Saturday, July 21, 2012

have a _____ day

I'm late to Poetry Friday this week, but I've been trawling and organizing my computer files and finding a few forgotten treasures, and here's one worth sharing.

Teachers will be familiar with cloze procedure,  "a technique in which words are deleted from a passage presented to students, who insert words as they read to complete and construct meaning from the text."  The term "cloze" was introduced in 1953 by Wilson Taylor, who derived it from the Gestalt psychology principle of "closure," which holds that our minds tend to complete patterns and perceive figures even when part of the information is missing.  It's used as an exercise or assessment for determining how well readers use ________ clues in language.  (The missing word there is context.)

Before kids can complete a cloze activity, they must of course understand what the blanks are all about.  A couple of weeks into the school year I start introducing blanks into the Morning Message (which includes information about our plans for the day).  Figuring out what to write in the blanks becomes part of the Reading Leader's job.

Enjoy Lou Lipsitz's poem below, and see how important it is to teach the little ones to read the blank out loud:  "Have a BLANK day"?

How else will they know they have work to do, filling in that blank with one of the choices, or choosing something of their own to put in the blank, or "yielding, ...swallowing hard, breathing more deeply," when the blank fills itself in before they're ready?

Have a ____ Day  |  Lou Lipsitz

Have a nice day. Have a memorable day.
Have (however unlikely) a life-changing day.
Have a day of soaking rain and lightning.
Have a confused day thinking about fate.

Have a day of wholes.
Have a day of poorly marked,
unrecognizable wholes you
cannot fathom.
Have a ferocious day, a bleak
unbearable day. Have a
riotously unproductive day;
a grim jaw-clenched, Clint Eastwood vengeful
law enforcement day.
Have a day of raging, hair-yanking
jealousy and meanness. Have a day
of almost grasping
how whole you are; a finely tuned,
empty day.

Have a nice day of walking and circling;
a day of stalking and hunting,
of planting strange seeds and wandering in the woods.
Have a day of endearing nonsense,
of hopelessly combing your hair,
a day of yielding, of swallowing
hard, breathing more deeply,
a day of fondness for beetles
and macabre spectacles, or irreverence
about anything you want, of just
sitting and wondering.
Have a day of wondering if it's
going to help, or if it just doesn't matter;
a day of dark winds
and torrents flowing though the valley,
of diving into cool water
and gasping for breath,
a day of sudden hunger for communion.

Have a day where the crusts you each
were given are lost and you stumble
with your fellows
searching endlessly together.


  1. I like this poem very much. I'm having the kind of day where I'm still looking to fill in my blank. Right now I'm leaning toward a lazy-good-for-nothing day.

    (By the way, I've failed the "please prove you're not a robot" test twice already, let's hope the third time's a charm.)

  2. Thanks for sharing that poem. I love when I have a "riotously unproductive day"...means I had fun!


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