How Sixth Graders Brought Poetry to Life

As part of the 6th grade Poetry Alive festival on Monday, December 9, 6th graders Ethan, Isaac, and Zach had just one goal when it came to finding a poem to perform: humor.

“I just found the funniest one and chose it,” Ethan says.

The funny one he landed on was Darren Sardelli’s “My Doggy Ate My Essay,” a riff on the old “the dog ate my homework” theme. Here, a pup goes on a cleaning spree after eating the narrator’s “How to Clean My Room” assignment. In front of their classmates, the trio recited the poem and mimicked the pooch’s actions, such as washing windows, sweeping floors, and even fixing the bedroom door (which nearly makes the poet’s parents faint).

The point of the exercise was to get students, whether working solo or as a group, to delve deeper into poems, bringing them to life through movement and performance.

“When you’re doing the acting, you have to sort of break down the poem,” says Luca ’26, whose group performed Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird.” “It helped us understand the poem a lot more because ‘Caged Bird’ is very figurative.”

“My Doggy Ate My Essay” may not be as figurative, but Ethan, Zach, and Isaac were all looking to perform something a little different. As Ethan put it:  “We just wanted to do something fun.”

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