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Poetry for Children

Poet Study - Brod Bagert

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Brod Bagert

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Image from:  www.Maupinhouse.com/bagert.php
 
 
 
Why Brod Bagert?
 
When faced with the difficult decision of choosing a notable children's poet to feature on my website for the graduate course Children's Poetry at Texas Woman's University with Dr. Sylvia Vardell, I chose the poet Brod Bagert.  I decided to feature Mr. Bagert because like me, he is a native of New Orleans.  I had heard of Brod Bagert about 12 years ago before moving from the Crescent City and relocating to Texas.
 
Upon embarking on this Poet Study project, I was interested in learning more about the kind of poetry he has published for children.  After reading seven of the books he has either written or edited, I was very glad I selected Mr. Bagert as the subject of my project.  I was impressed with his creativity, and I hope you will take the time to get to know his work better and share it with children and significant others in your life too.  You won't be sorry that you did!!!
 
PS:  If you are school teacher, school librarian or currently work in a school with young children or young adults, DON'T MISS his book Rainbows, Head Lice, and Pea-Green Tile:  Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher from Maupin House Publishing, Inc., 1999.    It is a MUST read and a MUST own for professional educators!!!
 
 
 
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION  ON
BROD BAGERT
 
*Born November 22, 1947 in New Orleans, LA
*Son of a judge and a homemaker
*Married wife Debby, a realtor, in 1970
*Children:  Jennifer, Colette, Brod Jr., and John David
*Graduate of Loyola University
*Left a 20+ year career as a lawyer to be a full time poet
*Began writing poetry seriously after his daughter needed a poem for a school performance and the poem he wrote was a big hit.
*Has also written several poetry books for adults.
 
Fun Facts:
*Claims to be "the oldest-fattest man in America who can still hold a handstand."
*Plays:  "a good harmonica, a mediocre guitar, and the worst violin in the three-hundred-and-fifty year history of the instrument."
*Former SAAU wrestling champion.
*Compares himself to Johnny Appleseed because he travels around the country in order to plant a love for poetry in kids.
 
Source:  "Brod Bagert" in Something About the Author, Volume 80, Detroit, MI:  Gale Reasearch Inc., 1995.
 
 
 
 
 
LIST OF BROD BAGERT'S WORKS
 FOR CHILDREN
 
RATIONALE:  I ELECTED TO FEATURE THESE CHILDREN'S POETRY BOOKS BY BROD BAGERT  BECAUSE THESE ARE THE BOOKS I WAS ABLE TO FIND IN AREA LIBRARIES AND BOOKS STORES AND THROUGH INTERLIBRARY LOAN, AND THESE ARE THE ONES I ACTUALLY READ.  
THOUGH MR. BAGERT HAS ALSO WRITTEN SEVERAL POETRY BOOKS FOR ADULTS, THE FOCUS OF THIS SITE IS ON CHILDREN'S POETRY, SO I HAVE NOT LISTED THEM HERE.
 
1.  Elephant Games and other playful poems to perform
     From Boyds Mills Press, 1995
 
2.  Chicken Socks and other contagious poems
     From Boyds Mills Press, 1993
 
3.  Giant Children
     From Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002
 
4.  Let Me Be the Boss
     From Boyds Mills Press, 1992
 
5.  The Gooch Machine
      From Boyds Mills Press, 1997       
 
6.  Poetry for Young People:  Edgar Allan Poe
     Edited by Brod Bagert    
     From Sterling Publishing Co., 1995
 
***Click on the bibliography link above for complete bibliographic information.
 
 
 
 
5 FAVORITE POEMS WITH INTRODUCTIONS AND EXTENSIONS:
 
 
INTRODUCTION:  We all do it.  We all make excuses for why we didn't do what we were supposed to do.  In this poem, the speaker makes excuses for why he doesn't do his homework.  See if you can find the excuses he makes?  What are they? 
 
THE HOMEWORK GUARANTEE
BY BROD BAGERT
 
I would have done it yesterday
If it weren't for the rain,
All that lightning and thunder
Are so tricky on my brain.
 
