t get the idea, I show them some examples (power point). Then they are on their way to be creative.
Next, I asked students to think of an emotion that they were currently feeling and write one or more similes relating it to colors and trying to elaborate. Those that felt comfortable, shared their creation. I had the students save these poetic lines because they might use them later in a poem.
After working on figurative language yesterday, today we focused upon line breaks today. I showed the students a paragraph written by Donald Graves (screen 5) and asked them their opinion of this paragraph.
After a short discussion, I informed the students that actually it was a poem written by Donald Graves.
Knowing that fact, I asked them to think about how do they think he broke this into stanzas. I had students discuss it in small groups, then heard their responses and what their logic was in dividing the poem this way.
I then explained to them that Donald Graves had written this poem as three stanzas.
The next challenge was for each group to rewrite the stanzas using the line breaks that Donald Graves used. I explained that in reality there is no specific rule to follow, so they would just be using their own logic to create line breaks for this poem. However, I showed them how Mr. Graves had written the poem.
We did this stanza by stanza, ( screens 6 – 8)giving them a hint about the number of lines after they had begun to work on this assignment. Students got very involved and competitive about accurately rewriting this poem (according to Donald Graves).