Monday, January 24, 2011

One Topic Many Ways - Sock Week - #299

Chipmunk Sock
Photo by Amy LV

Last Friday, I had the good fortune to spend time in two joyfully rich classrooms in Webster, NY.  One of these classes, Jamie Palmer's fifth grade at Klem South Elementary, has been writing poetry, and I visited with a little lesson about how we can approach any topic in many different ways.

 Model Writing Subject
Photo by Amy LV

With a roll of toilet paper as a model, we discussed how there are many ways to shine a light on any subject. Here are just a few ways one might choose to write about a lowly roll of toilet paper:

           * Speak AS the toilet paper - I love doing somersaults...
           * Talk TO the toilet paper - Oh, little roll of whiteness...
           * Describe the toilet paper -  A small soft cylinder...
           * Think about toilet paper through time - People once...
           * Tell a real story about toilet paper - I found it...
           * Tell an imagined story about toilet paper - It talked...
           * Impose another genre: letter, recipe, how-to - First...
           * Give a list about toilet paper - Pink and blue, soft and...
           * Share facts about toilet paper - This paper disappears...
           * Ask, "What if...?"  - What if toilet paper rolled away...
           * See toilet paper through another's eyes - Too scratchy! 
           * Play with the sounds of the word/idea -Toilyoilet paper...
When I left the class, teacher Jamie and I had a few minutes to talk.  She said, "I'm going to challenge my students to a MyPoWriWe ("My Poem Writing Week") next week.  And as a double challenge, I will see who can write seven poems about the same subject!"

I, too, am taking Miss Palmer up on her challenge, and we invite anyone else who wishes to join us in writing seven poems in seven days - all about one topic.  Of course these daily poems will be quite different from each other, but they will all stem from one main idea.  My idea: socks.  If you'd like to play, you will chose your own idea.

Please just leave a message in the comments or link to your blog or classroom website if you're in.  Within the next few weeks, Jamie's class will share some of their "many poems about the same topic" with us.  

Students - writing a poem each day for the past 299 days, I am very grateful that one can write about the same idea from many angles.  We all have favorite writing topics, and having found many "windows" into one topic has helped me to explore the same subjects in a variety of ways. 

Sometimes Elaine Magliaro shares variations on a topic at her generous blog, Wild Rose Reader.  You can read two of her poems, two ways, here.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. I love that poem about dirty socks. I'm not going to let my husband see it, lest he recite that when I ask him to put the dern socks in the hamper. :)

  2. What a wonderful poem!

    I think you must be in touch with my boys, as their balled-up chipmunks live in many unexpected places -- most recently residing in the puppy's mouth.

    So glad you are in classrooms promoting poetry!

    And thanks for your kind comment at my place today.

  3. Fun idea! And I especially like that you picked a topic that doesn't appear to lend itself to poetry.

  4. Amy,

    I think it's a great idea to explain to children how they can approach a writing assignment in different ways. Sometimes, my students would start writing a poem and then hit a wall. No matter how hard they tried they couldn't make any progress. It was like they were stuck in a rut. That's when I'd suggest they try writing their poems from a different perspective...or write another type of poem on the same subject. That usually broke the wall down for them and started their creative juices flowing again.

    P.S. I really like your "dirty sock" poem.

  5. Dear Amy,
    Sometimes I like to fling my socks where ever I like. I love your poem its my favorite poem ever. My teacher Mrs. Evancho sent you a poem called Nature, you probaly don't reconise it. Me, and my friend Riley made it.

    Beth Brombos

  6. Thank you, all, for your kind words. This is a fun challenge... Elaine, I love learning about what you did in the classroom, and I know that I would have loved to be one of your students.

    Dear Beth,

    I fling my socks too! And you know what? I owe both you AND Riley a note. I received your poem, "Nature" via e-mail from Mrs. Evancho, and I have taken way too long to respond. It is so beautiful and quiet and true to the wind in all seasons.

    The way you explained how you found your title and idea was interesting too. I am wondering if you also learned by thinking about how you write. I learn a lot about my own writing habits by doing this.

    How would you feel about sharing your poem on my blog?

    Please accept my apology for taking so long to write back to you.


  7. AmyLV,
    I love how you described the different ways to write about a subject. That would really inspire students. Will you get to see some of their efforts now?