The kids went nuts over the Word Work centers Islandia introduced during the reading block. Here they are falling in love with letterforms and stamping as many words as they can think of. Whispering to their tablemates and consulting the Word Wall are great ways to get ideas.
(photos from my 1st grade student teaching placement)
There may well be a wish to say something specific, and this is certainly a valid and familiar reason for poetry. But poetry is also a structure of words, or better put, a construction of words. And whatever one may have meant the construction to mean or say, the experience of others will also be a large factor in the stabilization of such meaning. Wars have many meanings for those involved with them—as do poems, as do people. “Everybody’s right,” as Allan Ginsberg said. In any case, the author is not, presumably, only directing traffic toward a predetermined meaning. What a bore that would be!
Robert Creeley from interview in What is poetry? Conversations with the American avant-garde, Kane, D., 2003, p. 60.
Predetermined destinations, yawn. Reminds me what a bore essays can be (to write), and they can even be a chore to read! If the written word were other than traffic control, and it opened up instead of folding down, all kinds of happenings could happen and they would amplify and sharpen the original thought.
Claire’s bookmark poem, first grade with Mrs. Gonzalez
I have just spent the last two hours grading my students’ notebooks and folders, an activity which involves sifting through piles of paper and is not unlike panning for gold. One of the big surprises of the evening is how many of my students have dutifully done their homework but forgotten to turn it in. I love spending time with the kids’ chicken scratch and reliving lessons or class discussions through their notes. Although there are a couple of students with bombed-out, creased notebooks, the majority have gone overboard with white-out and MLA headings on their notes. My favorites belong to boys who moonily cover the margins of their notes with cursive doodles (Juan -n- Iris) or graffiti-style drawings of their girlfriends’ names. They were very alarmed when I collected notebooks, and sheepishly admitted that they had been doodling all semester (as if I didn’t already know). I had to promise that the back half of each notebook would not be graded. Juan will not be getting a check plus for his rendering of Iris’s name in bubble letters dripping “blood” on the page.
E was so worried about the state of his notebook that he placed the following note between its pages:
“Jessica I might not have that mush note’s on my note book because I use to put all subjects on one note so forgive me.”
Oh E, you and your cooky half-baked notebook are forgiven. If you hadn’t put all subjects on one note, how would I know that if you were “an scientist [you] would try to do an experiment of an volcano”? I also wouldn’t be privy to your one-item list of “Stuff that Flots,” which reads simply: sponges. Your science notes are my favorite, E, because who but you would answer “eyes” when asked “If you could choose 3 genes to put inside yourself, what would they be?” Reading E’s “Hummities” folder is like finding a flurry of gold flakes after spending all day in the stream. He has devoted one page to three possible spellings of “character” (chatere, chacters, chacker), finally deciding for himself that the correct spelling is “Chacters.”
Among the misspellings and some saddening responses (How many books would he say there are in his apartment? 17. How many books would he say he’s read in the last twelve months? 3.) are clues that E’s been absorbing as much as one of his floating sponges. For instance, he answered the question “Why do people read?” with information from discussions we had about neuroplasticity last year: “Is good for them I heard you get more brain cells.” He has also started a memoir that is clearly influenced by our lessons on narrative leads and faithfully portrays him in a crisis situation:
I’m screaming. The lights are off. My Mom is calling my Dad and his cell is off. My little sister’s scared, tears is just coming down her face. I’m in the elevator, worried, sitting down talking to myself. ‘When am I getting out of here?’ I’m so worried, I think Im going to piss on myself. Then I hear that fire men are here, they’re asking ‘are you okay?’ I say no, wiping my tears off with my shirt. Finally they open the elevator, everybody is clapping. My family comes and starts hugging me. My dad starts laughing saying ‘For a minute I thought I was stuck in the elevator!’ Everybody’s laughing. My heart feels normal again. I say to myself, I’m never going on an elevator again.
Perhaps my favorite thing E has written this year is his list of Writing Territories, which he has categorized according to his own mysterious shorthand and signed with a flourish at the bottom of the page:
E’s Writing Territories
- When I was fliping the meat the hot oil sat on top of me (Pain M.Y)
- When my cusin got the sneaker that I wanted. (Jealous M.Y)
- When my Grandfather past away also my uncle. (Sad M.Y)
- When my baseball team won the chapionship (Happy M.Y)
- When I heard that I’m trafer [transferred] to anther school (Excited M.Y)