This unit involves the writing of poetry that is authentic. There are no worksheets to complete, only forms, ideas and examples for starters. The purpose was to encourage confidence and an enjoyment of writing. Little time is spent on introduction and lots of time on the rough work.
At the end of the year there would always be a few students who found this exercise their favourite part of the school year. I’ve used this assignment from grades one to eight. Grade one was more teacher led, i.e., introducing a form and either letting them run with it or working together on a class/group poem. In my role as librarian I would partner with the grade one teachers. Often there were students who were very independent, they would go off to work on their own. With grades four to 8 on the other hand, the unit was a project to encourage independence. Students were allowed to choose which form they would work on, even if it wasn’t in the unit.
Whether student led or teacher initiated, we would complete 2 or more poetry forms per month. The number of forms completed depends upon age and the confidence they gained as we progressed through the school year. All rough work was completed in a student journal and required teacher editing prior to typing. Interesting how the young ones needed help with organizing their journal. This was done as we wrote and was a little slow at the beginning. Be tough. We had parent volunteers that would take students to the lab later in the school year.
Topics would follow the appropriate theme for e.g., a cooperative or collage poem to begin the year. When students completed other work they could then continue to work on their poems. This was a year long assignment, culminating in a booklet of poetry to take home. Over the last few months of school students would type their work and add art. Whether an autumn poem or Remembrance Day, they would add the appropriate art. Now and then I would encourage students to use a variety of mediums used during art class.
I also used this unit with a special needs class. Since the writing was reduced, they became more confident with their writing. Their work was authentic and easier for them to edit. At the end of the year they had work they were happy to take home, rather than tossing the worksheets. I recall one of them saying, “I was so tired of worksheets Mr. Hawley!”