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  • Rick Joseph

Powerful Poetry at Pattengill


Fourth grade poets gather their thoughts at Pattengill Elementary School in Berkley

Pattengill Elementary School is a place where a profound love of literacy is cultivated on a daily basis. Students at the school are real readers and writers. This reality is manifest by the enthusiasm students bring to the consumption and creation of both stories and poetry, and the disciplined approach they apply to their craft.

I had the extraordinary opportunity of spending some time with eager fourth grade poets teaching them the art of haiku poetry. After a few select read-aloud’s, students were ready to try writing a few of their own. Considering favorite people, places and things, these poets produced some remarkable work that resonated deeply in the community of writers. The reality of fourth grade life was expressed and shared, both in partners and then in the larger group.

The number of students willing to share is both a testimony to the enthusiasm inherent in fourth graders and the emotionally safe environment fostered by the teacher-writers at Pattengill. I was overwhelmed by the positive energy I felt from these writers and wished I could have entertained every child’s offer to share in front of the whole group. If anyone wanted to experience a place where the power of writing is enshrined as part of daily life at the elementary level, I would steer them straight to the students at Pattengill Elementary.

Poets paste "gift" poetry into their writer's notebooks which serves as inspiration and guide in their writing

Ann Daniels inspires and guides her fourth grade writers to express themselves in profound ways

Writers think and write for sustained periods of time during independent writing time

Students at Pattengill are eager to share their poetry with peers and teachers

Fourth graders embrace the opportunity to be in a community of writers on a daily basis


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