Monday, March 15, 2010

a popcorn poem

This child's task was to practice writing the classroom "popcorn words" on her white board. "Popcorn words" are sight words, or words that the children are encouraged to memorize and know on sight, without needing to decode them--as quickly and effortlessly as popping a kernel of popcorn. It's a pretty good task--it's empowering to know those popcorn words, and everybody likes writing on (and erasing) the white boards.

She did this at first, and then she was struck with the idea of trying to make sentences with them. I think she went beyond even writing sentences, and wrote a poem.

I was assisting at that literacy center, and I'm pretty sure that technically, my given task was to discourage the fancy outlining of the letters, and encourage her to carry on practicing writing the popcorn words instead.

But I pretended I didn't notice. When she finished, I took a photo and told her I felt she had written a poem. She gazed at the white board for a while, then carried it around to share with her friends. She created learning for herself and others that was far beyond the original task.

Everyone read it, even children who are struggling to read the popcorn words. We all understood it.


  1. LOL! I am glad you ignored the fancy outlining - the white board ended up being so much more meaningful and the writing exercise was certainly accomplished!

  2. I thought so too, Deborah. And her pride in her work was lovely to see.

  3. And why on earth WOULD someone discourage fancy letter writing? In my undergrad - creative writing - I would spend forever doodling over words, until the poem finally glad you didn't stop this

  4. I hear you, Pamela. When I finish this licensing program and I'm employed (I hope), I predict that I'll always be dancing between what is required, and what the children come up with that I want to nurture....