The Gift of Co-Authoring a Poem with a Student

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One sunny afternoon last week, my fifth graders and I sat outside with our notebooks and reflected on our choice of poem for Poetry Madness, a month-long celebration of poetry modeled after March Madness. After reading and reflecting on 16 different poems, Bryn selected “The Rider” by Naomi Shiab Nye as her final choice. Being that it is also one of my all time favorite poems, I was especially interested in learning her reasons for choosing it so I sat beside her and asked.

“Why did you choose “The Rider”?

“Instead of riding on my bike, I sit by my window and draw. I take all the worry in my life and push it away and start drawing,” Bryn replied.

“Wow, Bryn, it seems like those words want to become a poem!” You know, you could write a poem inspired by Naomi Shiab Nye’s.”

She shrugged, not convinced.

“What if we write it together?”

“Um okay,” she agreed

“Here let’s try it out in my notebook, ” I nudged.

I wrote the first line in my writer’s notebook based on conversation and Bryn took over from there. At one point, I gave her my notebook and let her write a few lines and then switched to recording her words. Here is our final product:

One day, my teacher asked me:
How do you deal with
bad feelings?
I said:
Instead of riding away I draw.
I sit by my window and draw.
I draw my sadness away by drawing
things that make me happy.
Adopt Me pets
Video game characters
Ice art where scribbled lines meet
each other and fill the page.
I draw away the
bad feelings
until nothing by happiness
is left in
me.

Writing the poem with Bryn served as a vehicle for sharing and talking about how she copes with difficult feelings in her life. I will cherish this poem and keep it close to me so that it may always serve as a reminder of the power of writing with students.

Bryn and I write in my notebook
SOL19 #30

4 thoughts on “The Gift of Co-Authoring a Poem with a Student”

  1. Krista, I have so much love for everything about this post (and even more for the experience you gave your student) — thank you for sharing it with us!

  2. This is exactly the kind of writing students need to do – and my heart aches that this isn’t universally acknowledged or honored. What passes for “writing” sometimes is simply-hoop jumping, which hardly inspires students to write. Here you show how having a teacher who writes alongside students is invaluable to their coming to realizwe the power of writing. And this line is poetry in itself: “I take all the worry in my life and push it away and start drawing.” – talk about power!

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