Friday, April 29, 2016

From Slam to Sonnet

This week, we have explored all kinds of poetry--from slam to sonnet and everything in between! It has been fascinating to watch you all channel your inner e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, and today, William Shakespeare.

We explored this sonnet by William Shakespeare:

We talked about the rules of a Shakespearean sonnet: 14 lines, following the rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. And each line has ten syllables in it (iambic pentameter). Talk about structure! These sonnets are the very opposite of the kind of free ranging and far-flinging connections and possibilities of slam poetry, and yet both have a kind of power and beauty and purpose.

This weekend, your homework is to finish writing your own original Shakespearean sonnet. We spent some time in class crafting them and brainstorming ideas; now continue and have fun puzzling out this poem! 

Our word of the day today was SONNET.

Finally, here is a website, RHYMEZONE, that can help you find great rhymes to complete your sonnet! I use it with my own poems and picture books!

Have a great weekend, and peace!

Mr. R

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gibberish or Beautiful Truth?

After our day, yesterday, of sharing our own slam poems and watching a poem from high school students in the Slam Poetry Competition, we moved into the study of poet e.e. cummings. IN class, we read his poems aloud as a full group and in pairs, and it certainly seemed to us as though he had forgotten the rubric when he wrote his work!!

Yet, by breaking the rules of grammar and socials norms, did he actually convey a deeper meaning--a more powerful truth?

Here are the poems we explored by him (the first three poems in this linked document). 

Also, remember that we discussed how understanding poetry is like a child playing in a sand box. We need to grab a shovel and build with the words in the poems--see what they make and move them around and play with them! We want to be careful not to kill a poem by over-analyzing it. We want to play with the poem, read it and let it sit with us and talk about it with each other.

And today, we each have the chance to step into the shoes of e.e. cummings as we craft of our poems of 16 lines in the same style as e.e. cummings. Re-read the first three poems in the link above, and then try to make your own e.e. cummings-esque poem. Tonight, for homework, finish your poem and come to class ready to either share OR hand it in.

I am loving hearing your poems, and the best way to learn is to do--so we'll be writing all kinds and genres of poetry this week!

our word of the day yesterday was JAUNTY, which means excited, lively. And our word of the day today is ACRIMONY, which means bitterness (and the adjective form is ACRIMONIOUS, which means bitter).


Mr. R

Monday, April 25, 2016

Slam Poetry!

Today, we are continuing on with our exploration of poetry by delving into the genre of SLAM POETRY! Consider it a mix of a singer-poet-stand-up-comedian-or-powerful-speaker all crafted to engage, entice, and excite an audience. If you ever thought poetry was dull or boring, think again!

Today, we began by watching two slam poets perform, discussing their poems, and then attempting to craft our own slam poems.

Here are the two clips we viewed today and discussed.

Sarah Kay

Taylor Mali

For homework tonight, be sure to finish writing your own slam poem (no length requirement!).

Our word of the day today is JAUNTY, which means lively, full of energy and joy.


Mr. R

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Crafting Creatively

Today, we continued crafting our creative fiction, poetry, and non-fiction pieces for our 2016 anthology project. As I did writing conferences with some of you today, I loved seeing the variation and engagement with which you are writing, and I can't wait to see all of our writing come together to create this year's book!

Our mini-lesson at the start of today's class was about showing rather than telling. We discussed how writing that engages readers helps to vividly show the scene--the action, the dialogue, the color, the smells, the sights, the emotion--rather than simply tell the reader what is occurring.

As a wildly goofy and goofily wild example of how showing and telling are different, here's an example from our front board that show the same plot-line in two very different ways. the first simply tells, while the second shows (albeit strangely so!):

Jim McJimerson was so angry when he saw his girlfriend, Bertha McBerthanator, kissing Prune Prunerson.

And here's the example that actually shows us something--however weird that something is:

Jim McJimerson walked into his massive closet, full of orange suspenders; to his great shock, Bertha McBberthanator and Prune Prunerson had managed to attach themselves to the ceiling, where they were passionately kissing.

"Holy suspenders!" Jim roared, as he fell to his knees in anguish.

So, to help us show rather than tell, be sure to include:



Mr. R

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Anthology Time!

Over the past few days, we have begun work on this year's class anthology, whereby you will be real authors! Here is the overview to the mission. 

We have explored creating a character, a setting, and various kinds of conflicts. We have also tried our hands at a new form of poetry--channeling William Shakespeare and WB Yeats to take a crack at writing iambic pentameter!

We heard a story about love and read the poem "When You Are Old" and then we each had the chance to try writing our own poems in iambic pentameter.

And today, our class became a roomful of authors! I love the sound of so many keyboard clacking, prose and poems flashing, epiphanies splashing, characters snapping, and ideas flapping. YES!

We will have two more days to write our full original drafts for the anthology, and thhen we will revise and edit them.


Mr. R

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Creating a Protagonist

Now that we have started work on our Anthology Project, we're talking today about what it means to craft an engaging protagonist. What does a hero / heroine do, face, struggle with,, and overcome to make their stories engaging? Why do we as readers want to keep reading about that character?

Here is the Slideshow Presentation that we walked through in class so that I could share a few of my heroes with you, as examples of the different kinds of conflicts and struggles a protagonist can face: they can be internal or external battles, but what matters most is that we give our characters a fairly substantial amount of challenges!

Link to the Slideshow:

For tonight, be sure to do a brainsplash for your created character and WRITE ONE FULL PAGE describing the character you invent: what is she / he like? Personality? Physical appearance? Conflicts? Even if you don't use all of it in your story--or you change some of it--this is an important step along the creative path of authorship!

Our word of the day is MUSTER, which is a verb that means to stir up; to gather, as in Michael Jordan mustered his strength to try out again for the basketball team after he didn't make it his Freshman year of high school.

And here are a couple of photos from our SUBLIME visit with National Book Award winning author Kathy Erskine on Monday: