April is National Poetry Month, and here at BtB we’re celebrating in our favorite way: with student books! Poetry is an incredible mode of discovery and self-expression for young writers, and so every year we make sure to bring poets into classrooms; this year we were fortunate and had the opportunity to work with Alan Katz, Doug Florian, Tony Medina,and John Grandits.
Today, we’re featuring the work of East Harlem 8th graders from JHS 13. The students began by personalizing journals with BtB teaching artist Barbara Korein, where they recorded their thoughts, questions, analysis, and reflections on Tony Medina’s I and I Bob Marley, a biography of the reggae icon in verse. (Find out more about BtB journals here.)
Tony visited the classroom twice; on his first visit, he began by pointing out how tone, cadence, diction, phrasing, and images contribute to the feeling of a poem. He then introduced “I am from” poetry, inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon. Tony encouraged the students to think about both the physical and emotional landscapes which shape our selves. When he returned for a second visit, the class wrote haikus, and had the opportunity to share their “I am from” poetry.
Check out the class book here, and be sure to check back for more student poetry throughout the month of April!