The Title of This Poem Is…

This week I am back at Skinner West, for a residency in all the 2nd grade classrooms. It was great to meet the new students and get (re)acquainted with the teachers; everyone was excited for the start of poetry, nobody more than myself!

The first classes involved a lot of busywork and introductions: explaining the program, passing out folders, and getting paper ready for writing. I asked students what they knew about poetry and was surprised by the breadth of reactions – some were familiar with poems from home and/or school, others had written poems of their own, and some even had poets in their family! By way of a brief introduction, I said that there are two things that make a poem a poem. When responding to an assignment in class, or reading a story, I noted that the writing on the page starts on the left, then goes all the way to the right before continuing back on the left. A prose writer only stops once they’ve completed their sentences. One difference in poetry is that the poet decides when to stop, and where exactly the words should go on the page; they might write two words, drop down, write three more, drop down, and finish their thought with three more words. Here they’re creating lines. Another difference in poetry is when a poet skips a line to create a new stanza, which is something like a paragraph. Poems, I explained, can have anywhere from one stanza to as many stanzas as the poet wants. With those two distinctions in mind, I said that students would write their own poems beginning on the first day.

I didn’t present a poem to read and discuss as a prompt. Instead, I brought along a box of headline clippings from magazines and newspapers – short phrases of a few words or less. Each student randomly drew a clipping, and taped it to the top of their paper. This would be the title for their poem. Even if they were unsure what exactly each phrase meant, I encouraged them to consider what it made them think of, in whole or in part, and just go for it!

Here are the first poems from a few students in each class. Amazing stuff!

Mrs. Haddad, 2nd Grade

A Tribute to Light
Henry A.

the cat turned off the lite


fluffy is fluffy. and fluffy.
meatball likes meatballs

Beautiful Statements
Scarlet B.

I’m a Dancer.
I’m Breva!
I Dance!
And I Don’t care!
My mind is free!

I always Dance always
sing! Ohhh! I want

to make a difference!
In the world!

And be me! Ohhhh!
So I’m me and that’s
what I want to be!

I want to help!

A Fractured Beauty
Joice H.

My mom used to be
so so
Until Saturday she fractured
her arm.
got a

Papa Wrote
Alex R.

Papa wrote
a message to the

Then he wrote
a message
to his
message to
his grandmother.

And the
last message
he wrote
was to

Rumor of Cow
Cypress T.

Rumor is my cow. He loves to
plow. Now. All
the time. Anywhere
he goes he plows
the stables
where he
lives. One
day he
did not
long time.
of plowing!
I was
sad. So
sad. But then
he plowed more than he’d
ever done before.

Mrs. Ward, 2nd Grade

Grandma’s Teenage Diaries
Zaiden A.

My grandma is old. She acts like a
toad. But she has some secrets.

When a Craving Won’t Let Go
Sydney B.

When a craving
won’t let go
I feel like I shouldn’t show.

When a craving
won’t let go I just don’t
want to be a crow.

I know. I know.
The craving won’t
let go. So I just know
the craving won’t get off
me. So I just know
that I should ask
the craving to go.

Our gift to you…
Max B.


Abandoned Dreams
Ireland C.

Once a dream
got abandoned!
And floated away
into a lake
and it was a
dark one.
And it bumped a
lily pad. The lily pad
rocked back and forth
and it started to go
down a waterfall.
And the worst thing
happened it washed

Great Minds
Carter H.

There are many
great minds
the world.
Maybe in
right now
at 8:04
named George is
thinking really

I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Be Who I Was Before
Claire R.

There was a girl!
She was sitting in a tree!
She was
What was she thinking about?
Nobody knows what she was thinking
Everybody knew she was thinking in a
Everybody knew she was a girl!

London Calling
Elliott S.

London is calling London is calling.

From where the house, outside, in the
in the snow. I don’t know. I don’t know.

In a field in a building. In a boat.
Under water. In the rain.

Mrs. Daigle, 2nd Grade

Into the Woods
Layla D.

You can see animals.
It is
tall trees.
You can
the wind sing.
You can’t
the sun in the tall trees.

The Vegetable Whisperer
Valerie G.

One potato whispered to the carrot
hey carrot want to go for a
vegetable walk? Will you? I want to
ride my vegetable car.

Accidental Power
Morgan H.

One day I had
power I remember
somebody accidentally
gave me power
and now
my name
is Super Girl.

Breaking the Mold
Max K.

break the
mold with
head it
tickles my
head and

it grows
my head!!!!!! and cows like to eat…

my head.

The Language of Light
Haris M.

The light is a language
of the sun it is special because
it lights up the Earth light
is good for energy.

The light helps animals
keep on going of all the
southern animals.

Broken Surfboards
Heidi P.

Surfboards bend and break
surfboards don’t take a break
they ride the waves
all day

As they ride free and wild
singing a song about the Southern

As they go for many miles
non stopping free in the wild

There are 1000 of them looking
at me and you
as we ride on one
always sing a song

A Master of Mistakes
Brooke S.

I always make mistakes. I love to make
mistakes but sometimes I don’t like them
sometimes they are horrible. Sometimes
they are fun. Sometimes they make me
be a troublemaker. I don’t like to be a
troublemaker. I think I am a master of
mistakes I love to make mistakes all day.
I think I can do it all day. I love mistakes.

Branching Out
Sofia T.

It’s so
I have worked
so hard
I will go
home now
so that I can
cool down.

Years of Dazzling
Samantha W.

Years of dazzling can mean
trying to impress someone or

Years of dazzling is when people
throw sparkles in the ocean
and celebrate the person who
created sparkles.

Years of dazzling is
celebrated because of
how it can shine and
how colorful it is.

On years of sparkling
is also when people wear
sparkles all over them.

Ms. O’Connor, 2nd Grade

It Depends
Darwin B.

It depends
on what’s around
you. It depends on
what you are.
It depends on
what suits
you. It depends
on what the
is. It depends on who you are.
It depends.

Return of the Sun King
Allison C.

Sun King
Big, powerful
Burning, scorching, heating
he’s strong like bull
he returns

Super Cool
Preston D.

I am super cool and crazy I like to take long
walks I pretend to be a tree stump sometimes so people
can sit on me then I get angry I spill tea on them they
yell at me and once just yesterday I got an F- on
my math test while eating a hamburger but the
main reason is for drawing a monkey eating a hot dog on the

What Should I Do
Mekhi G.

What should I do.
You should buy some
corn. Really. Yes, for your
family. Of course why
did I forget? So he
bought some corn and

Super Lawyers
Samar M.

Lawyers are communicative
helpers, they help us
follow laws, some
are mean
some are nice.
Listen to their rules
you won’t get

Skip Town for the Sea
Imade O.

The sea is a beautiful place.

It is not pure but that’s OK

then we went
to the sand to play.

Then we went home
to play even more
’til bedtime.

Chaos Monkeys
Aiden Y.

I went to the zoo.
I saw some zebras
I saw some lions
I saw some tigers.
Finally I saw monkeys.
They were going crazy.
They were going bananas.
They are chaos monkeys.



“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.