Tag Archives: Teaching

Poetry: The Writing Process

I just happened to be sifting through my Google Drive and found the poem and note I wrote to the students I worked with a few summers ago at the Young Writer’s Camp in Neenah, Wisconsin and the poems I wrote for my students during clinicals. This, of course, made me a bit nostalgic about teaching and spending time writing on my own. I have been so busy lately with work and life and everything that I haven’t thought about it much until now.

The Writing Process
Mindy M. Wara
August 9, 2011

Creativity bubbles to the surface
while imaginations squirm in their seats
inspiration boils over
and words spatter onto the page

Keys click against soft pads of fingertips
as thoughts thicken and become concrete
the computer monitors hum along
and the printer patiently waits
to publish black on white

Students savor the taste of fresh syllables
as the words roll off of their tongues
and drip like honey into anxious minds
to ponder, soak up, and relish with delight

2011 YWC Students,

I want you to know how much this experience has meant to me as a writer and as a future teacher. I hope you have learned a lot this summer and know that you have also taught me as well as inspired my writing. Thank you for putting so much imagination and effort into your work and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your writing process.

 

Creativity Enters the Room
a poem for my drama students
By Mindy M. Wara 

when the bell rings for fourth period.
It sits down and talks amongst itself
as if it were its own family.
Familiar, safe, home.
Pages flip
open for meaningful discussions
about skydiving, cannibalism
and somehow is always spun into webs
of innuendo. It flock dances
to the stage ready
to unleash all of itself
unmasked
on to the muted world.

 

First Hour Students
a poem for my English students
By Mindy M. Wara

I welcome their questions like long lost cousins,
growing their critical minds
like festering science projects, mutating with every fresh variable.
I want to crawl into their brains and see what they see.
Am I making a difference?
Am I getting through?
Do they know they make a difference in my life?

He rolls his water bottle back and forth, back and forth.
She discretely texts under the table, her keypad memorized.
He pokes once, twice, “Garrett, stop,”
gain, once more, “Garrett.”
Multitasking with books open and ear buds thumping,
so loud I can feel the music from across the room.
Confessions walk into the classroom,
“My book is in the car.”
Interrogations take their seats,
“Can I turn my discussion questions in tomorrow?”

“Moist” litters the board.

 

(***My students know how much I hate the word “moist” and they would come in and write it all over the board before I arrived in the morning.)

Teaching Comic Books

To take my mind off of the lack of paid work I am doing this week, I have started putting lesson plans and units together on wikispaces to keep my brain from turning to malt-o-meal. However, the lessons are not on Shakespeare or Poetry as I have written before. I am currently putting together materials to one day teach a high school or middle school course on comic books.

I don’t think I have mentioned it much on here, but my husband and I collect the New 52 comics that DC started putting out in 2011. We don’t collect all of the titles, but we collect many of them. After years and years of studying canonical literature, I have realized that any literature can be legitimately analyzed in a scholarly way. If I would have known this as a teenager, I probably would have paid much more attention in class.

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While I was student teaching with an eighth grade class, I taught a unit on the Holocaust. The students read The Diary of Anne Frank, NightThe Boy in the Stripped Pajamas and the other usual middle school appropriate texts that teach children about the horrors of concentration camps. Around this time, a friend suggested I read Maus by Art Spiegelman. This two book graphic novel blew my mind. I couldn’t put it down. Spiegelman’s account of his father’s time in Auschwitz was heart wrenching, educational, and both universal and personal all at once. Spiegelman uses cats to depict the Nazis, pigs to depict the Polish, and mice to depict the Jews. I brought these books in for my students to glance at, and much to my surprise they couldn’t get enough of them! I had kids who refused to pick up any other book all year enveloped in this emotionally difficult story.

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After our Holocaust unit, I brought in some of my Marvel and DC graphic novels and graphic novel depictions of the classics they wouldn’t touch. These were the books constantly missing from my shelves! I saw eighth graders picking up Pride and Prejudice as their choice books!

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If a student is challenged at a grade appropriate level and is still discussing the same themes and genres as usual texts, why not use comic books in the classroom?

I have recently been brushing up on the history of comic books through a podcast I stumbled upon from Michigan State University that has really been helpful and reading article after article about the benefits of students reading visually and textually.

My hopes are that this is not a project in vain, but something I get to teach eventually – even if it ends up being an extra curricular.