The 3rd grade students in Mrs. Rolls’s class were buzzing in small groups, brainstorming topics for limericks. They already know the “rules” of limericks — the AABBA rhyme scheme, the matching numbers of syllables in the lines and that limericks can be about anything — even silly stuff.
The spirited activity is driven by Alicia Martin, a doctoral student in Utah State University’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership. She has worked with the class and engaged the students with poetry through USU’s ArtsBridge program.
Martin plans to be a teacher educator when she completes her degree, and her dissertation research focuses on children writing poetry. She has previous classroom experience teaching elementary school for seven years and has a master’s degree in curriculum development and instructional design. She said she has always found reading and writing poetry enjoyable, and wants to figure out the best ways to pass on that love to teachers and children.
In the ArtsBridge program, Martin works with two third grade classes at Foothill Elementary School in Brigham City. Twice a week, she visits the classes to teach poetry and the writing process. And, she said, the kids love it.
“As I walk into the classroom the students say things like ‘the poetry lady is here’ and ‘I love poetry’ and ‘poetry is cool,’” she said.
In addition to limericks, the students have written wish, color and sensory poems. They also wrote poems of apology, modeled after William Carlos Williams’s poem This is Just to Say.
One of the students wrote a work titled Forgive Me.
I’m sorry for giving my nephew Mountain Dew.
You were probably going to put him to bed,
but I couldn’t resist.
I wanted to see him bounce off the walls.
In the most recent classroom exercise, students began writing limericks, including this example:
There once was a dog
His best friend was a hog.
They went to the moon
and got a big spoon
and found a big fat log.
For a final project, the students have elected to create their own book of poetry. They will revise and edit the rough drafts, then publish their poetry in a handmade book. Martin, the teachers and the students are all excited about poetry and look forward to being published poets.
USU ArtsBridge is administered through the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art on the campus of Utah State University and is an affiliate of ArtsBridge America, a unique research-based school/university partnership in arts education. ArtsBridge America is a network of university schools of art and education dedicated to providing high-quality arts instruction to K-12 school children and community organizations. All projects are provided free at no cost to schools.
For information on the USU ArtsBridge program, contact Program Director Laurie Baefsky (435) 760-4889, email@example.com