Thursday, January 31, 2013

Week 22

It is time for sharing our poem for Week 22 with a theme focusing on "A Kinder Gentler Place." Our sample poem for the week comes from Fourth Grade and is a compelling look at a difficult topic, bullying. Here is just an excerpt from this powerful poem.

Poem for a Bully
   by Eileen Spinelli

Somewhere deep inside you
there’s a softer, kinder place.
I know this will surprise you—
but I’ve seen it in your face.


I wish that you would take a step—
a small, but brave one too—
and look inside yourself to find
the good I see in you.

[Look for the rest of the poem on p. 208 in the book, The Poetry Friday Anthology available here.]

Take 5 Activities
1. Before reading this poem (in a soft voice), point out to students that many poems are funny, but some are serious—like this one.

2. Share the poem aloud again and this time invite students to read the last line together.

3. For discussion: How do we help each other be our best selves?

4. In this lyrical poem, the poet is reaching out to the reader. What details reveal the poet’s hopes? What thoughts or emotions does the poem prompt in us?

5. Combine this poem with “The Bully” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (5th Grade, Week 22).

The wonderful people at Teaching Authors are hosting Poetry Friday this week. See you there!


  1. How delightful to see a poem by Eileen Spinelli. The world will surely be a better place if we all learn to find the good in everyone. But it also takes a lot for others to believe that "somewhere deep inside [them] there's a softer, kinder place." Thanks for sharing, Sylvia!! =)

  2. This poem by Eileen is one of my favorites in The PFA because bullying is such an important topic, one that we need to talk about on a regular basis, and this poem provides a great discussion prompt. Most bullies are not completely evil and many people who would never be described as bullies have engaged in teasing and hurtful behavior at times. If we stop polarizing and categorizing people, maybe we really can make things better.

    "The Bully" by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is similarly complex. I had thought that this was just a case of a girl being bullied by the father and the girl next door . . . but when Guadalupe talked about this last month, she suggested that the girl herself is a bully, too (hence the description of the neighbor girl as MAS mala--mas mala than herself).

  3. We worked really hard on this poem yesterday, and my native Spanish speakers added much to our understanding (using tonta as opposed to tonto to determine that the speaker was a girl), but they/we missed the MAS mala. Lots of conversation about that father...

    And I gathered other poems from the "Kinder" theme across the grade levels for them to choose from to present to the class. Great conversations this week!

  4. Mary Lee: So glad to hear that this topic inspired lots of conversation! All of the weekly themes in this book were inspired by poems we received as we were putting the anthology together. "A Kinder Place"--the Week 22 theme--came about because of that phrase in Eileen Spinelli's poem. When we received Guadalupe's "The Bully" and "Embarrassed" by Jacqueline Jules (bullying yourself over something you said), I felt we had stumbled on a really great weekly theme.

    I'm curious: did your kids talk about "Small Talk" by Ken Slesarik? Did they think that this know-it-all chatterbox was justifiably being shunned for his behavior--or did they feel sorry for him because no one helped him understand why he was being obnoxious . . . or ???