Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A poem has the ability to surprise

Writing poetry is a process that takes time, revision and courage to put yourself in front of your peers. To help, we teach children a process called critique so they can see their writing through others' eyes.  They learn how to give feedback that is kind and useful to the writer.  It's hard at first and children often give feedback like "I like it!"

In 2-3 children learn to give a "compliment sandwich" - feedback that includes first a compliment, then a suggestion, then a compliment.  The writer can take the advice  - or not - and continue revising.  The kids also read great poems, noticing what makes them great.

Here is an article by Mark Yakich in the Atlantic, What's a Poem?  You read it.  It reads you.  An object lesson.  He says, Because of its special status—set apart in a magazine or a book, all that white space pressing upon it—a poem still has the ability to surprise, if only for a moment which is outside all the real and virtual, the aural and digital chatter that envelopes it, and us.

Here is the poem of a third grader, Madeline, after revising her first draft with the help of critique.

I am...

I am birds singing
I am math
I am water cascading over rocks
I am books with a good story
I am music fresh from the violin
I am water cascading over rocks
I am fall
I am winter
I am water cascading over rocks
I am wild animals
I am a creek
I am the ocean hustling and bustling with life
I am water cascading over rocks
I am cute seals sunning on boulders
I am water cascading over rocks
I am the earth recovering from humans

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