A Poetic Journey

The following presentation consists of a variety of poetic forms inspired by photographs I took while hiking around Mose Cone Memorial Park on a fall day in the High Country.

A Poetic Journey


Concrete Poems Power Point


Concrete Poems

So much depends…

So much depends


a single deep


to bring an


or start a





For this class my internship will be at Cove Creek in Watauga county. The class I am working in consists of 35 sixth graders (YIKES!), but it is really not so bad since I am splitting the class with Molly and we are each taking half. Tomorrow will be the fourth day that I have worked with them, and I am going to provide a brief summary of what has been done over the past week or so. We are working with them on Concrete Poetry

My Group: It is mixture of a variety of ability groups, although I have not been explicitly told which students perform at, or above, or below grade level, I have a pretty clear idea after working with them. I have seven girls and eight boys, and so far I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them. They are bright, and seem very excited to be working with me. Although I have already identified those that would most likely be a struggle at other times, these students seem to be willing to work with me and even the shy students are speaking up and eager to share. I feel that the fact that this is a smaller group of the larger class has something to do with it, but I also think that the students are excelling and recognize their abilities.

Day 1: Rather than break the students into the two smaller groups, Molly and I decided that it may be better to work with them all together, and give them a chance to get familiar to her and I as teachers. However, within the classroom we did break up into two smaller group for a smaller mini lesson, within the mini lesson, introducing concrete poetry. This worked great because we were able to identify students background knowledge before we broke into smaller groups. In our smaller groups we looked over several different concrete poetry books, and examined the characteristics. As a large group, students then reported back their observations, revealing their understanding. On the SmartBoard we brainstormed the qualities of concrete poetry, then we brainstormed a concrete poem with them. Molly and I guided them through the process of writing, showing them how to start with and idea, elaborate, think of various literary devices, then draw their object and finally write their poem. We did a Jack-O-Lantern, appropriately.

Day 2: This was the first day that students were split into small groups. Although Molly and I have the same similar goals and working towards it using some of the same strategies, we are doing different things. I take my students to an empty room on a hallway, and I have no access to a SmartBoard, so I am going back to the good ole’ days of paper/pencil. My students were placed into groups and then given an object. Looking at that object we reviewed alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, similes, personification, and worked on creating concise details. Students did excellent, and I found that they already had a very strong background knowledge of literary devices.

Day 3: My students started to think about the ideas I just discussed, but in terms of the object they are using for their concrete poems. As a class we talked about the various details and literary devices associated with each students objects, then they worked independently to compile their list. This helped students make a plan before they started writing. In fact, I didn’t even let them draw out their objects until they had showed me some sort of an outline.

Day 4: (today) Students brainstormed and drafted their poems, using the information they came up with the previous class. Students are beginning to see their poems take shape and they are doing an excellent job.


Next week: Students will begin creating their final drafts, and then start on their publications. Museum night is one week from Tuesday.


Reading Response 10/6

A Place For Wonder

Chapter 1

“Our children’s lives run the risk of becoming two dimensional in the present day’s technology-driven society. The worlds of Internet and video games are becoming just as substantial to children as their reality…Creating a “wonder” classroom environment is the foundation from which deeper and more sustained explorations take place.”

This idea really struck me, especially after the author recalled the classroom she had visited. I want my classroom to feel like every corner holds a new discovery or a knew idea that my students have not yet experienced. I recall from my own experiences in classroom the posters that my teachers had on the wall, especially the ones that I would read quietly to myself after a test or during announcements. I think a place of wonder is only as strong as the passion possessed by those who create it. If a teacher has a natural sense of wonder and interest then it will reflect in the classroom, and thus infect the students.

“All young children have an enthusiasm and curiosity about the world that we can nurture at home and in school.”

