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Keywords: Art, Poetry, Photography, Writing, Reading
Subject(s): English/Language Arts, Writing, Photography
Grades 6 through 12
School: College Gate Elementary School, Anchorage, AK
Planned By: Dona Helmer
Original Author: Dona Helmer, Anchorage
Jumpstarting creativity is one of the goals of my Poets on the Playground project. The idea is to help 6th graders use their own ideas and enthusiasm in a natural flow of self-expression. This couples digital photography with poetry writing.
I think that some students who may not be interested in writing poetry will still want to participate when they find out they will be using a digital camera. This little bit of (extra) technology will attract some boys who are non-writers.

To facilitate this process I provide writing contexts that model and frame poetry. I display many examples of illustrated poetry books and anthologies and have them available for student reading and discussion. So before we start the project we read and study poetic forms and conventions.

Many of our students have not had a parent who saved their work, treasured it, or posted it on the family refrigerator. Fulfilling that role is one paradigm of the Poets on the Playground project that is accomplished when students save, share, and publish their poetry.

First, students who participate in Poets on the Playground will read and learn about poetry. Then we have a poet visit the students. Then, we will do some "found" poetry--using headlines and words from newspapers or magazines to make poems. And finally, students go to the playground and take pictures of different objects they find interesting. These pictures will be used as writing prompts and illustrations for their future poems. During the entire project, students will also work to create an illustrated journal containing poems they found from other poets as well as their own poetry. At the end of the project, the best student poems will be “published” as illustrated posters which will hang in the library.

I work with students and help them write and then I take their writing (with their permission), type it up, and give them clean, word-processed copies as soon as possible. (Older students with access to computers can process their own poetry). They can correct it and improve it by editing and then put it in their journal. They will use the digital camera to illustrate the work.

This porject has been very successful with my students.
Materials: Printers, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 Printer, $100.00 each, total of $100.00
4 Camera Bags, $50.00 each, total of $200.00
4 Digital Cameras, $100.00 each, total of $400.00
4 Memory cards, $20.00 each, total of $80.00