Story Challenge Day 7: Class Assignment

My fourth graders are experimenting around with poetry. We started out by journaling how we were feeling. I joined them in the writing (and no, I didn’t get distracted this time).

Here’s what I wrote:

The green lines are the line and stanza breaks I added when I demonstrated / modeled how to think about line breaks.

Then I demonstrated my thought process for how I might choose which words go on which line. (More on that during poetry month.)

Here’s what I came up with. I’m pretty proud of it, to be honest. Prouder still of my brave students, who joined me in this exercise without reservation or fear.

I feel strong
(confident maybe)
is Knowing,
Being Sure -  
A Leap.
It’s uncomfortable,
All that leap-taking.
What do I know?
Where do I step,
Sure of my feet?
Where do I leap, hoping 
Land safely?

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

12 thoughts on “Story Challenge Day 7: Class Assignment

  1. So great that you did this alongside your students and walked them through your process. That’s the best kind of teacher, I think. Modeling your messy process and being vulnerable and authentic. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. It’s MESSY. And I love that we show kids all the mess. I think lots of them think that grown-ups have it all together because they’re grown-up. Notsomuch, I say…

    1. Thank you! What I love about messing around with that is how much the words I’ve written surprise me. I find meaning and metaphor in places I never even planned!

  2. It is so important that our students see that we go through the same process they do, We, just like them, don’t write the perfect piece the first tie we sit down to write. That is why it is called a process, rarely linear certainly circuitous.

    1. Exactly! I couldn’t agree more. I think a lot of kids (at least myself growing up) feel like problems get solved when folks get their grown-up card. I think they find it validating to know that we share the same struggles and joys…

  3. Knowing the ending to the story often ruins the story. When we model we are risk taking which is exactly what we ask students to do. They respect that. The patience to trust yourself in the process is the true modeling–not the polished published piece. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is great, Lainie! I used to do poetry exercises with my students … following that “rule” that I shouldn’t make them take on challenges I wasn’t taking right alongside them. Those poetry exercises are what brought me back to writing poetry after a years-long abstention. I really like choices you made with this poem, especially the spacing choices. That’s something I struggle with sometimes in my poetry. Your spacing choices feel dynamic, giving energy to the paired, repeated words.

    1. Thank you! I agree that we gain respect from our writer students when we take on what they do. I think it also helps me understand and appreciate their fearlessness at trying new things!

      You also have a good point about poetry exercises. They really do have the power to remind us that poetry isn’t as out-of-reach as some suppose…

  5. Once again, I find myself a teensy bit envious of your students. We read others poems, to know what’s ‘good’, not encouraged to write our own. You don’t just tell this is a voice – you should listen, you show them how to listen for their own voices by example and that is beyond wonderful.

    I LOVE the finished product. It’s a fantastic poem. Spacing like punctuation and line breaks lend to its voice and you use yours well here. The ending lines are literal leaps – gives it a vibrancy – that works perfectly. Bravo.

    1. Well thank you! The ending was one of those things that surprised me in the making. I really don’t know how that happens. I mean, I’m the one who thinks of the words, right? And yet I find myself not quite knowing how things reveal themselves in the process. LOTS of fun. =))

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