Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9/18 - Poetry

Had my 1st/2nd grade group today. There is something about this age I always find kinda tough – they’re sort of in an in between stage, not quite mature and as focused as they will be as third graders, but beyond the kinder stage as well. It can be hard to hold their attention and focus, at least for me – I really like and do great with the Kinder’s, and I love teaching 3rd through 6th, but something about 1st and 2nd is always a struggle. I’m working to get them in synch with what we’ll be doing though, and today we got started on composing poems about ourselves. It was an idea I took from William Ayers – I’ve been reading a lot of his work lately, and I got the idea from To Teach. I’m staring off this year by introducing them to the idea of community, and how we will be a community as a classroom, and we’ll connect with the community that we live in and then the world at large, but we are going to first start by understanding ourselves. We started that a bit with the ‘what I know/what I want to know’ project yesterday, and my next project is going to have them write about themselves, then draw a self portrait, then also make the ‘Picasso’ portraits, where they cut up a photo of themselves that I took, then glue it back together. I’m hoping/thinking these will turn out pretty cool.

Hard at work

Anyway, the nice part of the poem I idea I got from Ayers is that it’s formatted, which is how I usually start off creative writing with young (and sometimes older) students. I laid out the framework of the poem, which starts with their name, then three descriptive words, then they complete sentences that start with I love, I hate, I am afraid of, I wish for, then they close it with their last name. The 1st/2nd grade group got it in theory, but it took them a while to complete it – they actually seemed to be pretty excited about what they had accomplished with it when finished though . My 5th graders were able to grasp the idea fully – we did an example poem pretending we were their team leader, Mr. Justin – but they were also a little slow and apprehensive to get writing. They definitely associate writing with something negative, which bums me out, so I am going to specifically have to work with them to do some fun stuff to get them excited about it for future projects. I think next week when they get to do some real hands on stuff – cutting and pasting and painting and collage, etc – it will be easier to get them into the literacy aspect of the class.

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