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Meaningful Connection

Lincoln Fourth Graders Hold Poetry Jam Night

Lincoln Elementary School fourth graders are pictured celebrating after their successful Poetry Jam for families.

Young poets filled the auditorium at Lincoln Elementary School on a chilly November night, ready to recite their original poems to their families as part of the fourth grader’s Poetry Jam Night. The night was a culmination of their “What Inspires a Poet to Write Poetry” English Language Arts unit with teachers, Emily Hohman, Mary Neumann, Leah Hayes and Lynn Mayer. Lincoln art teacher, Jessica Harvey, also helped students create an illustration of their poem that was projected on the screen while each student recited their piece during the Poetry Jam.

“I saw Bush School did something like this and we thought it would be a great way for our kids to showcase the poems they worked so hard to create, learn a bit more about speaking in front of a crowd and have families come in to see what their kids have been working on,” said Mayer. “We read the book, Love That Dog. The kids really related to the main character’s story about writing poetry. When we asked each student to write a poem on a subject that was meaningful to them, they were very thoughtful about their subject matter — everything from their families to sports to pets.”

Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech, shows how one boy named Jack finds his voice with the help of a teacher, a pencil, some yellow paper and a dog. Written as a series of free-verse poems from Jack’s point of view, and with classic poetry included, this novel is perfect because Jack hates poetry. He thinks only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say.

“This is the first time we’ve taught the poetry unit and we were a little afraid of how the kids would react to it,” said Mayer. “But, they really made a meaningful connection to Jack’s story, which helped them understand that anyone can be a poet and everyone has a voice.”

During the poetry unit, the big ideas students learned were: “What makes a poem a poem?” and “What inspires writers to write poetry?” Students studied the different types of poetry and tried their hand at writing many different types. They learned about structure, rhyming words and a poem’s rhythm. They focused on word and phrase choices and added punctuation for effect. They looked at other poets such as Robert Frost and William Carols Williams to determine themes and identify characteristics of poetry. The students also created a booklet of their poems and teachers provided a craft for families to take home after the Poetry Jam.

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