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Madison elementary poets read to Patriots jazz

We talked about the rhythm of poetry and shared music so students could make the connection between (their) writing and what a musical artist composes. Students were enamored by the musicians,” Howard said. CONTRIBUTED
We talked about the rhythm of poetry and shared music so students could make the connection between (their) writing and what a musical artist composes. Students were enamored by the musicians,” Howard said. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – During the Poetry Cafe at Madison Elementary School, young writers shared their verses, set to music by a jazz ensemble from Bob Jones High School.

All Madison Elementary fifth-graders had worked on poetry for English Language Arts course standards. “I included additional opportunities to experience and write poetry through the Library Media Center,” library media specialist Bonnie Howard said.

Howard collaborated with fifth-grade teacher Casey Cotton and Bob Jones Band Director Leigh Thomas.

Students worked on poetic devices, such as alliteration, rhythm, rhyme, repetition, similes and metaphors. “They used poetry models from class to create their own original work. Some students were so inspired they (composed) on their own and outside the classroom,” Howard said.

Poems’ tones ranged from humorous to sad. “Some poems were silly and some deeply personal,” Howard said. “We worked on developing a community of trust so students felt free to share their work.” The audience sipped hot chocolate as students read. Google Hangouts gave real-time viewing to parents who couldn’t attend.

Camden Murch’s poem, “Baseball,” applied the five senses:

“Baseball is fun.

Baseball tastes like 9th-inning sweat.

Baseball sounds like the crack of a bat.

Baseball smells like caramel cracker jacks.

Baseball looks like a hot spring game.

Baseball makes me feel like I am in my happy place.”

Leah Hudson composed “Changing the World”:

“Change the world one moment at a time

Something simple as words on a paper or a rhyme.

Building palaces of paragraphs, books and maps,

Tell your story, change lives, put on your thinking cap.”

“In my mind, poetry and jazz just go together. We talked about the rhythm of poetry and shared music so students could make the connection between (their) writing and what a musical artist composes. Students were enamored by the musicians,” Howard said.

Bob Jones jazz combo included Ian Rigby, trumpet; Grey Vandeberg, baritone sax; Laura Pugh, piano; Aubrey Guidry, bass; and Brenner Oakes, drums.

“Everyone was snapping fingers and dancing to the rhythms. Many students asked about the instruments. I hope this event inspired future poets and musicians,” Howard said.

Howard credited the event’s success to parent volunteers, collaborative partnership between teachers and schools, along with “amazing students excited to share their original work with an authentic audience.”

Library volunteer Debbie Beaupre said Poetry Cafe had a special aura. “Jazz, poetry, finger snapping, applause — whatever it was kept the fifth-graders engaged and entertained. What a great way to motivate students and expose them to poetry and some great jazz.”

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