Tuesday, April 3, 2018

7 ways to Savor April's Poetic Sensory Explosion

Mother Nature must be in an incredibly perverse mood this April, because she is continuing to hold the Mid-Atlantic region captive under dismal, gray skies and chilled from February-Early March temperatures.  And did I mention precipitation? When it is not misting or raining - lots and lots of rain - the weather-wand lady is emptying buckets of wintery mix on our heads.

We are three days into April and fifteen anemic sunrises from the first day of Spring. Did she lose her calendar? Does she not realize that April is National Poetry Month, a time for students to blossom from the power of vibrant verses instead of wallowing in wells of weariness?

Obviously Mother Nature was never privy to the power of poetry… but we teachers are. This month we can feed our students with sunshine and the wonders of manipulating words by Showing Them poems from the masters of couplets, the geniuses of free verse, and the experts on scansion, Helping Them practice creating word pictures of their sensory reactions and their emotions, and by Letting Them move from novice poets to prodigies.

Take students on poetic journeys - even those who are veterans of this literary genre - by encouraging them to be active observers of the world around them, not passive spectators. Remind them that the same path, on any given day, can ignite a WOW! perspective instead of an apathetic blindness. Turn their days into Sensory Explosions- the foundation for poetry.

Remind them to keep a pencil and paper handy at all times this month, or to jot down notes on their phones before they lose the thought, memory, mental picture, etc.

Show Them:
1. Turn the walls of your classrooms into art galleries. Pin/tape up photographs, pictures from sites like pixabay, morguefile, the Public Domain or found through a Google search.  Ask students to add to the art show with their own (appropriate) images.
A.   For a bellringer or warm-up, ask each student to focus for 15 seconds on a picture that hooks him/her, and then to write down the first ten words that come to mind in their journals. 

B.    Have them write a paragraph about the people, place and or things in the image in prose form. When they are done, explain they need to cross out unnecessary words and turn the core thoughts/emotions into a poem.
They should date their entries and note the picture they chose.

Help Them:

2.  Play 2-3 minutes of music-rock, country, classical, jazz, rap, etc., and then ask the class to jot down how the music made them feel, and to describe the images rolling through their minds as they listened.

3. Ask them to listen to the words flowing around them in the cafeteria, the halls, other classes, walking through a crowd anywhere, and to jot down their general reactions to the various conversations, as well as specific emotions that they experienced as they heard them. 

4. Wrap various items with strong aromas in brown paper bags. Number each bag. Tie the opening closed, but allow a small opening so students can smell the scent. When they have finished, have them describe each aroma that remains in their minds. 

5.  Explain to the students that they need to be aware of the texture of objects as they move through their days- the smooth chill of the wall tiles in the hall, the grittiness of the floor by their back packs, the silkiness of the blooming tulip leaves, or the heat of the hood of their car after it sat in the sun for seven hours. Remind them to take  notes immediately so they capture their original emotion(s).

6. Encourage them to be aware of the textures and tastes of the food they eat and the drinks they consume - hot, room temperature, or cold. Bring in, or ask students to bring in: a bag of pretzels, a bag of chocolate chips, a bag of lemon drops, and a can of cocoa( with straws broken into pieces they can use to dip into the container instead of their fingers). Have them experiment with their tongues' taste buds: sweet on the tip, salty on the sides, sour behind the salty, and bitter in the back., and write down their reactions

Let Them:
After each activity, ask students to compose a poem in a format of their choice. Give them a due date for each exercise, and mention each of them will share one of their poems in class, but they can choose the activity that led to the piece they will read.

National Poetry Month
For 21 more ideas to make April a cool and not a cruel month, download this brand new FREE product: Poetry: 21 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month (Poetry-21-Ways-to-Celebrate-National-Poetry-Month).

Enjoy a (Sunny) Teach It Now April Day Every Day.