Friday, December 18, 2009

Unit of Study on THEME -- Poetry Friday Edition

Subtitle: In Which the never-ending struggle to balance direction and instruction from me with enough big chunks of time when I just let go and give my students the freedom to explore and find new paths through the uncharted territory of this project (previous posts are here) results in not very much poetry for this poetry Friday Edition.

Sub-Subtitle: A 3000 Word Essay About What Else We Did Yesterday:

But I digress. Poetry and the Theme Project.

Earlier in the week, it occurred to me that I need to pick a theme to explore in the same way my students are. I need to be able to model for them using real examples from my real work. On the way to school, I was listening to that Miley Cyrus song that I used for Poetry Friday back in September, "The Climb," and decided that my theme would be "Overcoming Challenges."

Since I was going to ask my students to search for poems that fit with their theme, I did the same. I showed them that I didn't find any poems entitled "Overcoming Challenges." I had to read the poem and think about what it said so that I could decide if it fit my theme.

Some of the students had an easy go of this. With a theme of "Friendship," you can hardly turn around in a poetry book without finding a poem. For at least one group, the guys who are exploring "Power," this activity changed the way they are thinking about their theme. With some guidance from me, they found poems about Mt. St. Helens, Old Faithful, and dragons.

Now back to the subtitle for this post. I showed my students the posts in this series and invited them to write a little bit about how one of their poems fits with their theme so I could use their thinking for this post today. They worked hard for the whole period...on podcasting their interviews, polishing their Pixie images, adding to their Keynotes, typing up and illustrating their poems...

One student came through for me. A student whose theme is Power.


As the sun came up a ball of red
I followed my friend wherever he led.
He thought his fast horses would leave me
but I rode a dragon as swift as the wind!

--Chinese Mother Goose Rhyme

He dictated his thoughts to me:
"My theme is Power. I chose this poem because dragons are strong and they breathe fire out of their mouths. Have you ever seen "Heroes" (the TV show) and how they fly and have powers and everything? And they try to save the world every day? Dragons are a different kind of power. Some try to save the world, some try to destroy the world, some try to just be dragons. The thing I really like about dragons is that there is so much history about them. There are old stories and cool pictures about them."
So I don't have too much to share today from this poetry facet of the project, but with this student's writing as a model, I have a way to lift the level of the writing the other students do about their poem(s), and make this student feel really good about himself! (for those who are worried about grading, this little piece of the project will be for a grade--choosing a poem and writing a paragraph about how it fits the theme)

Coming up tomorrow: integrating this project with the music teacher's curriculum.

Now, go get your Poetry Friday fix: Susan Taylor Brown has the round up today at Susan Writes.


  1. Well, not much poetry, Mary Lee, but I do really enjoy the glimpses into how you work with poetry in your classroom. It's fascinating!

  2. Ditto to what Laura said. Thanks for the window into your project, and your usual "monkey business." :D Pass the cookies!


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