An amazing opportunity came through my email a few weeks ago when Jennifer Graff, co-chair of the Children’s Literature Assembly Breakfast at NCTE, was looking for student poetry inspired by Joyce Sidman, the keynote speaker at the breakfast. I immediately agreed to work with students on a poet study because Joyce Sidman is one of the poets that most inspires me as a writer.
I sent out an email to teachers with possibilities for this study. Here were some options:
- Read Red Sings From the Treetops: A Year in Colors and write poems about colors in the various seasons
- Read Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors and write poems and informational text about things in nature that have survived the test of time
- Read Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night and write poems and informational text about plants and animals of the night
- Read multiple books by Joyce Sidman and write poetry that was inspired by the elements of her poetry
Each one of these options could involve multiple forms of technology or be done with paper and pencil. So far, one teacher has completed a Joyce Sidman collaboration with me and another has signed up to begin in late April.
I collaborated with Ms. Olin, my former paraprofessional and now student teacher, to read multiple poems from Joyce Sidman’s books and talk about “noticings” from each of the poems. We looked at things like similes, repetition, rhythm, shape, form, word choice, and more. Students decided to write poems about nature since much of Sidman’s work is nature and science based. They took photographs of flowers, trees, and other nature around our school and also searched on Creative Commons for images. Students wrote poems at the media center tables and conferenced with me, Ms. Olin, Ms. Biehl, and their teacher, Mrs. Selleck. Finally, students used Photo Story to import their pictures, add text and music, and record their voices reading their poems.
These poems and others created in the coming weeks will be played at the Children’s Literature Assembly Breakfast at NCTE in Chicago. I’m so excited that our students’ work will have this authentic audience to appreciate their creative endeavors. You can get a sneak peek at some of the poems by clicking these links.