And I'd like to work real hard tonight
To raise my grades right out of sight,
But my finger has a splinter,
And it hurts me when I write.
 
Now tomorrow is another day
So we'll have to wait and see,
I intend to do my homework
But there's still no guarantee.
 
I know I've got to do it
If I want to grow up smart,
But something always happens
Every time I try to start.
 
From The Gooch Machine, Boyds Mills Press, 1997
 
EXTENSION:  Teach the meaning of the word "procrastinate."  Briefly share with your students about times that you have procrastinated and what happened as a result or what could have happened.  Explain why it is better not to get into the habit of procrastinating.  Ask your students to think of times in their lives when they have procrastinated.  Have them share aloud.  Explain that procrastination leads to the formation of excuses when things they are supposed to do don't get done.  See if anyone can recall an excuse they have used in the past to cover up for something they had failed to do such as chores or homework, and ask them to share with the class.  The teacher can also share some of the more colorful excuses she has heard from her students in the past such as "my dog ate my homework."   
 
 
 
 
 
INTRODUCTION:  "I can't!" is a common response many teachers hear from students during the course of a school year.  I try to teach my students that "What we can do together today, they can do tomorrow alone."  The statement "I can't" is very negative and instantly puts a stop to making progress on whatever it is that must be done in the classroom or in life.  I like the philosophy of The Beatles:  "I get by with a little help from my friends.  I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends."  By working together, we can acheive our goals. 
 
BAD WORDS
BY BROD BAGERT
 
She actually said it,
She said it in class.
It sounded so nasty,
It sounded so crass.
 
The children stared,
The teacher scowled,
The custodian cried,
The principal howled.
 
Then poor little Patti,
My very best friend,
She opened her mouth
And she said it again.
 
"Bad words, bad words!"
We all began to chant.
"Never! Never! Never!
Never say the words . . . I CAN'T."
 
From Giant Children by Brod Bagert, Dial Books, 2002
 
EXTENSION:  Share the introduction and poem with your students.  Have them take out a sheet of paper and fold the sheet of paper into three sections: top, middle and bottom.  In the top box have them write the words COULDN'T DO, BUT CAN DO.  In the middle box, have them write the words WANT TO DO, and in the bottom box have them write HOW I'M GOING TO DO IT.  Have them fill in the boxes accordingly and share in small groups.  Selected individuals can then share some of their information with the entire class.  This would be another excellent opportunity to discuss goal setting and what it takes to achieve goals. 
 
 
 
 
 
INTRODUCTION:  A school year is typically around 180 or so days in length.  Read the poem below on the 100th day of school and ask your first grade students how they themselves have changed or grown since the first day of school or how their lives have changed.  Some may answer that they have learned to read or learned to add numbers etc... Some may mention that they have a new best friend or got a new pet etc...  Some may have moved to a new house or lost a grandparent who was close to them.
 
THE HUNDRETH DAY OF SCHOOL
BY BROD BAGERT
 
Kindergarten's kids' stuff
But first grade's a giant change
So when I started school that day
My stomach felt real strange.
 
The classroom was green,
The teacher looked mean,
I didn't have a single friend.
And time went by so slow
I thought that day would never end.
 
I was just a kid back then,
But now I'm wise in many ways.
It's amazing how much things can change
In just a hundred days.
 
From Elephant Games and Other Playful Poems to Perform by Brod Bagert, Boyd Mills Press, 1995.
 
EXTENSION:  Ask your students how they think they will change during the next 80 or so days of school through the year's end.  Ask them what changes they would like to see happen.  Discuss these aloud, then teach the concept of goal setting.  Have your students set one goal and write it on a small slip of paper.  Througout the remainder of the school year, periodically ask the students how they are doing on their goals.  During the last week of school, ask students who have met their goals to share with the class what they did and how they accomplished their goals. 
 
 
 
 
 
INTRODUCTION:  Change in life is inevitable.  Some changes we encounter may be minor day to day changes like the changing of the seasons, and some may be major like the divorce of our parents or the death of a loved one.  But how we react to changes that occur will determine the magnitude of the impact these changes will have on our lives.    
 
