Poetry Lesson: The Ode

Celebrate the unexpected with contemporary odes

One day during plan time last fall, I stumbled upon poet Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Midwest,” on the Poetry Out Loud website. I literally laughed out loud at its opening lines (I want to be doused in cheese & fried.) and knew I would have to introduce the ode to my new poetry class. Young’s poem is unexpected and irreverent; being a native Kansan, it just resonated with me. Click here to read Young’s poem.

So, in order to acquaint my students with the ode, I gave them a brief history on the form. For example, there are four kinds of odes:

We also watched this awesome video of Lucille Clifton reading “homage to my hips”:

To explore the ode for themselves, my students decided to concentrate on the contemporary ode form and explore it in a fun, freestyle way. There were no requirements to rhyme or be focused on a certain topic. The only requirement I made was that their odes be of at least ten lines.

My students came up with some great odes. Here are a few of the unexpected things they paid tribute to with their odes:

  • Darkness
  • Casseroles
  • The Color Orange
  • Heartbreak
  • The Sun
  • Artificial flowers
  • The Renaissance
  • Red markers
  • Happiness
  • Jokes
  • A car
  • Sunsets
  • The number 13, and last but not least…
  • A dysfunctional gall bladder

See what I mean? Fresh. Evocative. And totally unexpected.

And just for fun, I experimented with my own… An Ode to the Cold War. (It’s always fun to work alongside students when we try something new.)

Odes are a nice way to provide a degree of focus for poetry writing. Odes also allow students to express their unique visions.

If you’re needing an easy and fun poem form to explore with your students, definitely add the ode to your list of upcoming poem ideas. Discuss the form and its classical roots, but then shift the focus to the contemporary form so students can readily apply it to their experiences.


Need a new poetry lesson?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?

Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

Featured Photo: Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Connect to Prufrock with this easy, mindful project

I’ve included a free downloadable PDF of the directions for this project at the end of this post.

If you need an easy and creative way to help your students show their understanding of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” then try this simple activity as a culminating project. My high school juniors seemed to enjoy creating these “Prufrockian Perspective” heads to show what’s going on in Prufrock’s brain. Most students were able to express their own interpretations of the poem in a creative way with this project.

This is the bulletin board I made to showcase all the Prufrocks that my junior students made at the conclusion of our study.

But first, some background.

Here’s a quick rundown of how my classes worked with Prufrock before making these:

  • We took notes on Modernism (including comparing pre-Modern vs. Modern masterpieces) and the events that spawned the Modern Era. We also took notes on T. S. Eliot, his career, and other basic biographical facts.
  • We read and discussed pre-Modern poems such as William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, “Sonnet 43” (How Do I Love Thee?) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and “Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For contrast, we followed up these pre-Modern poems with the Modern classics, Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens.
  • And then it was time for Prufrock, where I read aloud the poem as a cold read merely to provide students a first impression.
  • The cold read was followed by a second reading where we annotated and jotted down noticings regarding word choice, imagery, allusions.
  • I assigned stanzas to pairs of students and asked them to do a close reading, taking stock of their particular stanza and its meaning before sharing their thoughts with the class. Specifically, they were to work with a partner to:
  1. Underline key words.
  2. Notice any pattern among words, i.e. do they suggest a tone or feeling?
  3. Identify any imagery or symbols.
  4. Determine a theme or attitude in their stanza.
  5. Discuss how their stanza fits into the whole?

When we completed all those activities, I felt it was time for kids to show their understanding with some Prufrockian Perspective art. My only instructions were to:

  1. Get a template for Prufrock’s head. (This was something I drew, photocopied, and provided to students on 11″ x 14″ copy paper. I’ll be adding the template to this post very soon, so please bookmark and check back!)
  2. Fill up the head with what is going on in Prufrock’s mind, based on what you learned from the poem.
  3. Use words, phrases, and images from the poem.

Here are the colorful results!

Standards alignment

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.9: Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.10: By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Download the directions PDF here:

This easy little project was a good way to culminate our study of Prufrock, which was a lead-in to our novel unit for The Great Gatsby. I think that for most of my juniors it allowed them a way to visualize and reproduce their take-aways from the poem, which admittedly seemed at times to be a little “out there” for them.

