Monday, April 27, 2009

The Home Stretch

The Home Stretch

Looking at the calander.
Looking at the clock.
Looking out the window.
Looking down the block.

Waiting for the summer.
Waiting for the end.
Waiting for the last school day;
It’s right around the bend.

Less than four weeks left now.
It’s shorter every day.
The students are excited--
Want to leave without delay.

The students all are restless.
That you can’t ignore.
They are ready for vacation--
We teachers are ready more!

©2009-Art Belliveau

Thursday, April 23, 2009


as the other students in the class
chat in quiet amiability while
working on their writing project
these young ladies just sat and talked
their volume rising slowly
almost imperceptibly
but steadily nonetheless

if they are going to refuse to work
why can't they at least do it quietly
like the ones who sleep so soundly
through the class every single day

but no
they insist on sitting there
publicly emoting to each other
the dramas of their lives
and their day at school

to be honest
some of them do indeed
live through a great deal of real drama
too much to contend with
at their young age)

i wrestle with myself
as i observe them
heat slowly rising
in my face
in lockstep with
their increasing volume

i could do something
to make them quiet down
i could get up
and just sit near them
make them nervous
tenth graders detest
a teacher's propinquity

but my stomach is roiling
and jumping inside me
feels like i've been
repeatedly gut-punched
should have stayed home
but felt obligated
to come and teach them

most students are working
or at least appearing to
knowing that negative attention
lowers their grades
just these four loud talkers
inconsiderately interfering
with everyone's thought processes

so i reach to my left
and grab for the stack
of preprinted forms
ones i have prepared for
just such an occasion
and fill out detentions
for my chatty friends

see you all soon

©2009-Art Belliveau

15 Sentence Portrait

One of my favorite writing exercises is one that I was introduced to about ten years ago. The 15-Sentnece Portrait was developed by the late Wendy Bishop. It is an extremely guided writing exercise. Each of the 15 sentences in the writing assignment has an instruction on what to include in that sentence. It could be a color, a wish, a body part, a specific number of words, etc.

In the abstract, it sounds like a straight jacket, but I have seen it produce some really excellent writing from my students over the years. And this year is no exception. I have an instruction page for it on my class website and even created a step-by-step PowerPoint to guide my students through writing one.

I have shared this idea with others, and have had reports of similar good results. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Empty Classroom

The Empty Classroom

It waits in darkness

Soon enough it will again be
A lively, raucous place
Filled with life
Filled with sound
Filled with direction

Once the break is over
And school begins again

©2009-Art Belliveau

Friday, April 3, 2009

National Poetry Month and My Students Are Publishing

In honor of National Poetry Month I am featuring quotes by poets on my Almost Daily Quote blog. I am also going to do my best to write a poem a day for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I will keep these on my poetry blog. Any feedback is always welcome.

I am not the only one publishing this month. My students are at that point as well. Last week I got them to start typing up some of their assignments on Google Documents. Even with my prior rant on Google Docs, I still find the service to be very valuable. After my students write up their assignments I require them to add me as a collaborator so I can help them edit their work.

Then, this week, I had them join My class website is located there. After they join wikispaces, I have them join my class wiki so they can add their own content to it. Each student is provided with their own webpage. On that page, so far, I have had them write a brief intro (this was freestyle--no explicit instruction past no last names used). Then they were to type in "Table of Contents," "Portrait Poem," and "Memory Paper."

Then we went back to Google Docs. I showed them how to publish their documents as webpages and had them copy the URL. Then back to wikispaces, where I showed them how to link from their webpages to their documents.

Most of them have at least made a start on doing this and are at various stages of completion. But, if anyone is interested in taking a look and leaving a comment, please feel free. Please try to keep comments constructive, these are beginning writers.

Happy National Poetry Month!