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Using Cinquain to Draw Summary from Books and Reading Part II

Their Eyes

On Tuesday, we posted a few pieces from our work with Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I have added those to this post, but I have added a few new pieces that I got to draft with my other classes in order to really draw out this idea of using the cinquain of a means of drawing deeper connections to the text to invite personal responses that approach the analysis we want our readers to be doing at the higher levels of learning.

I’m still working with the idea to clarify how it meets the CCS or other State Standards in an effort to codify vs. poetically-render my idea here for use in the classroom. But I cannot help myself. As much as I would try to claim otherwise, I am a poet at heart.

Using Garland Cinquain to Analyze a Character from a Book

 

Chapter Two of Their Eyes Were Watching God:

 

Tender

kisses with boys

can lead to big trouble;

it must mean you’re a woman now,

changing.

 

Married?

It’s too early.

She knows nothing of it.

Couldn’t she wait just a bit more?

Too young.

 

To want

to be a tree–

want what nature promised,

waiting for pollen–bumblebees.

Marriage.

 

Unknown.

How she got here–

the mysteries of she–

born of another tree and time:

Nanny.

 

 Needful

for saftety now,

alone in the world

without a father or mother.

Girl.

 

 Tender.

It’s too early

want what nature promised

born of another tree and time

Girl.

 

Using Garland Cinquain to Analyze a Character’s Feelings from a Moment in a Book

 

Chapter Five of Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

Big Train

south to Maitland,

with Jody by her side,

ready to go rule the world.

Moving.

 

 Carry

her brand new dreams.

There’s a new town waiting,

everything she’s dreamed of inside.

New chances.

 

 Arrive

to find little

more than roots and dirt roads–

less than what she expected.

Dismayed.

 

 The speech

she wants to give

is quieted, quickly,

a voice as big as the world

building.

 

 Ready

to speak out now.

She’s aching to be heard.

This is what a woman sounds like

silenced.

 

 Big Train:

her brand new dreams–

more than roots in dirt roads–

a voice as big as the world

silenced.

 


 

Using Garland Cinquain to Explore a Minor Character (Symbolic) from a Book

 ***NEW PIECE***

Matt Bonner’s Mule

 

Skinny.

Most all raw-boned

Brutes are commanded daily.

Come up is seasoned with rawhide.

Worker.

 

Rib bones

used for scrub boards;

he’s fixed up for laundry,

clothes hanging on hock bones to dry.

Resigned.

 

Master

Waits with the whip;

there’s a field to be plowed.

Fighting inches in front of plows.

Submit.

 

Daily

mistreatment.

Always another job

to be done with an old mule’s back.

Nightly.

 

The feed

is the day’s wage

for the work that is done.

But tomorrows’ is not promised,

servant.

 

Skinny—

used for scrub boards.

There’s a field to be plowed,

to be done with an old mule’s back:

servant.

 

 

Using Garland Cinquain to Explore a Minor Character’s Role in Driving a Story Line

***NEW PIECE***

Logan—

lonely’s limit—

a story’s bit player

meant to last just one season:

husband.

 

The land

meant to protect

is simply a framing

of a young girl’s limitations,

the home.


 

The man

she wants to love,

he lacks the pretty bloom,

is hard to love the way he’s made:

burden.

 

Seasoned

like long winters

threatening her green time;

there is no springtime within him.

Ripened.

 

Fence rail,

the beckoning.

Simply a boundary,

like a page that comes to an end.

Chapter.

 

Logan—

meant to protect,

he lacks the pretty bloom.

There’s no springtime within him.

Chapter.

 

Using Cinquain to Analyze a Setting or People within a Setting

Fum’blin’

around time’s toes.

Porch-time interactions–

all ’bout da day’s nuttinness,

talking.

Stum’blin’

wit dey own thoughts,

arguin’ about dis-and-dat,

from da sun rise til da sun set

over.

 

Bum’blin’

wit opinions

playin’ da dozens

til someone gits reconciled

fin’ly.

 

Crum’blin,

the sun goes down

back inta da same earth,

and da sun pays ‘im rev’rence

passing.

 

Mum’blin’,

it’s beyond dem.

Each to dey own thoughts

words changed with the earth and wit the sky

Amen.

 

Fum’blin

wit dey own thoughts

til someone gits reconciled

and da earth pay ‘im rev’rence.

Amen.

 

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National Poetry Month: 17/30: “Spine Poem”

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I thought to share this spine poem with the group today if you’ve not seen this on Facebook or Twitter. It’s the “spine poem” I put together of the resources I had pulled in advance of the NCTE-sponsored #nctechat. With five minutes before the chat was to begin, I thought, “Hey, a spine poem would make a nice feature image for the chat. Not only would we showcase some resources, but we could demonstrate that words are everywhere (this is really important when we find ourselves without the ability to find words).