My advice to them when it comes to understanding “out there” poetry? I just tell them that Modern poetry is not necessarily meant to be understood, but rather felt.

Thanks for reading again this week!


Need a new poetry lesson?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?


Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

My Top 10 Posts of 2021

And we thought 2020 was a doozy! And yes it was, but 2021 threw us our fair share of challenges. And I think it’s fair to say that most of those challenges, if not all, can be traced to COVID and its ongoing effects. For me, the biggest challenge of all has been student apathy… just a lack of curiosity, a lack of drive, a lack of motivation on the part of many (most?) students.

That being said, student apathy does, ironically, motivate me to be more curious, to delve into new approaches, open up new literature, try new apps, or just lean harder into the tried-and-true.

For that reason, I’m really glad I have been adding to my blog on a near weekly basis since summer 2017.

Marilyn Yung
Good ol’ school pictures! Here I am in early September 2021.

This blog keeps me grounded, organized, reflective, and grateful for what I do. And THANK YOU for responding and reading regularly. That, my friends, makes it all worthwhile. Your views, visits, comments, feedback, and downloads keep me here, so I’ll say it again: THANK YOU!

I’ve compiled this post to put into one place my most-read posts of 2021. I hope you find these helpful, and I really hope you’ll skim through these titles and make sure you haven’t missed any that will help you be a more effective and confident teacher in 2022. Thanks again!

Without further ado, here are my top ten posts of 2021!

book bento

1. Book Bentos: My First Attempt

To conclude first quarter, my independent reading class usually produces some kind of summative project for a book they read during the previous eight weeks. This fall, instead of the usual book report, I came across the “book bento” idea in a private Facebook group. It basically takes the look of a bento, a common Japanese to-go meal, and applies it to a book. Instead of an arrangement of individual food portions, it’s an arrangement comprised of a book surrounded by tangible objects that connect to the book.

Find this Instagram account, @bookbento for lots of examples from…

2. Where I’m From Poems

George Ella Lyons

“Where I’m From” poems are perfect for going back to school! Read on to get acquainted with this awesome poem that every teacher I know raves about.

Have you heard of George Ella Lyon? She’s an American writer and teacher from Kentucky who wrote a poem several years ago called “Where I’m From.”

To get started, I read aloud Lyons’ “Where I’m From” poem as a mentor text and then I follow that up with reading three or four poems from former students. Then I pass out a template and…

3. Corona Virus Acrostic Poems

Students wearing Covid masks

My students learned at home from March 17 through May 14, 2020 when the school year officially ended. As part of their distance learning back then, I asked students to write a couple of paragraphs every other day or so for a “Life in the Time of Corona” journal. This journal documented their personal experience during the global pandemic.

I got the idea for students to create these journals thanks to a tweet from Kelly Gallagher in March of 2020, just when things were really starting to slide downhill pandemic-wise. Here’s the assignment sheet I created…

4. Canterbury Tales Resources

Canterbury Cathedral

On Friday last week, as we transitioned from a study of The Canterbury Tales to Le Morte d’Arthur, it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to share with you the resources I used and/or created to teach the tales. Here are six of them presented in the order that they fit into my lesson plans…

5. Pros and Cons of Padlet

Students working on a laptop

Yesterday, I wrote about six assignments I am using to test-drive the discussion board app called Padlet. Click here for a link to that post. Read on for my first impressions in the form of pros and cons.

While I’m using it now for distance learning during my school’s COVID-19 closing, I really think it will have more optimal use in the classroom.

6. Exploding a Moment with Barry Lane

Fireworks
Photo by Francis Seura on Pexels.com

This year, we wrote out an exploded moment instead of just watching one be narrated in a video. Last Tuesday, I planned an activity for my seventh- and eighth-grade classes that worked so well, I knew I had to share. We exploded a baseball moment.

“Exploding a moment “ is what writing teacher Barry Lane calls it when…

7. Teaching Transitions in Writing, Part 1, updated June 2021

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson

Don’t teach just transition words… teach transition ideas as well.

