End of the Year Survey, Reflections, and Identity

Before we start anything, I want to thank all of you for being such great students this year. Honestly, it has been fun working with each and every one of you this year.

One of my favorite things is looking back to the beginning of the year and thinking about how much each of you have grown. To help do that, we will be doing THREE things today in class….

SURVEY  – Click the link to take a thorough survey about Grade 7 Humanities. It is a little bit long. I highly suggest you use Word/Pages to write your answers. Once you have answered each question on the page, you can copy your answers back into the survey.

Write Your Own Report Card Comment – Open Pages. Click so you can view the “Character count (with spaces).” In 775 characters, describe yourself as a student this academic year. Things you might want to write about (but are definitely not limited to) are -What did you learn about your Identity this year?What are strengths? Where can you improve? How have you grown?

Six Word Memoir Part 2Remember this activity from the beginning of the year? It’s time to come full circle and revisit it. (Your first drafts are in the comment section of that blog post!) For fun, write your finished product on the back of your picture that has been on the board all year!

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Can You Write a Bio Poem?

Here is a suggested format for the Bio Poem. You don’t have to follow it exactly. Be careful not to fall into the trap of just giving information about your changemaker. Be sure to capture the heart and emotion through sensory imagery!

Line 1: First name

Line 2: Three or four adjectives that describe the person

Line 3: Important relationship (daughter of . . . , mother of . . . , etc)

Line 4: Two or three things, people, or ideas that the person loved

Line 5: Three feelings the person experienced

Line 6: Three fears the person experienced

Line 7: Accomplishments (who composed . . . , who discovered . . . , etc.)

Line 8: Two or three things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience

Line 9: His or her residence

Line 10: Last name

I think you will see pretty quickly how this form can really apply to our changemakers and the ideas of Change. It would be a good addition to our Change Portfolio and could fit with many different questions. When writing this poem type, be sure to really get at the emotion. Be careful not to just make it informational. Get to the feeling, too.

Here’s an example. It’s not perfect. Some lines are unnecessary; some are very wordy. What would you do to make it better?


Determined, brave, strong, loving

Wife of Raymond Parks, mother of all children

Who loved equality, freedom, and the benefits of a good education

Who hated discrimination, loved to stand up for her beliefs, and loved to help others

Who feared that racism would continue, feared losing the opportunity to make a difference, and feared that young people might lose opportunities to develop strength and courage

Who changed history as she accomplished great strides for equality and encouraged excellence for all

Who wanted to see love triumph and see an end to all bias and discrimination in a world in which respect is freely given to all

Born in Alabama and living in Detroit


In the comments below, offer up some revisions to this example poem or share those of your own.

Posted in Change, Poetry, Writing | 1 Comment

Can you write a ballad?

It’s time for our latest type of poem, the ballad. You hear ballads everyday, even if you don’t realize it. A ballad is a poem that is meant to be sung. Ever hear of music? How about songs? Yep, those things are ballads.

1. A ballad is narrative. It tells a story.

2. The stanzas in a ballad are quatrains. (For our purposes, your ballads must have at least four stanzas.)

3. A ballad has a predictable rhyme scheme. Usually it is aabb or abcb. (You can change up the rhyme scheme in different stanzas, but make sure there is still a pattern. For example, “aabb abcb aabb abcb” has a pattern., but “abcb aabb abab aabb” does not.)

Here is my favorite student ballad of all time.

Now, here is your task. Try writing  a ballad of your own. It can be about anything you want, or you could be smart and use your changemaker to write one specifically for inclusion in your portfolio. Post it in the comments. If it follows the rules of a ballad and has stellar word choice, we’ll share it with the class!

For the Change Portfolio, your ballads need to be at least four stanzas.

Posted in Change, Poetry, Writing | 148 Comments

Can You Write a Parts of Speech Poem?


This is a simple form of poetry that follows a basic pattern.

Line 1 is one article and one noun.

Line 2 is an adjective, a conjunction, and one adjective.

Line 3 is one verb, one conjunction, and one verb.

Line 4 is one adverb.

Line 5 is one article and one noun that completes the thought.


The wind
howling and sighing
shakes and rattles
the window

A snowflake
shy and hesitant

pauses and hovers
a butterfly

A puddle
dark and chill
splashes and soaks
a sock

Like a haiku, it is important to get across the feeling and meaning in a short package. This type of poem fits nicely in your Change Portfolio. Two make up one entry.

Posted in Change, Poetry, Writing | 19 Comments

Change Portfolio Planner

To help you as you start putting together your Change Portfolio, take a look at this Portfolio Planner.

It will help you

Keep track of what you have written and still need to write!
Organize the poems that you want to include in your portfolio!
Identify the Guiding Questions for your changemakers!

Use this document in whatever way is useful for you!

Don’t forget to check out the post explaining each part of the Change Portfolio. There are some great examples there, too!

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To This Day

Today we will be working with Shane Koyczan’s amazing poem “To This Day.” It’s a great poem that deals with both Change and Identity.

The goal for today is to see how the reading/performance can emphasize and enhance the message of the poem.

First, we will be reading the poem. Find the words here.

Next, we will listen to Mr. Koyczan reading the poem at the end of his TED talk. (Warning: Some swearing.)

Finally, we will watch a short animation that brings the poem to life. I will post the animation after class today.


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Can You Write a Cinquain?

A cinquain is a five line poem. It has very strict rules about the number of syllables in each line.


Line 1 (2 syllables) States the poem’s subject or topic (usually a noun)

Line 2 (4 syllables) Describes the subject

Line 3 (6 syllables) Expresses the subject’s action

Line 4 (8 syllables) Expresses an emotion or feeling about the subject

Line 5 (2 syllables) Restates the subject with another single word, reflecting what you’ve already said.

Try this site if you want help counting the syllables for use in your poem.


Hated, Abused
Malignant, all darkness
Hanged, blamed, shamed, and did nothing wrong

Wealthy, Lucky
Gives money to the King
Wants to have more lands and money

Stubborn, childish
She burnt down the privy.
Upset about  George and Aelis

Five lined devil!
Forced to write about you
Ugh, but we just took the MAP test!
Please NO!


Post some cinquains of your own in the comments section.

Posted in Change, Poetry, Writing | 205 Comments

Using Primary Source Evidence – Scientist Do It to Learn about Climate Change

Click here to read the article. If you need a break from poetry, let me know what you think about this article in the comments. 😉

Posted in Just for Fun, Research | 1 Comment

Can you write a haiku?

Haikus go like this.
Three lines. First, five syllables,
then seven, then five.

(Mr. Robinson is very proud of himself for coming up with that all on his own !)

Here is one of my all time favorites.

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense

Actually both of those haikus are just jokes. Haiku traditionally has some aspect of nature in them. That’s the simple thing we usually take for granted – like a leaf falling from a tree or snowflakes blowing in the wind.

Below you will find SEVEN years worth of student submitted haikus. Some are good. Some are silly. Some are terrible. They’re all works in progress that can be revised and improved. This is your chance to practice with the structure. Smart, prepared students will be trying to write some that relate to their changemaker and to their own changes.


Post your own in the comments, and you might get a point. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the ones you write.
This site may (or may not) help.

Posted in Change, Poetry, Writing | 322 Comments

Hellen Keller on the World…


How do you think this relates to poetry? Jonathan, how does this relate to your question about all poetry being sad?

Posted in Just for Fun, Poetry | Leave a comment