Friday, June 29, 2007

Conversations inspire poetry

Poetry Friday has me thinking about how as a mom and a teacher I can subtly help my kids notice and begin feeling poetry in the world around them. I think children begin to create understanding when they are having conversations and asking questions. So, I decided to just talk about poetry with my oldest son Mo (8) this summer. Here are some of our conversations that I am hoping will help him begin to create his own understandings about poetry (I hope I have given you enough background). Just an observations are written in italics.

Early June...
"I am a good poet mom."
"I agree Mo, what makes you feel like you are a good poet?"
" My teacher said I was."

(Teachers: Don't you feel like we (our words) are such a big part of the identity piece for our primary kids and Peter Johnson, author of Choice Words, helped me recognize this in myself and refers to this as labeling)

Mid June...
Knowing he felt like he is a good poet, I suggested he write a poem after we visited the beach on vacation. He does enjoy writing and sat on his own one evening a few days after the beach and recorded this in his notebook we picked up at Dollar General(I love to buy notebooks and notepads there and my kids are following suit). He wrote:

Big fish
Anosemons (enormous)
Antcoves (anchovies)
(If you notice, this is an acrostic poem(Bonita Beach). I was happy he knew this particular form for poetry but I wanted more for him. (He was writing words that went with the beach but some of the words didn't have anything to do with his own experience at the beach.) I wanted him to know poetry sings, that it tells our stories, that it helps us look at things in new ways, that is everywhere. So I am on a quest to help him discover poetry can be different than a form. I have to keep in mind that Mo is my son, and my goal is to observe times that we can talk about poetry take advantages of conversations without teacher pressure.

Late June...
Mo picked up a small stack of books to read at home one morning (the same morning we decided to turn off the video games). In his stack, he choose, Peter's Chair, Tippy- Tippy -Tippy,Hide!, DW Flips and I love you as much. (I thought his selections were so interesting...I love you as much is an old board book we've had for years) He read them in my room and was even practicing somersaults as he read Marc Brown's directions in DW Flips.

I asked him afterward which story felt most like poetry and why.

He said, " I love you as much because each page starts with said and that doesn't make sense."
I said, "Do you mean it doesn't sound like a sentence?"
"Ya, you know said the mother horse to her child' and said the mother goose to her child and the ocean is deep and endless blue sky are poetry too."
I said, "Don't you love how the whole book feels like poetry."

Here is some of what the author writes in I love you as much:

Said the mother goose to her child,
"I love you as much as the endless blue sky."

Said the mother whale to her child,
" I love you as much as the ocean is deep."

He recognizes the language in books and has a sense that poetry can be written differently. How can I get him to transfer this? How can I get my students to transfer?

Later June
After a morning of berry picking at a local farm, the boys and I were sampling the goodies at home. We ate right through 2 pints of strawberries and I asked them what we could write in a poem about these strawberries...
Mo immediately said some phrases that he felt sounded like poetry:
"yummy in my tummy"
"tongue in heaven"
"sweet like candy"
" Wow!" I said. You really sound like the author of I love you as much!

He had a feel for language and could easily talk to me about what it would sound like in a poem. He also had experienced the strawberry's taste and therefore, I think was successful brainstorming. ( I'll have to have this conversation about what I noticed with him). I will be looking for opportunities to talk some more with him in July (and maybe even get his thoughts to paper). I'll let you know how it goes.

Any thoughts? Talk to you about this again at the end of July!!!


Kacey said...

Wow...great reflection. Maybe we can come up with a cool poetry/art lesson. Bring some ideas to Florida or when I see you on Monday!

Sarah Amick said...

This is a very interesting piece. Very thought provoking. Recently I heard Georgia Heard at a conference and she mentioned how scientists and poets were very similiar because of their abilities to observe things. I wonder if brainstorming words for objects found in nature would be helpful for him? Like all the words that could describe a seashell. Taking those observations and then creating lines for a poem.
I am going to be trying a lot more poetry after listening to her comments.
Thank you for sharing this.