Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Poetry Friday: Talking Back to Poems

Today I’m sharing a brief description of an activity from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL.  I used this activity last June,  but this year I plan to use it during the first week of school.  I'm going to be teaching five sections of Reading Intervention, and it’s sometimes difficult to get them to participate in class discussions. So, I try to plan lessons that engage them in topics they care about. For this lesson, I chose my poem “Silence” which I’m honored to have included in the anthology. The lesson was quick (15  minutes), took little planning, met Common Core standards, and the kids loved it! What more could a teacher ask for?

Activity: Talking Back to Poems
Grades 6
Common Core Standard: RL6.5 Analyze how the poem’s lines or stanzas fit into the overall structure and contributes to the development of the theme. (This lesson covers more than one standard, but I like to choose one as my main objective.)

  • I began the lesson by showing the class my cell phone (Take 5! - Activity #1).  I confessed that I have never sent a text message and wouldn’t know how to do it. This led to lots of giggles and offers to teach me how to text. (More on that in a future post.)
  • I projected the poem onto the screen and read it aloud.

I sent you a text
and when you sent me one back
the teacher caught us—
now you’re not speaking to me
my phone is silent

·       Then, I asked, “Which is worse, waiting for a text message that may never come or sending an inappropriate text message?”  (Take 5!- Activity #3).  That question led to a lively discussion about the boundaries of friendship, and the expectations of friends.

·         Next, I projected the poem written in a single line of prose as a “Tweet” and read it aloud without any pauses. I asked students to focus on the line breaks, and use of punctuation (or lack or it) in the poem and how these elements affected the meaning.  (Take 5!- Activity #4)

·         Finally, I told students that they were going to have a chance to “talk back” to the speaker  by writing a poem in response to mine. I asked them to use my poem as a model for their own.  Students worked on their poems during their extended learning period so this didn't take any time away from our essential curriculum.
     This is a small sampling of their poems.  I think they did a great job with their responses.Students read their poems in their small groups and compared and contrasted their responses.
                       My Phone
You sent me a text
             and when I sent you one back
             the teacher blamed me--
             You didn't speak up for me
             My phone will text another.



I do not like you anymore.
We are not friends, buddies,
                  or best friends-
              so that's it, it's over
                 we're not friends.

                                                                         Why did you text me now?
                                                                         You got me in trouble--
                                                                           we are not friends

                                                                            The teacher is calling my mom.



                                           I did not respond
                                           because the teacher caught me reading your text
                                           my parents took my phone away
                                           I don't like you anymore
                                           My cell phone is gone


You did not apologize to me
so I am still mad at you
don't call my house anymore
I won't talk to you
You are not sorry.



Teachers who haven’t gotten a copy of THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong  are missing out on a fabulous time-saving resource. The poems are written specifically for the middle school crowd, and the “Take 5!” activities are flexible enough to use during a transition or as part of a more in-depth lesson. I’m going to use the school-themed poems and activities at the beginning of each grade level section as ice breaker activities during the first week of school. You can learn more about the anthology here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this activity along any suggestions you might have.  This is my last Friday off before returning to school on Tuesday.  And so it begins, like teachers everywhere, I’m busy getting ready for another year:  going to meetings, planning lessons, organizing my classroom…

Wishing all of you parents, teachers, and students—
Happy New Year!

Renee is our Poetry Friday hostess today at No Water River. I can't wait to see what goodies she has in store for us!








Friday, July 26, 2013

Poetry Friday: I Will Remember You

After a long illness, my mother passed away on June 10.  I know I should have been expecting it, but she's had so many close calls and recovered that this really caught all of us off-guard. In the minutes after she took her last breath, I sat on the bed next her holding her hand.  It felt so surreal. The clock kept ticking, nurses continued collecting breakfast trays from other patients, and someone was talking loudly in the hallway outside Mom's room. Nothing seemed to have changed. Other than the nurse who pronounced her, no one else seemed to notice. Mom's heart had stopped beating, but the world kept going. I don't know what I was expecting, but when someone dies, it seems like everything should stop, at least for a moment.