Note added on June 5, 2021: I often go back to my previous blog posts and see the details of how I taught a certain book or writing mini-lesson. In fact, I recently did that with this post. In April, I was working with my junior English classes and I used the photos from Chasing Lincoln’s Killer as examples of ways to connect the six essays they had compiled for their “Transcendentalism and the American Identity” essays. Having this blog post handy helped them see actual examples from the “real world” of ways to connect their essays into a cohesive whole. This is another way to show students that their sentences, paragraphs, and even sections of an essay should “hold hands” for better flow and clarity, as the text They Say, I Say suggests. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

I taught this book for eight years in my middle school ELA classes. It’s such a ride! Plus, when you read it as a writer,…

8. My First Attempt at Teaching The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

My resources, my reservations, and my main reason to teach this book again

Right now, at my new teaching position at a rural high school in Missouri, one of my junior/senior level electives classes is reading The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. If you’re unfamiliar with The Red Badge of Courage, it’s a Civil War novel first published in 1895 that explores the effects of war on a young man named Henry Fleming.

According to this Glencoe Literature Library Study Guide, “The Red Badge of Courage is a profile of an inexperienced young soldier undergoing his first experience of battle. ‘The youth’ in the novel, Henry Fleming, makes a journey of self-discovery…

9. Use This Movie to Teach High School Writers How to Explode a Moment

The Natural starring Robert Redford

For some reason, young writers seem to want to write as little as possible when describing a scene. They’re too busy. Too distracted. Or they think the reader will be able to read their minds. Whatever. I often read descriptions from students as sparse as this example: I shot the ball and it went in and everybody freaked out.

However, when kids see the effectiveness of exploding a moment… making it come alive with slow-motion action, they’ll surprise themselves with how much description they can…

10. This Back-to-School One-Pager Works Wonders

Back-to-School One-Pager

Get to know your in-class and remote learners quickly. Thanks to Spark Creativity! for this awesome “biographical one-pager” idea that I used last week when school started on Thursday. Read this blog post for all the details and printable downloads.

As a mentor or example, I projected mine (see above) on the whiteboard and we talked about the details I chose to share…


Marilyn Yung

Thanks for checking in! Please feel free to leave a comment below or on my Contact Page. I’m always interested in what you’re doing in your classroom to motivate and challenge your students.

In addition, stay tuned for more poetry posts! I have THOROUGHLY ENJOYED my new poetry class this year and I have so many ideas, prompts, and contest information to share with you. Become a follower, sign up for emails below (and I’ll send you a Treasured Object Poem handout in return!), or bookmark my site to catch those posts! Have a great third quarter!


Need a new poetry lesson?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?

Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

Featured image: Photo by Seema Miah on Unsplash

Sketchnotes: The Great Gatsby & Rhapsody in Blue

Explore music with sketchnotes

On the last day of class before Christmas break, I decided to do something totally off the “read-and-discuss track” that my class had been on since starting our unit on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

I decided to have students experience composer George Gershwin’s jazz masterpiece Rhapsody in Blue via Betsy Potash’s sketchnotes. (Go to Spark Creativity for free templates and more).

The ground-breaking musical piece is considered to be the inspiration behind the only fictional music mentioned in the entire novel, the imaginary Vladimir Tostov’s “Jazz History of the World.” According to Gatsby’s orchestra leader, the Tostov’s piece “attracted so much attention at Carnegie Hall last May.” He continues, “If you read the papers you know there was a big sensation.”

This is the Leonard Berstein version I played for my class using my Spotify account. I did not have them watch this, but this is the same performance.

This particular description causes many to believe that Rhapsody in Blue was the piece Fitzgerald was really referencing. When Gershwin debuted his jazz masterpiece in 1924 with Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra, Whiteman wanted the music to legitimize jazz and center the new American artform on the world stage. Both goals were accomplished with the music that has since become Gershwin’s most well-known masterpiece.


And now, we interrupt this post for the Common Core…

Standards alignment: RL.11-12.9

When students analyze a piece of music, I consider that music to be a kind of text, in the cross-curricular sense. Making sketchnotes of an iconic musical piece referenced in a novel accomplishes the following Common Core standard:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.9
“Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.” When making sketchnotes, students are synthesizing ideas from that musical text as it relates to the novel from which the music is derived.


