This week’s classes were structured a little differently. First, I made sure the students had their paper prepared with proper headings for the writing they’d do later; I then asked them to flip the paper over. On the board, I wrote out the phrase how quickly daft jumping zebras vex, asking them to copy it quickly, in cursive if possible, without thinking about what it means. When they were done, I asked them to flip the paper back over and passed out the poem for discussion, Paulann Peterson‘s “Handwriting.” We initially talked about the number of lines and stanzas, comparing it to last week’s longer poem, before opening the discussion up to such issues as what the poem’s about, its images, and why the poet used a hyphen to break lines 17 and 18; I asked if a skater and a bird could be compared, which led to the poem’s title and an analysis of what the act of handwriting looks like. We also made sure to talk about the first stanza, where the poet compares vowels to bodies, as well as the “cup, chalice, [and] sloping bowl” that “spread out / in a string of sound.”

Pangrams are sentences that use every letter in the alphabet, and for an example of one I told the students that they should look at the phrase they wrote and think about how their handwriting looks, overall, and/or the letters individually, using comparison in their poems. Here are some of their responses.

Mr. O’Brien, 4th Grade

My Handwriting
Arjun A.

What my writing looks like a track runner running
or a lion chasing prey or the o’s look
like happy faces.

Maybe a black cloud dropping out
black ink. Or a line running in
a weird way. Or like a line
showing its shadow.

But in any way it is still
my hand writing.

Brian C.

My handwriting is neat and looks
like a zebra running around
crazy all over the page and
looking all around for food

The zebra is hungry there
is no grass to eat on the page
but has to run it there is a

Nicholas C.

My handwriting looks like an
elephant ran over it at the
zoo in Asia.

Handwriting Poem
Daanya M.

its’ beautiful
especially if it’s cursive
my handwriting
joins together
they all hold hands
as they dance together
they hold onto each other
they don’t let go
q and u
are always together
the words stretch across your page
the vowels sing
and the consonants join in
they glide across the page
they dance and play
the whole entire day
the y’s and g’s
are like great big slides
the letters fall out of your mouth
they sound lovely
and curly
a snake curving everywhere

Tristen N.

Sometimes my
handwriting looks
like Lebron James’ hairlining
but sometimes it is
neat when I don’t push
when I write letters it
is smooth like Curry’s

Justin O.

W looks like a snake’s
tongue my g looks
like a y

Anushri V.

My handwriting
that I
don’t like
soars through the wind and
like a starving lion
eating 6,000 pounds of
then I run

Mrs. Rupp, 4th Grade

Miriam B.

writing is a medicine
for the feelings
of sadness, longing, hurt
but also for
happiness, amazement, excitement

your heart bursts open
with words and ideas
not even you knew you had
your diary holds everything
every day your heart is poured out
pages of your diary

Tyler L.

My handwriting is not so good it
is quick and sometimes connects
it is also
very scribbled my writing

is also
all over the place!?!?!?

Xibao Q.

I write some letters and toss them in a
jumble about as fast as I can mumble

I admit it is quite messy
every time I write letters, lines go afar

It looks as if a broken body
were seen through an
x-ray. Everything are different sizes
if I went to a contest I would
get no prizes.

Every time I write a word, it seems like I
get more bored.
My handwriting becomes less neat but
i will not admit defeat

Words, letters, sentences. My writing
is really messy. I do not expect it to
be fancy. Sorry but now I have
to go, but I will continue
to toss words to and fro.

Just Like That
Tlaloc R.

When the pencil touches the page,
it’s like a nuclear bomb exploding,
it’s like a waterplane just grazing the sea.
It’s like a sleepy bird flying, just swaying
in the air. It’s like a race car, racing
at the speed of light. A
claw, screeching
on metal.
My mom tells me to shut up.
My handwriting is
just like

Erika W.

As neat as some flowers
as messy as mud
how does it look

This is my way it is a puddle of
clay this is my way

My Handwriting
Rachel X.

My handwriting.
Swift and graceful,
yet messy.
Like an archerfish that misses
and hits anyway.
Like a bird that
falls and gets back up.
A string that’s connected
yet broken.
That’s mine.

Large motions, and fast too
like a cheetah
running after its dinner.
A businessman that’s late
all a-hustle and a-bustle.
Like a kid that can’t wait
for Halloween.
That’s mine.

Everyone’s handwriting is different,
and this is mine.

Ms. Travis, 4th Grade

Sienna B.

My handwriting looks like
an owl that is swooshing
down and up
some parts are like
turtles swimming in a pond.

A little person on the lake
said it looks like a
slow moving snake

A giant fish said it
looks like him.

Lucas C.

My handwriting looks like a giant foot to nail on
the planet Neptune mixed with zombie aliens.

Tahlia L.

Handwriting: K like a tall water

T like a bright lamp?!

I like a chalice cup!

P like a diver?

V like follow the

O like a doughnut

C like a half eaten cookie

Olive’s Handwriting
Olive P.

