By Lynne R. Dorfman
How can you tempt your students to take the writing plunge in the beginning of the year? I have always found that poetry is the great equalizer for student writers. Especially, the found poem helps writers gain confidence in creating something quite wonderful. Mentor texts for found poems are everywhere: newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, novels, picture books, or even other poems. Like a collage art form, the writer simply takes existing texts and refashions them as a poem. In its purest form, a found poem retains the exact words of the original text with a few omissions or additions. The writer creates a poem, making conscious decisions about line breaks and the order of the ideas.
Found poetry accomplishes several goals for readers and writers. First of all, it clearly gives students a chance to read like a writer – to find the best in prose (what often sounds like poetry). It asks readers to reread many times in order to write an effective poem; thus, deepening comprehension of text. Found poetry helps all children to be successful. It will help you get what all teachers want – 100% engagement. Found poetry is easily differentiated by text choices. In addition, it is easy to build in opportunities for collaboration. Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
Last week, I shared how I organize my classroom library. But how did I build my library? How did I know what books to include? And how do I keep it fresh and inviting for students? This week, I share the answers to these questions and more.
START AT HOME
Three years ago, my first attempt at a classroom library was a collection of titles that I’d read during and after college. Well-loved copies of books like A Farewell to Arms, Pride and Prejudice, and Mrs. Dalloway sat along side more contemporary fiction I read for pleasure when I had the time, titles like A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Time Traveler’s Wife. As an English major and general book nerd, it was a lot of books! That was also the year I was teaching AP Lit, so many of those “English major” titles were going to come in handy with the independent reading I was planning on having my seniors do.
But I soon realized that while many of these titles were great for AP Lit students, they weren’t so great for my other classes, Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
I wrote earlier this year about my efforts to foster a culture of reading in my classroom. I reflected on the ways reading has shaped how I experience the world. I considered how my reading practices and preferences affect my students, both positively and negatively.
As a result, I dedicated more and more class time to independent reading this year than I have ever before. I replaced mini-grammar exercises with book talks. I read the books my students read and recommended to me. I cut down on whole class novel analysis and gave students what they said they needed most—time. Time to read, read, and read some more.
But I’d be remiss not to also mention that extra ingredient which made our reading community possible: a classroom library. Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
Every year as April approaches, my colleagues and I gather together to make a decision. What poem will we choose to celebrate National Poetry Month this year?
For the last nine years, students at Conestoga High School have marked National Poetry Month with a celebration known as “One Poem, One ‘Stoga.” Each April, every English class takes a break from its regularly scheduled programming to study one poem together. That means that more than 2,000 students, from 14-year-old freshmen to 18-year-old seniors, read the same poem. It’s one of the few shared experiences students have that transcends age, grade, and academic level. Read more
By Rita Sorrentino
“Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it, but to those who need it.” These are the sentiments of Mario Ruoppolo in the film Il Postino. Mario, the temporarily employed peasant postman, is introduced to poetry late in his life through a developing friendship with his only client, the briefly exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda’s passion and Mario’s urgency combine in this tender tale of friendship, love and the power of poetry. In a significant segment of the film, Mario enthusiastically tape-records the beautiful sounds of the Mediterranean island. Seagulls, church bells, waves and fishnets symbolize Mario’s life, love and loyalty, and initiate his desire to express his thoughts and feelings in poetry. Read more