Performing Poetry in Different Voices

Performance Prompts for Response to Poetry:

Promoting Fluent Readers

Highlight poems by placing them on anchor charts and rereading them during workshop time and/or across the day. One way to improve fluency and have some fun is to read a poem chorally, sometimes as an echo read and sometimes as a cloze read. Students can work with a partner or small group to practice reading the poem aloud in different voices and perform for the entire class. Here are some choices below. Invite your students to add to this list. To model, I performed “Apple” by Nan Fry in the voice I imagined for the Grand High Witch in Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I chose “Being the Youngest” by Ralph Fletcher to perform as Fudge in Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Just as my students, I needed to practice several times in order to perform for them. See below for ways to perform poetry in different voices:

Perform your poem….                                             

as if you are very sad.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are telling a secret.

Perform this poem…

                 as if you are very wise and intellectual.

Perform your poem …

                 as if you are very giddy.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are a news reporter.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you have a mouth full of food.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are embarrassed by it.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are making an important announcement.

Perform you poem…

                 as if you are teaching us the words.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are a sports announcer at a baseball or football game.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are afraid of being overheard.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are having difficulty remembering the words.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are talking on the phone with your best friend.

Perform your poem…

                 as if you are talking on the phone with the President of the United States.

Perform this poem…                                                     

                 as if you are terrified.

Perform this poem…

                 as if you are trying to amuse your one-year old baby brother or sister.

I am participating in #SOL Tuesdays.

Perform this poem…                                        

                 as if you are very shy.

Perform this poem…

                 as if you have the hiccups.

Perform this poem…

                 as if you are a familiar cartoon character.

If You’re Not From the Poconos

If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the trees – you can’t know the trees!
Giant firs fill the forest, huddling together to create cool, shady paths below. 
Dropping their needles on the floor to form a soft carpet. 
Their strong, clean smell permeates the cool air with pine. 
If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the trees!

If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the lakes – you can’t know the lakes. 
Crystal clear waters shimmer with surface sunlight that dances in rippling waves made by motorboats and water skiers. 
Fins of fish flash below the waters while eager fishermen cast their lines. 
Swimmers leap from the huge boulders that stand on the rocky shores and push out into the water.
If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the lakes!

If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know my grandparents’ cottage – you can’t know their cottage! The big picture window helps me look out at the woods and the lake. 
When winter spills over the land, the big stone fireplace crackles and cracks with a warm fire. 
Sitting inside, toasting marshmallows and sipping sweet hot chocolate. 
If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know my grandparents’ cottage!

If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the way to vacation – you can’t know the way to vacation! Blue-green lakes and cabins, rustic and quiet, reflect a unique beauty. 
Sprawling resorts offer exciting activities and adventures. 
Boating, sailing, and fishing are favorite choices of Pocono vacationers. 
Horseback riding, swimming, and hiking are always popular options. 
If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the way to vacation!

If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know how to balance your busy life with downtime.
In autumn, the deciduous trees offer their best-dressed gowns of scarlet, gold, and burnt orange to sketch and paint. 
The quietude and solitude fill us up with a kind of inner peace and inner strength. 
We feel invigorated. We feel peaceful. We feel rested. We feel renewed. 
If you’re not from the Pocono Mountains, you don’t know the way to live.  
Come to the Pocono Mountains, come!

I am writing a poem each day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Before I started first grade, I spent large amounts of time with my grandparents. They had a lakefront property on Lake Wallenpaupack, and I loved my time there. I learned to swim in that lake and took long walks in the woods with my grandfather. It was a magical time.

My mentor text for this poem is If You’re Not From the Prairie by David Bouchard.

Poems to Celebrate Cats

CAT

Almond-shaped eyes,
glimmering brown
charcoal pupils
Silky and soft,
dark muddy-colored fur
highlighted with interesting
splashes of brown and beige.

A long, fluffy tail
waves in the air like a proud flag.
One white spot on the tip of her left ear,
the only white she wears,
makes me think
she must have been kissed
by a beautiful angel.

Amazingly Amazing Cats

Long-haired, lovable, loyal,
Royals who guarded Egypt’s Pharaohs.
Biting, bouncy, and brave,
Inspiring fear or respect.

Sleeping in a fat little ball,
Walking thin to slip through cracks….
Thick, soft pads on their paws
allow them to sneak up on you!

