Monday, June 8, 2009


A kindergarten class that I visited today continues to learn about poetry. I struggled over the weekend with what to do with this group of writers to help move them forward. I was afraid of making poetry seem hard--their enthusiasm is infectious and their can-do attitude is astounding. I couldn’t bear to squash that energy. As I waffled through possibilities, I had to make a decision. I would teach them about how poems look a certain way on the paper as a result of line breaks.

In the same class, I had a conference with a young writer. He was writing about apples. By his account, he was done. Do I continue the conversation about line breaks seizing the opportunity to help him see how today’s lesson applies to his writing or do I make it about his process? Yet another decision.

Ultimately, the lesson about line breaks was mediocre at best. I used a pocket chart and index cards that could be moved around and while I was successful at not squashing their energy, I don’t know that I was effective in getting my point across.

The conference, however, was amazing. I decided not to stick with the conversation about line breaks and asked my young writing friend what his plan for writing was now that he was done. In our conversation, he not only let me know that he had options, he let me know of his intentions. Now that he was finished writing this poem about apples, he would go on to write a poem about carrots. When the carrot poem is done, he will write poems about a bunch of other foods and put them all together in a book of poems about food.

At the end of each day, we will have made countless decisions. Some of them will be insightful and brilliant and others, well, we’ll be inclined not to talk too much about them. I think what’s important about decisions is to reflect on them. We have so much to learn from ALL of the decisions we make—good AND bad.

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