Besides meeting that standard, I wanted my students to experience Rhapsody in Blue because I know they will hear it in commercials, movies, and in other pop culture references from time to time. It’s one of those signature American compositions that students need to add to their “American cultural literacy” accounts.

The Great Gatsby 2013 movie
Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby

And if you show Baz Luhrman’s 2013 The Great Gatsby film in class, you’ll notice that Rhapsody in Blue is the music that accompanies the big reveal of Gatsby to Nick at the glittering party in chapter 3. Rhapsody makes other appearances during the movie, including the ride into town that Gatsby and Nick take to meet Mayer Wolfsheim.

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

The Great Gatsby, Ch. 4

As Nick ponders these thoughts, the score soars in the background building to a crescendo to reflect the optimism, opportunity, and decadence that the city represented during the Jazz Age.

So here’s what I did:

  • I passed out plain 11″ by 17″ inch paper to each student.
  • I asked students to draw sketchnotes in blue as they listened to the music.
  • I suggested that they listen for a minute or two before starting since that might help images come to mind.
  • After seeing a few blank stares at this apparently crazy idea, I gave them some ideas: draw a cityscape, spirals, zigzags… anything that might evolve as they listened.
  • I required students to include these three things on their page: 1) George Gershwin, 2) Rhapsody in Blue, and 3) 1924
  • I also let them know that the song would last for sixteen minutes. There would be plenty of time to come up with ideas!

This activity was the perfect “last-day-before-Christmas-break” activity. Here are some photos of what my students came up with:

student sketchnotes
student sketchnotes
student sketchnotes

I also made this “quick and dirty” handout that I read aloud from before starting the music. I wanted them to have some context beyond that from the novel.

Making sketchnotes from music may work for any number of novels that have musical allusions. Think of a novel that you pair with its movie version. Are there any songs that have special cultural meaning that your students should experience?

I’m also wondering if there are ways to make this activity more than just a visual exposure to a musical piece. Can I have students do more than just listen and draw? Can I have them use their drawing as a springboard for a written piece about the music that utilizes text excerpts or citations?

Marilyn Yung, owner of ELA Brave and True

There’s always more to think about, right?!

I hope your Christmas break was restful and that you’ll have a manageable January, despite the COVID surge sweeping the country.

Need ideas for a novel you’re teaching? Trying something new in your classroom? I’d love to hear what you’re up to. Feel free to leave a comment below or on my Contact page.


Need a new poetry idea?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?


Book Bento Tip: The Art of Knolling

Use these knolling videos for better book bentos

I learned a new word today. It’s “knolling.” I saw this word in a book called Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living by Todd McLellan at my local Barnes and Noble. As I browsed the photography books for a gift for my son, I was drawn to the compelling cover of McLellan’s book. When I read the book jacket it spoke of “knolling.”

Here’s how the UK gadget and tech review website, Pocket-lint, defines knolling:

Knolling is a wonderfully satisfying photography technique that involves lining things up to create the perfect image.

This style of photography involves arranging similar objects in a parallel manner or at 90-degrees in an organised way.

The result is often incredibly satisfying and somewhat beautiful. It’s become quite a trend in recent years,… 

29 Satisfying Images of Knolled Tech and Everyday Objects | Adrian Willings

Here’s another definition from this video from artist Tom Sachs:

Knolling: verb; 1989; to arrange like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.

Don’t you love learning new words?!

Who knew?! I mean, really, I didn’t know there was a word for how I instruct students to design their book bentos. I’ve always just asked students to “lay out their objects in straight lines and/or at ninety degree angles.” I had no idea there was a word for it.

You can google “knolling” and find a plethora of images and design websites with loads more information on this trend that seems to owe at least part of its popularity to Instagram and other digital and social media, where it’s often seen.

But where did the word come from?

According to the video linked below from Alt Media Studios in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the word “knoll” was coined around 1987 by a photographer named Andrew Kromelow, who was a janitor at a furniture stored owned by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry had been designing furniture for a brand called Knoll, which was named for Florence Knoll, who designed very angular furniture pieces.

A Knoll furniture advertisement; Photo: MidCentArc on Flickr; License

At the end of each work day, Kromelow took overhead photos of the various tools and equipment and objects left out. He called this activity knolling. Later, an artist named Tom Sachs, who worked with Gehry, built on the idea and popularized the phrase, “Always be knolling.”