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. And I think that it extends beyond childhood. I am almost 23 years old and I still have insatiable appetite for knowledge. The best thing that has happened to me, in terms of expansion of knowledge, in a long time has been acquiring an iPhone. I know that may seem extremely silly, but I feel like everything I need to know rests at the tips of my fingers. If I see something on TV that catches my eye or I hear something I don’t know about then I look it up. During student teaching I was blessed with a group of kids who wanted to know about everything. I would play devils advocate and offer them some information and then challenge them to find out more. I love the idea of a wonder center! I think it is 100% adaptable for middle grades students and will be a huge asset in a SS or ELA classroom. I would encourage my students to go over to the wall and write down anything they wanted to know about a topic or idea we were discussing. These topics would also serve as great writing topics for further exploration.

I think that overall this chapter offers a lot of really great strategies to evoke wonder in the classroom, and as I was reading I was taking notes on how I might use them in my classroom.

Chapter 2

Overall I have to admit that I do not see a lot of merit in the ideas in this chapter for MY specific area of teaching. I think that for a Middle Grades class, many of these ideas are juvenile, although I feel like I would take bits and pieces from some of them and adapt them. I believe that wonder is important to explore, particularly in middle grades, because there is so much going through their minds that they don’t understand. Things happening to them, to others, etc. I would use Chapter two as more of a division of wonder to be addressed on more personal issues. Maybe as part of a character building advisory. I feel that Chapter 1 offered such strong instances of applications in MG and this chapter left me feeling less than enthused.

Using the Writers Workshop

Chapter 4

Observation is a natural human quality or habit. We are naturally curious beings and therefore we use observation to fulfill some of our desire to know. During this course we have discussed increasing children’s perceptions of the world around them through writing and I think that is exactly where we can start. I want my students to find everyday inspiration in their writing and so this is a great way for that to happen. Teach them to utilize their senses.
“Not every observation lends itself to using all five senes, but we can encourage our young writers to use appropriate ones and help them strengthen their sensory observation skills.”



I have always had a knack for poetry, and therefore poetry serves as a great writing asset in my life. I still have poems from when I was in middle school, about boys, friends, my parents, and whatever else was going through my warped adolescent brain. I am not sure where I found this love, although I think it was after discovering a book of poems in the attic that my dad had composed, but poetry comes so natural to me. It has also been my observation that students love poetry. This chapter offers great insight into the many facets of poetry and its applications in the writing classroom. I think too often teachers let poetry become just another unit, but I think poetry should be integrated whenever possible. So what if you are teaching research papers; maybe a student can organize their ideas and think more clearly if they approach the topic more poetically first. I don’t want poetry to be a unit we do in March. I want it to be a topic in the file of their writing minds that can be used and assessed whenever possible.


Reading Response

Using the Writer’s Notebook 

Chapter 5

“Literature has an impact on readers in different ways. It connects us to past experiences, stirs our emotions, and causes us to react, wonder or chuckle.” (p.  41)

“We need to continue this kind of sharing and discussion as we read to students of all ages, in order to show them the kinds of connections and thinking that they can write about” (p. 41)

I really like this because i think that it is a great thing to remember when teaching children to write. Bring realization to students that often times writers will write about things that have occurred in their daily lives, and draw inspiration from personal occurrences. Every student can be a writer because everyone (especially writers) have rich writing material in their daily lives.

Memories (memoir), special places, Pets, Family, Feelings/Moods: all of these things are not only easy, quick writes that help develop writing but also a way to get to know your students.

What I loved about this chapter was that it brought up so many examples of readings that you can use in the classroom to spark writing or display how a writer can use their everyday experience when writing.

Chapter 9

I feel so much that a focus of ELA today in schools is on vocabulary, but I think that it is a really interesting take on vocabulary to call it “language” because I think it brings it more to life. Vocabulary test, vocabulary building, vocabulary words/wall: all of these things are the usual jargon used in schools, but I feel that language implies more that we will use it. Once make language a collection rather than a requirement; a love and not a grade.

