Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another New Year

The first week of school always fills me with a mishmash of emotions. One minute, I'm excited about all the adventures the new year will bring.  The next minute, I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the changes in the curriculum and daily procedures,  and the next I'm wishing I could sleep-in  just a bit longer.  A new school is exhausting!  One thing that keeps me going is getting to know my sixth grade students. Learning about them and their hopes and dreams lifts me up and makes me want to give them my best.

Like most teachers, I start the year with a lot of getting-to-know-you activities.  I decided to try something a little different this year inspired by Irene Latham's Progressive Poem and Janet Wong's poem "Another New Year." 

After reading Janet's poem to my classes, I asked each of my students to contribute one line to our progressive poem.  I started them off with the title, and the first line.  After the poem was written, I moved a few lines around and created stanzas, but the lines are their exact words.   Some students had trouble coming up with a line they wanted to add. I told them they could repeat one of the lines they liked.  Here's what we came up with:

Middle School

Another new year
Being ready to learn and grow
More classes to go to
More teachers to give you homework

Making new friends
Getting a locker
Using a lock on your locker
Getting to class before the bell rings

More classes to go to
The teachers are nice
Changing for gym
Having fun

Getting good grades
A lot more homework
Walking to class with my friends
Not getting lost

Being nice, nice, nice
More friends to make
Eating lunch earlier
Crowds in the hall

Making new friends
Finding my classes
Changing for gym
Wake up early

Going home earlier
More homework to do
I made it through the first day
learning new things

Middle school is fun!

Check out The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School to read Janet's poem "Another New Year" and many other fantastic poems middle school students love. The link takes you to Pomelo Books where you'll find an abundance of resources to bring poetry into your classroom!  

Speaking of great resources, be sure to stop by Poetry for Children where the PFA series co-editor, Sylvia has the Poetry Friday roundup!


  1. Progressive poems are always fun to write. I like the exercise where all previous lines are folded behind and the writer only sees the one directly before it. Amazingly, the poem still manages to hold together.

  2. Linda, i read through your various posts related to this one and like the activities you chose to start your year off. Yesterday, I suggested that teachers try an I am grateful heart activity and gave an example of an acrostic poem using the word grateful as the prompt. There are so many fun learning experiences to begin the school year on a positive. I like the poems your students created. Best of luck this year.

  3. What a great way to start the year: getting-to-know-you, teambuilding, and poetry– love it! (I bet they did too!)

  4. What a great way to start off the year with your students, Linda--I hope it is a wonderful one.

  5. Who would've thought that "changing for gym" would make it into the poem? But YES, I do remember that as a big change in middle school. How could I ever have forgotten? (the magic of poetry: the ability to bring whole complex memories back with just a few words)

  6. Love this activity, Linda! I especially appreciate that you gave kids a choice about how to contribute-- including "recycling" lines! Cool!