Poetry is truly indefinable, but there are a lot of things poetry can do. It can describe a feeling, make a reader see a sight, help you smell a smell, and make something inanimate come to life. Sometimes, a poet has trouble finding ways to describe what she wants to express. This exercise will help you stop and pay attention to the smaller things around you. Go out into the world, and make observations. Wherever you go, make five sensory observations for each sense.
Examples from my journals:
At Elliot Bay tonight, I see…white, square tiles; the backs of strangers; endless rows of books; a lonely microphone; shadows of chairs.
I hear…chattering voices; espresso machines whirring and fizzing; dishes clattering, softly, just clinking together; laughter; the crinkle of newspapers.
I feel…brick wall under my arm; a warm cup in my hand; hot air blowing against my face; the hard seat against my bottom; a wooden curve across my back.
I smell…coffee, mm; my plum chap stick (smells better than it tastes); used books; cinnamon; baking bread.
I taste…a soft coffee flavor; a hint of honey; the thickness of hot air; the ink of a fresh pen; more coffee.
You can do this exercise anywhere at anytime. Try it on the bus, at work, in a classroom, on a park bench. You may be surprised at the observations you make, and the opportunities for poetry that you find.
Cultivating a postive classroom community is such an important part of teaching, and I’ve learned that little things go a long way. One of the ways to help build our students up is to help them see themselves (and their classmates) in a positive light. One of the ways I did that this year was by doing an activity all about “The Best Part of Me.”
I love the idea of the book and that the author went into 3rd-5th grade classrooms and the pictures were great inspirations for my students to start thinking about the best part of them and to understand what their final product was going to look like. I guess I just thought there would be a lot more poems to pick from, but the book didn’t have as many as I thought it would! The couple that I chose to read worked out well and my students enjoyed them.
I love how the black and white photos turned out and it looks so great having the best part of all my students on a beautiful bulletin board display for everyone to see! I’m hoping to make a class book with all the poems so that I can use them next year when I am teaching the lesson!
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