I understand the importance of standards; but when they overpower what we believe, and know is good teaching I get scared. Very scared. It is very unlikely that many of the students I have taught over the years will end up as a published poet, but that doesn’t mean that poetry writing should be eliminated from the classroom. Kids love writing poetry; especially, boys because writing rules can be bent and even broken. In just a few lines their emotions are down on paper. They feel successful, and engaged. Would the following book been written if Mr. Alexander’s teachers hadn’t let him write poetry in class?
One of the books nominated for the Cybils is written in free verse. Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a beautifully written novel. It is about twins that are star basketball players. Their mother is the vice principal of the school, and their dad is a famous ex professional basketball player. The book is told in first person by one of the twins. Josh Bell, nicknamed Filthy McNasty. He hates the nickname. He and his brother are inseparable until a girl comes into the picture. She causes great friction between the two.
Every once in awhile a book comes around and I start a list of whom I want to share the book with. This is one of those books. I can see my friend Carol using this book with a small group of fifth grade to middle school boys at her school. I can see Liam reading it and sharing it with his friends at middle school. I can see my friend Jennifer reading aloud to her fifth class.