Thursday, September 4, 2008

anyone can be a poet

Even Michael Phelps! Who I just happen to be in a fake relationship with on facebook. How effing SWEET is that?

Today in my 8th grade class we discussed four short poems. I thought they were all pretty boring, but I had given my students homework on them so I didn't want to just throw the whole lesson plan out and do something new. They seemed to like them, which is ultimately the most important thing when you're teaching I suppose. But in the future, I'm going to steer clear of poetry.

I feel like poetry is one of those things you either love or hate. And I hate it. So, trying to explain something that I hate to people that don't know anything about it wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend 80 minutes of my life.

I've only been a teacher for three days, so I can't exactly "wing it" yet if I start discussing something then want to switch to another topic. To buy some time while I thought of a way to make the material fun, I threw them a hand-out and had them work in groups for 15 minutes. Thank God for group work.

I don't know how it happened, but suddenly, out of nowhere, a creative on-topic activity just
came to me. It was like, the angel of English literature for junior high flew down from the heavens and presented me with the best idea ever. Well, maybe not ever, but the best idea I've had so far in terms of teaching.

I read the four poems again out loud then asked my students which poem sounded the most like a song they might hear on the radio. One student mentioned poem #1, another poem #2, and so I had the class vote. Once a consensus was reached I gave them instructions to re-write the poem as if it were a song they might hear on the radio. They could choose to mimic the style of the poem, the theme, or just use a word that was in the poem. They also had to choose a singer that would sing the song.

The class is comprised of four boys and four girls and so far they've wanted to stay separated by gender and I've let them since it's their first week and I'm still trying to feel them out in terms of their abilities and willingness to participate. The girls were super excited and immediately started buzzing about what their song lyrics would be.

The boys...were less excited. Well, that's not exactly right, they had plenty to SAY about the assignment, but they weren't really producing much (/anything) so I had to push them a little more by telling them they wouldn't be excused for lunch until it was completed. That was all the motivation they needed.

They had trouble
deciding on a singer, so I told them they could choose any famous person, and in true Olympic spirit they chose Michael Phelps. Adorable, right?

This is the
original poem, by Shel Silverstein:
"Forgotten Language"
Once I spoke the language of the flowers,

Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers...
How did it go?
How did it go?

Their version, by Michael Phelps:
Once I spoke the language of the fish.
Once I understood each word the octopus said.
Once I made friends with a white shark.
And shared my gold medal with the
big whale.
Once I swam 100km with the dolphin.


XOXO said...

pretty effin legit, srsly.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Are you going to end up standing on the desk during any point of the semester? And then take them out in the yard and make them find their own walk? That'd be pretty effing sweet. Just, don't take the fall when one of them kills themselves for disappointing daddy by pursuing a life on the stage.

Kate said...

LOL I am on the shuttle on the way to work and literally LOLed. I think the best part is the first line, "Yo." That's when you know something is true art.

Anonymous said...


-Fish can't speak since they're underwater, let alone have their own language.
-Same with octopuses.
-Only an idiot would "make friends" with a shark. And he wouldn't be an idiot for long because he'd probably get eaten.
-How the hell do you (equally valid=Why the hell would you) share a gold medal with the
big whale. Assuming you do, how would you fit the medal over its 'neck'?
-100km=62.1 miles. I'd like to see you try to keep up with a dolphin just swimming half a mile.

Your students aren't very practical.

Andy said...

Hahahaha... Poetry? Yikes!! But they "yo" makesit worth it.