2015-04-03

Written by Bianca Medina, proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Entergy Louisiana, New Schools for Baton Rouge team at Broadmoor Middle School. 

Poetry doesn’t instantly come to mind when brainstorming ways to teach students proper sentence structure.

 

It’s language can be

more lyrical than academic.

more fragmented than complete.

 

and it can defy capitalization rules

andtraditional                                                w   o   r   d                              sp   ac  ing.

 

Yet, at Broadmoor, a couple of CMs have found that poetry can be an exciting means for students to sharpen their writing skills.

Take, for example, a concept I have introduced to my own ELA students: powerful sentences. Write two-word sentences with one powerful subject and one powerful verb.

  • Ghosts scare.
  • Lions growl.
  • Soldiers march.
  • Birds fly.

They also, of course, make their sentences more complex --but not overdone-- with adverbs and adjectives and prepositional phrases. Writing poems or a few verses, I feel, is one of the best ways to encourage students to practice writing “powerful sentences.”

Math CM Jack Stallard helps one of our 6th-grade students write lines of magnet poetry. She often comes to the CY room after school, and her creations are always quite stunning.

Math CM Jack Stallard creates magnet poetry with our 6th-grade student.

the mean woman fluffed shadows beneath an elaborate symphony

With punctuation: purple honey juice and some chocolate milk, shake me!

With punctuation: I show tiny, black and blue lakes like wind crushing fiddles in rain.

I did this poetry project with two of my starfish a few weeks ago to help them become more interested in writing. I pulled some lines from some of my favorite songs and we wrote our own responses to these lyrics. I wanted to show them the deep connections between songwriting and the construction of poetry. The poem is titled “Star(fish) Stuff.” And it quotes lyrics from the following songs:

“Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix

“Grace” by Jeff Buckley

“Bad Dreams” by Phantogram

“No Child of Mine” by PJ Harvey

“Day ‘N’ Nite” by Kid Cudi

“Anysound” by The Vines

“Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce

“Heroes” by David Bowie

“Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups

Star(fish) Stuff

“Well, she’s walking through the clouds…”

as if nothing can bother her--

sewing more quilt patches for this new earth.

“There’s the moon asking to stay…”

but the sky keeps pulling it away;

and the sun divides loves that should gingerly collide.

“I’m just a scene in a movie…,” she said.

But, still, I want to be a part of the world--

Maybe climb the aluminized screen walls until I reach the top and jump down.

“Hey, child, you’re so full of woe…,” she told herself.

A drop of golden sun would do you some good,

but I don’t know just how to reach that royal sun

“Madness to magnet keeps attracting me…,” she cried out.

But I’m pulling myself to the positive path--

trudging these sinking feet through quicksand fields

“I am a vine, all twisted and frayed…”

Repair myself I’ll try to do--

Use this brick wall I grow on to start anew.

“If I could save time in a bottle…”

I would float through Paris with you.

I’d swim through the celestial eternities and not be blue.

“We could be Heroes, just for one day…”

We can fight crime, and save the day;

finally fly our star stuff selves back to our first home.

And, indeed, “It’s the room, the sun and the sky…”

she’s looking at with a lazy eye.

Finally, it finds a place of repose

to sleep and dream and sleep and dream.

 

These writing activities, I feel, showed our students how beautiful and downright fun writing can be. So,

 

in honor of

National Poetry Month,

go and write

some poems with your students!

 

This website has excellent prompts to use in honor of National Poetry Month: http://www.napowrimo.net/.

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