“Do you have words that you like the sound of or love to say?” (p. 73)

I like how the author makes it a point that these words don’t have to be words that make sense or that everyone uses, but rather something that we have heard and love. I think that this brings awareness to other words that we will encounter in the classroom, bringing to light that a word that we like or the language that we use doesn’t have to just come from a textbook: it can be from a newspaper, magazine, greeting card, chapter books, or other kinds of writing.

I really LOVE the texture of words activity. This causes students to take a chance to stop and observe the words they are reading/hearing/writing, and not just remember how to spell a word.


Into Writing

Chapter 5

“The magic of writing workshop is choice.” (p. 115)

“Students get excited when they have a chance to write about what matters to them. Young students write to make sense of the world. They write because it serves a purpose.” (p. 115)

One of my favorite parts of this chapter is when the author talks about how students still have choice when we teach them traits of writing. I think it is important to note that what the author says about specific genres is that although some mini-lessons will naturally lead students towards a specific genre, through the writing workshop we can teach them to think outside the box. By leaving the choice of genre open, we are also allowing for student choice when it comes to topics.

I really liked learning about how she feels is the best way to fuse units of study with student choice. I think it is great that the author points out that the first ten weeks of school it is all about leading students towards a love for writing and excitement about the process. This includes writing for purpose (aka giving meaning to writing).


Chapter 9

Obviously assessment is a huge deal in todays educational system, so I think it is important that the author touches on this topic. This can be done formally and informally, as with other assessments we perform in the classroom, but I feel that often, and I know I have experienced this, writing is not always the easiest thing to assess. I know that as an educators I really would feel awful if every time I graded a paper it was a physical grade and thus caused the students to look negatively at writing. a Love of writing doesn’t form from constantly receiving bad grades. A students competence on a skill can be assessed in other ways than formal writing.


I have learned about writing conferences in other college classes that I have taken. I am not really worried about my conferences I will have with the student, but more with the conferences they will have with one another.



Mr. Pepper’s Perfect Pet Shop Read Aloud

This book is all about a pet store with a lot of crazy animals, which of course you wouldn’t normally find in a pet store. I know I have never seen any musical dinosaurs or a baby Zebracorn. Most pet stores have regular animals like birds, fish, dogs or cats, snakes, lizards, and hamsters, right?

Well this reminds me of a story. One night, about this time, about five years ago, when I was a senior in high school, and I was having dinner with my parents and my brother and sister. We were eating barbeque chicken, with buttered corn on the cob and green beans. I remember it was exceptionally tasty that evening. My sister, who was in sixth grade at the time, was going on and on about an assignment she had at school. My brother, who was a junior in high school was eating his corn cob like that chicken in the cartoon that goes all the way across and then there is a typewriter ‘ding’ and he goes back to the other end to start again. My parents and I seemed less than amused, especially since most of the corn was falling to the floor, where our black lab, Wrigley, was waiting to pick it up.

Just as my sisters rambling was dying down, my mom shifted a little in her seat and my dad cleared his throat to speak, “Kids, we decided something today, we’re going to start a business.” He said it like it was no big deal, like that was something that people do everyday, you just open business. I thought to myself, woah! I wonder what it could be. My brother looked up from his corn cob and just stared at them, while my sister continued eating her chicken, mad that her part of the conversation was officially over. She always thought that since she was the youngest, nobody listened to what she had to say.

So anyways, here is what happened next. My mom said “What kind of store do you think we’re going to open.” I could tell that my brother and sister had started shouting out guesses, but immediately I went into my own little world, racking my brain for a possible answer. Then finally I came to my favorite answer, which I just knew it had to be. After a second I remember my mom looked at me and said, “Well Brandi, what do you think it is?” I snapped out of my thoughts and said “A tanning salon.”

Immediately my entire family started laughing. I was not amused. I didn’t understand why it was so weird that I would think they would open a tanning bed. I mean, I liked going tanning, and so did my mom, so to me it made perfect sense.

