Spousal Unit: What're you doing?
NGM: Typing a pantoum.
Spousal Unit: What's a pantoum?
NGM: A...poetic form.
Spousal Unit: Oh. [pause] Tell me again: why did you marry me?
Hahahahahaha! My 4th grade writers also stepped up and did a fantastical job with my Where Are You From lesson, which I adapted from something I saw on the Teachers & Writers Collaborative site. First I asked them where they were from, and they offered up typical answers: from Stanford Hospital, from my mom, from San Mateo, etc. etc. Then I showed them this video I found on YouTube:
They were really into this video. I think I need to do this kind of thing more often, as they are, after all, the Childrens of the Internets. Afterwards, I passed out a hard copy of the poem, and we read it together. Then I asked them if they felt like Hughes' poem answers the question, "Where are you from?" Lots of chattering ensued. And then they wrote.
This little girl has moved around a lot, and she became visibly upset while writing. Her classmates were supportive, though, and she ended up with this:
I am from the hot dogs of New JerseyThis girl is obsessed with fighting with her brother. She writes about it almost every week, and I was afraid she was going to turn out yet another piece entirely devoted to how "lame" he is, but she managed to restrain herself:
I am from the colorful, spotted peacocks of Arcadia
I am from the fresh air of North Carolina
I am from the humid temperature of Simi Valley
I am from my friends and family
I am not from the crowds of San Francisco
I am from chocolate that my mom makes me. I am from the fights I have with my brother. I am from the books I read; they change me. I am from my loving family. I am from the ice skating we do in Lake Tahoe, I am from Tom and Jerry, I am from the bright city that I live in. I am from lots of colorful ice cream. I am not from jail, where the bad people are.And this is from my own Risa, who almost finishes writing things before I even give direction. She's so fast. The bad part is she has no interest in editing her work. But her first drafts are usually pretty good:
I am from the letters in my nameHere are a few lines from a girl who is reluctant to write when things get too serious. She's from a broken family, and it's so easy to see the different ways it affects her. Her short piece ends with a stab to the heart, pretty much:
I am from the colors I wear
the lines on my skin
and the words that come from my mouth
I am from the people before me and
The people before them
I am from the numbers in my age, which you do not know
I am from the words my teacher speaks
And from the lines my pencil makes
I am a Filipina princess
I am from the world
I am from the stories that my mom tells. I am from the recipes my family writes. I am from the fierce animals that are inside me. I am from Utopia. It’s perfect there.And this is from our only boy. He's kind of all over the place when he writes, and this is a good snapshot of his work in general:
I am from the tall grass of England
The buttery smell of lobster
From my dog Brandy
I am from the tall redwoods
The flying football and baseballs
A huge mountain
A lasting friendship
A cookie factory
I am the Christmas spirit.
So I am happy for now. But they are like a dam fixing to burst. Sooner or later we're headed back to fart-talking, crush-revealing, test anxiety, and who knows what else. I must hunker down and plan my offensive NOW...