I signed up my morning ELA group for voting on the March Madness Poetry going on at Think, Kid, Think! The poetry rounds are open to public voting, but this year Ed DeCaria invited students to participate. I jumped in with both feet not knowing what I was getting into.
We missed the first voting round because I was dealing with getting the site unblocked from our school network. While the technology department is usually very accommodating, it took a few back and forth emails to accomplish this. The site was all ready for Monday morning’s round 2.
My students knew nothing about this, and frankly, I hadn’t prepared myself much either, so Monday was not the best day to hit them with new words like ersatz and mellifluous. For each match-up, Ed selects a random word. The author has 36 hours to write a poem with his/her given word. Some of these words were new to me, not to mention new to my students. So with the wonders of the Internet and Google, we entered each word, read the definition, discussed it, then went back to the poems. I read them aloud and asked for a show of hands. For each poem, the voters had to make a case for the one they chose. This created an impromptu discussion of technique, and I discovered that the poems I thought were the best crafted work did not always appeal to the students.
For example, they selected Karyn Linnell’s poem “Mellifluous” over Kathy Ellen Davis’s one using the word “Hiatus.”
“Despite all her welts, Mellifluous sang; this golden voice was now her own./
And to this day a mellifluous sound is one with a smooth and sweet tone.”
They enjoyed the storytelling way this poem worked and how, like some myths, it explained a word. One of my students compared it to the myth of Echo.
Later in the week, we checked the results. Once again we were discussing words and poetry. How cool is that? I asked my students to select one of the words to use in their own poem. This activity happened on “Day without your Desk” so they were strewn all over the floor with pillows and blankets, a great way to write poetry. Vannisa, 4th grade, chimed in about how she was on hiatus from her desk. She loved saying this new word. Here is her poem.
A hiatus for you
A hiatus for me
A hiatus for us
We all need breaks
Too much information
To stuff in our heads
We need a vacation
To a special destination
What’s that place called?
Oh yeah that’s right