Episode IV-Ants on the Blacktop Weeds on the Hill

I thought this would be the last episode. But it’s not. There is one more lesson to go and just to add suspense it contains one of my most memorable student poems.

Episode IV

The next lesson also works well for a second session on rhythm.  “Trees Standing Sentry” is effective for illustrating how assonance and alliteration with their corresponding long and quick sounds can effect rhythm and mood.  Students eagerly participate in naming both long and quick consonant and vowel sounds.  The last time I used this model I also presented line breaks and stanzas.  Although the poems were good, I felt like I was talking too long and writing time felt rushed.  Hence the decision to present fewer techniques per lesson. Since this model poem is full of sound, I include some interesting sound words at the bottom of the handout to give them ideas and to expand their vocabulary.

Trees Standing Sentry

Geese dreaming north drift

In the sheer ozone of starlight

no planes snarl across

that silence

not one blade of grass springs back

under a passing foot

trees standing sentry growl

from their roots

each bough lifts its claws

toward the thorn-flower moon

each crown stares back at the blind

kings of the axe with eyes

like wolves

Charles Fishman

Sound Word List

bang

bell

blare

boom

buzz

caw

chime

chirp

clank

clatter

click

clink

crack

crackle

echo

fizz

growl

gurgle

hiss

howl

jangle

jingle

moan

mumble

murmur

peal

pop

rattle

ring

roar

rustle

scratch

shout

shriek

sigh

snap

snarl

sneeze

sniffling

sob

tap

taps

thud

thump

thunder

tick

wail

wheeze

whine

whir

whisper

whistle

After reading the model poem, I ask the students to design with me their own writing assignment.  To get them started, I ask them what this particular poem does.  How does the poem use sounds?  Where does he use assonance and alliteration?  How does the poet use stanzas?  And finally, what do they see after reading this poem?  I’ve found that student poets need visual input so I have various collections of pictures.  I give a nature picture to each writer.  It saves chaos if I just hand them out and don’t allow choices.  If after trying for several minutes a picture doesn’t work for a student, I allow a trade.

The Waterfall

The waterfall flows over its cliff

crashing against the rocks below.

It seems to be whispering, but

at the same time sounds like thunder

as it moves

spraying hissing mist

and foam.

Katie Parr, Fourth Grade

A Waterfall

A big waterfall

roars and booms against

the rocks of the lake

when the ice of winter melts.

It empties itself into

a stream and gathers up

a brown beaver’s

house.

It breaks through with

a snap and snarl.

It goes into a fall

again.

Water goes into a quiet lake

and runs into a stream.

It’ll keep going to the ocean

and start all over again.

Melody Lin, Fourth Grade

 

Feroe, Paul, ed.  Silent Voices:  recent American poems on nature.  St. Paul: Ally Press, 1978.

About Winding Stream Press

Janice DeRuiter Eskridge, M.F.A. is a poet who worked for over a decade as a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Helen Shoemaker, Ph.D. L.M.F.T. is a university professor who teaches in the areas of child development and counseling. She is also a therapist in private practice.
This entry was posted in Articles, Lessons for Outside, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Episode IV-Ants on the Blacktop Weeds on the Hill

  1. I will be sorry to see this series end…really do hope there will be more to come from the ants on the blacktop weeds on the hill.

    • Thank you Ron. There will be one more Ants on the Blacktop etc. then I have a different set to follow.

      Jan

      *Janice DeRuiter*

      uphill we walk into rarified air here the air thins until all that’s left is breathing and short gasps of blue-green words

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