A few weeks ago, several readers inquired about the color poems I did with my middle school students. The “color poem” strategy/formula is one that I learned in a class on teaching poetry at the University of Georgia; it’s one that provides structure for beginning poets but is flexible enough for more advanced writers to run with and exercise their poetic license.
Until this year, I had only used this strategy with high schoolers; they typically picked right up on the formula. I discovered this fall that some younger learners may need more scaffolding even if you give them concrete examples that you have written and examples from other students. I modified my handouts to include the following materials:
- A general overview of the assignment with two examples/mentor poems/texts
- A “writing plan” that includes some reflection questions to help the poet get started with a second page that has a modified copy of the “formula” that students can use as a template if needed
- A reflection handout that students can complete once they have finished their final draft
All documents are downloadable as PDFs below.
Here is a sampler of poems written by my students using this strategy:
Most of my students initially found this challenging but were pleasantly surprised by the quality of their writing. In the end, many of my students were proud of their work (as they should have been!) because this was the first poem they had ever written.
Are any of you using this strategy or a variation of it with your students? What do you do to scaffold students who might need a little more support to get started?