Now, one of the drawbacks of spine poetry is that one has to silently communicate the intended line breaks that might get lost to the viewer on the other side of the poetic transaction. I’ve tried to scatter stack these before and it becomes a Jenga-like lesson in physics (particularly gravity). This is why I like to print my poems alongside of the stack (something I learned from appreciating Bob Rascka’s LEMONADE. Show the art. Share the poem.

 

“The Power of Poems”

 

Nurture

independent voices.

 

You know who:

 

poetry people.

 

People I’d like to keep–

hand in hand–

poem-making;

awakening the heart.

 

Let them be themselves:

 

word playgrounds.

 

 

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National Poetry Month: 16/30: “I’d Love to Hear That Song Again”

 

 

 

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I kind of woke up this morning thinking about the residents I worked with in the long-term care facility. How their favorite songs were hymns I did not know when I started but have become the soundtrack of my quiet heart. Songs like “Church in the Wildwood” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” They are etched in my mind as the earnest renderings of voices that had sometimes lost their polish with memories that sometimes fumbled a word.

With nothing lost in translation.

During National Poetry Month, we try to throw out these poems as quickly as possible with any thought of revision coming much later (if ever). I got up at 5:30 this morning thinking about residents. . .and villanelles. How are these two subjects for waking thoughts. And I had one more subject weaving through both of these. That I could have just enough creativity to render this:

 

“I’d Love to Hear That Song Again” (A Villanelle for Easter)

 

I’d love to hear that song again,

from a choir that meets once a week,

oh, how He came to save all men.

 

How he came to earth already knowing when

it would be His life that they would seek.

I’d love to hear that song again.

 

How He’d come to carry all man’s sin,

with mercy mild and mercy meek.

Of how he came to save all men.

 

Of the night he spent in the garden,

when the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

Oh, I’d love to hear that song again.

 

The sweet prayer for passage sent and then

it was only His Father’s will to seek.

Oh, how he came to save all man.

 

How all fell silent on earth and in Heaven,

but not a moment dark and bleak.

I’d love to hear that song again

oh, how He came to save all man.

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Using Cinquain to Summarize Reading: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

Their Eyes

Remember the Cinquain Poem? These–like haiku have our young writers flicking out their fingers or rapping on desks as they count the syllabic invitation for each line. It’s fun to watch, no? To review, the cinquain poem is set up like this:

2 syllables

4 syllables

6 syllables

8 syllables

2 syllables

You might have students think of this like a phone number. Rattled off like 2-4-6-8-2. . .

A “Crown Cinquain” is a poem with a singular subject or focus that has five of these cinquain stanzas as the body.

Wait. . .it gets better.

A “GARLAND Cinquain” is a poem with a singular subject or focus that has six of these cinquains, but the sixth is comprised of lines from the other five. So the first line comes from the first, the second line comes from the second. . .

The garland cinquain can be a little tricky for those new to the form, but it can encourage revision during the writing process as students attempt to create that sixth stanza as a summary while revising the other stanzas to fit the overall idea. Now. . .we can parse out together how this encourages new words and experiences for the summary of reading experience, or I can just show you a couple from my own attempts today.

I’d like to encourage you to give students a chance to play with this poetic form as a means of summary as it might lead to new insights into their take-away from the reading. If we look at each stanza as a paragraph, what we really have here is a poetry to prose connection that can provide students with an elementary scaffolding to a piece that would need a little stucco and paint to bring it around to a fully-constructed summary (whew. . .National Poetry Month has me equating early drafts of essays to little houses being built upon the foundations of understanding).

Chapter Two of Their Eyes Were Watching God:

 

Tender

kisses with boys

can lead to big trouble;

it must mean you’re a woman now,

changing.

 

Married?

It’s too early.

She knows nothing of it.

Couldn’t she wait just a bit more?

Too young.

 

To want

to be a tree–

want what nature promised,

waiting for pollen–bumblebees.

Marriage.

 

Unknown.

How she got here–

the mysteries of she–

born of another tree and time:

Nanny.

 

Needful

for saftety now,

alone in the world

without a father or mother.

Girl.

 

Tender.

It’s too early

want what nature promised

born of another tree and time

Girl.

 

Now, this rough-draft stuff that I created up on the board while writing with students. But look a little more closely at the poetic accident that came of the drafting (and this is what I am excited to see you find with your students should you choose to do this activity). There are little mini poems within the poem. More than the “garland” here, what I found when I look at the first and last lines of each stanza is this “Found Poem”:

 

Tender.

Changing.

 

Married?

 

Too young

to want

marriage.

 

Unknown

Nanny.

 

Needful girl.

 

Tender girl.