My handwriting looks like
someone had a nosebleed and
got blood on it. I hate my handwr-
iting my parents and friends
make fun of it.

But I don’t care what
other people think about
it. You shouldn’t either

Ethan R.

I think my handwriting looks
like a worm squiggling around
and like craters
crashing into my paper popping
holes. But sometimes it
beautiful and awesome!

Sometimes it is ugly but
also very pretty. I could
be a bad writer
or a good one. Like
losing a football game
or winning a basket
ball game.

Mitra S.

Curves fill the lines
like seaweed
in the
ocean filling the space
as if a
firework went out.
Stroke to stroke
like as if someone topped icing on
a triple
layered cake
on a zebra
if it’s in
a firework moment.
Door to
door like lightning…

Brielle S.

My handwriting looks like 2 graceful
swans swimming in the lake, dancing until
their feathers are gone.

My handwriting looks like 2 turtle doves
sitting on their nest in their nice green
tree waiting for their young to hatch.

Leila W.

My handwriting looks
like kids picking daisies
on a rocky hill. Or
people begging for money on
streets. Or people and children
celebrating holidays and

Many people, joining hands
and eating food or singing
songs. Or a swan taking
care of her newborns.

Ryan Z.

My handwritten poem is
like brushes swishing on a
painting. Like streaks of marker.
More like cups made by letters.
Like a streak of snow on a
shadowy night.

Mrs. Johnson, 4th Grade

Brett B.

My handwriting is as messy as the ocean getting
pushed by the wind. I expect my writing to
look as graceful as a dolphin but when I write it
always turns out looking like the aftermath of a

Austin C.

Sometimes my handwriting looks
3D it looks like the cracks in the
street and it goes up and down
like a rollercoaster

Avery C.

My handwriting looks like modern art.

Untitled but look for capital letters
Roxie L.


my words diP up & down, to & fro

leaping like A deer

churNing and twisting as though it were the
river iTself


it Slashes, the t’s cutting
through the u’s, pushing to the r,
reunited again with its fellow t, the l
slashing back, but not touching the gentle

Aarav M.

My handwriting looks like…
Squares being cut in half
There are so many spaces left untouched.
People close together at a party
There are lines randomly making words
They have taken up too much space.
Endless words, endlessly making until end
of time.

Anthony S.

My handwriting is like a tidal wave striking.
Sea gulls, also it looks like an umbrella
in the rain.

My Handwriting
Lamar T.

my handwriting is like the animals swimming in the
swamp when the water is flowing badly hard.

Ashlyne W.

My handwriting looks like a bunch
of waves

It looks like a bee
squirming around

It also looks like beautiful

But sometimes like a crazy
duck when it can’t find its child

also sometimes
it looks like
a messy braid

My Handwriting
Sirun Z.

My handwriting looks like
a bunch a design on an ancient
like how Egyptians used to write
and draw on their walls

they carve in and out, going
up and down.

Mrs. Oluewu, 4th Grade

Courtney B.

All handwriting
But mine
the most
it looks
giant bubbles
floating around

on the
I write
right to left
instead of left
to right
and super small

But mine is mostly complicated

My Writing
Kyndall F.

My handwriting is okay not the best

I guess it looks like a… I don’t

I might think it’s neat but maybe not everyone
will think that.

My writing is lovely like a beautiful cake.

Soon all the words will end.

Kyla K.

My handwriting is like the wind, swift and
continued, traveling on and on, like spirals
on my paper.

It reminds
me of
a vanilla and chocolate
swirl, never ending.

Nika M.

My handwriting; so curved but sloppy.
Not so bold and sometimes not connect.
It looks like dominoes going different

Opal P.

it looks like a sloppy
mess almost like
a pig sty
with slop right in the bin
dark like a cave
at midnight

connected like a
cursive loop
sometimes can even be
as a line.

That is my handwriting
it’s mine.

How Quickly Daft Jumping Zebras Vex
Sophia S.

All handwriting is different
like everyone is different
no two people are the
no two poems are the same

A looks like an apple
B looks like a bear
C looks like a cookie
D looks like a duck
E looks like an egg
F looks like a fry
G looks like a grape
H looks like a hat
I looks like an ice-cream
J looks like a jumping zebra
K looks like a kangaroo
L looks like a lion
M looks like a monkey
N looks like nothing
O looks like an opal stone
P looks like a penguin
Q looks like a quail
R looks like a rainbow
S looks like silk
T looks like a turtle
U looks like an umbrella
V looks like vex
W looks like whaaat
X looks like a xylophone
Y looks like a yak at a slack
Z looks like a jumping zebra

My Handwriting
Londyn W.

My writing looks
like a pile of trash
in an alley that
has a green gas
bubble around
it to show
how bad it
smells. I think
my handwriting
looks really bad.
Your handwriting
is great! Oh wait…
that is your friend’s
yours looks just like
mine…ok bye!
* runs away *



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.