Monday, November 12, 2012


by Laura Krauss Melmed

Last week I worked with a sixth grade class of about twenty students in a single session poetry workshop.  When I introduced our topic, Hurricane Sandy, some of the boys said they wanted to write about the election instead, since after all, it was the morning of November 6.  The students even started calling out some spontaneous, funny rhyming lines on the subject.   But feeling rather tense about the possible outcome of the election and also wanting to stick to my lesson plan, I had them stay with the topic of the storm.

Once the election was over, I began playing with the question of how it could have become the focal point of a lesson in creative writing.   What if the students were presented with a set of election rivals, but instead of real politicians like President Obama and Mitt Romney, they were funny combinations of rivals such as Cat and Dog vying for Best Pet, or Moon and Sun competing for Best Celestial Body, or Broccoli and Candy Bar facing off for Best Food.  Students could break into two teams, each tasked with preparing materials for one of the candidates.   It would be each team’s job to convince the “voters” that their candidate should win by producing materials such as a campaign slogan, a stump speech, a poster and maybe even a (non-negative!) TV ad.  To accomplish this, students would have to combine creative thinking with humor and the art of persuasive writing.  To conclude, each team might present their materials to another class to be followed by a mock election.  

But getting back to last week’s workshop on the storm, here is the poem my group produced together: 

Loosen the twisting, powerful drops that splash
Loosen the monstrous gale of the wolf
Loosen the sound of the drums
Let the shredding winds go free!


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  2. Your storm poem creates such marvelous images - much better than election poetry. BUT I will note that I tried Skyping with 7-8 year olds Americans at an international school in Costa Rica on Nov 6. The children voted on carrots vs cookies as a snack. There were 6 children voting, but the vote was 7 to 4 in favor of carrots. "But we all wanted cookies," said one little boy. "It's peculiar," said a little girl, "some of the ballots have the same handwriting." The children figured out the ballot box had been stuffed with extra ballots.
    The teacher declared the results final - carrots won. The children said they felt bad, weird - the teacher kept asking them to come up with strong "describing words." With this fun and simple exercise, the students learned about unfair elections - one of the main reasons people protested in Egypt. That protest is the centerpiece of our book Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books. So when students are following Laura's plan for a mock election, consider including an UNfair election as well! Karen Leggett Abouraya