The Pond

Posted June 5, 2014 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

Into the pond

Dragging weeds, fierce pain

He went under again

Thrashing arms wildly

Then lifted. Head from water

Gulped air into aching lungs

Strong arms

Dreamed his father was carrying him

He did not wonder

He knew

He could see over him

Unreal, dark faces.

Old man, boy.

Deep voice, gentle hands.


by Emily, 5th grade


Posted May 30, 2014 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

The green bayou

chanting a song,

a lullaby, a Friday laugh


The sun’s truth is

freckles, life, and a

secret gift


The sky, the storm,

the flames, lightning

cartwheeling into my skin,

into my bones


Tomorrow a daughter is born

into the ocean

into the wind

they swallow hard


Tough, white snow falling

on the clear, fragile



Crowded is my pocket

with my



by Isabella, 4th grade

art by Paul Klee

I Am From

Posted May 28, 2014 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

I am from the stories I tell,

a maple leaf,

our golden well.

I am from a happy place

where people are all around,

a funny laugh, a horse’s neigh,

the music’s healing sound.

I am from a hummingbird,

its little flapping wings,

I am from the big blue crow

that very rarely sings.

I am from a funny elf,

a tingling of the bell,

I am from a mystery,

the mystery, myself.


by Nine, 5th grade

photo by Ken Bondy via flickr


Posted May 27, 2014 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

I walk in,

my father looking

numbly at the lit

computer screen,

the TV blaring

as my mother

watches the news,

which announces

death and money.

The window over

the sink pours

A gray light onto

our beige and unpainted

walls. I walk into

my room, passing

The sheetrock lying

in the hall, the dusty

spare room that used to

house my sister

until 18 swept her away.

Sunlight peaks through

my foiled window,

trying to escape.

I walk back to

the living room, sit

on the worn green couch

and watch the blaring

TV with my

mother and father.  

by Alicia, 10th Grade

Home Sweet Home 2004

Posted May 15, 2014 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

You have come here to recall

all of your childhood.

Walk through the red steel door,

see a big loud TV and a once tall bar.

You hear a little cat run across the brown creaky floor,

into the hall you see the bright light.

Walk up to the big mirror you look and see,

the old you.


Smile to yourself feeling happy to be home once again.

Look to the end of the hall and see a towel

it’s wet and hanging to dry.

Walk into a room you once slept in,

look around to see sea turtles.

See silver shoes by the door so small,

walk across to the brown sofa in the room.

Close your eyes, breathe in and remember

the smell of the pink and black nail polish.


Open your eyes and everything that was

once there is gone,

you are left with nothing but the white

blank walls.


by Clarissa, 10th Grade

5 Amazing Odes by Kids

Posted March 28, 2012 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem.

I put the PRO in procrastination

Odes are poems that celebrate a particular person, place, or thing. Writing an ode is an easy way to ease kids into the art of writing poetry. Click here if you’re a teacher or home-school parent wanting to know more about how to teach this writing lesson.

Companion Poems

Posted June 29, 2011 & filed under Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

One of my favorite lessons to teach this year was the Companion Poem.  I based the lesson idea loosely on William Blake’s companion poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.  In these two books Blake included some poems by the same title and generally about the same topic, but written from different perspectives.  The narrator in Songs of Innocence typically speaks from a place of lighthearted joy and youthful vigor.  The narrator in Songs of Experience usually speaks from a place of maturity and caution.  Here is an example of a “nurse” who is supervising children who refuse to go home at sundown because they are having too much fun laughing and playing in the fields.  In the first poem the nurse shares their joy; in the second poem she thinks they are wasting time.

Nurse’s Song

When the voices of children are heard on the green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,

My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.”

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Come, come, leave off play, and let us away

Till the morning appears in the skies.”

“No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep;

Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.”

“Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed.”

The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d

And all the hills ecchoed.

Nurse’s Song

When the voices of children are heard on the green

And whisp’rings are in the dale,

The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind.

My face turns green and pale.

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Your spring & your day are wasted in play,

And your winter and night in disguise.

It is fun for children to think about an event from two different perspectives.  The companion poem gives them the chance to do just that.

It is also possible to provide broader guidelines for this lesson and explain that companion poems don’t have to be written by the same person nor do they have to explore a contrary point of view.  One poem might be paired with another poem based on the shape of the poem, the length of the poem, the language of the poem, the point of view of the poem, the theme of the poem, or some of other point of connection.  If I use this broader interpretation, I am never disappointed.  The kids like it because there are plenty of choices involved, and I love the diversity of poems produced.

To set up this lesson, just hand out a page with 5-7 poems on it, different styles, different authors, different topics.  The students pick one that they like and cut it out.  They glue it to a piece of colored construction paper.  At the top of the paper they write the words Companion Poems. Then the students write a companion poem on notebook paper, cut it out and glue it next to the other.  It is easy to display these poems in the classroom.