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SAVY 2019: Session 6, Day 4 – Power of Poetry (Rising 5th/6th)

Posted by on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Grade 5, Grade 6, SAVY.

Good afternoon, parents!

This morning, we discussed Found Poems: poems that take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. We talked about how Found Poems are the literary equivalent of visual collages, and where we might take text as inspiration in the world: newspaper articles, street signs, grafitti, speeches, letters, or even other poems, for example. Students were then given a selection of New Yorker Magazines, and asked to craft found poems from articles found in the texts. Found poems, after all, require a “re-vision” of sorts, and allow us/empower us to create something fresh out of what already exists. Students created some unique and inventive works based off of existing texts.

Next, we spent some time discussing a Maya Angelou quote: “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” Students were asked to discuss this question within their small groups, and also answer the question: Can literature alone change the world, or must it be accompanied by action? Our class came to a conclusion that literature, generally speaking, CAN transform ourselves and the worlds around us, by changing individuals’ ideas, and prompting people to take action. We discussed books that transform us (a callback to our Quote of the Day on Monday), and thought about qualities that these books have in common: they catch your interest; they are moving, complex; they are oriented around conflicts that become resolved; and they allow us to empathize and connect with each other on a deeper, reflective level.

We spent the rest of our morning practicing revision on our poems with two rounds of peer reviews. Students learned the etymology behind Revision, which means, literally, to re-see. We discussed the differences between Editing (proofreading/grammar/spelling, etc) and Revision (reviewing/altering material for the bigger picture, looking at content-related material, trying to re-organize or shape for greater specificity, image, concrete details, five senses, etc.) Students also discussed what it means to give Constructive Criticism to one another, and how to maintain respectful and critical eyes on their peers’ works. The goal of this Peer Review session was for students to gain an eye for reading and critically asking questions of one anothers’ work, as professional writers will practice during Writing Workshops. Students had the opportunity to apply their critical reading lenses to give honest, valid, respectful, and specific feedback, in order to push their classmates to write towards sharper directions.

Students then we typed up our poems, with revisions in mind, to prepare for our published anthology for Open House tomorrow. We also spent a few minutes playing another silly round of Exquisite Corpse–the stories went a little far off the rails today, but everyone seemed to enjoy the silly stories.

After lunch, we walked over to the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery to write ekphrastic poems inspired by Susan DeMay’s ceramics exhibition. Students spent some time doing a gallery walk, and they chose a piece to take notes on and eventually craft a poem. We shared our poems in the gallery space, following each poet to the sculpture that influenced their poem. We, along with the gallery docent, were very impressed by the students’ understanding of the art as well as their carefully crafted poems!

We discussed assonance and consonance through analyzing “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe (we also viewed a clip from The Simpsons where they recited it word for word–check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLiXjaPqSyY). As a class, we talked about the effects of these literary devices in establishing tone in poems. Assonance can change the mood of the poem by increasing or decreasing energy, and alliteration/assonance can also make the reader pay more attention. Too much internal assonance and/or alliteration can make a work sound comical, or a little too much like a nursery rhyme.

Lastly, students learned about haiku and Basho, the great Japanese haiku-master. Students learned what haiku are, and how to create haiku that are set in the present-tense and rely upon one or two strong images working together. We read several haiku by Basho. Students were then asked to compose different haiku based on moments of nature from this week, and things they have witnessed with their “poets’ eyes.”

To engage students in dinnertime discussion tonight, consider asking your students how the sounds of individual words might communicate emotional content of a poem? What words can students invent on their own that might contribute to building mood or tone of a poem? Of a conversation?

We are SO excited for the Open House tomorrow, and can’t wait to share our week’s worth of words with you all!

See you tomorrow.

Carlina