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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Perspectives from Powell, Part II: Pumpkins and personifications

This fall, Writing Coordinator Mira Smith is coaching writing at Powell Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC. The Powell Panthers love soccer, but are also learning how to express their feelings about the beautiful game -- and much more -- through the poetry aspect of DC SCORES. Follow along as Mira takes us on a journey, through her words and those of her poet-athletes, leading up to the Poetry Slam! December 2.


Written by Mira Smith
Writing Coordinator

Christmas we celebrate
For the things people appreciate
We give and get
But giving is better
If your gifts are clever
Santa comes at night and leaves us presents
We love Christmas
How about you?
Jennifer C., Powell Elementary School

Teamwork both on and off the field has been a continuous lesson for the Powell Power Panthers the past two weeks. I am thrilled to see that on the soccer field individual players and the team as a whole have learned to understand what good teamwork entails.

Now, it’s time to focus on teamwork in a less competitive environment -- the poetry classroom. We begin by exploring how to be a good teammate when a fellow team member is reading their poems, going over various ways to show respect to the reader.

“Make eye contact”, says John.

“Don't talk while they talk,” Bryan answers.

The Powell Power Panthers are still learning to implement these in the poetry sessions, but as the Poetry Slam! nears -- five weeks away! -- I am confident the team will begin to understand just how essential respect is to teamwork and success.


Last week we had the pleasure of inviting Gowri Koneswaran, a poet from the American Poetry Museum, to lead a poetry workshop for our team. She begins by asking anyone who is a poet to raise their hand. At first many team members hesitate, but slowly about three fourths of team members put their hands in the air.

“What makes a poem?”she asks.

“It has lines and stanzas."

“You can express yourself."

“They rhyme!”

Ms. Gowri explains that the class will be learning about personification today. Personification is a figure of speech that gives human qualities to animals, objects or ideas, and Ms.Gowri explains how personification can be a useful tool in poetry.

Each poet-athlete is tasked with writing fall personification sentences. Together, the team comes up with a list of fall words such as leaves, Thanksgiving, pumpkins, wind or apples. Next they compile a list of what Ms. Gowri calls “people words.” These are things that people do or feel such as celebrate, sleep, dance or dream.

To create fall personifications, Ms. Gowri writes, “[Fall word] [people word] when ____________________” on the board to use as a template to make a fall poem. Although the students initially struggle to write seemingly pretend and false sentences, they eventually see how using their imaginations can lead to fantastic poems. A huge thanks to Ms. Gowri for leading an engaging and unique lesson. I am excited to share some of the Powell Power Panthers’ Fall poems below:

Thanksgiving eats when you thank someone
Halloween celebrates when kids go outside and asks for candy
Pumpkins die when it’s October and when it’s rotting
-- Written by Dulce

The pumpkins are sleeping. 
They are sleeping because they don’t move
The leaves dancing when they fall off trees 
and the wind blows them on the sidewalk
The acorn dies because the squirrel eats it
The rake dreams of eating the leaves instead of helping them get together
-- Written by Daysha

Pumpkins eat food when they get carved
Pumpkins get scared when the carving people come
The leaves dance when the wind comes
The leaf blower is scared when there are a lot of leaves
-- Written by Zuri

Pumpkins die when you carve a pumpkin when you make a jack o'lantern
My leaf blower exhales the leafs from my front porch
Thanksgiving teases me when i eat thanksgiving dinner
Squirrels eat acorns so they won't starve to death
-- Written by Lea

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