Writing has helped me understand and celebrate life. In the classroom, my primary goal is to show students that their own thoughts and feelings are important; that others want to hear what they have to say. Poetry’s lack of ‘rules’ tends to encourage even the most reluctant writer, and each student finds that using just the right words to craft a poem can give them a sense of joy and wisdom, power and possibility.
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Joyce Sidman is the author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, including the Newbery Honor-winning Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and two Caldecott Honor books. In 2013, she received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry. Her recent book, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has been teaching with COMPAS for over 15 years.
Every day, I lead students into writing several ways: reading and discussing poems to provide “poetry ideas,” brainstorming thoughts, words and sensory details, writing class poems. We write poems asking questions, apology poems, riddle poems, bragging poems, poems of longing and praise. Over the course of the week, we work on descriptive language, metaphor and revision. Our writing sessions always end with a time to share poems aloud—a joyous celebration of our own achievements. I am happy to tailor classroom activities to fit a current classroom unit, or to help meet curriculum requirements.
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