Using their long tails for balance
when they’re jumping or
walking along narrow ledges
like a professional tightrope walker!

Sleeping on things
that smell like their owners,
Dirty laundry in laundry baskets –
hiding places with peep holes.

Athletic, cautious, curious,
Diva-like and independent,
Quiet and mysterious,
Proud, playful creatures.

Meow, meowww,
Mewsic to our ears.
Purrfectly purrfect,
Hissterical to watch…

Amazingly amazing cats!

I am writing a poem each day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. I wrote about cats for my husband who always had a cat until he married me. Now he has Welsh Corgis to contend with! His last cat, Dusty, would sit and shake paws. He was a great companion! Here is a book you might like to read to your students: Cat Poems by Dave Crawley, illustrated by Tamara Petrosino.

For dog lovers, Dave Crawley has also authored Dog Poems.

Sequoias

On the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada

sugar pines and black oaks grow;

red firs and snow plants flourish.

Sequoias, the biggest trees in the world,

some taller than a 25-story building with

trunks so large, forty people holding hands

would just barely circle one of them.

These magnificent trees, these giant sequoias.

Home to countless birds and insects;

thousands of generations of bears and deer,

wolves and weasels passing by their trunks. 

Surviving thousands of thunderstorms;

Surviving hundreds of forest fires.

One of nature’s wonders,

one of its most impressive triumphs,

These magnificent trees, these giant sequoias.

I am participating in #SOL Tuesdays.

I am writing a poem each day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. This poem has been adapted from a nonfiction book to celebrate the giant Sequoias that grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. When I was a little girl, my great grandmother traveled to California to visit relatives. One of her favorite memories she shared with us was her great astonishment of the size and age of these giants and their incredible beauty.

Adapted from While a Tree Was Still Growing… 

by Jane Bosveld

Workman Publishing Company,

N.Y., N.Y.

© 1997

My Life is a Cloud

My life, like the clouds,

always changing.

Sometimes, so full of activity,

like a puffy cumulus cloud.

Sometimes, thin –

too stretched out,  

too taut.

Streaked-with-gray cloud days

 full-of-lightning-bolt days,

 threatening storms.

Sunny with a splash of clouds,

calm weather days:

clear, fine, and still.

Then, winds carry my cloud away

along with all the clouds in the sky.

On these days, I feel myself disappearing.

I reach out but with no anchor, I drift away.

My life is like a cloud –

beautiful, lonely, full of promise.

 I drift,

      I float,

           I glide,

wandering on a field of blue –

hoping to catch a glimpse of what I might miss

if my feet were firmly planted on the ground.

My writer’s notebooks are my constant companions.

I dedicate this poem to Catherine Gehman and her fourth-grade writers in Gilbertsville Elementary School in Boyertown Area School District. Mrs. Gehman suggested writing about how our life is like clouds in a Continuity session for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. During that session, I first wrote this piece as a notebook entry in paragraph form. Revisiting my notebook, something I often like to do, I decided to create a found poem from it. This month I am posting a poem each day to celebrate National Poetry Month. Here are some wonderful resources for inspiring kids to read and write poems.

Orange

Orange,
Orange,
Marigolds,
Monarch butterflies.


Orange as the tiger, the fiercest cat around,
Orange as the maple leaf that falls without a sound.

Orange for October
when pumpkins dot the fields.

Cantaloupe melons,
kumquats and papaya,
Garfield and life vests,
orange morning sun.

Orange,
Orange,
butternut squash soup,
delicious, drippy creamsicles.

The Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.
sweet potatoes and goldfish,
barbecued chicken wings,
apricots, basketballs, poppies.

Orange sun at end of day,
melting in the bay’s waters
and spreading streaks of color
across the sky’s fading canvas.

Here are some books you can use to find mentor poems and ideas about colors to help you write.

Grandma’s Birthday

An afternoon at the beach in late June,

To celebrate a special day with our grammy.

Riding the waves on our air mattresses,

Screaming when the water splashes our faces.

Mom wades into the ocean to jump waves

While Dad stretches out on a huge towel to nap.

Grandma dons a large floppy hat and sunglasses,

Watching her three grandchildren riding the waves.

A picnic lunch of fried chicken and cornbread on a blanket,

Open-face apple pie my grandma has baked for us.

A present for my grandma’s birthday on the beach?

