Monday, December 17, 2007

At the risk of sounding like this is a teaching writing blog, I need to sort out what I'm doing today with the 7th graders. Thursday, I slightly tortured them with 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, the first class anyway. They didn't talk! Since they wouldn't talk, I talked, which was a teensy tad bit deadly. Sort of like that last sentence. A few people jerked awake when I cawed being a bawd of euphony reacting to the beauty of blackbirds flying in green light. Things went better in second period, where I had kids do the pantomiming, including a man, woman and blackbird, all of them boys, one of them a good sport wearing his female teacher's hat and scarf for his role. In third period, my favorite act out boy acted out the blackbirds being beautiful for my cawing bawd of e. I like to enlist his acting out for my cause.

Last week we spent a day saying hey and writing lunes with strong nouns and verbs, then two days with an I am related to nature idea and two days with Wallace the insurance vice president. I told the kids about how his insurance company colleagues had no idea he was a poet, that he had a secret identity like a super hero. Poet,super hero. Same diff.

Today we might, it being 6am and my teaching at 7:40 it is rather disingenuous to put a might, but it makes me more comfortable to imagine my having all the time in the world to get this worked out. I am thinking of having them write personifications of qualities which they can then illustrate if they want, ala Ruth Gendler's The Book of Qualities. Okay, that's what we'll do. I have some great student examples and a decent handout that triggers thoughtful, engaged writing. We can start by brainstorming a list of human attributes - I like to start with something like attributes you'd look for in a friend, a leader, etc. Inevitably we'll get to evil, death, destruction, envy, greed, sloth (okay not sloth), and their ilk, but I like to give the kids a chance to imagine in a positive vein without beginning with some teacherly positivity lecture. And some people have knowledge of and need to write about those attributes that aint so fracking cute.

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