On Writing and Poetry
The recent parent workshop was a rich and exciting evening of learning. Teachers explained some of the ways writing is taught at Blue Rock and parents had an opportunity to write and share stories, poems and impressions.
As guests arrived for the evening they began with one of two activities; either writing a descriptive poem or writing about a chosen object from a variety of points of view.
The descriptive writing was based on an activity the children have done recently during science class in the 6-8th grades. Throughout their studies on the Hudson River Watershed the children have been learning new scientific vocabulary about the water cycle. These vocabulary words were used to create poems about water and how the students personally relate to the Hudson. The parents had a chance to participate in the same sort of activity.
The children also study Point of View (POV) throughout the grades. For POV writing, we assembled a variety of objects on a long table--from a feather to a rubber duck to a strange music box--and parents were asked to choose an item that they were drawn to. Participants then wrote about their piece by choosing a prompt from the POV-1st, 2nd or 3rd person. They could choose to write about how the object might be loved or about the object’s feelings, history, etc. An incredible amount of creativity and delight resulted from these two activities and many parents willingly shared their poems and POV pieces with the group as a whole.
Next, going out into the dark night, participants used all of their senses to soak in and experience a cold winter evening. Once back indoors parents jotted down their impressions as fuel for creating vibrant imagery with words. We then spoke about how writers describe settings to set the mood in different genres. At BRS the children are continually exposed to a variety of genres through their lunch books, snack books and individual reading. They then reflect on the writing, write book reviews, hold discussions and participate in literary analysis and book groups that further their own skills and understanding of the writer’s work as a craft. Parents worked in pairs, as the children often do, to use their impressions from outside to create a vivid setting for a story. Then they generously shared their work exploring genres from the style of the classics to steampunk and dystopian fairytales.
The evening ended with teachers sharing some of the different types of writing projects students embark on and the skills we teach the children, as well as how we help them to learn the steps of writing a piece, which include goal setting, outlining, drafting, editing, presenting and constructive feedback to help the writer set new goals for their next piece of writing.