Notebook strategies to help generate and revise poems

Here are five notebook strategies that can support your poetry unit. They also fit or could be adapted to other units of study. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to teach the same notebook strategy in multiple units—that demonstrates how valuable the strategy is across genres, subject matter, audiences, purposes, etc.

Hold Readers at a Climax

When I first read stories with students and ask them to identify the climax, they tend to point to a small amount of text, often two sentences or less. This is one of a handful of common phenomena that still baffles me — where did so many of us get the idea that climaxes are small?

More accurately, the climax is often the most important part of the story, and, consequently, it gets the most space.

Beginnings: 3 Examples (and Why They Work)

After my post about “Beginnings, Middles and Ends” a few weeks ago, a teacher-friend reached out to me. “When I tell students I want them to work on ‘the beginning,’ I don’t mean all that rising action you mentioned,” she said. “I am talking about much simpler stuff. I just want them to write anContinue reading “Beginnings: 3 Examples (and Why They Work)”

The Trouble with Beginning, Middle and End

I recently helped judge a story writing contest, and one of the criteria on the assessment form I was provided was: Does the story have a beginning, middle and end? As I began reading the entries, I quickly discovered that this was not useful assessment criteria.

4 Craft Strategies to Notice in THE LEAVING MORNING (and Why)

The best touchstone texts are sophisticated enough to work across multiple grade and comprehension levels. One of the first—and still one of the most frequent—touchstone texts that I used was THE LEAVING MORNING by Angela Johnson. Here are just a few of the brilliant craft strategies my students and I have discovered in it:

How to Read a Poem

Readers and writers have strong – and disparate – opinions about the “right” way to read a poem. Worse yet, there’s wide disagreement among accomplished and highly educated poets, too. There’s really only one point we all agree on—poems are meant to be read aloud. Beyond that, it gets dicey, but here are some things to consider.