A 21st Century DiscussionPosted by Michelle Lamb
Every Tuesday, I explore poetry with my fifth grade class. Poetry is a passion of mine, and I feel that I can really get to know my students when reading, discussing, and composing poetry. Sometimes the discussions are so profound that I forget I am with ten year-olds and not high school literature students. I want to reflect upon the fantastic discussion two poems elicited.
On two separate Tuesdays we read “A Prayer for the Twenty-First Century” by John Marsden and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” respectively. Both, similarly, take on the form of a prayer or blessing. This led us to discuss the meaning of prayers. Do they need to be religious? What is the intent? How are they meaningful? As any proud teacher, I was excited by the willingness of my students to participate in this open conversation, and I wanted to push them a bit further.
After noticing the repetition in the beginning of the words of the verses in Marsden’s poem, I asked them to change the word “May” to a word or words that would make the poem more relevant and meaningful to them. What they came up with was beautiful. Each student then read aloud the line that spoke to them the most using their change in the verse beginning, and we developed a very different prayer.
Please read both Marsden’s “Prayer” and our stylistic changes to some of the verses.
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