Friday, June 22, 2012

cooling off and catching up

Well, after an unplanned hiatus of some weeks, I'm back, drenched in triumphant relief (I made it through the first full-time year since 1998!) and in summer solstice sweat, proudly sharing a small, cooling moment mined from the piles of folders and composition books and other Stuff from School.

Here is Duncan's haiku, which was in part a 3rd-grade cursive-writing exercise.  Dunc's not so practiced at pacing his cursive yet and ran out of room on the transparency he was writing it on--that's what all the blank space is for.  Hence the nontraditional line breaks, which almost fooled his teacher into thinking it didn't fit the prescribed 5-7-5 syllable pattern. 

Jack-Frost's Reign

Thorny vines reaching
Plants drooping under
Jack-Frost's spell of months
of ice

Here is the rubric by which his work was scored:

"My poem follows the rules of Haiku (3 points)
My haiku describes nature with descriptive words (2 points)
My handwriting is neat (1 point)
My picture describes my poem (1 point)
My poem has a title (1 point)"

 -- for which last Duncan got 0 because he didn't include the title he selected above, resulting in an overall score of 6.5 out of 8 or a B.  I love teachers, and we loved Duncan's teacher, but I always want the rubric, if poetry must have one, to include something like "My poem helped me see the world and use language in new ways, bringing joy to me and my readers."  Self-assessed, of course!

Happy summer to all, and see you over at The Poem Farm, where I discover that Amy is sharing a song written with Barry Lane that captures, more catchily and poignantly, the exact same point that I'm making here about Duncan's "number."  Thanks, Amy and Barry.

Addendum, 8:47am:  Duncan came in as I was playing the song for the third time.  When it finished, he said, "Wow.  Montgomery County Public Schools certainly needs to hear this."


  1. Congratulations on your accomplishment! I love Duncan's poem, but I have to admit I've started to cringe when I see rubrics. I understand their purpose, but what happened to authentic response? Do kids read them and know what they've done well and what they might want to work on the next time?

  2. Oh, Heidi. This morning when I read your post, I wanted to cry. Duncan's haiku is full of that wonderful mystery that a haiku wants to have. And darn, he's right. The only numbers in haiku should be those syllables, and even then...not so important as this meaning and imagery. Thank you for sharing this. I'm forwarding your post to Barry. We'd be grateful for any sharing and ideas for sharing you have. Now we're soliciting photos for the slideshow for YouTube.... xo, a.

  3. Congrats on your yearlong triumph!

    I like Duncan's interesting word choices, e.g. "thorny" and "spell."

  4. Well, you know how I love haiku (which, in English, is closest to the spirit of its Japanese heritage with fewer syllables than the usually prescribed 5-7-5), and I hope Duncan will be able to enjoy haiku moments as he grows, despite any graded experiences.

    Haiku traditionally don't have titles, either - I'd have probably given extra points for that! ;0) Please congratulate Dylan on his really fine writing - the first line alone is poetry enough for me! I immediately thought of Amy's song, too. Happy Summer to All.

  5. Congrats on making it through! And I have to echo Liz and Amy about the rubric. Sigh. I would love to see your suggestion on ALL such rubrics, if they must exist.

    Lovely poem, and even better assessment by Duncan of the school system! :)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!