YESTERDAY'S MAGNOLIA
BY BROD BAGERT
 
I walked outside this morning
And saw a strange man climbing in my tree.
How nice that he would like
To do the same fun things as me.
 
But when I heard his chain saw growl
The tears rushed down my face,
He was about to use it
To chop down my favorite place.
 
I yelled, "Wait!
Don't cut another branch!"
Too late.
The only tree that I could climb
And now . . . there's just a hole.
 
I feel so sad and angry
But I don't know who to blame.
No matter what you do in life . . .
Nothing ever stays the same.
 
From Chicken Socks and Other Contagious Poems by Brod Bagert, Boyd Mills Press, 1993.
 
 
EXTENSION:  With middle school aged students, share the above introduction and poem then briefly share some major changes you (the teacher or librarian) have had to cope with in your life.  Discuss effective strategies for dealing with change.  Then have your students share their own experiences with a partner or small group.  For a further extension, have your students write a list or a journal entry on things they can do that can help them to cope more effectively with changes they have encountered or changes they anticipate in the future, such as moving up to high school etc... 
 
 
 
 
 
INTRODUCTION:  According to Sirgy, Cole, Kosenko, and Meadow as quoted in the book The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven, Ph.D, "people who have the most are only as likely to be happy as those who have the least.  People who like what they have, however, are twice as likely to be happy as those who actually have the most.  I proprose that expressing gratitude for what you do like in your life on a regular basis will bring positive thoughts into the forefront of your mind and will henceforth increase your happiness.
 
THE THANK-YOU POEM
BY BROD BAGERT
 
Thank you for another day,
To love
To work
To worship
And to play.
Thank you for these heartbeats,
This breath,
These precious hours.
Help me give light like your sun . . .
And receive it like your flowers.
 
From Chicken Socks and Other Contagious Poems by Brod Bagert, Boyd Mills Press, 1993
 
EXTENSION:  After sharing the information in the introduction with your students and sharing The Thank-You poem.  Encourage your students to brainstorm a list of all the things that they are thankful for in their lives or in the world in general.  Then have the students sit with a partner and share their lists.  If the lists are created colorfully and with artistic designs or pictures etc... these would be terrific to display on a classroom wall or in the hallway at Thanksgiving time or any other time during the school year.
 
 
 
 
RESPONSE ACTIVITIES RELATED TO BROD BAGERT'S POEMS:
 
Elephant Games and other playful poems to perform
From Boyd Mills Press, 1995
 
Poem:  "The Eraser" p. 15
Activity:  Share the poem with the class then discuss a time when you've made a mistake and had to apologize.  Allow time for students to share also.  Discuss why apologizing is important when we hurt another's feelings.
 
Poem:  "No" p. 22-23
Activity:  Read the poem to the class and ask the students to give examples of times they have been told "no" when they really wanted to do something or have something.  Then have them think up ideas of ways they would tell adults "no" if they were in charge as is done in the poem.
 
Poem:  "Jennifer's Secret" p. 30-31
Activity:  Divide the poem up into stanzas as it appears on the page.  Assign one stanza to six students in the class then you (the teacher) read the last stanza because of it's longer length.  Discuss the quote "attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference" and how this relates to the poem.  Have students think of things they have a bad attitude towards and challenge them to think of a new way of looking at these things in a more positive light.
 
 
Chicken Socks and other contagious poems
From Boyd Mills Press, 1993
 
Poem:  "Split Pants" p. 10
Activity:  Share the poem with your students.  Recall a time that you (the teacher) experienced an embarrassing situation.  Allow time for your students to share their own similar stories aloud.  Discuss the best ways to deal with the embarrassing situations that are revealed in the class.
 
Poem:  "The Bad Mood Bug" p. 16
Activity:  Share the poem aloud in class.  Discuss things that can improve your mood personally and dramatically when you do them such as listening to music, reading a pleasure reading book, exercising, going out with friends etc...  Have your students think of very specific things that they enjoy doing that can instantly put them in a good mood.  Share ideas aloud. 
 
Poem:  "Progress" p. 17
Activity:  Share the poem aloud.  Brainstorm a list on the board together as a class of ways the world has changed technologically since your students grandparents and parents were born.  Create a new list of changes that have taken place in your student's lifetime.
 
