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Identity Comes Alive With Issuu

By Ivy Waite

When my teaching partner Jaime Groeller suggested that we culminate our study ofidentity with a poetry anthology I may have been a little skeptical. I had asked grade 9 students to create and analyze poetry in the past with mixed results, but loved the idea of trying to engage them in some creative writing. We forged ahead with the idea, inspired by Jaime's own poetry anthologies from high school.

We figured, if Jaime could create such amazing work with limited technology, what could our students do armed with their background knowledge and a healthy serving of creativity?

I had made a note about Issuu Online Publishing long before Jaime and I sat down to plan our unit together. It was pure coincidence that CSS was already using Issuu to publish our monthly newsletter, The Spectrum. Jaime and I saw that Issuu could help us to ensure that the anthology assignment was both authentic and meaningful.

Students experienced the writing process in it's entirety, from conception to publication of their work; and were given a real audience for their writing. The anthology stopped being something that was 'just for marks', and became a real channel for self expression.

Our unit began with an in depth look into the nature of our names, and forged ahead through a consideration of our unique political ideologies, and other various aspects of individual and collective identities. I was thrilled to team teach for the first time, and was amazed at what we could accomplish together. We combined our classes and Humanities was moved to the library.

With two groups of fifty students we were able to capture their attention with a lyric analysis activity that showed them poetry they were already exposed to through music; quickly cover content (in a way that the students perceived as different, special and fun); go through the assignment expectations; and set the students loose finding and writing their own poetry. Students were free to find and analyze poems of any form, from any source.

We provided them with links to get them started (check out the assignment handout below), and gathered books from our school library with the help of our teacher-librarian Donna. Students learned about various poetic forms:
  • Japanese haiku: with kigo and kireji
  • Shakespearean sonnet: 4 stanzas with abab rhyme scheme, and a rhyming couplet complete with turn
  • Concrete: allow us to see the meaning
  • Free form: free to be inspired
and were challenged to create five original poems, one of each form (plus a free-choice).

In order to help all students find success in this project, Jaime created the following worksheet where they could easily manage all of the information that they were required to find and create: poems with full MLA citations, analyses, images to support meaning, and their own poems with analyses.

I was absolutely amazed with the work that students' created.

The majority put an incredible amount of time, thought, and passion into their anthologies. The feedback from students after they had published their anthologies was incredibly positive, with almost everyone admitting that their initial skepticism was unwarranted. They had fun with poetry!

The examples below were incredibly hard to choose. All 100 anthologies that our grade nines created are worth viewing - and thanks to Issuu, they are available for all to enjoy! Visit us atIvy Waite or Jaime Groeller on Issuu to view our entire collections.

It is worth noting that having the anthologies available online enabled us to utilize QRCodes as a way to share this work throughout the school. Jaime printed single pages from various anthologies, and posted them with a QRCode that takes the viewer to the entire anthology online. This is such a great way to share work that I never knew about until this year at CSS!!! Another reason why collaboration rocks!

The one downside of this project was the assessment of it. While the rubric that we created did address multiple aspects of the anthology, and focused on the key areas of the project, it took forever to mark each piece.

We are still considering how to address this issue in the future, and ideas are welcome..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ivy and Jaime,

I admire your risk-taking as teachers in taking on the poetry challenge with your students and experimenting with a new computer application. You have also have demonstrated the power of team teaching. I appreciate how you have established the foundation for inquiry by helping your students develop an understanding of various poetic forms before encouraging them to explore and use their creativity. The enthusiastic engagement of your students is the real measure of your success. Your use of QR codes to allow your students to share their work throughout the school is a great teaching strategy. When student work is shared publicly it becomes much more significant and meaningful. I am looking forward to seeing some of you student exemplars. Garry McKinnon

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