Creation Station Rotation

In the Venn diagram of my life, my “Mom” and “English teacher” lives overlapped beautifully this week when my daughter’s middle school hosted a Poetry Night. Venn

Parents were invited to join their tweens for a two-hour dinner and wordsmithery event. After a quick potluck and opening remarks, we were given time to get creative at a dozen different poetry creation stations that teachers had set up all around the multi-purpose room. Encouraged to visit as many or as few stations as we wanted, families were set loose to choose their own path. A bell sounded every 15 minutes, letting us know it was a suggested time to rotate, but my daughter and I ended up spending all of our time at just two stations – “Visual Poetry” and “Roll of the Dice Poetry.” (Details/pictures below)

As a parent, I was surprised by my 12-year-old daughter’s focus. Instead of racing from station to station, she wanted to stay put, giving deep and thorough consideration to our writing. We worked elbow-to-elbow on our “Roll of the Dice” poems (our favorite of the night), and she patiently helped me hammer out a sticky stanza toward the end of my piece. Later in the evening, she surprised me again by volunteering to read one of her poems to the audience of more than 100 people in the evening’s Spoken Word finale.

As an English teacher, I was inspired, snapping idea photos and plotting to bring a similar experience to my classroom. While I don’t have the bandwidth to create a full-school event, I could definitely adapt the centers/stations to my next poetry unit. I’ve already built a solid four-week poetry unit, but the addition of a final poetry experience like this would definitely get my students excited about poetry in a whole new way.

The evening was organized by Barbara Comstock, my kid’s sparkplug of a 7th grade teacher who convinced a merry band of English, Art, and Spanish teachers to volunteer for the event. Bummed that many students don’t view ELA as a “fun” class, she decided to do something to change that perspective, she told me. She even tapped into technology, promoting apps (Verses Poetry, The Poetry Foundation, and Instant Poetry), setting up a hashtag for participants to follow the event via Instagram and Twitter, and using a Sound Booth to create a digital portfolio of students’ work from the evening.

By the end of the night, my kid had written two original poems, recorded one of them for online publishing, and performed one of them live before an audience. I’d say that’s a great reason to stay up past bedtime on a school night!

Here’s a sample of Mrs. Comstock’s Poetry Night stations:
(Click on the image to enlarge. All images and ideas are shared here with permission.)

Teach on, everyone!

15 thoughts on “Creation Station Rotation

  1. Thanks for sharing all of the station instructions, Laura. How did you make the infographic of them?

  2. My pleasure, Spenceread. Glad you like this post. Like most of my graphic design work, I made the infographic from scratch using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. The pix were taken with my cell phone during the event. 🙂

  3. I love this idea! I think it would work well in a Makerspace too – “making” with words – thank you!

  4. This is brilliant!

  5. Marsha Edney says:

    Wow! What a find.

  6. So lucky I stumbled onto your blog. I love these ideas and I can’t wait to tweak them to work for my ASL classroom. I have used a few of these in the past but there are so many ideas here. Thank you!

  7. Hello! I stumbled across this post while searching Pinterest for some fun poetry activities for my creative writing class. I love the thought of the stations you’ve described. Thanks for the great idea! Unfortunately, when I click the link for images of the poetry stations, I get an error that the site cannot be reached. I would love to see the stations and determine if I can adapt them for my class. Is there a way to access the images somehow?

  8. Glad you’re able to see everything now, whslookingglass. Have a great week! 🙂

  9. These are wonderful! I can’t wait to set these up in my classroom with my students! May I ask what it says on the “visual poetry” worksheet in station 1? Thank you for sharing!

  10. Hey, Sheri! I took the photos at my daughter’s middle school event, so I don’t have the handouts. From zooming in on my photo, it looks like the handout says the same thing as the poster: Choose a poem to use as inspiration. Read the poem. Cut up the poem and glue to the worksheet. Create a drawing that represents the text.

    Also, the three poems they provided were “Milkweed” by Mary Oliver, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket” by John Keats, and “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Hope this is helpful! 🙂 Laura

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