Posts Tagged ‘Brian Evans-Jones’

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Poetry Residency

April 27, 2017

South Berwick – Central School

This is being re-posted from http://www.brianevansjones.com/ with permission from Brian Evans-Jones. Brian can be reached at brian@brianevansjones.com

This week I finished the biggest project I’ve yet worked on as a teaching artist: teaching poetry to 80 second-graders at Central School in South Berwick, ME.

The residency spanned 11 days of teaching, plus an evening Showcase event, from the end of March to the middle of April. The aims were two-fold. First, to teach the second graders some important things about how to write poetry. But behind that, the goal was to use the writing of poetry to increase their overall confidence in themselves as writers and users of language.

Over the first 9 days, I helped them to draft 7 different poems using different tools. We started with group poems composed of lines beginning with repeated phrases. At this stage I introduced them to the idea of writing discrete sentences on strips of paper (Sentence Strips) which they then assembled into a poem, not only to make writing easier than starting with a blank page, but also to get them thinking about poetic lines. The Sentence Strips were also perfect for our first lessons in rewriting, when we added words to our Strips to make them more descriptive, thought hard about what order of Strips made the most sense, and looked at where we could insert new Strips to expand our ideas.

Here are some of those Strip poems in process:


We kept on using the sentence strips for poems built around verbs (an animal performing a mixture of real and impossible actions) and then metaphors (transforming an ordinary classroom object into many different things). Along the way we practiced using rhyme effectively. The last poem was a Personal Poem on a topic special to them, and this they wrote without the Strips. Finally, they chose their favorite poem for sharing, and worked on intensively on revising and editing it. The poems were shared with parents at the Celebration Night, when the students also worked with their parents to write new poems using some of the techniques they’d learned.

Here are just some of the poems and accompanying art, ready for display at the Showcase night.

As an extra bonus, one of the parents (Deb Cram) made a montage video of almost all the students reading a line or two from their poems, which you can view here. The poems will also be published in a chapbook along with student artwork, and there will soon be an after school Creative Writing group to help keep the writing going! Phew—now I understand why I was exhilarated and exhausted when we finished…

The residency was funded by the Marshwood Education Foundation, which funds projects in the Marshwood School District. We hope that the residency may have demonstrated sufficient value for the District to fund future annual second grade poetry residencies, although with budget issues everywhere, who knows what will happen.

As a teaching artist, this was a huge undertaking, working with a large group of fairly young writers for 12 consecutive days. I was tremendously conscious of how much the second grade teachers were giving me, trusting me with their students for so long, and allowing me to disrupt their well-oiled routines! From my point of view, the residency, while challenging at times (it was my first time managing classes with up to 40 second graders at once), was a great success. Not only did the students write very many wonderful poems, but the majority of them also enthusiastically grasped the idea of revising their writing, which is so important for their school writing careers. I know that several students who had struggled with literacy and writing produced poems that surprised and delighted their teachers and themselves. It’s too soon to say definitively whether the residency will have a significant long-term effect on the cohort’s performance as writers and users of language, but the signs are good. And the poems are great.

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In Today’s News

April 17, 2017

Poet Brian Evan-Jones

“I create a blur of color,” said one young poet.

Another student wrote, “I’m a shiny pearl, white and precious.”

“I remind you of the memories that have happened in the past,” a student wrote.

“It was as if I was saying I love you mom and dad with my eyes,” another young poet wrote.

Brian Evans-Jones

These are some of the lines that 2nd graders at Central School in South Berwick have written as part of an artist-in-residency with poet Brian Evans-Jones. Brian is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster and has created a program called “Literacy Through Poetry.” The residency at Central School was made possible through a grant from the Marshwood Education Foundation.

Deb Cram wrote the above for seacoastonline.com. You can view a video and read the rest of the article by CLICKING HERE. Thanks to Central School music educator Kate Smith for sending me the information to share!

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Poetry in Washington County

December 14, 2016

POL

As part of Maine’s Poetry Out Loud program the Maine Arts Commission provided a learning opportunity for teachers and students in Washington County. Teaching artist Brian Evans-Jones went from school to school spending a half day at each school including several classes. Brian is a member of the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster located at HERE. At each school Brian provided a slightly different program that fit the needs of the students from each school. Calais, Washington Memorial, and Narraguagus High Schools participated in this first time project.

machiasBrian used a variety of instructional techniques to guide students in their learning around poetry and writing. He recited his own and others poems and students responded by answering two questions: What happened in the poem and what were the emotions? Students picked up on the emotions of the poem and the specific moments and poetic techniques that conveyed  the feelings. Brian taught a method to memorize called “chaining”. One key word per line to memorize those first, and then each line one by one. Brian led students through ways to convey emotions using voice—pitch, volume, pauses, speed, emphasis— and asked them to try out different ways to convey the emotional “hot spots” of the poem.

With one group Brian focused on writing poetry. He asked them to write The down words and phrases that were linked with an activity they really enjoyed doing. First they wrote things they might use, then where, when, and with whom it happened, and lastly how it made them feel. These were all on small pieces of paper. Then on longer strips they wrote a few words to describe or follow on from each of the first set of words. Then they changed the sequence of what they’d written to make a poem. Brian left with everyone’s poems “shaping up to be lovely”.

Brian also taught a smaller class for interested students where they each made a short free write about a memory and then selected phrases from it to be the backbone of a poem.

calaisI’m sure that you can tell from the description that Brian’s time spent teaching and supporting poetry in Washington county was a success. The Maine Arts Commission is so glad that they received a small amount of additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for Poetry Out Loud this year to provide this opportunity. We’re looking forward to the feedback from students and teachers to get a clear picture of the impact.

There are 45 Maine high schools participating in Poetry Out Loud program. Each school has scheduled a school based program to determine who will represent them at the Northern or Southern Maine Regional Finals. The State Finals are taking place at Waterville Opera House on March 13, 3 p.m. and is open to the public at no cost.To learn more about the Poetry Out Loud program in Maine please CLICK HERE. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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