"Poems explore everything. You can go anywhere," explains Amy VanDerwater, author of Poems Are Teachers . In her new book, VanDerwater argues that poems should be the backbone of writing instruction, instead of being swept under the carpet as an afterthought. She shows us that there is a poem for every kind of life experience, big or small.
The following is adapted from Poems are Teachers: How Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Many texts grow from idea-and-belief-soil. Writers write about what they believe is important, what they believe is wrong, what they long to preserve. Editorial writers, reviewers, and cartoonists lay their beliefs bare on newsprint, greeting sleepy morning readers with coffee and opinion: Where is the hottest new restaurant in town? For whom should I vote? What’s up with concussions in youth sports?
National Public Radio featured a show titled This I Believe for many years, and at the website thisibelieve.org, you will find hundreds of belief essays by people of all ages and walks of life, essays about everything from attending funerals to being kind to the pizza dude.
In her book Writing to Change the World (2007), Mary Pipher asserts, “Writers can inspire a kinder, fairer, more beautiful world, or incite selfishness, stereotyping, and violence. Writers can unite people or divide them”
When we write, we nudge change, and it is our responsibility to think about what kind of writing change agents we wish to be. Which beliefs do we hold dear enough to share?
Amy’s grand title, Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres, names the promise of this book, and every ravishing word thereafter supports that thesis and never lets us down. Amy convinces us that devoting time to deep study and practice of the specific features and techniques of poetry will elevate any type of prose, and we should determine to make plenty of space for poem reading and writing in our classrooms.
Welcome to the second entry in a new series on the Heinemann blog! Every week we find around five interesting links for you to take into your much deserved weekend. These links are interviews with educators, posts from our authors' and friends' blogs, and any interesting, newsworthy item from the past seven days. Check back each week for a new round of finds!
At Two Writing Teachers, Tara Smith wrote about a presentation Ralph Fletcher gave called "Making Nonfiction from Scratch: How Can We Give Students the Time, the Tools, and the Vision They Need in Order to Create Authentic Information Writing?"
Ralph began his presentation with a spirited defense of keeping narrative writing at heart of our writing workshops, reminding us that what is remembered is connected to and embedded in story. The elements of surprise and suspense draw us into stories, he said, they keep us on our toes and hold our interest.
—Click through to read "Learning from Ralph Fletcher: Teaching Authentic Information Writing" by Tara Smith at Two Writing Teachers.
Nancie Atwell appeared on PBS NEWSHOUR on Wednesday evening, in a segment called, "'World's best teacher' does not believe in tests and quizzes."
Teacher Jianna Taylor wrote a review of Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts & Minds with Inquiry by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Sara K. Ahmed.
Of all of the professional books I have read, this is the first that felt as if it were written directly for me and the type of teacher I am. I could see myself as a teacher in the pages, but more than that, I could see a better version of my teacher self in the pages.
Click through to read Jianna's review at Oakland Schools Literacy.
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater finished off an incredible 30-day sing-a-poem project for National Poetry Month. Visit The Poem Farm for more.
— AmyLudwigVanDerwater (@amylvpoemfarm) April 30, 2015
Check back next week for more interesting links. Do you write a blog about your experiences in education? Leave a link in the comments below and we'll consider it for future round-ups. Have a great weekend!