Monday, April 23, 2007

Kick up your heels for spring!

It was a pretty mellow day, but I did wear a light and flowery, flowy dress, which always makes one feel springlike.

As I quipped to Boyfriend, I successfully bluffed my way through the day today. Even though it's poetry time and the students should be reading poetry and all that, I'm going to stick with the basics: read for 25-30 minutes and write a quick summary and response. I believe they need to just sit still and read their own book at their own pace. Especially now that the weather will start getting warmer and they'll start getting squirmier, I hope that books and a reading routine will settle them.

On that track, reading-time music is now a must; since I realized that iTunes is on our class computers, I uploaded a bunch of CDs, mostly classical but also some Disney classics, as well as some of my favorite mellow stuff, like Jack Johnson or a compilation called "French Cafe," which goes over extremely well with the students. And no, I'm not being sarcastic! They love it, and I love it, and I love that they love it. I don't really have time to do this fantastic project idea by TMAO, but I still think it's a good idea to begin expanding their music-view beyond the current crop of utter crap.

Anyway. Today I bridged the gap between these two units. Actually, not really. We began by drawing some of what I named "pledge trees" in honor of Earth Day. They drew their own tree, and in the roots wrote three things they already do to help the planet. In the actual tree, they wrote three to five things they will pledge to do in the future to help the planet.

Then we abruptly (so much for that bridging...I just realized that they could have written a poem on their tree as well...see, this is what reflective blogging is all about, even though mine is mostly reviewing...) moved into poetry. I wanted a nice, easy transition into the unit, so first they completed a K/W chart (L to come later, obviously) about poetry. That way they got to get used to thinking about poetry, they had to remember things they've previously learned, and I can assess what things they already know and what to work on. For example, just about all my students have previously done haiku and acrostics (You may or may not know this, but in Japanese you don't pluralize, so you shouldn't say "haikus", just "I wrote five haiku today!"), but that's it as far as different forms go. Which means we're all systems go for limericks, ballads, odes, cinquain, maybe diamante (which a couple kids mentioned but didn't really know anything about).

Their questions were interesting: a few mentioned coming up with topics, several more mentioned rhyming, and a good number asked about the first poem--who wrote it, where, why. Isn't that a fascinating question? I have never thought about that. I'm not sure if it's an answerable question, but it could certainly lead to finding out some interesting historical information.

The next step was a quick write, in response to any or all of these questions: What is poetry? What does poetry mean to you? Why write in poetry instead of prose?

We ran out of time then, so tomorrow we'll share thoughts on that, and I'll give them some "notes" on general info about poetry, and then we'll read and discuss a couple poems from the collection How to Eat a Poem, which I got for free last year from that one poetry website that I can never find.

And now for something different:
One of my students said hi on chat and asked how I was doing. I said fine how are you? and here's what he wrote:

"gud cusz u suk as" [?! Do you see what I see?]
"Sry I said im suckin on ice"
I was like, liar! And he replied, no, that's really what I was saying.


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