Wonder Poem 2/30: "Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?"

Apr 2, 2016

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Paul W. Hankins

Today is Day 2 of the "Wallow in Wonder" Poetry Project with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. I hope that you following her poems that she is writing at The Poem Farm. Here is a link to her poem based upon Wonder #1660: "Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?"

Wallow in Wonder Day Two-Thankful Journal

Yesterday's wonder introduced some wonders for me by way of poetic extension, in particular, how a conceptual or philosophical "wonder" might invite a younger writer in a poetic response.

On the first day, we both responded to the question of whether coral were an animal, plant, or rock. Both of us came out of this wonder with distinctly-different poetic responses. And today is no different--except--with a wonder that is based in metaphor or philosophy, both of us were led to think about opportunity and gratitude. This leads me to a classroom/instructional wonder for the day:

Could the tone or mood of a wonder guide the student response and how that response might emulate, echo, or extend the idea beyond the text offered by the wonder?

Admittedly, this wonder gave me a little more pause by way of responding in verse. I wanted to keep my verse light while keeping in the theme or intent of the wonder presented. It took me a little longer to get into some verse on Friday afternoon as my flow was interrupted by "wonders" during the "down" draft phase of the writing process. Here are some of those questions (which you can actually see me jotting down in the working draft photo):

Could this wonder be an "opportunity" to explore other aphorisms? (Texts like Heavens to Betsy or A Hog on Ice would work nicely here as would the internet for finding familiar and not-so-familiar phrases).

Would polling the room (Kylene Beers says "The smartest voice IN the room IS the room.") invite some residential expertise as students might share out classroom-appropriate phrases that might be a part of their experiences.

A Side Note: VisualEyes Game is a dice game wherein players work in slow or fast play to create familiar idioms based upon the images that come up upon the dice when rolled. This is a great way to build in a fun activity with a bend toward assessing student familiarity with expressions and idioms.

On a cross-content level, could this wonder be an "opportunity" to explore: Socio-Economics? Plenty? Poverty?

As it took me a little more "incubation time" with this piece, could we look again at the importance of inviting students to enter into what Donald Graves would call "a constant state of composition?" Since I had the "wonder" on Thursday morning, it gave me all day Friday to really think about what the phrase was suggesting and how I might respond to it with a poem.

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The intent of these posts and poems this month are to keep us wondering about how the Daily "Wonders" not only lead us to invite students to think about poetic response. A secondary intent might be to keep us all wondering about those classroom "touches" that we know--as teachers--we must continue to be thinking about (classroom/content/curricular connection and formative assessment would be two "touches").

To wrap up today's post, here is my poem inspired by Wonder #1660: "Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?"

"Opportunity"

some want a little

some want a lot

some are happy with just what they got


some may have many

some may have few

some have just one with which to make do


some have the minimal

and some have the vast

some hold onto the one that will last


cause a lot can become little

and many can become few

the vast can become minimal

just as one can could be two


so hold onto that one thing

like a fine piece of treasure

a something of value that cannot be measured


little or lot, it's what you got

many or few, they'll just have to do

minimal or vast, yours to the last


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