Last week, I got to teach at Success Beyond the Classroom’s Young Authors Conference all week at Bethel University here in the Twin Cities. Each year, this is a great chance to write with 12–15 groups of 3rd-8th graders. I always do poetry, and this year, we did biopoems.
I was introduced to biopoems at NCTE last year, and it’s such a cool form! I find kids write in really creative ways when they write biopoems about something OTHER than a living person (despite the bio- in the name of the poem). I think the poetic form was conceived to let students write about some famous person they had researched, or maybe about themselves. And that’s fine, but those poems, the ones I’ve seen, anyway, tend to be very…expected and dry. But when you ask kids to imagine what an alligator fears, or who/what the parents of a thunderstorm would be (havoc and Zeus, for one group–which I love!), or what gifts come from a firework, you start to get these really wonderful and unexpected lines!
Here’s a sample biopoem I wrote and shared with the kids. A lot of students love to write about their favorite sport or hobby/activity, so that’s the kind of sample I share. It’s about drum corps, and what it’s like to be in the color guard–especially if you’re not particularly experienced with it!
Tomorrow, I’ll share the prescribed form (not that I always follow it exactly) and the lesson plan I used, and Friday, I hope to share some student poems–if they add them to the padlet (fingers crossed)!