Always be knolling.

Here are four reasons knolling is popular:

  1. Knolling is captivating. A knolled photograph is hard to ignore.
  2. Knolling makes objects stand out in an easily visible way.
  3. Knolling shows similarities, connections, and relationships between the assembled objects.

Check out the videos below to learn more about knolling. In fact, the first video in particular would be perfect for showing kids how to arrange or knoll their book bentos.

This video is provided by Alt Media Studios located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

I hope these video resources will help you show students how to make better, more appealing book bentos!

That’s all for this week. When I learned this new word today, I knew I had to share it with you. Words enrich our lives with meaning and can open doors to new curiosities and learning.

Fill your students in on knolling as they work on their book bentos and let them know that they are engaging in a very design-forward photography trend!

As school winds down for the Christmas break, I feel hints of the rest and relaxation that’s right around the corner. Enjoy these final school days of 2021!


Need a new poetry idea?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?



Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

Book bento instructions and tips

These book bento instructions include a mentor bento

Now that the semester is almost over, are you in need of a quick way to alternatively assess student reading? If so, try book bentos!

I’ve made it super easy to give book bentos a try.

I created a Google Slides presentation with basic instructions and tips to help your students create successful bentos.

Included in the four-slide presentation, you will also find a mentor book bento (with object descriptions) that I created for students using The Diary of Anne Frank.

I’ve posted this resource on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2. I hope you find it useful and super easy to use tomorrow or whenever it fits into your plans over the next couple of weeks.

Books bentos are a process. No surprise there.

I tried book bentos for the first time with my students during fall 2020. It was a little rough, I’ll admit. However, I kept at it, and since then, I can honestly say that the quality of book bentos from each cycle of readers has steadily improved.

What’s more, students seem to enjoy making book bentos. The projects demonstrate student understanding and while bentos may not involve traditional academic writing practice, they definitely do engage students more and encourage them to think “outside the essay box.”

Have you tried book bentos yet? Now might be the time to jump in!

Leave a comment with your book bento experiences. I’d be especially interested in your thoughts on how to make book bentos more rigorous and demonstrative of critical thinking. For example, should key quotes from the text be included in the assignment to further support the chosen objects? Leave a comment below or on my contact page.

Need another poetry idea?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?


More book bento posts comin’ right up!



Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

How I taught The Jungle in one week

Devote only one week to The Jungle? It just felt wrong.

With limited time to fit The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s Progressive Era mainstay, into the first semester, I just didn’t think it would be possible to teach it in one week. I even experienced a healthy dose of teacher-guilt as I considered it, actually.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
This is the version of The Jungle I use in my classes. It runs 402 pages!

Questions swirled through my mind as I wondered how to include The Jungle in my two classes of juniors taking American Literature.

Would it be worth it?

Would students make this observation: that literature can impact the world and make it a better place?

I was that hesitant to take this approach.

But in the back of my mind, I also thought… why not? After all, many history and social studies teachers already include it to some extent in their curricula (as is the case at my school). Therefore, to avoid duplication it probably doesn’t make sense to do a full-length unit on the book. In addition, my class set copies run 402 pages in length! In the end, it just didn’t seem practical to devote a large chunk of time to The Jungle this go ’round.

But still… I wanted to include it to some degree, especially as The Jungle is part of our on-going lessons on influential American texts, which also include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which we studied in October, and Silent Spring, which we will read second semester.

If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of time for The Jungle, think about trying this. No, I’m not totally sure it was the best approach (or that I’ll do this again, mind you), but it’s something you may wish to consider.

