From Discovery Educator Dave Mendell:
When I first took a look at Lance’s schedule for guest blogging my immediate thought was “Great, how am I going to be able to share anything I’m doing with my kids when all I’m doing is testing this week?!” I must admit, that even I, the constant optimist, felt like this was going to be virtually impossible. Fortunately, what I soon realized was the answer was right under my nose…just keep doing what I’ve been doing all year long. You see, even with the rigors or testing, I can still get my kids to chill out, think and capture their thoughts creatively using their pocket PC’s.
Face it, even the highest scoring response to an open-ended “test” question can be less than inspirational. Poetry Sketches are an activity I have used with my class as a way to foster their creative writing skills and encourage them to write meaningfully and emotionally. In writing poetry sketches, students are given four words. Students may use the words in any form as long as they are included in their poem. Additionally, I tell the class that their poems shouldn’t rhyme and should contain at least 3 complete thoughts or sentences.
Perhaps it’s easier to see how it works… Last week, with PSSA’s looming I gave my class the following words to sketch: test, sleep, pencil, measure. Here are some of the things they came up with…Notice how one focuses on the test while the other one doesn’t!
When I take this boring test,
My pencil is killing me
Last night, I didn’t get enough sleep,
I am still sleepy.
Measure, measure, measure away
How many millimeters in one mile?
Think, think, think!
Write, write, write!
Finish the test!
Time, it falls away as I sleep.
At night, school.
time, time, time
as pencil to paper
testing goes on.
your measure is falling away.
Poems can tell us so much! Just a few words per line can help me understand how my students are thinking and feeling. That’s pretty powerful! What’s this have to do with technology? Not much. These poems were written and edited on pocketPC’s which the students then beamed to me, but that’s about it. Why am I writing about this one activity for the DEN blog? Remember that technology is not the cure-all for engaging students in their learning! Here’s a friendly reminder of just how powerful a few written words can be. Sometimes the most important skill a teacher can have when integrating technology is knowing when not to! I would be happy to share some more ideas and some more poems (it was hard to pick just 2). Please feel free to contact me!