Friday, September 25, 2009


Who knows why I'm still thinking about school on a Friday night. The lessons that I have planned for next week are new for me, and that could be part of it. I usually try to complete any assignment before the students to do myself, just so I have a sense for the challenges or pitfalls. I have to be honest, though, most of the time students find ways around my road blocks, but then they are stumped by some task I took for granted, so it all usually works out. I think it's best to be open about that-- it builds community when the teacher is willing to admit that she or he doesn't know it all. Well, let's be clear, it's the admission, not the lack of knowledge that the kids respect; credibility relies on you knowing your subject most of the time.

But I guess that brings us back to my thoughts tonight. I want to know what I'm doing next week when I introduce the lesson. It's the found poetry thing that I've mentioned in previous posts. There are many variations of this activity made available on the internet by generous teachers, and basically, students select a powerful prose passage, and cut it to a free verse poem. I gave it a go before I left school this afternoon, and it was kind of challenging the way I have it planned.

Most lessons of this type start with a model prose passage, then show a model of a poem that has been "found" there. They ask students to focus on which words, phrases and images have been selected for the poem. My idea tonight was to have the kids start instead by identifying what they took out to get the poem and then to develop a theory about poetry from that. It just seems a little more concrete to do it that way, but I'm sure they'll let me know.

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