“No Brandi.” I remember my dad had to pause because he was still laughing, “We are going to open a Pet Shop.”

I dropped my fork, and my mouth fell wide open and I thought: A PET STORE! What in the world? The absolute last thing in the world I thought my family would want to open was a pet store. Not that I don’t like pets, but all I could ask myself is: who sits down and decides, of all the things in the world, they’re going to open a pet store!

My brother was so excited he was bouncing around in his chair, asking a million questions a second, and then finally when he had calmed down enough he asked: “What will we call it?”

My parents explained they had all these names picked but they wanted to know what we liked, since after all it was our pet store too, which I thought (WHOPPIE?!?!).

After a thirty minute conversation of all different kinds of names, we came to the final conclusion. It was set, and that was the day Animal Adventure was born.

I don’t have much more time to talk about this now, but one day I will have to tell you the story of the birds that we have named Buddy and Princess that could talk.


(Basically) All you need to know about ME (Brandi Brink)

Graduating Class of 2011


I am currently a full time Graduate student at Appalachian State University (the best college in the world) and I am getting my masters degree in Middle Grades English Language Arts. I am basically obsessed with Language Arts and Middle Grades so it is the perfect combination. Instead of writing on and on about me I am going to make a list of the top ten things that I think you should know…

1. I am from the coast of Carolina–specifically the counties of Currituck and Dare!! I love the ocean and everything having to do with it! If you want to know more about it then go to these websites and expand your minds!!! Currituck  Dare 

2. I am the oldest child…you know what that means 😉 But incase you’re wondering it means that I am the worlds best oldest sister to my siblings and blessed first child to my parents!! I have a younger brother (21) and a younger sister (17) and I love them to pieces! My father is an electrical contractor and my mother manages a pet store that my family owns! We also have a black lab named Wrigley (like the field not the gum!!..huge Cubs fans!!)  My family means the world to me! Being seven hours away is no easy task, but surprisingly it has made me closer than them than ever!

3. I love sports!! The end.

4. I love to cook!! If I were not going to school to be a teacher first, or a business woman second (I know, RANDOM!), my third love would be COOKING and/or BAKING! I think it is amazing and I love to be in control so when I can create something that (usually) comes out the way I plan, my life is made!!

5. I love to talk. On the phone. To people. To strangers. To students. To teachers. To myself…. I LOVE TALKING!

6. I am currently a graduate assistant for Dr. Tracy Smith! I admire her dearly and I am so lucky and fortunate to be working with her, and having her as my mentor. She has brought so much meaning to my life as a future educator, as well as just in general. (And NO, this is not me sucking up!)

7. Molly McRorie is my roommate and best friend! She is such an amazing person and one day she and I are going to rule a school (literally) and rattle the world of education with our passion, commitment, and knowledge! I am so lucky to have her in my life! I am providing you with her blog address in case you want to have the priviledge of getting to know her as well. Get to know Molly!

8. I am addicted to anything about Vampires. 🙂 True Blood is amazing and I have read almost the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, which is what the show is loosely based upon. If you haven’t read them (even if you don’t (think) you enjoy Vampires yet! ) then you should! It is a special world full of mystery, intrigue, death, and of course, romance. It is a great escape from this world every once in a while!

9. My favorite number is 9. Oh, and my favorite color is Purple. 🙂

10. I was born to be a teacher! I attended ASU for my undergraduate degree and was a Teaching Fellow, and the opportunities I have been provided, along with the amazing professors I have had, have ignited me with an intense and (I’m sure) everlasting passion for Education, particularly the concept of Middle School, adolescents, and the areas of Language Arts and Social Studies. I have continued into my graduate studies directly from undergrad, but I can not wait to be back in the classroom! I know for the rest of my life I will be living by this quotation: “Work is not work when it’s what you love”

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to provide/ask them!!


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