Poetry: Exploring sound devices with couplets

Fall Couplets with SHurley English.jpg

Poetry is a special form of writing that allows a student to express ideas, emotions, or experiences directly through words in verse.  It is probably the most artistic of all genres of writing because of the delicate juggling act of (a) rhythms, (b) sound devices, and (c) subject matter

The sounds of the words in a line of poetry make a rhythm that is similar to the rhythm in music.  This rhythm is established by stressed and unstressed syllables.  The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem is called its meterIt’s important to pay attention to rhythm because it’s key to understanding the full effect of a poem.

Some poets use sound devices as a strategy to create an emotional response by the listener.  Sound devices are special tools the poet can use to create certain effects in the poem to convey and reinforce meaning through sound.  The four most common sound devices are repetition, rhyme, alliteration, and assonance.

Sound Devices with Shurley english.png

Subject matter for any form of poetry writing is limitless.  Subject matter is the topic that is being written about and serves as the foundation for the text. 

Are you aware that incorporating poetry lessons throughout the school year can actually improve your students’ writing in other genres?  Poetry writing helps students develop language, vocabulary, and word choice skills.   Each word in a poem is packed with meaning to show instead of tell, so good poets carefully choose each word for the effect its meaning and sound will have on the listener.  They choose words that will bring about sensory images in the imagination and emotional responses in the heart.   

Personally, I think couplets are a fun way to begin teaching students about the basics of rhythm and rhyme, using any subject matter of interest.  A couplet refers to two successive lines of poetry that rhyme and have the same meter.  A couplet can consist of only two lines, or it can have multiple rhyming stanzas, consisting of two lines each.

Take a look at these examples:

I do not like green eggs and ham
I do not like them Sam I am.

 - Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

 - Nursery Rhyme

Here’s some more information you need to understand about couplets:  Couplets may be formal or run-on.  A formal (or closed) couplet has a grammatical pause at the end of each line or verse.  On the other hand, a run-on (or open) couplet allows the meaning of the first line to continue to the second line.  This is also called enjambment.


Couplet Writing Activity:

Divide into small groups.  Each group selects a subject based on the current season. (For example, if the season is fall, a group could select Halloween, football, falling leaves, etc.) Each member of the group writes a couplet with multiple rhyming stanzas, consisting of two lines each to declare the chosen subject matter.

Then, each group creates a mural or collage to celebrate the chosen subject matter.  Each group tells about its subject in both the poem and artwork.  Discuss the artwork and couplets and how they made you feel about the selected subject matter.  Be sure to follow the Rules for Discussion and the Guidelines for an Oral Presentation:

Rules for Effective Discussion with Shurley English.png
Oral Presentation Guidelines with SHurley english.jpg



What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness with Shurley eNglish.jpg

It seems like everyone is talking about being mindful these days!  From “how-to” magazine articles to “feel-good” stories on the evening news, mindfulness is generating quite a buzz!  So, what’s it all about?  Is it for me?  Will mindfulness enhance the quality of my life, and can I teach myself how to incorporate the principles?

With all of these questions in mind, I decided look for a clear definition and purpose for mindfulness.  I thought I could do a quick Google search, but I soon discovered there were variations in meaning, depending on each website I visited.  I wasn’t looking for articles that correlated mindfulness with an ancient religious practice or a certain type of clinical therapy.  I was searching for information pertaining to the recently popularized “mindfulness movement.

My online search led me to a plethora of information that took some time to fully digest.  You see, mindfulness is not a technique with step-by-step instructions; it’s a state of mind. 

Mindfulness is a way to purposefully connect to our own lives by cultivating our attention on our thoughts, emotions, or experiences moment-by-moment without passing any kind of judgement.  (Did you get that?)  It means paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally!  You can think of mindfulness as being fully present in the moment. 

While mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not necessarily all that easy to do. We are taught from an early age to develop our capacity to think, but mindfulness centers on developing our capacity of awareness.  It’s not about what you’re paying attention to, it’s about sharpening your focus and training your brain to be more aware.

