Saturday, March 29, 2014

Poetry, Writing Goals, and "The Good Old Days"

Throughout this Slice of Life challenge, I have read and enjoyed quite a few poems from other slicers. I am always amazed at the creativity that flows from the words in each poem and always find myself wishing that I had a similar poetic gift. However, ever since I was a kid, I have felt like poetry and I just don't get along. I sometimes struggle to appreciate (or even understand) it fully, and I always struggle to compose it. I vividly remember loathing poetry projects in elementary, middle, and high school. Visions of Little Laura standing in front of large audiences at obligatory poetry recitals or competitions still haunt me. So, needless to say, poetry wasn't something I anticipated experimenting with during this March challenge.

But then I woke up today and read Anna Gratz Cockerille's post for the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge. One of the questions she posed to readers, "Have you met your own personal writing goals?" unsettled me. I started thinking about the reasons I committed to the March Slice of Life Challenge, and remembered that two of my primary goals were to: (A) improve my writing craft and (B) be able to better relate to and assist my future ELLs.

Poetry is not something I am comfortable with. It scares me. I feel inadequate and untalented. And that's just how my future ESL students will probably feel when I ask them to write in English.

So, today I am going to attempt to take one more small step toward achieving my goals listed above, as I try Anna's idea of using Ralph Fletcher's poem The Good Old Days as a mentor text. As she did with her rendition of The Good Old Days, my first and last stanzas are exact replicas of those Ralph Fletcher used in his original poem.

The Good Old Days

Sometimes I remember
the good old days.

Riding bikes on summer vacation with Dad, 
wondering if my legs would ever be as strong as his. 

Pedaling fast to feel the fresh White Mountains breeze on my face
and slow to hear Dad's directions and careful warnings. 

Feeling my legs burn with fatigue, 
but pressing on to make Dad proud. 

Stopping to savor a thick chocolate milkshake, 
from our special father/daughter ice cream stand. 

I still can't imagine
anything better than that. 


  1. I don't think you have any reason to feel inadequate as a poet! Your future students will love your poems and your own voice in them! Keep writing!

  2. Hmmm...I never really checked out the classroom challenge blog. Really not time to do both for me. But, I love that you shared Anna's post and link! And love the mentor text and Ralph Fletcher. And I love that you wrote a poem. A beautiful poem!

  3. Wow! Your word choice creates vivid images that make me feel like I'm there, riding with you.

  4. I love that poem, and your adaptation. I did that last year when Ralph came to the Dublin Literacy Conference and had us all write our own version right there during his keynote! You can see mine here:

    I love that you pushed yourself as a writer. Unlike you, I love poetry and have always loved writing it. It's such a beautiful way to express your feelings. I can see how it would be intimidating if you're not used to it though.

    You should try a "Where I'm From" (off George Ella Lyon's poem of the same name) poem next! So much fun! I did them with my ELLs last fall and they were so powerful. You can see mine here:

    1. I love your version of Ralph's (not Rich's...whoops!) "The Good Old Days" poem. It's so great! Thanks for sending the link to the "Where I'm From" mentor text, too. I am really enjoying learning about new things like this. I played with it a bit today and am hoping to develop it more in the future. :)