Puck Magazine cover depicts food safety concerns in 1884
I showed images such as this 1884 cover from Puck, the popular humor magazine, in my Google Slides so kids can see that food safety was a known controversy. | Image: Science History Institute

Here’s how I taught The Jungle in one week:

  1. I provided a short lecture (for lack of a better word) to introduce and discuss the muckraker journalist Upton Sinclair, his goal for his novel (to highlight the harrowing immigrant experience — not food processing nightmares), and general historical context.
    • Yes, my approach is fairly traditional here. I have a Google Slides presentation that I’m building and posting on Google Classroom for students to use and refer to at test time. However, I still require that they take handwritten notes from these slides, as I believe handwriting helps them process and retain the information better.
    • I do indicate which information will be on a test at the end of the quarter.
  2. I provided a general summary of the novel including how it ends and a “family tree” of the characters in the novel. They would need this information for our next task.
  3. I had students choose one chapter to read silently in class.
  4. I assigned a one-pager for their one chapter. I made a highly-detailed and very colorful mentor for them using the book’s final chapter. This example was key.
  5. In fact, I believe it subtly showed them the level of detail I was expecting. The main advice I gave them: fill up the page and make it colorful.
    • Here are the other instructions for that one-pager:
      • Put the chapter number and the book title in the center rectangle.
      • In the four main squares, include the following:
        • Your chapter’s characters
        • The setting of your chapter
        • The main event of your chapter
        • Three important quotes with their page numbers
      • In the border, draw a design or pattern that connects meaningfully to your chapter. Here’s a photo of the example I made for students:
This is a photo of the example one-pager I made for students as a reference for the level of detail I was looking for in their work.

And that was it.

Everyone’s one-pagers are now hanging in the hallway. I’ve included a few below from both boys and girls, including students who excel at art and those who don’t.

My “Jungle one-chapter one-pager” project represents some of the best one-pager work I’ve ever seen from my students.

They really took their time, filled up the template (I use Betsy Potash’s templates; find them here), and used lots of color.

One thing: my students’ one-pagers are larger than those you’ll find on Betsy’s site. I enlarge mine to 145 percent (here’s a post) so students can work “bigger.” It seems to make a better presentation and students take the project more seriously when the project is presented to them on 11″ x 17″ paper instead of 8-1/2″ x 11″.

Enlarge the one-pager template for better results!

Another thing to know: I couldn’t cover every chapter of The Jungle. My largest class of juniors has 24 students in it; the novel has thirty-one chapters. I just dealt with it, choosing to work with chapters one through twenty-four.

Doing this also took the focus off Sinclair’s heavy-handed socialist propaganda in the book’s final chapters. If you have more students, I would go ahead and assign all the chapters, giving more context for Sinclair’s political leanings.

So even though each student read only one chapter of the novel, students learned its pivotal importance in the development of our nation’s food safety laws, worker rights, the immigrant experience in the early 20th century, and, lastly, the influence writers can have on society. Our earlier discussions revealed much about the formation of the 1906 Food and Drugs Act, a.k.a. the Wiley Act, and its later effect on the formation in 1938 of the nation’s first consumer protection agency, the Food and Drug Administration.

Understanding the entire saga of Jurgis and the extended Lithuanian immigrant family wasn’t necessary; reading one episode and viewing other students’ “one chapter one-pagers” provided the rest of the picture.


Marilyn Yung of ELA Brave and True

So there you have it. I freely admit it: I taught The Jungle in a week. And I don’t feel guilty at all.

(Well, maybe just a little.)

What are your thoughts about tackling a novel in a short amount of time? Leave a comment below or use my Contact Page to weigh in.


Need a new poem idea?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Looking for something else?


Gatsby’s coming in about a week and I can’t wait! I spent a crazy amount of time writing several Great Gatsby posts last summer.

Here are two:


Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

Featured photo: Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Three poems for Veterans Day

Veterans Day is right around the corner. If you need a quick poetry activity to celebrate veterans and their special day, read about these easy ideas in this post. The ideas are simple and easily replicable right from the details here, but if you’d rather have a handout for students to use and teach from, go to Teacher Pay Teachers (Store name: Marilyn Yung ELA Brave and True) for the resource. See link at end of the post below. Have a great week and Happy Veterans Day!

ELA Brave and True by Marilyn Yung

Now’s a good time to reflect on patriotism

The student council at my high school is planning a Veterans Day Assembly (an outside, drive-thru assembly of sorts) for the upcoming holiday on Thursday, November 11. One of the members popped into my room and suggested that students write patriotic poems that could be read at the assembly.

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

And, you know what? This school year is zooming by so quickly, I honestly hadn’t given Veterans Day any thought yet.