In a video entitled, “What is Mindfulness?,” Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn points out that as human beings, our brains tend to spend a huge amount of time worrying about the future or reminiscing about the past.  With this preoccupation, the present moment tends to get completely squeezed out! Kabat-Zinn goes on to say that in order to reclaim our lives, we must learn to pay close attention to our mind and body in the “present” without judgement because the “present” is the only time we are truly alive in our bodies and capable of learning, communicating, expressing love, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching, etc.! 

As we become more present in our own lives, mindfulness can help us make better decisions and become more engaged in life.  Studies show that mindfulness increases focus, creativity, happiness, and overall health.   It can also help us learn to appreciate the present more fully, which is really all we truly have!  The real work is to make time every day to practice the art of mindfulness.

Here’s a short practice to get you started:

Mindfulness with SHurley English.png

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to practice being mindful! Here are a few suggestions to help everyone enjoy a “Mindful Thanksgiving?”:

1. Practice Giving Thanks and Gratitude

Before the traditional prayer or grace is given, take turns finishing this sentence:

“This past year, I have been thankful for _________.”

 

2. Eat Mindfully

Ask guests to take a moment to view the beautiful bounty on the table and enjoy the wonderful smells in the air. Then, encourage everyone to truly taste and savor each bite by eating mindfully.  Express gratitude for those who prepared the meal, as well as those who grew it and the earth from which the food came. 

~Contemplating your food for a few seconds before eating in mindfulness can bring you much happiness.—Thich Nhat Hanh

 

3. Talk—and Listen—Mindfully

Listen mindfully to any conversation during the meal.  Focus on the person speaking and really hear what they are saying instead of assuming you know how the story will end or thinking about what you are going to say in response.  Be aware that the mind tends to hear what it wants to hear rather than what is actually being said. 

 

“Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

                                                                                                            —Mother Teresa.

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Boost Your Mood With Gratitude

Boost your mood.jpg

Every year, Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are moved back an hour at 2 a.m. local daylight time.  When this happens, It takes our minds and bodies several weeks to adjust to the time change.  On top of that, the early evening darkness can wreak havoc on our overall mood due to a reduction in the amount of sunlight we receive.

Research tells us that 4-6% of the American population will experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the reduction of light.  Another 10 - 20% will experience a mild version of SAD.  Some of the symptoms of this disorder include:  sadness, anxiety, lost interest in usual activities, withdrawal from social activities, inability to concentrate, hopelessness, and despair.  The good news is that these symptoms tend to resolve by spring when sunlight increases.

There’s evidence to support a positive way to combat some of the issues caused by DST and the reduction in sunlight, and it involves writing!

Many mental health experts recommend journal writing as a way to improve our mood and manage symptoms for depression!  Of course, it’s not a cure, but there are plenty of benefits to writing down our thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly.  Journal writing can help us become more self-aware so that we can: (a) manage anxiety, (b) reduce stress, and (c) prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. 

Studies suggest that when you write down a list of positive events (3-5) and why the events made you happy, a person’s overall optimism and happiness tends to increase while self-reported stress levels go down.  Each “Gratitude Journal” entry can also include a picture, which adds bonus points towards increased joy!

Here are a few writing prompts to get started with your own Gratitude Journal.  This idea is rewarding for everyone, so get your students involved too!

  • Write about a time you were grateful for something a loved one did for you.

  • What are three ways to thank someone without saying “thank you”?

  • What is something that makes you unique that you’re grateful for?

  • Look out the window.  What’s something you’re grateful for outside?

  • Think about the work that went into the clothes you wear or the house you live in.

  • If you had to give up all of your possessions but three, which three would you keep and why?

  • Write a thank you note to yourself.

  • Pick a random photo, and write about why you’re grateful for that memory.

  • Write about something you’re looking forward to.

  • Write about something in your life that you have now that you didn’t have a year ago.

  • Reflect on a time you made a mistake and what you learned. What are you grateful for about that learning experience?

  • Think back to the last time you laughed until you cried, and write about it.

  • List three things that made you smile this week.

  • Think about someone who helped shape the person you are today, and write about what they mean to you.

  • Think about a time you were able to help someone else.

  • List three people who helped you through a tough situation.

  • Name someone who did something nice for you unprompted.

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.