I work with teachers through Cabrini University and the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project at West Chester University. Since the teachers are from a variety of grade levels, I chose to read both books. One thing that I've noticed, and some shared here, is that some teachers and students are hesitant to jump into poetry. I think that the format and tone of these books is so inviting and approachable that they will help many people (of all ages) to overcome that sense that 'poetry is not for me.' Also, I'm looking forward to seeing how teachers and their students respond to the characters whose stories are developed through the poems. I'm looking forward to hearing how and with whom others are planning to share these books!
I agree with Janice. It is often difficult for teachers to jump into poetry. These books provide an excellent framework to guide instruction.
I am reading both books and have started with You Just Wait.
Although I am enjoying the book I had some concern regarding CRP, that I noticed on page 10 and 11. In particular I thought some of the choices in the Powerbook were quite limiting. For example, church goer was included by no mention of mosque or synagogue. Also, Asian, White, and African American are included but not other ethnicities.
It does give spaces to write in information, but it is also important for children to see themselves represented in the text.
What are your thoughts?
Dana, that's an interesting point. I think in terms of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, it would be helpful to talk over the options on pages 10 and 11 of You Just Wait, and ask the students questions such as "Which groups do you think should be added, and why?" It seems to me that the intention of the activity is to be inclusive, but it's also a good reminder that we can unintentionally put limits on our views of diversity. I was also glad that the structure had space for the students to add personal attributes that were not presented. What do others think?
Dear Dana: Janice is right. We intended for this list to be inclusive, but I hear you and I painfully acknowledge your point: to have many categories but not to find oneself in any of them could be more demoralizing than to be excluded from a standard handful. In my defense, it was my colleague Sylvia who wrote this list--not me--but I approved it. Note: I would've listed identifying terms that would've been very different, such as Eater, Web Surfer, Fantasy Sports Guy, Dog Lover, Shoes Fan (to describe the attributes of my family members). Indeed, many of the descriptors that Sylvia chose came right out of her life: Redhead (her daughter is a proud redhead), Church goer (her husband is a pastor, so she is in church a couple of times a week), Movie lover (she sees 100+ movies per year). It would be interesting to ask kids to create categories BEFORE they read any of these, just to see how they self-identify. One boy in a rural area approached me and the burning question he had was: "Are there books of poems about hunting?" For him, the descriptor Hunter should've been on the list. If you had to choose 3 descriptors, what would YOU choose?
For those who have gotten into Here We Go, what do you think of the first PowerPack? I liked the way the authors invited students to draw their responses to the "Just Imagine" questions. I think that drawing can be a great way to elicit student response in a creative, non-threatening way.
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets, and I love "Blue Bucket" so I was happy to see that as the anchor poem. I think it would be interesting to see what inferences students can make from Jenna and Ameera's poems, especially since these characters will be recurring in the book.
Did anyone try the "What If?" poem with their students, or think they will?
I'm reading "Here We Go" but unfortunately I do not have any students with whom to use the ideas and strategies, so I'm planning to do the activities on my own. On my first quick reading of the book, I was curious why there were relatively few specific teaching suggestions. My hope is that whoever uses this book with students explores the chapters in advance and gets a good appreciation for the structure of the powerpacks before just starting in at page 1. On my second reading, I realized there are several ways that the poems and activities in each powerpack interact with each other. One is the theme. I find the themes very powerful, meaningful and contemporary. Another level of interaction are the clues imbedded in the poems as to the personal stories of the four characters. I found myself flipping back and forth between poems and the pictures of the four characters, adding more and more information to my knowledge of each personality. And then there is the level of various styles of poems. Some of the styles are not the usual ones introduced in poetry units, making it a more interesting presentation. A poem with a question or a poem with opposites were two such styles.
So now I'm off to write my "What If?" poem.
As a reading specialist at elementary and secondary levels, I discovered the great value of poetry for all students, but especially for struggling readers. Generally, the format and length of most poems does not seem as daunting as full pages of text.
Also, the rhythm and rhyme can be so engaging, and the content and meaning so profound for all students.
Another aspect of poetry that makes it especially helpful for struggling readers is that poetry is meant to be read aloud and shared, two features that encourage repeated readings and practice for a real purpose.
Poetry is an inclusive and unique type of text that, with enthusiastic teacher guidance, has the potential to build community in the classroom. Maybe that’s why I have more poetry books than anything else in my professional library!
Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, in Here We Go and You Just Wait, provide such a teacher-friendly approach to poetry. I love the Power Pack format of an engaging activity, an anchor poem, a response poem, a mentor poem, and a prompt. It's a lovely guided way to lead students to reading and writing poetry.
