Random Is as Random Does

This week, I began my residency with the 4th graders. I had a majority of these students back when they were in 2nd grade, and it was amazing to see what a difference two years can make! I recognized many faces, and there was much reflection on what they remembered from our earlier classes together. However, I told them we would be reading different poems than before—though not today—and writing based on all new prompts. Everyone was quite excited to start, so I distributed their poetry folders, and asked the students to prepare blank sheets of paper.

For our kickoff classes, I asked what generally makes a poem different from writing the students normally do, and reintroduced two key terms to them: line and stanza. I then asked a student in each class to choose a book for me at random, noting how many pages it had and writing the range on the board. I said I needed volunteers, and as students raised their hands I first asked them to pick a number corresponding with the page range, then with the number of lines on that page, and finally for the number of words on that line. Going through this process, each classroom wound up with its own unique word bank of five words from each text. I explained that this was an aleatory, or random choice poem, and that they were to use all five of the words in their poems; they could repeat the words, and/or use forms of the words, and the poems didn’t have to make sense—although the particular combinations might inspire them to try and create some sense. As usual, Skinner’s students did an incredible job!

Here are some examples from each class. It’s great to be back!

Mr. O’Brien, 4th Grade

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Keyondra G.

Today me and
my mom went to
an indoor park

This nice sir greeted
us at the door
when we got there

When we got into the
indoor park we
heard lots of squeaky
noises

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Ketan N.

when I woke up

my mom
sounded
squeaky

I was
on
the roof in bed I did

not know
if she was crazy.

The bed really was
a rocket
over earth I saw

my shadow and

fought it it won

today is crazy

I think my mom
ate a squeaky toy

THE BRAVE feeling OF A little SIR
Arjun N.

There was a little sir

The mom was so sad

The sir became her

Feeling when he saw

A sad POSITION Then!

A SQUEAKY IDEA came

In the Sir head Then

A LIGHT BULB ON his

head And his brain said

“The sad feeling is going to

be over today.”

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Ondra P.

Sir was coming over today
He took me

Out to play. He
got
a squeaky mouse
and took me over
to his house
When he took

The mouse to my house

my mom screamed and
shout get out!

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Raajit R.

MY SIR IS SUPER COOL.

MY MOM MAKES TASTY FOOD

MY SISTER IS A SQUEAKY GIRL.

THE BIRD FLYED OVER OUR HOUSE.

TODAY IS MY LUCKY DAY!

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Sky Z.

Today our
mom had
A small Bomb.
She went over the
mountain, then
At the fountain, where
She saw home and
a garden of Gnomes.

Mrs. Rupp, 4th Grade

Basket
Chloe B.

The mouse
couldn’t
rest in
the
basket

The mouse couldn’t
answer why
The
mouse

thought
who taught
the bread
to get
in
the
basket
and then
he walked
away

Random Poem
Kelly E.

mouse couldn’t you
answer the rest of
the questions
then you can go
in the basket

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Alex E.

There was a mouse, who lived in a basket.
The mouse liked to take rests in the basket.
But one day the mouse wanted to know what was
outside of the basket.
The mouse had a question, he needed an answer.
He saw some trees, and smelled cheese. Now he wanted
to see.

Couldn’t
Evan L.

I couldn’t find the answer
the answer to a test.

I couldn’t find a mouse
so I took a rest.

I couldn’t find a basket
even though I tried my best.

I couldn’t get a cookie
but I asked for it.

I couldn’t find my jacket
so I was cold.

(Sigh) Couldn’t

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Gabrielle P.

My mouse
couldn’t

rest in her comfy

basket

while

answering
questions

The Sightseeing Mouse
Saiadithyaa S.

I walk
to the entrance
The guard asks me a question. I answer

“here” I give him the
rest of my
money
I couldn’t
buy anything else until I went home.
Good
thing I brought food.

I walk in.

I
lift a
rock
WOOOOOOOOOOOOW!