I thanked this awesome stu-co member for the idea, and got busy planning a Veterans Day assignment for my new poetry class instead.

Those poems are due on this upcoming Tuesday and I can’t wait to read them.

As for my students, I know that being told to write a patriotic poem out of the blue might cause some of them to draw a complete blank.

So…

View original post 564 more words

Three poems for Veterans Day

Now’s a good time to reflect on patriotism

The student council at my high school is planning a Veterans Day Assembly (an outside, drive-thru assembly of sorts) for the upcoming holiday on Thursday, November 11. One of the members popped into my room and suggested that students write patriotic poems that could be read at the assembly.

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

And, you know what? This school year is zooming by so quickly, I honestly hadn’t given Veterans Day any thought yet.

So… WOW! Don’t you love it when students give you an idea???

I thanked this awesome stu-co member for the idea, and got busy planning a Veterans Day assignment for my new poetry class instead.

Those poems are due on this upcoming Tuesday and I can’t wait to read them.

As for my students, I know that being told to write a patriotic poem out of the blue might cause some of them to draw a complete blank.

I would draw a blank, too. I get it.

So I consulted the Poetry Machine at Creative Communication to adapt a few ideas to give my students some inspiration.

I use the word “adapt” because the Creative Communication websites primarily serves elementary and middle school students and teachers. Many of the poetry forms and examples are definitely NOT high school-level. Still, I did find three poem forms that, while brief, should still help me accomplish my goal: to give my students a poetic nudge to celebrate Veterans Day this year.

Here are the three poem ideas I adapted for my students:

The List Poem

  • This poem suggests that younger students find a place, such as a locker, and then simply list what they would find there. I changed it up a bit and asked students to think figuratively and literally.
  • For example, my juniors could explore:
    • What’s in the heart of a veteran?
    • What’s in a soldier’s rucksack?
  • A final summarizing line would conclude their list and also help form the their poem’s title.

The Hold On Poem

  • This poem suggests that students think of various precious concepts (ideals or personal qualities such as enthusiasm, courage, or love), and insist those concepts be cherished and maintained at all costs.
  • For example, my juniors could write about holding on to patriotism, even when they feel it’s being diminished or challenged.
  • Students would continue to explore the notion of “holding on” to other related concepts in this poem. Here’s a quick example: Hold on to hope / Even when hope seems to fail. / Hold on to the struggle / Even when the struggle gets tough.
Heart hands reveal the American flag. Veterans Day poems honor our country.
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

The Holiday Poem

  • I almost left this one off my assignment sheet as it seems a little basic. However, I decided to leave it in the mix, since it still might provide students some inspiration, plus it highlights the power of sensory language.
  • I decided to require that students include two items or objects for each sense. The version for younger grades just required one.
  • This one has an easy title: Veterans Day, which is followed by two things one sees on Veterans Day, then two things one smells on the day. The poem continues, respectively, with hearing, tasting, and touching, and then ends with the title line.
  • Again, it’s probably the “easiest” of the bunch, but it will no doubt be just the nudge that a few students need.

To purchase this $2 handout that contains all three of these poem ideas, download it from my Tpt store. Please let me know how it works for you and feel free to leave any feedback about the assignment or this handout either here on my Contact page or on TpT.

Let’s not get so distracted…

…that we overlook the importance of Veterans Day. Now more than ever, we need to focus on national unity. Writing a Veterans Day poem will be an effective way to do that.

Have a great week!

Marilyn


Need a new poetry lesson?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Thumbnail photo of a Treasured Object Poem writing assignment.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need more poetry ideas?


Looking for something else?


Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True

Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice

Let the dice launch your students’ next poems

This year I’m teaching a new poetry class. Every week, we write a new poem, and so far, we’ve written odes, villanelles, list poems, cinquains, apologies, and poems on a variety of themes, such as “cold water,” “silence,” and more. Recently, somewhere online — I can’t remember where — I saw an ad for Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice and knew I had to order a set.

Just so you know, I paid twenty dollars for my set on Amazon. However, since I purchased mine, I’ve noticed social media ads promoting $8 sets of the dice using this teachers-only webpage.

