Resources for Teachers and Learners
Quilts and Prints:
Young People Respond to Gee’s Bend Art
With the expert help of a talented block print artist and teacher, Elaine Elledge, we embarked on an eight-month-long project to study the fabric artists of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The challenge of emulating the unique artistic concepts in the Gee’s Bend artwork to make our quilts and block prints was both formidable and thrilling. Student writings about their creative process are on display alongside the quilts and prints.
Eleven of my students were featured during the month of December at Schlow Library’s art gallery. I hope you will enjoy the photos of the show and reception, links to press coverage and the Schlow Library podcast.
Cloudy with a Chance of . . . Teaching Haiku
Teaching haiku is risky business. There is a chance my students will not be interested or grasp the fundamentals. There is also the challenge of encouraging them to build on their first attempt at writing haiku, and (gulp) revise. Regardless of the setting or the age, my biggest challenge is helping students to discover the connection between their experiences and their poems. “Discover” is the operative word. Because lecturing about haiku will only take one so far, my haiku classes are active and interactive, striking a balance between introspective experiences and time to share. Students have a lot to teach one another, as well. I have witnessed many ways in which students inspire one another with their ideas and questions. I, therefore, like to make room for this informal peer teaching to happen. Let me walk you through a two-day workshop.
Read the rest of Anne’s article on The Haiku Foundation Blog: How We Haiku–Teaching Stories #18
Every semester I give my creative writing students writing sparks to nurture and inspire their creative writing. The topics include personal narrative, poetry, fiction, science writing, food writing, reviews of books, movies and restaurants, interviews, and letters, newspaper articles, and more. An example of one of these writing sparks is “I Am the Person Who.” It is a poem designed for self-expression and personal exploration. First, the writing spark. Then two poems by my students, Evie and Lorelei (including feedback given to Lorelei) and my own poem.
Writing Spark: I Am the Person Who…
What makes you the person you are? How can you express this in a poem? This writing spark is personal. It gives you chances to explore who you are and to share with readers what makes you unique. Alternatively, you can begin each sentence with “I am the girl” or “I am the boy who” or “I am the human who.” I can’t wait to read about you! As always with poetry, try to use language in a creative and unconventional way by pairing unusual words, for instance.
Writing Spark: Red and Yellow
(The Olive Branch: Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night, by Josh Selig)
In Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night, we meet two friends who are each trying to do what they love. Yellow wants to sleep and Red wants to play music on his “strummy” – in the same tree! Interestingly, the tree they live in is an olive tree. Do you know what an olive branch symbolizes? Can you take a guess, or do some research to find out? This children’s story describes a struggle we all have from time to time. How do we get along with the people we live and spend time with? How do we learn to compromise? Let’s write a Red and Yellow story of our own!
Your story should include only two characters. That’s right, only two. First, choose the names of two colors for your characters, like blue and green or pink and purple. What kind of personalities do these characters have? Decide how these two characters are related. Are they friends, neighbors, siblings, strangers, parent and child? What are your characters? Are they animals, people, birds, insects or maybe just blobs of color? Where do they live?
Next, decide what your two characters have a conflict over. The focus of your story should be about the way they figure out how to solve their problem, so decide what kind of conflict they will have and how they will resolve it.
Think about the ways you have solved conflicts in your family or between yourself and a friend. Maybe you can use some of these ideas for your Red and Yellow story. I bet you have some pretty creative ideas up your sleeve and I cannot wait to read your stories! Good luck and enjoy writing.