Writing Lesson 3: Collecting Seeds—Writing About Important Topics
• Mentor poems about personal experiences or mentor poets who have written about personal experiences or important things in their lives, such as “Mexican Dummy Time,” page 21, “T-Shirt,” page 24, or “The Photograph,” page 19, in My Name Is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River by Jane Medina; “Autumn Thoughts” or “Aunt Sue’s Stories” in The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes; or “Weeding With Dad,” page 52, or “Faking It,” page 75, in Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash: Poems About Growing Up by Donald Graves
• Overhead of teacher-created poem about interesting or important topic
• Chart paper to create “Where Poets Get Their Ideas” chart
• Students write poems about important events, people, or places in their lives to gain understanding of where poets get topics for their writing.
• Develop awareness of sounds of words and rhythm of phrases.
“Look for the poetry that grows under your feet.”
Rainer Marie Rilke
For students to write poems, they need things to write about. Explain that they may be lucky enough to find poem ideas just popping out of their heads—but unfortunately for most of us, it does not work that way.
You could tell students an author you rely on to help you with ideas for teaching students to write is Ralph Fletcher. He advises us to use our memories, reflections, and dreams to spark poems. Tell students you will read a few short poems from authors who did just that.
Select poems from mentor texts about personal experiences or mentor poets who have written about personal experiences or important things in their lives. Read aloud a series of poetry and ask students to think about where authors got their ideas for these poems.
After each poem, have students talk with their partners about where the author most likely got his or her idea for the poem or why they think the author wrote the poem. Begin charting information on a “Where Poets Get Their Ideas” chart.
Tell students you tried writing a poem about something important or interesting in your life. Share your try-it with students.
Explain students’ work today is to write at least one poem about something from their lives. Tell them if they finish their poems before Independent and Small Group Time is over, they can write another, or they can list ideas in their notebooks for other possible poems.
Independent and Small Group Time
• Students write poems about important events, people, or places in their own lives.
• Students share with partners some poems they wrote in their notebooks.
• Several students share out with the whole group.
• For homework, ask students to use what they learned today to write another poem at home tonight.