Poetry Friday: Group Work & Student Poems

Some of you know that I’ve had a student writer’s circle in the past. For six years, I ran an enrichment group for third grade students, handpicked by their teachers, to belong to a writer’s circle with me once a week during the school year. It’s been at least four years since I had such a group. And, I miss it!

We wrote poetry from mid-February to mid-March so that I could submit their work to a national compilation of student work – the Young American Poetry Digest. They look mostly for haiku. And, I found haiku was both fun and instructive to teach to eight year olds. Practice with syllables and sounding out words is essential in the younger grades, as is determining the usefulness of each word. They also revel in the thrill of not having to write complete sentences! This feeling carried over onto most of the poetry we wrote.

The students experienced cinquain, diamante, and bio-poems, as well as haiku and my favorite, color poems. I’ve written about the color poem writing experience many times, so I’ll skip that for today. Among all the units we covered during the school year, the poetry unit became my favorite. I wrote along side my students, shared my work, acknowledged my mistakes, and how I might edit to make my work better. I relished this time with the thirty six students I had the privilege to work with over those six years.

And, now I have the chance to do it again! I’ve been able to organize another student group, made of a few interested community members. We’ll start after July 4th and run once a week for eight weeks. It is a creative Writer’s Circle but we will definitely do some poetry! I can’t wait to see what this group does. They are somewhat older than my previous Writer’s Circle students, so I will expect a larger vocabulary and command of language. But, since this is an enrichment group, I mainly want them to enjoy the process of writing, sharing, and polishing their work!

The public library has a beautiful community room in which we can have our meetings. Since I no longer have children in school, I wanted to stay away from using our school buildings to make this a more inclusive community group. The first week we will meet outside and do some collection of ideas for our time together. I’m viewing this experience as eight mini-lessons with time to write and share work completed during their week between our group meetings.

So, this is where you – fellow Poetry Friday members come in…what would YOU do with these meetings? What mini-units would you conduct? The age range is 4th-7th grade. I have some ideas already, but thought I’d ask. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

Here are some previous published student haiku from my former Writer’s Circle Students. The first group of three is from the Young American Poetry Digest, 2011.

Toads

Croaking, wet, bumpy

Cool, phenomenal jumper

Toads are excellent

By B.L age 9 years, 2011

Waiting for the sun

Please come shine on me today

In this winter cold

By S.G. age 9, 2011

Utah Prairie Dog

Claws is what they have

Endangered is what they are

Prairie dogs are cute

By. E.J. Age 10, 2011.

And here is a poem on the sense of hearing by a former student published in 2013, also in the Young American Poetry Digest.

I’m listening, I’m listening,

I hear what you say.

I’m listening, I’m listening,

I’ve been listening all day.

I’m listening, I’m listening

I’ve been kept at bay

I’m listening, I’m listening,

Wait…what did you say?

By B.S. Age 11, 2013

Today is Poetry Friday. Linda at A Word Edgewise is our host! Thank you for gathering our links today, Linda!

12 thoughts

  1. Carol, I’m so happy you get to have a new writer’s group with grades 4-7. They will be a delightful crowd. I’m subscribing to the comments, so I can see what others suggest. I may be teaching a creative writing elective for middle school next year. Last week I wrote some poetry with the Ethical ELA group, and there were some prompts that helped us dig deep into our own lives as writers and even into others in the group. Anna J. Small Roseboro led the prompts. The first, the mandala poetry could be something nice to start a group with–it is a kind of biography poem: http://www.ethicalela.com/mandalas-with-metaphors/ and the next prompt, Composing with Compost, would be good toward the end of the group and a great invitation to polish something they wrote early. http://www.ethicalela.com/composing-from-compost/

    Also, I think at the end of the group, you could let them choose a line from one of the other group members and ask them to use it as a mentor or to incorporate that line into their own poem, something like that I think is a way to honor the group.

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    1. Denise, thank you so much for taking the time to write these suggestions to me! I’ve looked at both and love both of the ideas. I also subscribed to the Ethical ELA page – wonderful! I will definitely use the mandala poem, perhaps as homework for the second week or to work on in group for the second week. I’ve used bio poems before but this form is much more creative – I love that about it! Thanks!

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  2. I love those enthusiastic kids there at the end, Carol. I did a poetry group for those in my class who wished it. (Others chose fiction or non) & I met with each group twice a week. For poetry, I thought it was my joy to give them some skills, like a few of the rhythm/rhyme ideas, how to check meter, etc. These were a mixed group of gifted middle-school-aged students. The expectation for each group was to bring a poem they liked from another poet & to write to bring. They brought copies of their poems so we could give feedback, emphasizing what we liked. Everyone got to talk, share, comment. So, as you see, it was rather loose, & I gave a lesson of a ‘how’ when appropriate. Hope that helps & you have a wonderful time with this group!

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    1. Thanks so much for these ideas, Linda! I do appreciate them. I have asked the group to bring a poem of their chosoing to share with the group and they also much share why they like it. We will all share our comments. These students, as was with my past group are all at least above benchmark if not gifted. It’s a great subset of students to work with. Thanks, again! (My group will be rather loose too).

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    1. Irene, Thank you so much for offering your ideas to me. I am lucky I have interested students! I love working with them! I have decided to do nonets the first week, as well as book spine poetry to get us started. You are prolific (I’m sure you’ve heard that before) and generous! Thanks, again!

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  3. How fabulous for you and them! I have had great success using photo prompts for all kinds of short form poetry (15 words or less, haiku, acrostics that say something).

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    1. Mary Lee, Thank you! I have done haiku and acrostics in the past using some visual prompts but never photos. I think we will do haiku again and try tanka poems as well – I think a photo prompt would work very well and will use your idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. Oooooooh! How fun! I love this age group. I really like the suggestions Irene gave above about creating poetry zines. Anything that has to do with “making.” The zentangle poems that The Poetry Sisters shared this week are good too. I really like book spine poetry. It’s a great way to carefully read words and collect words that “go together” for a bigger idea.

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    1. Linda, Thank you for your feedback of ideas! I am going to use book spine poetry our first week along with nonets. The zentangle poems are interesting and I think they would be well liked – so I’ll add that to our mix in future weeks. Thank you!

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