Thursday, November 18, 2004

Workshop + Poems to Read Aloud

I thought I would post a few links that I have found on the internet for things I have found for the oral poetry portion of tomorrow's lesson.

Rita Dove: "Parsley"
Carolyn Forche: "The Colonel"
Li-Young Lee: "My Father, In Heaven, Is Reading Out Loud"
Langston Hughes: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
Gwendolyn Brooks: "We Real Cool" (I really advise listening to this one--it's a surprise!)

How to Read a Poem Out Loud: Poetry 180's take on the situation
ReadWriteThink Lesson Plan

Today Mandy and I did a workshop with the students, and I think it went pretty well. There were no comments that were inappropriate (that I heard) and the students seemed to love telling each other, "I thought it was good!" We had to draw them out a little--what did you think was good? If this was your poem, how would you improve it? Were there any moments of confusion?

For the first class, we ran out of time, but with the second class, we were able to give them some time to revise. I told them this is a big part of their grade, so they need to concentrate and figure out ways to improve the poem, even if they don't keep it that way outside of class. I'm looking forward to seeing if they were able to accept suggestions to change or want to keep it as it is ("There's nothing more I can do--it's got as much detail as it can get!"). It's pretty easy to get them to doing writing prompts, but when you have to actually get them to do some revisions--do a new step in the writing process--they're a bit more resistant. I have heard comments from my cohort members along the same lines. One said today was the most difficult day because he had to get them to do actual work--something is due the next day, so he had to make sure there was a finished product. So much of our energy is put forth trying to nudge these students along to get something done. How students change as they move through high school and college! At what point are we independent enough that we don't need this kind of nudging--or at what point do the teachers finally stop the nudging? When is it 100% on the student and the teacher can reasonably expect some finished product?

Tomorrow is our last day with the students, and I'm actually pretty sad. This was really fun! I think that's an excellent sign for me as a future teacher. I enjoyed the middle school experience (we will go to Crosswinds one final time to work with our Thursday students), but I think I will enjoy teaching high school more. I'm hoping there's less trying to get the students to do their work (or understanding that these older kids understand what they're doing when they goof off) and more teaching content, but I could be in for a rude awakening! It's also intersession, so the classes aren't supposed to be as rigorous as the usual schedule.

Tomorrow's class will consist of--finalizing revisions (this is the priority), doing some spoken word (they've all read their poems out loud constantly, so we will focus on how professionals do reading and bring in some CDs--Mandy had a great idea to have students read some of the poems out loud and follow that up with how the poet reads the poems--the differences there), learning about how they might get published, and any extra time we can use to do some of the work we didn't have time to do earlier. We have an activity with synesthesia, we have a handout to learn the sestina, the first session didn't do the worksheet on similes and metaphors just yet, etc.

One website I found about student publication is here: 2:25 PM. There are also some workshop tips and details on this webpage. It looks like it's designed for high school, but I think it's adaptable. It always depends on the level of the students and where they are at in their writing. One of the girls in my morning class said she got her name published in a book, but she had to pay to have it put in and pay to get the book. My guess is it was either that Who's Who (in American students, etc.) or from Both are basically a rip-off, but I won't say that explicitly. I'll probably say something along the lines of--avoid publications that require you to pay to purchase the book after the poem is published. Yes, there are often fees to submit to contests, but not usually to magazines, and usually these places will give you a free copy, etc.

One of the things to consider with the workshop (that wasn't quite as productive as it could have been, but still a positive experience) is that these kids have only been writing for four days with us. There are so many concepts to learn. Many of our days could have been chopped up and integrated over several days--this way the students could be reminded again and again of concepts. Look at the verbs--would you change anything to paint a more clear picture? etc. They're interested in the overall picture and not the way language can be effective.

Would I do a workshop again? I don't know. I don't know if it was effective. I think what I might want to do is create a small survey for tomorrow so the students can reflect on what they have learned and what was the strongest for them (Which writing exercise did you enjoy the most? Did you like the workshop? Did it help you improve your poem? etc.).

On a random note, I have apparently caught a cold from someone. I can't stop sneezing and I'm starting to get all plugged up. Does your immune system get stronger as you deal with kids more, or will I just have to drink orange juice with more vigor and brace myself for the inevitable? It's quite draining! And why don't I catch more colds from working retail or from going to college? It seems like every time I get into a public school setting, I've gotten sick. I was sick constantly when I was doing my observations. And right before the Praxis--I hope I can get up at 5:30 am and still feel OK on Saturday! (My guess is even if I were healthy, I couldn't! I wonder if I can convince Ryan to drive me so I can get a little extra shut-eye. My guess is probably not...)

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