Reading is not walking on the words; it's grasping the soul of them-
I like to mix creativity in every lesson, so the first day we will read a photocopy of the preface. In this section, Steve Harmon describes the tense and traumatic environment inside the jail. It is a fantastic hook for the students. They will create a found poem with Steve’s words, but they will create a poem that relates to their own world. Perhaps they will think of a situation that stresses them out. They will use his words to build their own meaningful activity that can potentially have them reflect on their own troubles and circumstances. They cut the words and paste them in whatever shape suits them onto the chosen color and types of paper available. I have seen fantastic designs from this activity in the past, including a jail cell. Again, each child’s strength is considered. Some have simpler designs with incredible poetry. Others have meaningful shapes with more abstract language choices. Their artwork will ultimately be displayed in the classroom.
We will spend about two days on this activity, and I will take volunteers to share out. After each child shares out, we will snap our fingers and show each other love for being brave and sharing our poem. When writers or students say something powerful, meaningful or something that merely catches the attention of the class, we snap, say a word, say “yes” or anything affirmative and positive that shows the performer we are on their team. Lately students have been using the word “facts” as an affirmative (even when I speak) to simply show a verbal praise. This is a common practice in my room, in spoken word spaces--and even churches. This call and response appeals to my students because it encourages kinesthetic learning and interaction--not just quiet listening to information.