About the Author
Carolee Dean holds a bachelor’s degree in music therapy and a master of science degree in communicative disorders. She has worked with children and adolescents in the areas of head trauma rehabilitation, emotional disturbance, and special education. While a speech/language pathologist with the public schools, Carolee participated in the Wrinkle Writing Project, a collaboration with the University of New Mexico Drama Department and local schools. The project focuses on using creative drama to encourage writing skills in the classroom. Carolee has appeared at numerous conferences and workshops for teachers offering presentations on incorporating the creative arts into the curriculum. She has appeared as a guest poet at schools and offers creative writing workshops for students. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and three children. For more information about school appearances, write to:
P.O. Box 93503
Albuquerque, NM 87199-3503
Poetry coffee house
Create a schoolwide open-mike poetry reading. Invite local poets, teachers, and students to read their original poems.
Behind the scenes
Clip pictures out of a magazine. Advertisements work well because they often contain symbolism and metaphor. Look past the obvious. What might be going on behind the scenes? Use your ideas for the beginning of a short story or poem.
Pull a poem out of a hat
Students write adjectives and nouns on slips of paper. Put the nouns in one hat and the adjectives in another. Students randomly choose one word from each hat to create an original poem title (i.e. “Banana Sunrise,” “The Inconsiderate Shoelace,” “Angry Pencils”). Recollect the nouns and adjectives and redistribute two times so that students have three titles to choose from. Students choose their favorite title and write a poem.
Look who’s talking
Pick a line of dialogue from Comfort. Read it out loud. Can other students guess which character is talking? How can you tell the difference? What are your clues? Discuss the differences between the voices of Kenny, Cindy, and Mama.
My voice is changing
Kenny talks about his “school” voice and his “home” voices. Discuss how people change their voices (tone, vocabulary, level of formality) depending on the situation and who they are talking to. Role-play the following situations and discuss how you can tell the difference between the characters based on the voice they use: a policeman gives a woman a speeding ticket; a principal tells a father his son is going to be suspended; a girl borrows her mother’s favorite dress without permission, rips it, and is now telling her mother.
Kenny says on pg. 122, ” For me, school was the one place I felt safe, the one place I could relax and let down my guard.” Discuss where you feel safe and why.