Grade seven English students are writing realistic fiction. To complement storytelling, Jess Kekelis invited a high school student to lead a poetry workshop. Hope is a senior at KIS and part of Project Echo, a club that wants to make poetry approachable and fun. To tie in with Ms. Kekelis’s fiction writing unit, Hope introduced grade sevens to narrative poetry. One of the challenges of working with a group of younger students is gauging what they already know, Hope says, and using understandable language. Also, perhaps because Hope is a guest in the classroom, students are sometimes shy about joining a conversation or activity.
Students used photos from the Humans Of New York series to write narrative poetry. You can try this too: Find a photograph of a person and imagine who they are. Where do they live? What does their day look like? What brings this person joy or sorrow? What happened just before the photo was taken? Hope asked students to create a small story for the person in the photo. Rather than tell a life story, find a small story that shows some part of the person’s character and experience. Reflecting later, students realized that they included some part of their own character in these narratives, drawing on personal wants and struggles to create a believable story for the person in the picture.
As a writer myself, it’s inspiring to see the attitude of not being concerned with sounding a certain way or writing to expectations. – Hope
Students worked intently. Already, they had practice creating characters and developing a story arc. Now, instead of paragraphs, they drafted poetry lines. Something neat usually happens during this quiet drafting time of a workshop. Ms. Kekelis and Hope chatted quietly with students. At the end, pairs swapped notebooks to share their pieces.
Thank you Jess Kekelis and her grade seven class for sharing your space. Big thanks to Project Echo for encouraging poetry reading and writing, and Hope for leading a workshop! KIS has its own version of HONY too – check it out.