I’m amazed by the creativity coursing over the blogosphere. It makes me feel a bit of a slacker, as I’m not adding much to the April poetry celebration. I suppose my novice blogger status justifies my lack of original contributions…maybe next year I’ll commit to something creative for the month.
Today I’m in Manistee, Michigan for my last school visit of the school year. Actually, it might be my last school visit until 2014-2015, since we are spending next year in Durham, North Carolina for my husband’s sabbatical, and all of my school visit invitations come from Michiganders. (Any North Carolinians out there reading this? I’d love to visit your neighborhood school!)
I think this visit will be a treat. Instead of speaking to hundreds of kids at an assembly, I’ve got three small sessions (about 50 kids each) for the young author’s day at the Intermediate School District. Each teacher from all the elementary schools in the county selected two students to represent their class.
Typically my school visits focus on my nonfiction writing. I like to present a few approaches to the same topic–usually an informational text, a creative nonfiction story, and a poem. I try to make my presentations as interactive as I can with a large group, having younger kids act out parts of a story and older kids participate by reciting poems for two voices. I ask the kids lots of questions– and I wear funny hats!
Because I’m working with small groups in Manistee I’m planning to take the participation one step further–we’re going to write a group poem at the end of the 2-3 (FROGGIES!) and 4-6 (BATS) sessions. I’ve led poetry and nonfiction writing workshops, but this will be different–it will be a short (5-10 minute?) activity, and the entire group will write one poem. I’ll start by having kids “collect” their favorite words from a few poems. Then we’ll brainstorm words for a diamante (frog to fly; bat to moth.) I’ll plug in some of the words we brainstorm to write a draft. Not sure how well this will work, but I’ll give it the old AprilPoetryMonth try.
Do you have any quick poetry activities that have worked well with large groups? If you’d like, share them in the comments!
The diamantes were a nice way to wrap up the sessions, and got many of the quieter kids participating. I think if I were to do this again, I might compose several diamantes in a session, to use more of the kids’ suggestions, or have the kids work in small groups. It’s pretty easy to fill in a pre-made template, and doing several would let more students feel like they had a hand in creating a poem. And they came up with plenty of strong words. Here are the poems that we put together:
leaping pouncing bulging
pond tongue wings eyes
buzzing crawling struggling
by Manistee Michigan Young Authors Participants, Grades 2-3
swooping spinning hunting
predator cabin prey wings
fluttering dashing diving
by Manistee Michigan Young Authors Participants, Grades 4-6
I love that the older kids suggested quiet as an adjective for both the bat and moth–and how well that bridges the beginning and the end.