Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poetry Break: A Poem from an NCTE Award Winning Poet

Poem: "Pencils" by Barbara Esbensen

Book: A Jar of Tiny Stars: Poems by NCTE Award Winning Poets Edited by Bernice E. Cullinan

Pubisher: Wordsong, 1996

Introduction: Give each student a brand new pencil. Ask students to name some of the things that are going to be written with their pencil. List responses on a piece of chart paper. Encourage responses that involve things you can create with a pencil. Such as a drawing, a poem or story. Once all responses have been recorded, review the list, and then ask students to listen to the poem.

by Barbara Esbensen

The rooms in a pencil
are narrow
but elephants candles and
fit in

In a pencil
noisy words yell for attention
and quiet words wait their turn

How did the slip
into such a tight place?
gives them their

From a broken pencil
an unbroken poem will come!
There is a long story living
in the shortest pencil

Every word in your
is fearless ready to walk
the blue tightrope lines
to teeter and smile
down Ready to come right out
and show you


After reading, have students re-read the poem with you. Use the poem as an introduction to a sustained silent writing time and have students respond to the poem in some way using a pencil. They can draw or write anything they feel inspired to create. Post the finished work of students who wish to share on the wall under the title, "Creations Born From Our Pencils!"

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