 
Giant Children
From Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002
 
Poem:  "Heartstopper"
Activity:  Share the poem with your students.  Recall memories of first or early performances you had to give in front of other people.  Discuss how you felt about it and whether or not your attitude has changed towards public speaking or performing.  Have students share their experiences and attitudes.  Discuss ways to enhance performances such as practice and rehearsal, notecards, not waiting until the last minute to prepare yourself etc...
 
Poem:  "The Princess and the Dragon"
Activity:  Share a traditional fairy tale that features a princess.  Share the poem.  Have students compare the characteristics of the old version of the princess with the newer more modern princess featured in Bagert's poem.  Ask students which character they would rather be and to explain their reasoning.
 
 
Let Me Be the Boss
From Boyd Mills Press, 1992
 
Poem:  "The Boss" p. 8
Activity:  Have students volunteer to read one of the five stanzas in the poem.  Allow time for students to practice their stanza prior to reading it aloud.  Share aloud.  Ask students how life would be different if children were the boss of adults.  How would it better?  How would it be worse?  Share ideas aloud.
 
Poem:  "Dr. Womback's Needle" p. 16
Activity:  Discuss medical procedures you've had to endure such as stitches, shots in arm or gums, blood drawn etc...
Read the poem.  Have students share memories of their own procedures and how they felt about the experiences before and afterwards.
 
Poem:  "Happy New Year" p. 38
Activity:  Upon returning to school from Christmas/New Year's break, share the Happy New Year poem.  Ask students to share their wishes, hopes or resolutions for the new year.  Share yours with the students if you have any too.
 
 
The Gooch Machine
From Boyds Mills Press, 1997       
 
Poem:  "Alien Eyes?" p. 11
Activity:  Share the Alien Eyes? poem.  Without sharing your own attitude about the existence of aliens, lead a discussion about whether or not aliens really exist.  Take an informal survey of the class to talley up the attitudes toward the subject of aliens, and post the results of the survey on the board.  To further extend this activity, have students survey their parents, school administrators, other teachers and/or friends then compile and tabulate the results in class and post the results.
 
Poem:  "Sisters" p. 13
Activity:  Share the poem with your class.  Discuss how you are alike or different from your brother, sister or a good friend.  Consider physical appearance, personality, talents, and accomplishments.  Have students draw a Venn Diagram on a sheet of paper and develop a comparison between themselves and another significant person in their lives.  Share results orally and post diagrams on a bulletin board or wall etc...
 
PLEASE NOTE:  TWO ADDITIONAL POEMS BY MR. BAGERT AND PERFORMANCE ACTIVITIES CAN BE FOUND UNDER MY MODULE 3 LINK AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN.
 
 
 
 
QUOTES FROM THE POET:
 
"...I believe the emotions of childhood are a serious matter."
 
"I also believe that poems are best experienced when read aloud, so I try to write poems that encourage children to perform."
 
"As children perform such poems and act out their own feelings, they begin to understand those feelings more deeply, they learn to laugh at themselves, and they grow."
 
"...I believe the fire of poetry, ignited in the child, will burn in the adult and pass from generation to generation."
 
"Those of us who love poetry have felt its power to enrich.  Sadly, we are few.  I yearn for a world in which we are many."
 
----------Brod Bagert
 
(From author's note to parents and teachers in The Gooch Machine:  Poems for Children to Perform, Boyds Mills Press, 1997)
 
 
 
 
BROD BAGERT'S CONTACT INFORMATION:
 
 
toll free phone number:  888-387-2763
 
local phone number:  504-282-0113
 
address:  6011 Chamberlain Dr. New Orleans, LA  70122 
 
 
 
COMING SOON FROM
BROD BAGERT:
 
Brod Bagert has two new books scheduled for release in the Spring of 2006.  Shout! is for the preschool audience and is from Dial Books for Young Readers.  The Hormone Jungle is for the middle schooler and is from Maupin House.
 
 
 
 
 
WEBSITES  RELATED TO BROD BAGERT:
 

www.brodbagert.com

www.authorsontheweb.com

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