 

This is where I might ask myself, “Do I see summary in these stanzas?” and “Do I see how the culling of my own words in this format pulled something entirely-other from my having read this chapter?”

This is where I touch my chin to my chest repetitively.

Later in the day, in a completely-separate block, I was able to draft this “garland cinquain”:

 

Chapter Five of Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

Big Train

south to Maitland,

with Jody by her side,

ready to go rule the world.

Moving.

 

Carry

her brand new dreams.

There’s a new town waiting,

everything she’s dreamed of inside.

New chances.

 

Arrive

to find little

more than roots and dirt roads–

less than what she expected.

Dismayed.

 

The speech

she wants to give

is quieted, quickly,

a voice as big as the world

building.

 

Ready

to speak out now.

She’s aching to be heard.

This is what a woman sounds like

silenced.

 

Big Train:

her brand new dreams–

more than roots in dirt roads–

a voice as big as the world

silenced.

 

Found poem? Yep. Two poetic accidents in one afternoon of playing around with a poetic form. Let’s see if  our found poem speaks to Chapter 5 of Zora Neale Hurston’s book.

 

Big Train

moving.

 

Carry

new chance.

Arrive

dismayed.

 

Ready.

 

Silenced.

 

Big Train:

 

Silenced.

 

I don’t want this post to go too long. I want you to have a chance to go out and play with some piece of text that you are sharing with students to see if this type of summary may lead to new breakthroughs with your students. I think we are all going to be surprised.

And if the stanzas lead to scaffolding for an extended prose response? From where did the words come? Inspired by the reading, yes? But the words come from within our readers.

Can you think of a better point of origin?

Happy reading and writing, friends! Thank you for visiting the blog.

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National Poetry Month: 15/30: The Nothing-To-Do-Day Drawer (Part III)

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Keeping that cinquain formatting for today. Still exploring contents of the drawer. What might be fun in revision is to try a “garland cinquain” form wherein six cinquains are linked together with the sixth being made up of lines from the other five. Line one from cinquain one, line two from cinquain two. . .

 

Crayons,

a brand new box.

I open up the flap.

Every color is standing tall

pointing.

 

Comics,

just a couple.

I read them quietly

and dream of life in Riverdale,

teen-aged.

 

Candy

in a paper sack

from a quick trip downtown.

Choosing one kind was difficult.

So sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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National Poetry Month: 14/30: “The Nothing-To-Do-Day Drawer” (Part II)

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Yesterday, we explored the cinquain format for our poem introducing the idea of the nothing-to-do-day drawer. Today, I thought we would try a “crown cinquain” wherein five stanzas of the cinquain approach come together to make one poem.

 

Wooden

yellow pencils,

waiting to do their work,

drawing shapes or writing stories,

today.

 

Paper,

white, blue-lined,

a flat and sturdy mat.

Maybe I will write a poem

for Dad.

 

Buttons,

round mysteries,

in a little tin box

I wonder where this one came from?

Old coat?

 

Brushes–

painting today?

I flick hairy bristles

and I  think blue, green, and brown thoughts:

world.

 

Old Maid,

in a worn box,

waiting for one more game,

another chance to make a match,

lonely.

 

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National Poetry Month: 13/30: “The Nothing-To-Do-Day-Drawer”

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When I was a small child, my mother told me about a writing assignment she did while in high school. She said it was an idea for a children’s story called “The Nothing-To-Do-Day-Drawer.” How about that for a title? It was the only time she ever told me about anything she did in school and her share might have been precipitated by some early writing that I was doing for school . It might be important to note that she “stepped in” to be my mother when I was about three years old. And she was barely out of high school before she became a mother. She missed her senior trip because she was taking care of me that day.

I often wonder if her school experience were not cut short for life’s having stepped in to take over the lessons.

I find it odd now that she would share with such enthusiasm a writing project for which she had no artifact. For her, it was the very idea of the writing project if not the execution and the finished product. As I think of it now, it must be her early influence that leads me to sit with a stockpile of ideas with none brought to fruition at the moment.

For a great while, I have thought about taking the baton from her hand (mother is no longer with us having died very young of a massive heart attack a few years back) to write about this “drawer.” Sometimes, I wonder if writing about her idea wouldn’t be a type of plagiarism–this taking of her idea to give it some life and some legacy. Perhaps the idea was a sort of “seed” planted all of those years ago. After all, I’ve been carrying this title around in my own “nothing-to-do-day-drawer” for at least 35-40 years.

But, where to begin. All I have is the memory of how excited she was to share the idea back then. I have nothing but an idea. At best, have is a title.

Perhaps it is as poetry is it itself. The idea of enough. I have an idea. I have a title. Thanks, mom.

