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!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Will he ever love books and love to read?

Here I am...completely excited but at the same time nervous about the idea of blogging. Excited because I am an addicted blog reader ready to give writing a try. Nervous because I want to write but feel like it has to be perfect (sounds like a student you've had doesn't it). This is my chance to let it go, share experiences I am having in the classroom and at home.

Two weeks into summer and I am ready to throw away the Nintendo DS's that both of my sons have in their hands. So, this morning we (this includes me and my son's...Mo (8), Larry (6) and Curly(4)) agreed to turn off all the electronics and read. The boys were off to choose from our collection of books as well as the stack we recently borrowed from the Northwest Library (my favorite around town).

Larry easily picked out an old and safe favorite that I have read aloud at home many times. He moved around the upstairs as he read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After reading it he proudly walked into my room to show me his accomplishment. He looked spent but
I wanted to understand how he was feeling. I asked, "What did you love about the book?"
He said, "I didn't love it. It took too long to read all the flaps." I was thinking the flaps were one of the best parts of the book because they are interactive. Then I had to let go of my thoughts and really think about him. He didn't enjoy reading it. It was too long. He was only reading it because we had set aside time to read but he was proud. So as I would do in the classroom, I shared all the things I noticed about him as a reader. We agreed to start our next quiet time with me reading to him (letting him pick his favorites) and I would help him look for some shorter stories he can read alone because we have read them together many times (books like I went Walking, School Bus and Not a Box). I am also going to slip them in the pocket close to his seat in our van.

I would love to share Mo and Curly's story but I am out of time...another post.

I often feel responsible for helping Larry love reading. I feel like letting go of what I want and thinking about him is big and often hard for me. Note to is his reading identity.