Daily Rituals: Patterning Prose or Poetry Formulas

Many students, both in writing and the arts, often don’t know where to start. The fear of failure often stifles their creative thinking before they begin.

 

Trying to imagine the precise whole, spelled correctly, with proper punctuation for a young writer is just as stifling to creativity as a young artist trying to imagine the entire artwork with all the layers and techniques in place to create a winning piece.

 

As both a writing/language arts specialist AND an elementary art teacher for 20 years, I developed techniques to lessen the fears.  Providing barebones, simple and flexible frameworks for both writing and art.  They provide needed structure and direction, but are challenging enough to give ample opportunity for individual input and creative thought

 

One such activity that I used in both classes with great success is patterning an established Prose or Poetry Formula.

 

For example, in trying to describe being creative, I often used a prose pattern (or skeleton) of Shel Silverstein’s “My Rules” from The Light in the Attic. I suggest adding sequence words like first, then, next and last so students are not creating run-on sentences. The simple shell of the prose selection is:

 

my-rules-2.jpg
Light in the Attic.jpg

 

If you want to be (creative) (an artist) (Van Gogh) (a sculptor) (writer),etc.

Here’s what you have to do:

First, you..............................................................................................................

Then you.............................................................................................................

And .....................................................................................................................

Next, you..............................................................................................................

And last, you.......................................................................................................

 

Here is an example from a student and a teacher to give you a feel for how it works;

 

Amanda D, a 4th grader, wrote:

 

If you want to be creative, here’s what you have to do:

First, you have to warm up your brain by thinking lots of ideas.

Then, you look at your ideas, and decide if there are just a lot, or if there are really different ones, And some really weird or unusual ones.

Next, you think about the best, weirdest and most unusual ones and see if you can expand them.

Last, you select the one you can envision with the most details with, and begin to draw or paint with that vision in your head, and on your paper

And because you have used your brain, and will keep using it, your artwork will really be impressive!

 

Paul Love-Kretchmer, art instructor in Austin ISD,  participant in CEDFA Summit 13 in Austin, Texas, wrote:

 

If you want to be a creative artist, here’s what you have to do:

First, you have to learn the rules of art,

Then, you construct art from them...

Next, you destroy the rules of art...

Last, you envision the new rules and construct new art.

Then, forever, repeat this eternal artist’s cycle.