A
red diamond!
I put it in my basket
I bring it to the
entrance

I walk to a museum.
They
buy it
for
$1,000,000

Ms. Travis, 4th Grade

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Logan F.

I was walking down the street
Going to the bread store
I smelled flowers near the window
I asked
Why
I went to the store down the street
It smelled like a new baseball
I asked
Why
I saw people walking down the street
Yelling into their phones
I saw people in limos
I saw someone sitting by the bakery
With a shopping cart
With blankets over the sidewalk
Holding a sign
Why

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Alistair G.

I jumped
I jumped from the…
Window

I did it because I asked
I landed

I smelled a smell
I was going when?

There?

Pumpkin Pie
Jasmine M.

I
was going
to the
window

To see the
black raven

And to see my
sister but now
I’m leavin’.

I have stuff to do,
like to follow the
smell of my
craven…

Pumpkin Pie? I asked

I was hoping for something
more appetizing

Abandon Factory
Aryan N.

I was going to eat a casserole then something smelled
weird on the other side of a window was a
abandon factory!

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Ella P.

Today was going to be one of my best days ever because
my dog was finally gonna take a bath so he
wouldn’t smell we asked him to take a bath for
days he just wagged his tail and walked away so
each day we had to open the window to make it
Not Stink

Christmas
Janiyah P.

It was Christmas

I was going downstairs to

go to the fireplace it

smelled like Christmas

the window was lit

I asked my mom what’s in the

window beautiful Lights

Life
Gigi S.

I walked to the window of
life, it swallowed me whole
and lifted me up. I was
going to life, awakened by the
smell of fire. People asking
to be let free, this is
life!

Going
Annette W.

I was going. I had jumped
out the window. I ran. I smelled
the grass and smelled the
wind as I ran. I yelled in happiness
and came upon a window.
“Hi there!” said a peaceful looking
woman.
“Hi!” I had found a new home.

Ms. O’Brien, 4th Grade

Poem
Morgan H.

Birthday cards are always you. Today
when it is your birthday it is still about you and
it is you.

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Caroline M.

We always do this to you
and you know it’s true
They still always write you cards.
Today they wrote more.

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Lorenzo P.

The gift card
that I got for you today
is still in good condition and
will always be.

The Card
Regina R.

Today I got a card that said you are always
singing and you still eat cheese.

Crazy
Leyla S.

Today

I play cards at the park

still playing like a monkey

To be honest always playing
like a
monkey

Once I
gave a
monkey
a Card!

The Cow and the Creeper
Mikhail S.

Once there was a card with a cow and
the card had a cow and the cow had a
card that got eaten by a cow today but
that same cow ate the same exact card

today too. The creeper came by it left. It was still
there. The cow attacked it 1-1-1- the creeper
exploded! The creeper was still there it

exploded again it was still there the cow died
the cow was still there!

Mrs. Oluewu, 4th Grade

she might ride the horse
R C.

she might truly almost ride the
horse.

the ride
Karyn C.

riding a horse she truly might fall

with all her might she held on

Almost falling to the ground

she realized

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Audrey H.

I once knew a girl.

She truly wanted to ride a horse.

She almost succeeded but

the might of the horse was too great.

Wind
Sabrina Q.

Trees truly bristled like welcome to she.
The horse almost rised by she.
Dust might dance for she as it pass by,
she the wind is mighty as you see

Runaway in the Night
Shirley R.

She knocks on a door

The horse neighs

It grasps the might

Almost bravely, too

Truly, distressed

send her away

In the dead of night

Crazy, may it seem

Oh, how upsetting it is

Fall away slowly

Come back fast

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Eason T.

If you might want a horse,
If you truly want a horse,
If you badly want a horse,
If you seriously want a horse
there is someone who can help!

If you want a horse, there is someone,
a horse.
She said:

“I be a horse, if you truly be wanting
me, you be take me, but I be warning you,
I am almost close to hoarse.”

There also is another horse, he said:

“I is horse and I is not hoarse, however,
you is not able to buy me.”

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