Acrostic poems aren’t as easy as they seem. At the end of my last garden club meeting in mid-January, I gave the students a mini-lesson on writing acrostic poems. We had just discussed and planted flower bulbs and I wanted to incorporate some language arts into are lesson. The directions were simple, as I used the word FLOWER to demonstrate how they should write the poem. I also gave them a word bank from which to choose a word for which to try this form of poetry. It surprised me that most of the students in this group were not familiar with acrostic poems. I only had one stipulation. They must choose a word that had to do with our lesson theme: flower bulbs. As I stated, I gave them a list from which to choose – bulbs, garlic, onions, tulips, daffodils, paperwhites (these were the bulbs that we used in our lesson), spring, and one or two others. But, the theme was flower bulbs, so their chosen word had to do something with that theme. I told them not to worry about spelling.
Shortly into the exercise, one of the students came up to me and asked how to spell Reindeer. Do you see a problem here? I did! Immediately! Firstly, I asked them not to worry about spelling. But, secondly and most importantly, what did Reindeer have to do with Flower Bulbs. When I asked why she needed to know how reindeer was spelled, she said that she was using it for the R in her acrostic on Christmas!
No, this was a great example of what happens when students don’t listen. I reminded the student of the directions, to which she pouted and returned to her seat. A few minutes later, her friend came up to me and said, “You said we could use any word!” Again, a couple of problems can be immediately identified. 1) not listening, and 2) worrying about someone else (she had come to defend her friend and as it turned out, herself, for she was also writing an acrostic on Christmas! They were working together. And, as you might guess, had not listened well enough to the directions.
What was meant to be a simple language arts enrichment activity turned into a frustrating battle of the wills. This has been a problem all year with a few of the garden club students. It is an after school club and while I want it to be fun, I also want them to learn. It is part of the purpose of the enrichment group. We are finally addressing it with parents this week. We meet again on the 7th of February.
Upon collection of the acrostic poems, I did find a few nice ones. Those that kept it simple did the best. Bear in mind that most of these students are in second or third grade, it was a mini-lesson following a science lesson on flower bulbs, and most of the students were unfamiliar with acrostics.
I also had a student, a second grade ELL student, write an acrostic using the word SPRING. It definitely fit the theme and he came up with the word on his own! When I told him he did a nice job, he smiled. But, when I asked if he’d like to share, he shook his head, no. I let him be, he seems shy and at the beginning of our meetings he made it known that he wasn’t sure he wanted to attend. But, he hasn’t missed a meeting! He must want to be part of our group. The best part of this meeting was that after several other students shared their acrostic poems, this young student raised his hand. I called on him and asked if he had a question. No, again he shook his head to indicate his desire. But, then he spoke and said, I’m ready to share now! Whoo-hoo! This was a great moment! I was thrilled he wanted to share his poem with our group!
I always try to write with my students, so I have examples, as well as mistakes, and they can “see” my process or metacognition about the words I chose and why I choose them. Last night, after a very odd week of subzero temperatures and four days of canceled school, I thought about what to write today for Poetry Friday. I came up with an acrostic that fit the theme of the week. I hope you enjoy it.
Frozen fingers fall from hands,
Rings of halos around the sun
that fail to warm.
Igloos of Icicles imported from Iceland,
Green gone, greatly missed in a sea of
Ignorance impedes us all,
Doomsday might look like this.
This post is my submission to Poetry Friday, a blog forum for writers of Poetry in all its forms. This week is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you!