Anyway, I had seen Taylor Mali read his poetry at a Write to Learn Conference in Missouri several years ago, and so I was familiar with his work. However, I didn’t realize until recently that he has also started making these little cubic gems.

Watch Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make”


Metaphor Dice are excellent tools for inspiring evocative, poem-worthy ideas. The words set the stage for deeper, extended critical thinking. Your students will cling to the possibilities!

Once I quickly explained the dice, I cleared off a table and had students roll the dice one by one to find the inspiration for their poem of the week, which we simply called our metaphor poems.

It was fun to roll the Metaphor Dice, and see the unique, unexpected, and powerful metaphors surface. @MetaphorDice

Each original Metaphor Dice set includes four red, four white, and four blue dice. The red dice feature abstract concepts such as passion, the past, and love. The white dice feature adjectives such as mad, unruly, and solemn. The blue dice feature objects such as a blessing, a wedding gown, and animal. Students roll all twenty-four dice until they find a combination they like.

Here are some examples:

Even though the sixteen dice offer endless options, my poetry class students did become accustomed to the choices even after one use. I’m not sure that they’ll be as excited to get the dice out again, or at least anytime soon, so…

…additional dice sets might be key.

A set of Metaphor Dice named the Erudite Expansion Set offers nine dice and is available for $15. According to Mali’s website, with the expansion set, “No words are repeated from the original set, but they are likely to be bigger, rarer, or just a little quirkier. Some may send you to the dictionary, but not all.” Some of the words, based on the photos on the website, include sacrosanct, lens, and epiphany. Those sound awesome.

For more options, you can purchase paper Metaphor Dice that include thirty words. These are blank on the reverse side, so you can write your own words. After a students rolls all twelve, they can scan their results, rearrange them, and otherwise play with them until an interesting metaphor reveals itself.

Since some students might need a little guidance getting started with their poems after rolling the dice, Mali has included some helpful tips on a brochure included in the box.

Metaphor Dice brochure
Metaphor Dice brochure

One of the tips that I especially like is to encourage students to use phrases such as “which is to say” in order to build their poems beyond the root metaphor. Another idea: have students play with their metaphor concepts by changing up the “to be” verb. For example, instead of “victory is a desperate songbird,” one could try “victory dreamed of being a desperate songbird” or “the desperate songbird of victory.”

The video below features Mali demonstrating Metaphor Dice and explaining different approaches to using the dice.

I plan to have the dice available the next time I assign a freestyle poem… a poem without a specific theme or form. The dice should provide the spark for some students to take off with.

Watch this video where poet Andrea Gibson recites an incredible poem sparked by the metaphor combo of you, favorite, and dance.

Here’s a poem created by one of my students with the help of Metaphor Dice.

A portion of a student-written metaphor poem inspired by Metaphor Dice

There’s an app for that.

And, of course, there’s a Metaphor Dice app for mobile devices. For $1.99, I purchased an easy-to-use app that rolls a red, white, and blue metaphor elements with a swipe to the right. The app also can share your poem to a social media account, from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter to Pinterest. Another feature: the Jumpstart will write a sentence-style poem based on the dice you roll.

A metaphor poem written using the new Metaphor Dice app
One of my attempts with my new Metaphor Dice app.

Here’s another poem prompted by the Metaphor Dice app:

A metaphor poem
Another attempt with my new Metaphor Dice app.

One final benefit: movement!

Metaphor Dice added movement (always a plus!) to my primarily desk-seated class. It was nice to have students up and moving around, taking turns rolling until they found a word combination that resonated with them.

On the day we experimented with Metaphor Dice, my poetry students worked well after rolling the dice. Their unique metaphors spurred them back to their desks and they worked independently-yet-socially (as this group of awesome kids can do!) on their poems of ten lines or more. The class decided that ten lines would be sufficient for this first foray into our metaphor-inspired poems.

I hope this post gives you some inspiration for “mixing up” your poetry and English classes. Students are drawn to the game-inspired touch of Metaphor Dice.

I’m glad I have a set, and I will probably be ordering more soon. As Martha Stewart used to say, “They’re a good thing.”

Have a great week!


Need another poetry idea?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file that will teach your students to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
Treasured Object Poems

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Need something else?


Love teaching. Make it memorable. | ELA Brave and True