I just love children’s poetry for its simplicity, but I have admitted to other children’s poets that it is hard for me to get myself into that simple place, that truthful place, of children’s verse. Let’s play with the Cinquain format–just to get a “feeling around” of our drawer:

 

“The Nothing-To-Do-Day-Drawer”

 

The drawer

in my kitchen

waits to be pulled open,

on rainy days or any days,

by me.

 

Wooden,

with a white knob,

A drawer full of good stuff.

It’s a Nothing-To-Do-Day Drawer.

It’s mine.

 

Inside

my special drawer

are things that I can use:

markers, buttons, a roll of tape.

Treaures.

 

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National Poetry Month: 11/30: “Opening Night”

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Oklahoma! opens at Highland Hills Middle School tonight. Noah is Andrew Carnes and Maddie will appear in a few numbers as a feature singer and dancer. They have heard–a hundred times by now–that I was in Oklahoma! as a sophomore at Boyne City High School.

I thought we would have some fun with the idea of opening night.

 

“Opening Night”

 

It’s opening night; set’s in place.

I’ve got makeup on my face.

Here’s what few in the seats would know;

It’s not always easy for guys in a show.

 

Eye-liner, lipstick, a little pancake.

How much more can a  poor guy take?

Here’s something–right now–that I need to know:

Will I have to go out with family after the show?

 

It’s fun to act like someone who’s not my age,

but this makeup is only meant for the stage.

What will my girlfriend think when I see her?

Hey, dude, do you mind if I borrow your mirror?

 

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National Poetry Month: 10/30: “The Last Subject of the Day” (A Phrase Acrostic)

Daddy Room 407

Laura Purdie Salas stopped by the blog by way of comment to tell us about a technique much like the “strike line” which she calls the “prhase acrostic.” Instead of striking against a word to end a line, one begins with a word in the phrase to strike into a line. I liked this idea, so I thought we would play with it a little today.

We are 1/3 finished with National Poetry Month. Twenty days remain. Three weeks. What could you still share within that three weeks if you looked at that same three weeks as–say–a third of a marking period. What else have we given a third of a marking period to this year?

When I think of it in these terms, the introduction and sharing of poetry becomes even more important to me for our students in Room 407. In poetry, we find ourselves, what’s inside. We get to talk about “me” a little bit. Here’s a poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins that talks about this subject a little bit:

“School Talk”

 

We talk

about

science–

black holes in space.

 

We talk

about

people–

the whole human race.

 

We talk about

sand castles, sea gulls,

the sea–

 

When

can we

talk about

my

being

me?

 

I think Lee’s last question would make a nice phrase accrostic. Let’s play:

 

“The Last Subject of the Day”

 

When the last bell of the day rings at 3

can I finally, finally make a point?

We have done the day’s work  in due time–

talk, talk, talking away, you’ve been,

 

about the books, the battles, and the business.

My, but we have been busy, busy bees.

Bee-ing (giggle) as we are, can we MEntion

me? Well, I. . .RING!!!

 

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National Poetry Month: 9/30: “Subdivision Mathematics”

calculator faceToday’s piece came from working with our Blue Day students with the strike line strategy. It looks like we are doing this strategy quite a bit this month, but we are on Block 8 scheduling, so I get to demo the strategy six times. I don’t always keep the pieces I do in class to take away a sense that every piece is so precious, so valuable, that to move on to another is hindered by the holding on to the prior. I hope that this makes sense and doesn’t send everyone running away. I think this is one of the ways in which I model fun in the process of writing poetry vs. a focus on the product. That something has to be finished. That something has to be submitted.

So, for fun yesterday, I asked a student in the room to give me a “strike line” from a poetry book in the room. A student reading Mary O’Neill’s 1961 classic, HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES gave me this line:

“Brown is the color of a country road.”

Then, to ramp up the fun a bit, I asked another student to give me a subject. A student raised their hand and sensing my aversion to (if not inhibition of) math, said, “Math.”

I think one way to reduce the perceived expertise in the poetics of the lead learner is take away any notion that I am rehearsed before having come into the writing experience. There were hundreds–if not thousands–of lines of poetry in the room yesterday. I got a line from a classic piece of poetic text. I got one subject of the 32 possible subjects that could have come out. Friends, this is the beginning of approximation. Let the students see you think it through. Before you start setting down lines.

Here is the piece we got from the strike line and the subject. I have put the original strike line in bold so that you can see it, but what I also want you to see today is that we bent the rules of the strategy just a bit to take two words that create a kind of “turn” or “distraction” within this manufactured “word problem”:

 

“Subdivision Mathematics”

 

The dirt covering our 3/4 acre space is ready and brown.

But the real question of the day–the tough one– is:

not whether we can fit the necessary circle into the

square of our yard; we haven’t determined the color

of the liner–x? or y?–an important consideration

of a

pool cut into a property in the country

or to what degree we’ll be the envy of our neighbors down the road.

 

 

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