Wednesday, November 12, 2008


biggest eraser
I had some marvellous English teachers. I took English Lit. courses in University, as well as a Children's Lit. course - that is when you can really dig into the literature with like-minded spirits.

I love E.E. Cummings' Arch the cockroach, since I was a 'good girl' and with a mother who was a drill sergeant re: punctuation and grammar, he tickled my fancy. Mom was a secretary for a service club (Rotary Club of Toronto) and was kind enough to type all of my high school and university essays for me. The one codicil was that I had to have them in to her 2 weeks before they were due. (It totally made me work ahead and pissed off all of my friends. If it was already typed - i.e., manual typewriter, with carbon paper copies, and an ink eraser for errors..I had to hand it in.)

But I digress!

Tiger, by William Blake inspired a poem of my own. (Published in an anthology onceuponatime!)

When I taught English to students, we had fun reading various genres. The poetry work we did had to take into account the student's interests. I showed them how to write, then parse the prose into poetry. Sometimes I used frame poems, i.e., What If?... and they finished the sentences.

The question arises - is poetry obsolete? I think not. Young kids love the chants, I used them during Hallowe'en, and Thanksgiving.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

Shakespeare's Macbeth lends itself to such word play. One of my favourite resources was a book of chants. I printed and mounted them on cardboard, then 3 or 4 children would read them aloud, adding sound effects.

Choral reading has been flogged as another play with language. To work your tongue around sounds and syllables helps you digest, absorb and better understand what you read, see and hear.

Of course, rapping has lent itself to the older grades. It is an effective means by which we encourage literacy: reading, writing, speaking, listening.

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