Yes! Searching for pretty clam shells, lots of them,

Shells to paint read, blue, purple, green, and white.

Decorating Grandma’s walkway to her beach house,

Red, white, and blue theme for July 4th holiday.

A swim, a picnic, a splendid sunset, and seashell treasures

Make this day a special memory for us all –

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

I am writing a poem each day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Today, I wrote a story poem about a beach day birthday.

Writing a Poem

Writing a poem:
economy of expression,
explosion of emotion,
collage of the senses.

Writing a poem:
to begin to grow
in truth and love
and spirited imagination.

Finding perfect words
to express our ideas,
to keep memories safe,
to feed our passion.

Writing a poem:
purely delicious,
wickedly satisfying,
exquisitely sentimental.

Likely unprofitable,
beautifully beautiful,
fine and elegant,
writing a poem.

I am attempting to write a poem each day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. If you need a rationale for using poetry in your reading/writing classroom, I have provided a bulleted list here:

           A Rationale for Poetry

  • Children love the sound of language.
  • Poetry is a genre that has been a part of children’s lives since birth.
  • It can help us see differently, understand ourselves and others, and validate our human experience.
  • Poetry easily finds a home in all areas of the curriculum.
  • It is the great equalizer – a genre especially suited to the struggling or unmotivated reader/writer.
  • Poetry enhances thinking skills and promotes personal connections.
  • Reading poems aloud captures the ear, imagination, and souls of the listeners.
  • The playfulness of language and the ability of words to hold us captive with their intensity, beauty, and genius are particularly apparent in poetry.
  • A poet helps us see things in new ways.
  • Poetry helps to broaden children’s experiences.
  • Poetry can be the voice to claim and name the events we live through.
  • Poetry turns the ordinary into extraordinary.
  • Poetry validates our feelings and helps us make sense of the events of our lives.
  • It gives us ways to gain new insights on old problems.
  • Poetry grants us a place of beauty.
  • Carefully selected poetry has the power to engage readers’ minds and to elicit sensory reactions, passions, and intense emotions.

Moon

White

White

Moonlight

Nightlight

White as a bride’s dress in June
White as the snow gone too soon.

White for the freckled midnight sky
When bats and Eastern Screech Owls fly.

Brilliant and full,
Round and mysterious,
Evening’s mistress smiles.

White,
White,
Moonlight
Skylight

Luminous and enchanting,
Warm and comforting,
Celestial and ageless.

White, white moon

Today I decided to write a color poem to continue my goal to write a poem each day in April for my blog. Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Poetry and Color by Mary O’Neill and Jane Yolen’s Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People are two of my favorite books to use with students for inspiration. Today I would add Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy (2020). This book has a wonderful author’s note.

First Memory

Standing on the warm beach,

Curling my toes into grainy sand.

Grandparents stand like bookends;

I am the precious book they hold.

Closing my eyes, I breathe the salty air,

 Blue-meets-blue horizon before me

And a lone gull floating high above me –

I wish I could be that gull and never leave.

The waves roll in and out, in and out,

Pulsating rhythms that beat like my heart.

The water stains the sand a dark beige color.

Foamy-fingered waves continue their waltz.

My grandparents smile at me, and I sing out to them,

“It’s so beautiful…it’s so very beautiful!”    

I catch my breath as the wonder of it all

Wraps around me like a warm blanket.

This poem is about my earliest memory. I was just five years old when my grandparents took me to Atlantic City for a weekend. We stayed at the Knights of Columbus Hotel on the corner of Pacific Ave and St. James Place. We were just a block from the beach. I will always remember seeing the ocean for the first time. I still feel that magic every time I return. First memories are wonderful to record. Think back to your earliest memory.  Make sure you find one that is your own and not just a little anecdote you know so well because your grandma told you over and over again.  That’s her memory – not yours!

  • Think about the place, the person, the event, or the object that brings that memory to life.
  • Now associate as many senses with the memory as you can – you may only have two senses – keep your writing honest!
  • What emotion can you strongly anchor to this memory?
  • Write about the first memory.  Remember, you are writing a notebook entry and not an entire draft.
  • You can write about important early memories on other days. Remember to think about emotions and senses.
  • As you return to your notebook during writer’s workshop, you could consider writing a personal narrative/memoir about one of your memories.
  • As you share entries with your response group, respond by noticing the senses, the emotions, where the writer used show not tell, or any other special quality you happen to notice.