The first poem, in Here We Go, What If? by Naomi Shihab Nye, is so powerful and so fitting, especially in today's political times. I love the way it starts off: "What if, instead of war, we shared our buckets of wind and worry? Tell me the story you carry there...."I can imagine it starting amazing conversations in the classroom and stimulating wonderful poems by the students.
One thing I learned from using poetry in the classroom is the importance of the teacher being part of the classroom learning community. If we want students to take a chance and share their personal thoughts, we have to be willing to do so ourselves.
What if I read a poem with my students every week
and we wrote about it honestly in our writing journals,
sharing thoughts and feelings, and responding to others?
What difference could it make in our classroom?
LOVE your poem, Carol!!! What a WONDERFUL "What If"!!!!
I would like to share my poem, as I completed the activity since I am not currently a teacher as of yet for "What if....."
Instead of hatred, judgement or being mean,
Loved each other for all I different qualities we have as human beings,
Loved each other for all of our flaws,
Loved each other for being in different cultures and races,
Loved each other for being our true selves,
Maybe if we loved each other than we hate we could change the world
Nancy: I'm happy that you're doing the activities in HERE WE GO on your own! Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, the poet who wrote the anchor poem "Look for the Helpers," invited people to share the results of that PowerPack's writing prompt at her blog. Take a look! https://michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/search?q=here+we+go
Great poem. That question format seems to make it easy to find a topic and promote thinking on a variety of levels.
I have finished my poems for powerpacks 1-4. Each type of poem offered its own challenge and its own reward. I found I was able to write about very serious things, but was also able to be a bit whimsical. I felt encouraged to use a variety of words and devices, such as similes and alliteration. I'm looking forward to powerpacks 5-8.
Excellent, Nancy--I hope you enjoy doing PowerPacks 5-8! Please share one of your poems, if you're comfortable!
The poem I chose that spoke to me in "Here We Go" was actually the first poem of power pack 1 titled "Blue Bucket". Coming from the field of psychology I really enjoyed how the poem allows the reader to imagine what it would be like to live in another person's predicament. I would use the activity "Just imagine in my classroom due to our current events in politics with issues concerning immigration and the war in Afghanistan. The "Just Imagine" activity would be useful in a class for grades 5-8 so they can interact with one another and share their persons opinions, which would make reading fur them more fun.
The other poem I shouted reading was "Lost" by Kate Coombs. The poem touches on any issue that many middle schoolers go through, such as friendships that may be tested with bad experiences. The poem also reminded me of lyrics that could be in a rap song. The poem had rythm to it, especially because it rhymed. Now and days or students are into rap music , such they would really enjoy making their own rhyming poem such as in the power play activity "Rhyme Time". The activity would help students use their sense of creativity.
Diamond: Thank you for sharing your beautiful "What If" poem and ways to use these poems and activities with your students. YES! We need more teachers like you!!!
Diamond, I also loved your poem, especially the way you repeated the phrase "Loved each other for..." I thought that was powerful. I also agree that poetry is a great way to lead into conversations about current events. Connecting rap music and poetry is another authentic way to show students that poetry is for everyone. I enjoyed reading your ideas!
I don't like it.
Adelaide made it up.
Squeeze your thoughts into a number.
I had trouble writing a cinquain that I liked. I found I had to keep changing words to fit the pattern. It was awkward. So I looked up "cinquain" in Wikipedia. I thought perhaps it was an old French form or a Shakespearian device. As it turns out, the American Cinquain was developed in the early tw
entieth century by poet Adelaide Crapsey. This was of special interest to me because my sister had a friend named Robin Crapsey who was Adelaide Crapsey's niece. I always wondered why the poems I see occasionally by Crapsey are so short. Now I understand.
The Wikipedia article went on to say that there are many variations to the cinquain form. It says:
e didactic cinquain is closely related to the Crapsey cinquain. It is an informal cinquain widely taught in elementary schools and has been featured in, and popularized by, children's media resources, including Junie B. Jones and PBS Kids. This form is also embraced by young adults and older poets for its expressive simplicity. The prescriptions of this type of cinquain refer to word count, not syllables and stresses. Ordinarily, the first line is a one-word title, the subject of the poem; the second line is a pair of adjectives describing that title; the third line is a three-word phrase that gives more information about the subject (often a list of three gerunds); the fourth line consists of four words describing feelings related to that subject; and the fifth line is a single word synonym or other reference for the subject from line one.
Dancing, falling, drifting
Covering everything it touches
I am liking "Here We Go". I am learning and trying new things!
I chose to read both texts Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book and You Just Wait: A Poetry Friday Power Book by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Currently these books are a requirement one of my courses at Widener University. The age group I currently teach is a little young for both selected texts (Preschool 3 years olds). But I am learning a lot from both texts. I have a great love for poetry and both of these books have great poems and activities for young writers to use in the classroom I can to wait to be able to try them out one day.