WritingFix Project: A Poem for Each Student
making new connections with your students by writing of poems about them
Hello, my name is Terry Stelle, and I created this webpage for the WritingFix website between spring and summer of 2009. After I completed the NNWP's Summer Invitational in 2008, the Northern Nevada Writing Project leadership sent me a book that was published by the National Writing Project in 1998: A Poem for Every Student: Creating Community in a Public School Classroom by Sheryl Lane. Knowing my love of poetry, I suspect they thought I would be inspired by this book. I was.
I wrote a poem for each student as the culminating activity to our writer’s community at the end of the school year. In every poem, I tried to pay tribute to each student’s strengths and share my hopes for each of them.
I noticed a few students sort of snooping over to check out the poems as they were being made but still on my desk, curious as to what they were. When they found out they each got a personal poem from me they couldn't wait to get theirs. I noticed more than a few kids take theirs off by themself to read it privately. Then came the thank-you's and the big hugs. I could feel the gratitude. It gave me and them a personal good bye and sense of closure for the end of a great year together. I really enjoyed the process of writing them as it made me focus on each student as I decided what I wanted to share with them. Some were hard to write! But I had 19 school days left and 17 students so I took the challenge and was glad I did.
I formatted the poems into an autograph book so that they could each share their goodbye wishes with each other next to my poem for them. For a front cover I used the apple interest inventory (favorite TV show, person, subject, word, snack, etc.)
they had each created at the beginning of the school year with their pictures, and for the back cover they were asked to answer the same interest inventory questions again, this time on an apple core.
I enjoyed the challenge this process posed on me, and I felt the students would appreciate the personal connection writers share. I hope my poems for them will inspire future sharing of their observations and feelings, too.
Below, I share pictures of the poems I gave my fourth graders. If you love poetry too, I hope this page inspires you to try something similar with your students.