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Published poet works with UV students on writing skills for a week
During a recent week in January, the seventh grade English students in Katie Wolford’s class at Unadilla Valley honed their writing, speaking and reading skills during a series of exercises under the eye of published poet and novelist Rachel Guido deVries.

Her visit was made possible through an art in education grant, and this year was her tenth year in the district.

Wolford said DeVries worked on various exercises with the students and explored topics such as personal identity, friendship, and the road of life. The lessons focused on improving creative writing skills, and also reinforced close and critical reading skills, speaking (the students read their poems out loud), and revising and editing.

“The poetry component was important for students because it gave them a window to writing and themselves that they don’t really get a chance to explore,” Wolford said.

“It’s not your structured class time, but it gives them an opportunity to express themselves in ways that are creative but challenging. They really began to understand what revision means.”

In one of deVries’ lessons, she asked the students to read a poem about a wolf and then write a poem about an animal or any “creature” that fascinates them. She then gave them four tips:

• Give feelings to the creature you come up with;
• Set a mood;
• Create a pattern of rhyming; and
• Look up your creature on the Internet and look at the words that describe it.
Wolford said her students enjoyed the lessons and gave plenty of positive feedback.

“I would like for her to come back next year because it was inspirational for a lot of people,” wrote Meegan White.

“My favorite part of the week was when we wrote poems.”