Sshh, poets at work
The students are speedwriting rhyming couplets. The room is completely quiet except for the soft sounds of pencil on paper. Judging by the second graders' focus, it’s evident that they are absorbed in a mental game with words and sounds … and creating poems they can’t wait to share!
All second graders at Increase Miller Elementary participated in a poetry-writing workshop this week with Vermont children’s poet Ted Scheu. “April is Poetry Month,” said second grade teacher Heather Resnick. “This workshop is a favorite way to celebrate poetry. It also enhances our current unit ‘Stepping into the World of the Story,’ which exposes second graders to all different genres, including poetry.”
Sharing Work builds Confidence
warming up students' writing muscles
Like athletes preparing for the big game, Scheu led the second graders in plenty of warmup exercises for their writing muscles—including playing rhyming games and reading other people’s poems.
Just listening to Scheu is like a poetry pushup. “Okeydokey, artichokey,” is one of his favorite lines, along with “Do me a flavor.”
“One of the things I always do is read my first draft out loud,” said Scheu. “It’s the best way to check your writing’s rhythm and rhyme.” He directs the whole class to softly read their couplets out loud. The room is filled with murmured poetry.
Soon, students share their rhyming couplets with the class.
Elke wrote ...
An egg without a yolk.
A town without folk.
Ashley shared ...
Recess without play.
Night without day.
Henry read ...
A pirate without a hat.
Baseball without a bat.
Kate said ...
A classroom without friends.
A road without bends.
Students develop as writers and readers
Both Scheu and Resnick loved the students’ couplets!
Scheu left the students with one final tip. “What’s the most important path to poetry?” he asked the students. “You’ll be surprised to know it’s not writing. It’s reading. As you read, listen for the things that sound beautiful.”
“Bye bye, french-fries,” said Scheu. “Take care, teddy bears.”