That is a fantastic exercise! In my opinion, your students are quite fortunate, indeed, to have you.

Justin Woods <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Justin wrote:
>[A Weird Nature Poem Formula]
>I always hated that color by numbers bs. That exercise sounds painful.
>I can't imagine the depth of horror your students felt upon reading the
>instructions. Were there audible groans? It was hard enough reading
>for a non-participant. That said, it seems to have worked passably well
>for you, so what do I know?
>- Patrick

i like "passably well." high praise indeed.

allow me to defend my pedagogy, i guess. ugh. reluctantly.

believe it or not, not all of my kids are dying to write... even in electives that
i'm blessed to teach, like creative writing. they need english credits. they
come from all kinds of different places. i hated structure (still do i suppose),
and work much better given free-reign. oddly, i'm guessing there are fewer
kids like that than there are who want the "formula."

then there are the ultra-precocious poet-types. i actually ran that activity by
a kid, who is one of those types. she scrunched up her brow and said
disdainfully, "you'll probably get a lot of parodies of poems." what's so bad
about that? i thought. some of my favorite poems are parodies of poetry. it
often gets so stuffy and takes itself too seriously.

so take any given class of mine. i got a few kids who want nothing more than
a 60 to pass, a few kids who actually write and read on their own and care
about it, and a whole bunch of them in the middle. what do i want them to
do? i teach creative writing like an art class. i want them to play with
language. i want to put some of the fun that the past 10 years of english
classes have drained out of it. so, as i see it, i present possibilities and some

the formula, patrick, is entirely tongue-in-cheek--and if you don't see that,
you don't know me very well (not that you should, of course...). i guess it's
how one delivers that that is important. i tell them that if they want to skip a
step, or add something in, or ignore the "formula" entirely--go for it.

a formula or any structure for that matter has some value, at least, in
providing something to work against.

"paint-by-numbers" is a scourge. but it got a lot of non-painters to make ok
semi-impressionistic images. actually, maybe that'll be another creative
writing activity in the future... if i can modify it in some way.

btw: yesterday in "class," we played metaphor-ultimate. we had teams of
five, and a couple of kids, who did not want to run, sat on the sidelines calling
out abstract nouns whenever someone had the frisbee (like love, anger,
bravery, etc.). the person with the 'bee had to repeat the abstract noun
shouting, "love is..." then toss the 'bee. to "complete" the pass, the catcher
had to complete the metaphor with an interesting concrete noun. "love is... a
dirty shoe." the pass is ruled incomplete if the metaphor is not fresh, or if it's
cliche. this was funny since a couple of kids picked up the strategy of trying
to put cliched ideas into the catcher's head--a couple of times, the kids, in
the heat of the moment, picked up the cliche without thinking and called it out
(love is... a red, red rose), and the pass was ruled incomplete. to score a td,
the whole team had to stand on the goal-line and compose a haiku, using all 5
players, in under 45 seconds to get the point.

so there you go.

(htf is pretty dry, btw, so i hear... though whoever is maintaining Wolf Tree
has been sleeping-on-the-job.)


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