In addition to writing found moon poems with 4th graders last week, the 3rd graders also gave them a go. (You might recall the fabulous biopoem excerpts I shared last week from the 3rd graders.)
The 3rd graders used Wonders from Wonderopolis.org as their source text. Each student had a printed copy of his or her Wonder, and most had read them once ahead of time more than once. (The entire staff did an amazing job of preparing the students for my visit and having them ready for our sessions.)
I followed the same process that I did with the 4th graders. Found poems are tricky because they are…amorphous. We went through the basic steps together, but it’s hard for many students (and adults) to know if they’re doing it “right” the first few times they give this form a try. I encouraged them to just play with the words they chose and see what they came up with. (Of course, I showed them samples and walked them through the basic steps.)
One thing I discovered was that it might work well to start students out with a simply descriptive text. In some cases, I think comprehension of the source text hampered progress. Some students worried about trying to reflect the meaning of the original text (even though I assured them that was not a priority at all). So, Wonders that explained complicated processes or contrasted things proved a little challenging! Wonders that explained something fairly simple and non-technical worked much better. Either way, the students dove in, and almost everyone came up with something. And really, when trying a new approach to a writing process, coming up with something is my first goal! The small snippets they shared make, in many cases, fun and intriguing poems all on their own. Many students think poems have to be loooonnnnng! I do my best to show them that short is powerful, concentrated…I think these little bits do a great job of showing that. I love the variety of approaches and voices and moods!