Friday, March 08, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Bracketology

Last Friday, we introduced the Battle of the Books to our 5th graders and showed them the tournament brackets that will be posted in the hallway.

Every 5th grader will enter a favorite book into the tournament by writing and presenting a summary of the book. This coming Friday, each of the four classes will vote the entries down to the 16 books that will enter the brackets. Competition will continue with head-to-head paragraphs about the books' main characters, the settings, key events in the stories, secondary characters, etc. The day before we leave for spring break, the entire grade level will vote for the overall winning book.

So tournament fever was in the air when we began Poetry Friday last week. One of my students made this bracket for his 16 favorite poems in David Elliott's In the Sea

The poem that wins the book for this student is

The Sea Turtle

Swims the seven seas
for thirty years,
then finds the beach
where she was born --
by magic, it appears.

How can she know to come upon
that far and sandy place?
Rare instruments of nature,
fair compass in a carapace.

© David Elliott, used by permission of the author

In his response to my request for permission to use this poem, David wrote, "'s also my favorite poem in the book. One of the things I like about it is the juxtaposition of far and fair and how just the addition of one letter can change a word completely. I wish I could say that was a conscious decision on my part, but I'm not sure that it was. (Uh . . .can't remember.) Happy accidents can sometimes make a writer look much better than he is."

I got the "Bracketology" in the title of this post from Burkin and Yaris' post, "March Madness in the Classroom."

To try Bracketology in word study, check out this post at Thinking Stems.

Heidi has the roundup at my juicy little universe. Welcome back to Poetry Friday, Heidi!


  1. Anonymous6:55 AM

    I love the idea for using bracketology for poetry! Last year I used it for reviewing vocabulary skills such as syllables, prefix, suffix, spelling rules...

    A colleague of mine also did it with picture books. So many ways to use this tool especially with March Madness time just around the corner!

    1. This is a FABULOUS idea for word study! Can't wait to try week!

  2. I must find a way to bring bracketology to our middle school - such a cool idea! Love these last two lines of The Sea Turtle:
    "Rare instruments of nature,
    fair compass in a carapace."
    Poetry makes us see the ordinary in extraordinary ways - and that's a wonderful example.

  3. What a nice variant on the madness competition idea -- for one student to ponder their favorite poems this way! He had total control over the arrangement. Thumbs up.

  4. Love the idea of using bracketology in the classroom. To review and ponder poems this way is just too cool. Your student must feel extra pleased that the Sea Turtle poem was also the poet's favorite. :)

  5. You know what's funny - when I saw 'March Madness' on your post I immeditely thought of the #MMPoetry2013 competition, not basketball! Guess I've got poetry on the brain. But what a great idea, to rank poems like this...thanks for sharing!

  6. I love that the students vote for the books to be included in their Battle of the Books - a much different way to handle the competition than when my oldest daughter participated in it in 5th grade. (she's in 10th grade now). Creating a bracket for poems from a book is so creative - and I love David's response to the "winning" poem. Sweet. =)

  7. I love this idea for the classroom. Would it work for the CYBILS Poetry (HA!)

  8. Mary Lee,
    A bracket of poems? I love it! I also love his choice. I was so excited to find David Elliot's, In the Sea, during my last trip to Cover-to-Cover. My students have loved In the Wild. His writing makes a perfect mentor for young poets and his poems are a delight to read.

    I also was impressed that you contacted him about his poem --- and his response. I think "happy accidents" are the best!

    Finally, I'm looking forward to your upcoming challenge. I'll be looking forward to cheering you on during the event. (with a little voting too)


  9. Wow! This is such a great idea! I agree with the others, I need to find a way to use the brackets with my middle school students. Our curriculum is becoming more and more test-driven, we need to have some creativty too!

  10. My daughter is in the fifth grade as well, I was just thinking how she would love this activity as well. :) Will share with her teacher, thanks for sharing this! :)

  11. What a great way to get kids excited about reading and writing. The Sea turtle is a brilliant poem, even if it was a magical accident. I need to put this book on my list.

  12. Fabulous post! Love your stories and the way you weave classroom ideas, learning action, poetry, the poet's words... Really, great work here. Thank you!

  13. Thanks for the support, Officer Hahn. I'm so late now as to have not much to add to the kudos on this very provocative post. I'm not much into competition, but having kids pit writing against writing in their OWN individual judging is such a cool way around that. Win win win!

  14. Interesting story. I really enjoyed it during reading it.

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