Poetry Friday : December 8, 2016.
A couple weeks ago, Kiesha Shepard on Whispers from the Ridge shared “Leaf Dance” followed by an Invitation to Write: “Have you ever wondered what objects would say if they could speak? I wonder about this all the time! I think about what questions I would ask them and what questions they might ask of me.”
I immediately thought of question poems. Here are a few I’ve written:
Bright summer sun,
Aren’t you sleepy yet?
* * *
What makes you so red and sweet?
* * *
Why do you groan
And complain all night?
* * *
Wind, contrary wind
Why do you steal my hat?
* * *
Are you lonely,
Stretching along your dusty road?
* * *
Lofty clouds, soaring clouds
Why do you play with lightning?
* * *
Where did you come from,
And where will you go?
* * *
Are you still cold with winter’s snow?
Or are you full of warm spring rains?
In My Classroom . . .
1) I share several model question poems (I don’t tell students yet that they are called this.)
2) Students partner up or get in small groups and talk about what they notice in the models
3) Then the partners / groups share with the whole class what they have noticed
Some things to noticed–
The first lines address an inanimate object
The object is asked a question
The question is based on something that is unique to the object
More than one question can be asked
The number of lines
The length of lines
Rhyme pattern or lack of it
Personification of the object
4) I tell students, “Close your eyes and think of an object — one you might like to ask a question. Keep it in your head.
[Variations for object selection: Make content connections by having students think of an object from science or social studies.]
I pause for a moment as students reflect.
5) Students write their choice in their notebook / on paper, committing to their topic
6) Students think specifically about their object and the question(s) they might ask it
[Tips for creating the question: Think of the object as a person and create a question that speaks directly to the object; think of what the object does (verbs) — factually or figuratively — and use the verb(s) to help form a question]
7) Students draft their question(s), using the models if needed
8) Using their ideas, students create a question poem
There are really only two rules for our question poems: Address an object. Ask the object a question.
9) Students create an anthology of their question poems
Click here for a collection of question poems written by teachers in one of my literacy workshops.
Head over to Check it Out for more Poetry Friday Round-up.
Thanks, Jone, for hosting!
I love this idea of writing question poems. And I may have to try with students.
I’d love to see some of your students’ poems when they do it.
Alice, such wonderful poems. I love them all! It was so kind of you to accept my invitation and then extend it to your students. I am sure your students will have great fun with this project!
Thank you, Kiesha.
What a great idea! I’ll try this with my 5th graders!
When you do, Mary Lee Hahn, I’d love to know how it goes and see their writing! Did you read the comments and notice the extended idea of writing responses to the questions? Thanks for stopping by.
Love this idea! My favorite is the poem asking the clouds if they’re full of winter snow or spring rain. I think it’ like asking if a glass is half full or half empty! Great student process, too. Thanks for sharing.
Love the comparison to the glass have full/empty question. I wonder how often that could be used to craft the questions. Hmm? Thanks for visiting!
I imagine that students will love this, Alice. Asking questions of non-human objects might also call for answers, which is another writing challenge. I love all your questions, think those clouds might be a bit mischievous and answer, here in December, “are you kidding?/ waiting around with sleet and snow/it’s holiday time you know!”
Now that could be fun–swapping poems to write answers. I love your take on the Cloud question… especially since we are still feeling the effects of yesterday’s wintry storm. That cloud poem was written several years ago between winter and spring. As I keyed it in yesterday listening to the wind howl, I thought about noting that it held a seasonal clue. Thanks for stopping by!
I often start a poem with a question. And more and more pour out. How do you limit yourself to only one or two? That’s my problem.
I know… once the questions begin, they just keep coming. I wonder what would happen if we listed all our questions and then used the answers to craft a poem.
Neat that you let them figure out the form themselves. I’ll bet students have a good time with this!
Yep! The personification is always fun.
Thanks for sharing the question poems (I think the fence one is my favorite!) and the idea for a classroom activity. I’d love to see what my students generate and my mind is humming with a few possibilities I might try out.
Oh, Molly, when you do, please share and send me a message so I don’t miss it! Be sure to read Linda Baie’s idea (comment) and my reply, about writing answers to the question poems. I’m thinking… To compose the answers, students would have to do a bit of research. And I’m thinking… The answer could be in the student’s genre of choice. And this all could be wonderfully cross-curricular.
Love all these questions. Reminded me of Neruda.
Hadn’t heard of Neruda… but did some searching and found his “The Book of Questions”– “In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?” and “Tell me, is the rose naked / or is that her only dress?” and “Why do trees conceal / the splendor of their roots?” In fact, my search led me not only to Pablo Neruda, but also to Jan Neruda and to David P Stern. Perhaps I’ll write of it next #SOL16. Thank you for stopping by and mentioning.