Sunday, April 24, 2016

Writing by Emulation: Using Student Writings as Prompts for Other Students

     "Without _____" was the prompt for a poem in which the poet imagines a life without a certain possession, condition, luxury item, ingredient, or anything we might take for granted. As example poems, I shared three "Without..." poems, written by my students over the years: one about life without sugar (with lines such as, "Sweet Tarts would only be tart"); one about life without the color green ("the name we use to remember the colors of the rainbow would be missing his middle initial: ROY BIV"), and one (by me) about life without adjectives ("a thesaurus would not only sound like a dinosaur, but also be extinct, like one").

      Ethan, a nine year old, found this prompt very inspiring: he wrote these two final drafts in his notebook. I have retyped them below. Note that the odd spacing in one of the verses in the first poem was written in the shape of a smartphone; and that one blank page interrupted the second poem, on purpose.

Without Smartphones
by Ethan 

Without smartphones, people would
need to walk to talk
to their friends!

Without smartphones, you would
need to write letters
instead of e-mailing!

Without smartphones, people would
need to go outside
to play instead of
playing games
on their phones!

Without smartphones, people would
need to draw instead of
taking pictures 
with their phones!

Without smartphones, you couldn't
talk to your friend or
cousin in Singapore!

Without smartphones, people would
need to check on the calendar
to know what day it was!

Without smartphones, people would
go outside more,
and play more board games.

Without smartphones, people would

need                                                   to
go                                                      out-
si-                                                       de

to                                                       che-

ck                                                       the

wea-                                                   th-

e                                                           r

and wouldn't know where they were
without Google maps!

       And now, here's the other "Without..." poem by Ethan:

Without Writing

by Ethan

Without writing
the world would be

Without writing
people would not
read books.

Without writing
you would walk into
a store and say,
“Can I have
that candy
in the red
package that
has a rainbow on it?”

Without writing
Books would
be pages with
pictures and

Without writing
this poem would
be this:

                                               [HE LEFT A BLANK PAGE HERE]

A world without writing
Would be a disaster.