07 May 2006

Teaching Poetry: Lesson 5

Excuse the belated post, but my week swifted past last week. I was only allotted one day last week to teach Mrs. Hansen's class poetry.

I had prepared a couple collaborative writing exercises , but had to drop them. Apparently, the students had made colorful paper from recycled material and wanted to write Mother's Day poems on them. So, I taught them how to write a sonnet...all within one half hour's time.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking? How could you even begin to teach the rhyme scheme, iambic pentameter, and scansion to fourth graders in that amount of time. And the answer is that I didn't.

I focused on rhyme scheme and theme.

We had a history lesson around the form, talking about Shakespeare and such. A few kids even knew that a sonnet typically addresses the theme of love. I talked a little about iambic pentameter and feet a bit before launching into the heart of the days lesson: rhyme scheme. To do so, I needed to first discuss stanzas and the different types.

Now, many of you reading this are aware that a sonnet consists of 14 lines broken up into 3 quatrains and 1 couplet. I laid out that historically persistent sonnet rhyme scheme on the board and asked for a word from one student and a rhyme from the other:
A = you
B = glad
A = boo
B = sad

C = cat
D = cheese
C = bat
D = please

E = elephant
F = as
E = shunt
F = jazz

G = bee
G = knee

Note the E rhyme, elephant and shunt. One student asserted the word "elephant," so I presented the class with the challenge of finding a rhyme for it. After a whole slough of made-up words and near rhyme, we came upon "shunt." There's something to be said for the positive effects that online role-playing games have had on the younger students' vocabularies.

This was the first step in the composition of a collaborative "lightning" sonnet, or at least a variation on it. The next step was to create lines, so I asked for the first suggestion, then asked for another if I thought we could do better. The toughest part was keeping the kids on theme. Many starting saying "ugly" things for the sake of humor, or making each line a separate poem. Alas, we stayed on track and came up with this poem. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we had in creating it:
I love you.
You make me glad.
I will never say boo
To make you sad.

You're a love cat.
You're my precious cheese.
You're swift as a bat.
Never leave me, please.

Let's go ride an elephant!
I love you as
much as a shunt
between me and jazz.

You would save me from the killer bee
That just landed on my knee.


Mike Young said...

"Let's go ride an elephant!
I love you as
much as a shunt
between me and jazz."

This is better than 90% of published poetry.

Three cheers for my flighty contrarianism.


Kyle Stich said...

Thanks for the praise, Mike. I'll be sure to pass it on to the kids.