I had a wonderful mentor years ago who said that good writers are the ones who give themselves the most permissions. In her recent e-newsletter Salas Snippets, Laura Purdie Salas says this about student writers, “When kids write, they are the boss. Whether they’re writing a free verse poem or a five-paragraph essay, they have the power.” I want to show my students that they have the power over their words. I want to show them that they have permission to be who they truly are when they write.
During National Poetry Month, I make poetry an integral part of my classroom. My students become immersed in words in verse with rhythm and expression. I have a huge collection of poetry books. For their April poetry project, I have asked my students to select three books to read. They are finding themselves in these poems. They are being inspired by poets.
I had a discussion with Erin about the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora. She waved over the pages and repeated the words with awe and wonder in her voice. She told me she loved so many of the words, like golden, glimmering, shining. She was falling in love with the language. This is what poetry offers, every time.
I gave Jacob some ideas for writing a poem. He didn’t take any of them. When I walked over to see what he had typed, I read this first line, “Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy and you want to do it again?” Whoa! His words stopped me in my tracks. I sat next to him and asked him to tell me some of the memories he wanted to keep. He went back to last week, then to his first birthday party, then to being in the womb. Jacob needed to be the boss of his words because his words are amazing. He has the wisdom and spirit of a poet at age seven. What a privilege to watch!
Isn’t it sad when your memories are happy,
and you want to do it again?
I want to catch Easter eggs again with my cousin.
I want to stick my face in the cake again.
I want to go back in my mommy’s tummy again
because I want to get close to her all the time.
I love my memories!
Another activity that has my students singing poems is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poetry month project. Each of my two student groups have tried to guess a song/poem match. Both guesses were wrong, but we had a great time working on them. We counted syllables, sang the song choices, consulted YouTube for tunes, and sang Amy’s poems through multiple times before recording and sending our SoundClouds to her. Please go over to her site, The Poem Farm, to hear her sing and our guesses. I wrote to Amy that I admired her braveness in recording her voice singing acapella. She responded that being brave helps others be brave. With that, I encourage you and your students to be brave and send a SoundCloud guess to Amy.