Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Write It Out Wednesday: Item Poetry

Since I've been at a mentoring workshop over the past two days, I've recently discussed some of my lesson plans with other teachers. Here's a favorite. Writers, if you are stuck on a story idea or just need a way to warm up for your writing session, try this.

I'm also using this lesson as a yearbook icebreaker on the first day of school, but I'm changing the plan to just include pick an item (blindly), and tell how it relates to your life.

Item Poetry
  • Collect a random assortment of items around your house or classroom.
  • Place items into a bag (not see through) that can be zipped up or has a hole at the top (laundry bag, duffel).
  • One at a time, call students up and count the three seconds out loud in which they have to blindly reach in and choose an item (the key here is without looking).
  • If the student's item is a mystery to him/her, he/she must make up a purpose for it.
  • When everyone has an item (no trading), explain that they are taking on the persona of the object. They must put themselves in the mindset of their item and write a poem in first person about anything that object might experience. Poems can be rhymed or unrhymed.
  • Give them a time limit. When five-seven minutes are up, tell them to hand their paper backwards (or any direction) to another student.
  • It is that student's job to read the poem on the paper they've been passed, then take the last line of that poem and use it as the first line of a new poem from the point of view of their object.
  • For an added challenge, make students include a meeting between their object and the original author's object.
  • Do this one more time for a total of three poems.
  • Hand papers back to original authors to read poems.
  • Ask volunteers to read their three poems aloud. Trust me, there will be some great ones! I often find the kids to be deep with their poems, and many try to make them rhyme because it's tricky. Students who rarely speak often volunteer to read this assignment.
Sample items for your bag (here's what's in mine!):
chopsticks, teddy figurine, tea cup, ribbon, scarf, tiara, bouquet of silk flowers, whiteboard marker, battery, phone charger, tall hat (think Dr. Suess Cat in the Hat), canteen, Girl Scout sash with patches, mask, fan, potholder, slotted spoon, pincushion (minus the pins, mine's in the shape of a mini-sofa, in which case they can pretend it's a big sofa), cloth napkin, World of Warcraft empty CD-ROM case

In 9th grade, we had to write a short story from the perspective of an inanimate object, and I chose the Pillsbury Dough Boy. You always remember the interesting assignments!

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