For teachers -  including some project ideas

Thoughts on "collaborative" reading (aloud), and writing projects.
"Dad has been a full-time teacher--and he's always teaching something or other."

(Note. My first job was as a teacher--English and math--and education has been a lifelong  interest. Here are ways you might use these poems in some interesting school activities. )

The poems in Outside The Lines: Poetry At Play (OTL) are graphic, which by definition means the words in each case are placed in unusual positions on the page, creating a visual pattern. But even compared to most other graphic poetry, these are unusual: They are not about things, but about activities--and often about collaborative activities, too, since the topics are play activities. 
This is the key part, I think: These poems can lend themselves to being read aloud by several students, working together.  Not only are they are about activities, but they are often about collaborative activities, and thus they suit an educational idea: collaborative reading aloud.

A poem like "Catch," for example, mimics the tossing of a ball between two friends.  Here's part of it--which, of course, you would read in a zig-zag pattern:

                                                GLOVE . . .

Clearly, this could be effective if read by two students (or two groups), perhaps from two corners of a classroom--or by two halves of the entire class.* Either way, such a reading also lends itself well to an assembly or other performance situation, because it has a built-in element of drama (both the spatial aspect and the back-and-forth aspect) and so might be an interesting surprise, as a change from other readings. 

 *(One teacher wrote an e-mail about trying this sort of thing, successfully.)

Obviously, many choral readings and group readings exist. But OTL poems are about playing, and recreate the experience of it--so the reading part could have a helpful buit-in "fun" aspect; and the spatial aspect makes them unusual, perhaps unique. Since the book consists of lyric poems, I realized that this choral aspect might not suggest itself, but it's there.

There are a number of poems in OTL which could thus be read collaboratively, by pairs or groups of students, as the following titles indicate.  The number involved could vary, except where indicated.

      Catch (two individuals, or two groups)
      Softball (the player at each position in the field has a brief "interior monologue") 
      Frisbee (the players would be in a circle. They might pass an actual Frisbee by hand)
      Jungle Gym
      Fireflies (a group is chasing them--and letting them go)
      Pin the Tail On The Donkey (those waiting their turn comment, as one wins)
      Kites (there are four kite poems, for four friends on one hillside) 
      Leaf Pile
      Sand Castle

In addition, even the poems about individual activities could be read by more than one student, since they are activities which could involve children side by side in "parallel play:" Hula Hoops, Skipping, Bubbles (blowing), Slide and Swing. Swing or Slide, for example, might be done as spoken-word "rounds," at least by kids old enough to handle the overlapping.

Besides all this, since the poems are about play, they of course have built-in possibilties for movement; and, as this site shows, I'm adapting some of the poems into songs, which of course can provide still more performance possibilities.

(See also a teacher's e-mail re graphic poetry).

P.S. A bit more on educational aspects--including more traditional "English-teacher" stuff: As noted, these poems do not deal with objects and the way they strike our senses, but with subjective experience--how it feels to do something, on the inside.  

Thus, they have kinetic and psychological aspects, and they often take place not just in time, but in space. Of course, that's a lot for any short poem to have on its agenda, and I don't mean to exaggerate the complexity of this material.

But it does mean that there can be interesting possibilties in this poetry, which may not be obvious at a glance, and which may be useful for teachers, in relation to many educational concepts. The sections above discuss readings and performance, but there is also room for a lot of more essentially literary activity, too: analysis, and experimentation, and poetry-writing:

   1. How do you write a poem that's almost all about an experience, and feelings, but does not describe the outsides of things? Or--what about doing both? Or writing about the experience only, then inserting descriptions? (Perhaps read the first step aloud, for others to guess what's being described.) This could be tried with: An amusement-park  ride. Snowboarding. Skateboarding or skating. Riding a scooter. And so on.

   2. What about writing a poem re-creating a group experience (like Tag or Soccer). What about an experience like a school bus trip? Or  museum visit?  

   3. The preceding example is, in effect, approaching dramatic writing, instead of lyric writing. So: What about writing a poem that is purely dramatic? That's another exercise, and a different focus. In fact, why not just write a poem for two or more voices? That's something kids might enjoy a lot. (It might be pointed out a guy named Shakespeare did this often.)

   4. What about writing a poem about a subject, with regular rhythm and rhyme, and then moving the words around to create a graphic poem also, with the same material? Better make sure to write about something simple enough to "diagram" with words, of course...and then do that "assembly required" part. Or start with words that create the shape, and then edit them to be a regular poem also. (In writing the OTL poems, in fact I worked with words creating shapes, but often read them over, checking for both visual and verbal compliance with the rules of the writing game that I'd set up for myself.)



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