Ted Scheu made his annual visit to Chickering School and we were lucky enough to meet and talk with him. Sit back relax and enjoy some facts.
Reported by James and Iris
Do you have a favorite poet? Poem? Well, the fourth grade had an opportunity to work with Ted Scheu, the Poetry Guy, for April, poetry month! For three days, April 29, 30 and May 1, each class met with him three times, and twice as a whole grade. At our first meeting as a whole grade, he told us a little about himself.
“… [I] taught for a bunch of years, grades K through 5, in Shelburne, Vermont. And I loved it…mostly. But I was so busy as a teacher that I wasn’t able to find time to do any writing. So I left my full-time teaching job in 1998, so I could express my kid-voice in my writing.”1
He’s published 5 books of poetry and shared his love of poetry with us.
The first time he visited our classroom, he showed us how couplets work. Couplets are two lines that rhyme. For example,
Lion without teeth
Sword without sheath
Clouds without rain
Shots without aim
Below is a poem using couplets by one of our classmates.
Can You Imagine?
A flag without a pole
Soccer without a goal
Stars without night
Sanyah without light
A hamburger without meat
Music without a beat
The sun without being sunny
Easter without a bunny
Lemon without tea
You without me
On his next visit, we learned about non-rhyming poems. We had all brought things from nature to class with us. Nothing alive or recently alive though. Everyone was going to write a non-rhyming poem about their object. They were “What Am I?” or “What Is It?” poems. Shells were “boats” or “cinnamon rolls”. Rocks were “rocket ships” or “drills driving down into the earth”. For instance, “I am a cinnamon roll melting in your mouth.” Some people thought it was easier not to rhyme, and others thought it was easier to rhyme.
Which am I?
Am I an old man’s mouth?
Or a necklace to royalty?
A speckled slug sluggishly rolling
as slow as a rock.
A fairy earring
dotted with a leopard coat.
A small sea creature am I,
burdened with the heavy thought of the sea.
I am the feeling of music,
the smell of salt.
The empty spaciousness of everything.
A mouth puckering at
the thought of death.
A disapproving cave with the mouth turned
I am here.
I am there.
Which am I?
Which am I?
The last time Mr. Scheu visited our classroom, he explained to us how descriptive poems give the reader an image of what you are writing about and how you feel. In our writer’s notebooks, he had us write a descriptive poem about a hobby or sport, anything, that you thought you were the best at, far past anybody else. Your poem had some specifications: the first was that the name of the poem had to be “When I…” and the rest would be the subject of your poem. The other thing was that the title had to be one of the lines in the poem. One example is,
When I play the piano,
my hands are limitless and free
This gives the reader an idea of how the writer feels when they play the piano.
When I Play Soccer
When I play soccer, before the game starts, I warm up.
My muscles turn to lions ready to attack.
Before I know it the whistle blows and the game has now begun.
I leap into attack mode and charge after the ball.
I trip, get hurt and fall over but I still do not give up.
Then my muscles feel clumsy, my heart feels strong and that’s when I begin.
The game turns upside down, the opponents are tired and there is nothing they can do.
We both don’t know what is going on as I shoot and pass the ball.
I feel the freedom inside my veins as I come to a one versus one.
My brain is tired, my muscles are tired, but my heart is what I trust.
At the end of his third day, he met with the whole grade again in the library. At least 5 students in each class were invited to share their favorite poem they wrote with him. Following the sharing, he read a poem for two voices with one student. The poem contained an unexpected twist at the end. This is one of many that he’s working on for a new book of poems for two voices. The students enjoyed their time with him, and their newfound love of poetry. And how appropriate for his visit to be during Poetry Month!
Reported by Anissa and Esme
Do you like poetry? You will after reading and listening to Ted Scheu, the poetry guy! Mr. Scheu met with the entire fourth grade. He introduced himself in a funky laughing way. He shared his favorite poem, “Nancy Cristman Kissed Me” and many others. Mr. Scheu presented the “i-Easel” which promoted a love of poetry.The assembly ended with Mr. Scheu giving us a round of applause, which is clapping in a circle.
Mr. Scheu taught us that there are many ways to write a poem, for example, rhyming, list poems, and “Who Am I.” A list poem is a noun followed by an action verb. The first poem we wrote was a list poem, below is an example.
Tom Brady passing
Steven Ridley fumbling
Amendola face planting
Garrett Blunt plowing
Vince Wilfork tackling
Wow, I love New England!
The second poem he had us write was “Who Am I?” You take a little object from nature and describe it. You start off broad and get more specific as you go. Below is an example of a “Who Am I Poem?”
I look like a bun without a hot dog,
an old man without his denchers,
I look like a marble counter,
you may accidentally step on me at the beach,
a concave rock,
I am a shell
We had the opportunity to have a conversation with Mr. Scheu. He has a unique job and we wondered what he likes about it. “Love” is a better word to describe his feelings about his job, he said. There are two parts to his job, teaching and writing and both parts make him feel like he is playing and juggling with words. While he is writing he focuses on one idea in short bursts of creativity.
Intrigued about his school visits, we asked him what he likes about them. He likes to travel to new places and re-visit places he has been before. Reconnecting with students and meeting new people is an aspect of school visits he likes. Teaching and sharing poems with students, helping them acquire an excitement for poetry, and helping students find their “writing voice” are what he likes best about school visits.
Wondering if poets have favorite poems, we asked Mr. Scheu what his were and why. Two poems are his favorite and sometimes a third … the last poem he wrote. One of his favorite poems is ”Nancy Cristman Kissed Me” and the other is “Dirty Words”, which may surprise you when you read it. Nancy Cristman was a friend and classmate in second grade. Every morning they’d walk to school together and one day … “SMACK” … she kissed him. This experience had a lasting impression. Many years later, the memory inspired him to write a poem.
As Mr. Scheu hoped, students found their “writing voice” and wrote several poems. Please click on the link below to listen to some 4th grade poems.
As we uncovered, Ted Scheu is an amusing and appealing poet. He taught us a variety of formats in which to write poems and shared some of his poems and some poems by students. After reading some of Ted Scheu’s work, you may be inspired to become a poet.
Reported by Kris, Beck, and Caden