24 April 2007

Teaching Poetry Spring 2007: Lesson #5 — Revision Revisited & Found Poems

Today's class extended our discussion on revision, and it seems that the idea of vague or subjective terms continue to elude the young poets. As you may recall from last week's post, I assigned them the task of circling all the vague/subjective words like good and cute from their poems, and then to revise them to be more concrete.

I started today's lesson with the reading of two kids poems. The first one used a rather clever and classic line about candy smelling like roses in the spring. She hadn't brought her original, but we had her name some of the words she circled and removed. Although her piece didn't really succeed in helping me taste the candy, she did pique my interest with her choices of metaphor and language.

My younger son, Baylin, was the second to read. He started with his first not so good (to use the language of his original) draft, and everyone agreed that it wasn't even close to helping us taste his new chapstick. His second draft provide concrete tastes of fruits and a comparison of banana and potato. The class agreed that his revision worked, except perhaps for his end line that switches from a food theme to an electronics theme.

I then attempted to launch into the next lesson, alliteration, but I got the cue from the teacher to continue working with the revision process. So, after doing a quick read through of two volunteers, I chose to work with a girl's poem about her dog. But before I began, I asked if she had thick skin, which launched into a discussion about staying strong and not taking feedback personally.

After identifying weak words, I broke the class in two and had each half work on a different line. As the first few finished, I had them pass out something that put big smiles on their mugs. Each of them received a pen and a little notebook with instructions to FIND POETRY. Since Thursday is an early release, I won't be teaching again until next Tuesday. In the meantime, I sent them out on a mission to find poetry everywhere, to keep their notebooks close, and to report back on Tuesday with what they found.

I read a few of poems I found as examples, and they got really excited:
  • closed clique of clans
  • I feel privy to a party and it feels pretty good.
  • No more tingle in the tangle
  • Girls in boots are the best.
  • Six stealthy snakes slither sideways through sand.

To help incite enthusiasm for the mission, Mr. Schmeling is going to have a few share their findings between now and next week. I look forward to their findings.

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