Tuesday, April 10, 2018

POEM #10- A Phonics Girl

April is National Poetry Month. I'm trying to write a poem every day. I've chosen, "A Reading Life" as my theme. Some days I'm writing along with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater over at the Poem Farm. Amy's theme for this month is "One Subject, Thirty Ways." She is writing, every single day, using a different structure or poetic technique, about the constellation Orion. Today's technique was a "circular poem." Amy describes it this way:
A circular poem begins and ends the same way.  Some people call this "going out the same door you came in," and this is a good way to remember it.  Sometimes a circular poem - or other text - closes with the exact same words, and sometimes it closes with words that are much like the beginning. 
Here's my attempt at a circular poem. 

"A Phonics Girl"

Me? I have never been much of a phonics girl.

Second grade. 
I am wearing my new brownie uniform.
Tan button up the front dress. 
Pumpkin orange tie. Stretchy belt. Felt beanie. 
I love the beanie. 
I wear it all day. 
Even to reading group.

We sit on hard wooden chairs
in a semicircle in front of the teacher. 
A large chart hangs beside her. 
She spells the words on the chart.
L-e-t. Let. N-e-t.  Net. P-e-t. Pet.  
I know how to read these words.
These are baby words. 
I can read chapter books. 

Mrs. Crowder points to the words.
She tells us they are all short e words. 
I think she is talking about the height of the letters. 
I agree with her about let. 
The e is shorter than the l and the t
But what about get and yet?
The g and y are the same height as the e..
But that part that hangs down, what about that?
And what does short e have to do with reading anyway?

I tip my head back. My beanie falls off. 
I hop up, walk through the center of reading group,
around the back of the circle, pick it up, 
traipse through the center of reading group, sit back down.
Mrs. Crowder is still talking about short e. 
I tip my head back. My beanie falls off again. 
I hop up, walk through the center of reading group,
around the back of the circle, pick it up, 
traipse through the center of reading group, sit back down.
The third time Mrs. Crowder stops me. 
"Carol," she says, "Don't you want to learn to short e?"
"No thank you," I say. "I don't care to learn short e.
I can already read."

And so the rest of the class learns short e. 
While my impudent already reading self
 sits on the cold tile floor in the hall 
twirling my brownie beanie on one hand
and picking read playground gravel 
off the back of my bare legs with the other.

Me? I have never been much of a phonics girl.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018


Ramona said...

Oh, Carol, I remember moving after first grade from a school with no phonics to a school with phonics for 2nd grade. I had no idea what they were doing! So I can totally identify with your "never been much of a phonics girl."

Dani said...

Your post confirms for me my decision to choose carefully which of my students participate in explicit phonics lessons, Carol. What a waste of your time as a learner. BTW, I think we wore the same Brownie uniforms in 2nd grade! I loved mine so much I wore it in our family photo taken at our church at the time. My older brothers were mortified!!

Cathy said...

What a delightful memory you've recalled. I'm assuming the entire poem is true but, either way, I think it speaks to so much of what happens in our classrooms. How is reading defined in our classrooms? Do we truly know our students and their needs? Do they have a voice in their learning? I remember completing worksheet after worksheet about phonics. They never really made any sense, but if I could get the pattern they were easy to complete. They didn't make me a reader. I struggled to figure that one out well into adulthood.

Cathy said...

P.S. I was at the gym yesterday watching a woman reading her book while she sat on a stationary bike. She was near the end of the book --- always the best part --- and I wondered if she would sit on the bike longer just so she could finish. The scene made me think of you; I'm sure there was a poem hiding there somewhere.

Mary Lee said...

This poem is you at your best -- narrative that's rich with details. How I love that Little Carol and her beanie!

Glenda Funk said...

You must have been bored! I know I learned to read phonetically, but I must have learned sight words, too. I'm the Dick and Jane generation. This line is funny: "I think she is talking about the height of the letters." I love the repetition of the first and last line and the way the size of the letters works as an argument about how we often expect one size teaching to fit all students. Love this poem.

Paul Cianfaglione said...
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