TERSE POETRY for Simple Sentence Smarts - Part 2

What Makes a Sentence? 

In a previous post, I shared ways to reinforce this grammar concept by having students read terse poetry. In this post, I’ll show ways students can apply their knowledge of simple sentences by writing their own terse poetry.

Terse Poetry: My Definition 

While different definitions exist, for my purposes, I define terse poetry as:

*a poem with very short lines
*most of the lines consist of just one subject and one verb
*lines may or may not rhyme

Terse Perks

When students write terse poetry, they…
  • gain practice with key ELA standards, including understanding conventions of English and determining word relationships.
  • understand how a subject and verb provide the essential core of a sentence
  • learn that the more specific the subject and verb, the more powerful the sentence. 
  • experience the power of being succinct and using precise language. (With terse poetry, writers don’t need a lot of cluttering words to create a crisp image.)

Terse Rehearse

After reviewing the rules for simple sentences (they contain at least one subject, one verb, and forms a complete thought) I have students write partner terse poems, using Terse Poetry Starters. These are lists of specific, image-sparking nouns and verbs written on index cards. For a printable list of Terse Poetry Starters, click here.  
After partners have composed their terse poems, I ask them to mark their two-word sentence lines by bolding their nouns and underlining their verbs.  This further reinforces the concept of simple sentences.

These Terse Poem Starter have sparked some pretty creative partner poems.  A pairing of “donuts” and “oscillate” became a terse poem about a donut factory.  “Nets” and “curl” became a poem about fishing.  Here’s a poignant partner terse poem that started with the combination “war” and “whisper”:  

After students practice writing terse poems as partners, I invite them to write their own terse poems. I let them pick their topic, encouraging students to choose one that allows them to create a scene with plenty of noun-verb combinations.  Here are some terse poems my students have written:
For an introductory lesson on writing terse poetry to reinforce simple sentence knowledge click here. For a more advanced lesson click here.)

I’ll end this post with my own terse poem:
I hope these terse poem writing ideas help fade frustration, aid understanding, and increase your own students’ simple sentence smarts.

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