Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What I did on my four day weekend . . .

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
Some years I don't assign the personal poetry anthology project, but this year I did. And so I spent some major time this weekend savoring 49 of these collections (four are still missing), and once again I'm glad that I made time in our busy schedule for this project.   It's fun to escape into the mind of a 6th grader as I peruse the anthologies, read their responses to the poems they choose, and discover new poems and poets with my students as my guide.

Here's a quick look at a few selected student responses:

"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth:
"This is one of my favorite poems.  I love the way it rhymes, and the way it's worded.  I love how I can imagine the 'golden daffodils . . . Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.'"

"Poet's Tree" by Shel Silverstein
"This poem has always been one of my favorites because I love to read underneath a big tree in my backyard and lately I have been reading a lot of poetry underneath it.  The tree is like a big umbrella blocking everything else out so I can just worry about reading and nothing else."

"Dust of Snow" by Robert Frost
"I felt chills over my body when I read this out loud - 'Shook down on me.'  It was a trembling sort of feeling with a happy ending you could say."

While student anthologies include Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Kenn Nesbitt, I'm delighted to find William Blake's "Tyger, Tyger," as well as poems by Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson in many anthologies.

This student's annotated copy of a Robert Louis Stevenson poem (new to me) captures the joy he discovered in "Summer Sun!"

This year, one student included a prize-winning poem written by his mother when she was twelve years old.  Another student included a poem because his dad shared it with him.  Knowing that his project often involves the entire family in a poetry scavenger hunt is a wonderful by-product of this assignment.  

Whenever I think of abandoning this project due to the time investment it requires (for my students and for me), I remember this parent note from two years ago:
"Just wanted to thank you for prompting our family to explore poetry!  S. really let this project get away from him (he seemed to think that he had a lot more time than he actually did...) but, as a result, we had SO much fun reading poems together!!  S., I., and I spent an amazing afternoon in our hammock yesterday, reading poetry aloud to each other.  We must have read 100 poems!  It was an afternoon that changed our feelings about poetry."

I still recall "The Sugarplum Tree" from  2nd grade in Mrs. Trutmann's classroom, "Little Orphan Annie" from 4th grade in Mrs. Lewallen's classroom, and "Outwitted" from Mrs. Powers" 7th grade poetry packet.  Hopefully, some of my students will recall the time we spent exploring poetry together as a catalyst for a lifelong love of poetry!


  1. What a great way for students to make a connection to poetry! I bet some of these anthologies will be something they hold onto for the rest of their lives.

  2. Your students definitely will carry a love of poetry with them. I have a few questions about the project. Do you use a grading rubric? What are the requirements? Do they include their own poems? Do they use a notebook or create their own pages and bind them together? This year I allowed my students to choose between making an altered book and creating their own book. In one class, the printer was broken, so they created a post on the kidblog site.

    1. Margaret, thanks for your questions. My students do the poems on paper, and then decide to staple or bind as they choose. They are allowed to handwrite the poems, photocopy them, or print them. Most of them put the response on the same page as the poem, but some put it on the page opposite the poem. I've used a rubric in the past, but this year I just had a checklist.

      (check, check+, or +) The checks didn't come out when I copied and pasted the list.

      _____ 1. Cover for anthology

      _____ 2. Page listing poets in anthology

      _____ 3. Included a variety of poets - at least 12
      (May use one poet twice, up to 4 poems by self)

      _____ 4. Student responses (at least two sentences) include
      why poem was selected and what you noticed

      _____ 5. Student responses include specific examples of poetic
      (alliteration, simile, metaphor, personification,
      onomatopoeia, repetition, rhyme scheme, rhythm, stanza)

      _____ 6. Presentation of poems and responses

      I still need to look at your post on altered books. Someday!

  3. Oh Ramona, I've done this with students in the past, and still cannot talk anyone into doing it. It's the most wonderful project, & yes, it does take time, but starts them on their way to being lifelong poetry lovers. I love hearing about your project and seeing the examples. I don't know that RLS poem either! Thanks for that too.

  4. You helped your kids develop a love for poetry that they will take with them for all time. Bravo!

  5. I LOVE this idea! I have had kids collect poems before, but I've never done the part where they reflected on why they had included the poems. Definitely next year! I love your checklist too. Thank you for sharing this.