I know Mom had some regrets, but her life mattered. She was the one person who knew me even before I was born. She was there through the good times and the bad. The world will not be the same without her. 

I still think about my mother every day and wish I'd done more to show her how much she meant to me. Now, all I can do is try to honor her by keeping her memory alive and telling others about her.  There are many things I want to remember about her and share with my grandchildren who are too young to have known her.  I wrote this poem the night after she died, and with my two wonderful sons by my side, I  read it at her memorial.  I hope she was listening.

“To live in the hearts we leave behind, is not to die.”
                                    Thomas Campbell

Dear Mom,

I will remember you—
every time I see a pink carnation,
hear someone mention
“Roses, Roses Sachet”
or smell the scent of lavender.

I will remember —
you always made sure
we had clean clothes,
dinner on the table,
and presents under the tree

Money was tight
but somehow you managed
to buy our school pictures,
take us to carnivals and out
for snowballs on hot summer nights

I will remember you—
sitting at the kitchen table
hemming a pair of pants
working on a paint-by-number,
or rolling out dough for pumpkin pies

You loved
going on long car rides,
chocolate ice cream,
having your hair done
and playing Bingo

I’ll remember your smile,
how you loved to dance,
your dream to go to Africa,
your love of animals and angels
and stories of your childhood.

You filled my life with music,
song lyrics that taught me,
 “You Can’t Hurry Love”
“Dream, Dream, Dream,” and
“The Circle Will Be Unbroken”

You were afraid of dying
but you need not have worried
because you will live forever—
in the hearts of all who love you.

Until I see you again, Mom
I will remember you.

Yesterday, this poem arrived in my inbox. It reminded me of that day in June, and how "normal" the world continued to be.

The Day I Die

by Krista Lukas

will be a Saturday or a Tuesday, maybe.
A day with a weather forecast,
a high and a low. There will be news:
a scandal, a disaster, some good
deed. The mail will come. People
will walk their dogs.

You can read the rest of the poem here.
.  A special thank you to Sherry for hosting Poetry Friday today!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poetry Friday: The Progressive Poem is Here!

When I read that Irene Latham was organizing another progressive poem to celebrate National Poetry Month, I signed on right away. I really enjoyed taking part in the poem last year. I'm not able to do a month-long project on my own so I'm grateful to Irene for coming up with a way in which I can participate.

I've had fun watching the poem grow from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's first line to yesterday's line by Margaret Simon. Each day I try to imagine where the next poet might take us on this poetry journey, and  I must say that there have been some surprises along the way!  Now it's  my turn to add a line.

I'm a little nervous as I write this because all the other lines have been so good, and I want my contribution to be just as worthy.  I keep reminding myself that writing a  single line is a lot less pressure than being responsible for an entire poem, and our Poetry Friday community is a very supportive bunch. So here goes.  I hope it works!

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow

as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

I can't wait to see where Catherine Johnson takes our poem next!

Diane of Random Noodling is our kindly hosting Poetry Friday today!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

                                                                      I sent you a text
                                                                      and when you sent me one back
                                                                      the teacher caught us—
                                                                      now you're not speaking to me
                                                                      my phone is silent

I got the idea to write "Silence" after one of my middle school students told me that she used to send texts to her best friend all day long without the teachers seeing her.  When her friend got caught replying to one her messages and had her phone taken away, the friendship ended.  It reminded me of the time a friend insisted that I pass a note for her and how afraid I was of getting caught. I passed the note, but I was hurt that my friend put me at risk of getting into trouble.

I wanted to keep the poem very short to resemble the brevity of a text message. I also wanted to show the loneliness of a friendship ending abruptly the way a text does when it is interrupted.

I’m very proud that “Silence” appears in a wonderful new book, THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.  This book is a great resource for teachers with Common Core activities for each poem.   I can’t wait to try some of the Take 5 suggestions with my students. You can learn more about the book and enter to win a copy at the POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL website.

Head on over to My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup!