Hands on Stanzas

Hands on Stanzas Blogs
Welcome to the Hands on Stanzas Blogs. Each week our teachers post their students' work in progress and you can follow along by clicking on the individual school blogs listed below.

To read a school’s blog just click on the school name below, or scroll down to see the 10 most recent posts from all schools.

Skinner West
TEAM Englewood

RobbieQTelfer's picture
Ode to Odes
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on January 21, 2014 - 11:55pm.
Moos Elementary - Week 5

Today we were reading Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Thanks" and writing our own thankful odes.  I told the kids that if they couldn't think of anything they were thankful for to write poems for what they wished they had.  What we got sometimes were odes to the things we don't have - which is a new form that I credit to the 4th and 6th graders of Moos.

Mrs. Ramirez - 4th Grade
Room 214

"I wish they gave me a cow"
by Chris

I will be thankful if my parents
got me a cow because I wont go
to the store and get milk and
then the cow can be my friend
until we're old.

(here's a picture of the illustrated poem)

Ode to Puerto Rico
by Yarelix D.
RobbieQTelfer's picture
More Animals
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on January 21, 2014 - 12:48am.
TEAM Englewood
TEAM Englewood - Week 4.

I like to teach the animal persona poem everywhere, so here's more - this time from the 9th graders at TEAM.

Ms. Dube - 9th Grade
5th Period

"A Poem Written by a Owl"
by Javaris W.

Let me hear food
my face is sharp like this 
so I can hear food.
Let me hear food.
I'm supposed to hear
miles away, please
let me hear food.
I ask the mouse
make one noise
I ask of you please
I am one of the best
hearing birds in the world
Please mouse
one small noise.
So I can eat.

"Poem written by a bee"
by Nailaesha
RobbieQTelfer's picture
Animale Rationale
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on January 18, 2014 - 4:27pm.
Moos - Week 4

I like to teach Tao Lin's "A poem written by a bear" not only because it's a fun representation of personification and persona, but I also find it's a great way to show young people that what's enjoyable about poetry doesn't always have to cling tightly to logical sense.  This poem is just weird enough that I feel confident that the students will enjoy it, and feel comfortable testy the waters of poetic sense.  

So I ask the students to come up with a list of ten of their favorite animals, trying to put animals on their list that they don't think others will put on their lists.  Then they pick a favorite and write a poem in the voice of that animal.

Ms. Ramirez - 4th Grade
Room 214

A poem written by a Tazmanian Devil
by Juan S. 
Rachel Javellana's picture
First Day at McPherson
Submitted by Rachel Javellana on January 18, 2014 - 3:18pm.

I was pleased and excited to be back at one of my old haunts, McPherson School. I'll be working in three 6th-grade classrooms, collaborating with the very welcoming Ms. Bielenda.

In "Litany" by Billy Collins, the speaker compares himself and another figure to household objects and images from nature, making those direct comparison and leaps of imagination that we know as METAPHOR. the students tried out their own poems that involve comparisons like this, basically introducing themselves in a poem using metaphors. Some followed Collins' lead and related to a second person in their poem.

ROOM 320

Never Forget
Dayana G.

I am not the sound of thunder
like in the winds.
You are the moon to my shooting star, like
the lemon to my taco. You are not like a
black cat in the dark. But I am certainly not the sound
of thunder. I am like your shooting star
you will imagine in your head. But
you will never forget. But you don't forget
that you're the moon like my shooting star.

Mariano D.

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Larry Dean's picture
I'll Have a Slice of Poetry, Please!
Submitted by Larry Dean on January 17, 2014 - 6:49pm.
Skinner West
We had our first classes this week at Skinner. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with the 2nd grade teachers from last year—Ms. Ellis, Mrs. Beaudry, and Mrs. Rupp—as well as meeting Mrs. Stone, and of course it was great meeting all the student poets. What an amazing group this is!

Since it was our first day, I had a lot of general business to take care of—talking about the program, handing out folders for everyone along with the poetry vocabulary list, as well as going over the definitions of line and stanza—which went very smoothly. Considering all that, we were still able to read and discuss "Eating Poetry" by Mark Strand. The biggest question was, what happens to the speaker in the poem? I said that there is no right or wrong answer, and that much depends on each reader's individual interpretation. The students enjoyed Strand's sense of humor and dug deep other elements of the poem as well.

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RobbieQTelfer's picture
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on December 28, 2013 - 3:25pm.
Moos - Week 3.

The sixth graders I work with at Moos are the most eager to beg me to post things on this blog.  So much so, they've started writing poems outside of class and foisting them at me.  Here's an extracurricular piece, for example

Antonio G. 

My teacher said to write a
poem about some stuff.
I really don't like poetry
and I think I've had enough.

The words are all arranged
in a funny short of way
that you cannot understand
if you try and try all day.

There's poems about flowers
and poems about the trees.
I think that'd I'd go crazy
if I tried to write like these.

She said listen to my music
but my music makes good sense.
Cause rappers speak in street talk
and are never nerd or dense.

So I'm going to tell my teacher
that I'm not going to fight it,
I did my best with poetry
but I just couldn't write it.
RobbieQTelfer's picture
Images as Lives
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on December 28, 2013 - 2:35pm.
TEAM Englewood
TEAM Englewood - Week 3.

I like using Jack Gilbert's "Michiko Dead" in the High School classroom because it's powerful and short, uses only one image, and doesn't mention what the image represents anywhere except the title.  It's a quick way to teach the function and emotional power of poetic images.  

For the workshop, I ask the students to list the 10 most important things to ever happen to them, good or bad or imagined, and then write a poem about one of them without mentioning the event if the can.

Ms. Dube
7th Period

RobbieQTelfer's picture
Shoulda Been _______
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on December 27, 2013 - 5:04pm.
TEAM Englewood
Week 2 - TEAM Englewood

This week we looked at Patricia Smith's title poem from her latest collection "Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah" - the poem as well as the book explore Patricia's upbringing in Chicago and the ways her parents - two very different people - shaped her identity.  Jimi Savannah is the name her father wanted to give her and she feels it better represents who she actually is than the name her mother insisted on, Patricia Ann.  

The workshop is to look at how your parents/guardians are different and from that history, think about the name you think you should have as a result.  As with all my workshops, if they didn't know their parents well enough to say, I encouraged them to make up fantastic and compelling lies.

We also used the poem as an opportunity to look at what poets do with stanzas.  Here, the ideas in each stanza make it easy to tell them apart, and they build on each other like a thesis/antithesis/synthesis. 

No Name
RobbieQTelfer's picture
Week 1 - TEAM Englewood
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on December 27, 2013 - 4:26pm.
TEAM Englewood
I'm teaching to three 9th grade English classes in Ms. Dube's room every Tuesday.  The first week I wanted to tie poetry to the book they are reading (Your Food is Fooling You) by showing them former Chicago poet Idris Goodwin's poem "What is they feeding our kids?" as featured on HBO's Def Poetry.  I then had them write about what they hate as a way to show them that poetry can be as much about social change as it is about feelings and instrospection.  

Ms. Dube

Jerale C.

I hate writing
I hate poems
I hate poetry
I hate essays
I hate to fail.

I hate writing.
When people ask me to write
I can't do it.
Writing is just not me.
I can't express myself
through writing.

Ciaira J.
"I hate" 
RobbieQTelfer's picture
Talking to Inanimate Objects
Submitted by RobbieQTelfer on December 17, 2013 - 4:28pm.

Week 2 - Moos Elementary

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