Friday, February 23, 2007

Rhyme Time

Over on Learning and Laptops, Maria – who is a ninth grader – wrote this:
Imagine: A place where students are adults and teachers are students. Imagine: A place where information is pulled, not fed. Imagine: A place where poetry can be real, deep, and fun at the same time.

Welcome to Ms. Smith's 9th Grade Honors English Class!!! Beware: This is NOT education as usual, please come prepared to learn in a way never experienced before. Please come excited to try new things, and to do your best, no matter the outcome.

. . . So boom! Out came student-taught poetry explications, publishing of our poems, and a opportunity that, instead of ogling Shakespeare's brilliance, we could to create our own! And our poems wouldn't simply be pieces of paper with a red grade, they would be published on the world-wide internet for others to enjoy and reply with their feedback.

The limits of blogging were pushed past the max as, each night from my computer at home, I would post the rough draft of one of my poems. Then I could scroll through all my classmates' poems, and discover new ideas and ways to improve. The next time I checked back, it was thrilling to read others' comments and feedback. It felt like a giant fishbowl, where instead of agonizing over a poem by myself, I could throw it out to a ton of different minds and we could build it up together, achieving an end result that I knew was truly my very best work.
If you go to the post, there are links to multiple examples on their blog. I particularly like this one.

Then, over on Anne Smith's ninth grade blog, the students in that class responded to this:
Students were asked to compose poems following the "I am" poem format revealing in one line who they truly are. This line is then repeated throughout the poem as they speak of their wishes, dreams, hopes and fears.
Students not only posted their poems as comments, but also commented on each other’s poems.

If you have a few moments, please check out the posts, read through some of the poems, and offer your constructive criticism in the comments.

Image Citation: Poetry and dreams, originally uploaded by Cher Amio.


  1. This looks awesome. I also went to Anne's sight to read some of the kids' poetry. The part I loved the most was the teacher like feedback the studetns were giving each other :) I love the throught of them pulling the information or reaching for it instead of them being "fed" it!

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  3. Clearly the students in Ms. Smith's class are having a great time writing original poetry. I applaud their efforts. However, I was disturbed by one comment from Maria's post. She wrote,"Instead of ogling Shakespeare's brilliance, we... create our own!"

    Please, Maria, continue reading Shakespeare! The great poets from the past will instruct and inspire you as you develop your own writing style. Shakespeare is the best writer in the English language--and that is why teachers ask you to "ogle" his works.

    I can tell that your class has probably read and been influenced by Shel Silverstein, who writes extremely clever rhyming couplets. Silverstein is used in elementary school because little kids fall in love with his rhythm, rhyme, and humor.

    High school students are asked to read Shakespeare because his thinking and style are more complex and because his vocabulary is more sophisticated. From him, you'll learn what a sonnet is and what blank verse sounds like. You'll also tap into a vast, rich vocabulary that--if you absorb some of it-- will make your own writing more sophisticated.

    Continue having fun with words and rhymes. But don't think the masters have nothing to teach you. If you keep reading Shakespeare, you'll step up to a higher level of thinking and writing. Shel Silverstein's adorable couplets will only bring you so far.

  4. Cheryl - it would probably be more helpful to post this comment on Maria's post, not mine, since you are "speaking" to her. Plus, she's more likely to see it . . .

  5. Karl--You're right! I'll post this on Anne's blog. I hope Maria will see it there.