- Sponsorship -

Elementary Rhyme Time

Poet Helps Students Get Versed

A scientific article about the moon might not sound particularly poetic, but Laura Purdie Salas is all about finding poetry anywhere — and helping students find their own poetic voices. It could be in a postcard from the library about an upcoming presentation on lions, a newspaper article about jellyfish or a science-y “wonder” about what happens to the moon during the day.

Salas, who has written numerous books on and of poetry for children, recently spent a week at Wealthy Elementary working with all classes in the K-5 school to write poems related to curriculum-specific topics. Later, Salas shared the students’ work on her blog.

For a group of fourth-graders, it was their science unit study of the moon that provided the launching point for the creation of “found” poems.

Salas explained the process:

  1. Use a hard copy of something with text on it;
  2. Highlight words that are appealing to you;
  3. Do some of what she calls “found poem ridiculousness”: Plug your ears and read the words aloud in all sorts of different orders until you like what you hear, then rearrange on the page;
  4. Write combinations of the words, or phrases using the words;
  5. Fill in with words that make sense to you. Your poem can be silly, serious, scary or something else, and doesn’t have to have anything to do with where the words came from.

Minneapolis-based poet Laura Purdie Salas spent four days working with Wealthy Elementary students

Fourth-grader Janae Stewart took her time choosing the words from the article she liked best: eyes, moon, sky, wolf and howling.

Two chairs down, Eoghan Burns was on a different path entirely with the same article; he highlighted the words nighttime, nearness, celestial, miniature, lunar and gravitational behavior.

Salas’ main objective when working with school-age children, she said, “is just to get rid of any fear of poetry or of their own creativity.”

“A lot of them think they can’t write, or that they won’t have talent, but students this age are mostly amazing writers.”

Wealthy Principal Anthony Morey said the $6,300 cost of Salas’ visit was paid for by PTO dollars and a grant from the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation. “This opportunity was unique because teachers were able to work with Salas ahead of time to integrate the writing lessons with the curriculum,” he said.


Laura Purdie Salas Blog

Wealthy Elementary Book “Tag Talks”

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

‘I want it to look happy’

With help from generous donors, elementary teachers worked to make welcoming, kid-friendly space while following the rules of social distancing and sanitation...

New VP says ‘It feels like joining a family’

Aaron Romoslawski is the new vice principal of Sparta High School. He takes over for Stacey Rumsey, who was named Sparta High School principal last spring...

The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Making the best of it

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this unprecedented school year...

Here come the students; schools try to be ‘prepared for everything’

Area school districts have to be able to switch instruction plans if the pandemic fires up again, and be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their schools...

Ready or not, school year begins as leaders adopt plans to teach, protect students

With most of Kent County’s public school districts opening next week, superintendents talk about their plans to educate students while trying to keep them safe from an unpredictable virus...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU