Pongo's One-on-One Techniques:
Drill Down to Select a Technique

We are getting closer on this web site to explaining three specific Pongo teaching techniques (Taking Dictation, Improvising Poetic Structures, and Using Fill-in-the-Blank Activities). But first we’d like to explain the process in which these techniques are applied. How do you know when it is most efficacious to use each technique. We call this determination a “drill-down process” because the techniques are applied strategically, in response to a young person’s need for (1) support, (2) an opportunity to express herself emotionally, and (3) poetic experience.

 

Step

Writing First Poem

Choice of Technique

  1

When you sit down with a youth, explain that you can work together in many dif­ferent ways. Evaluate whether or not the youth is ready to write independent­ly, or if she would like to dictate to you, or if she is completely at a loss where to begin.

 

  2

If teen is ready to write on his own…

Give the teen a pad and pen. Sit next to teen while he writes. Read or write yourself. Answer questions. Check in. Read the teen's poem aloud. Offer support. Be ready to help with a follow up poem.

  3

If teen would like to dictate a poem…

Ask if teen has something on her mind. Respond quickly, starting dictation using the teen’s pre­liminary comments. Follow Taking Dictation technique, which may evolve into Improvising a Poetic Structure .

  4

If teen is in a particular emotional state or expresses specific issues, but has difficulty beginning…

Follow the technique Improvising a Poetic Structure (this may also be dictated to you). For example, if a teen is worried about an upcoming court appearance, you could improvise a poem about what it’s like to feel worried, or a poem that imagines what might happen in court.

  5

If a teen is unemotional and unclear where to begin…

Follow the technique Using a Fill-in-the-Blank Poem . Collaborate with the teen on this activity, helping him make choices, as necessary, and reading back to him his completed work.

 

 

 

 

Writing Second Poem

Choice of Technique

  6

For this next piece of writing in a writing session, you will want to consciously move toward more personal writing (without being intrusive) and toward a more poetic experience…

 

  7

If the teen’s first writing was original, personal, poetic…

Continue in a similar way for the second poem.

  8

If the teen’s first writing was stereotypical, superficial, or not especially helpful…

Suggest a different approach for the second poem. Encourage teen to “write from the heart about who you are as a person.” The new tech­nique may be Taking Dictation or it may be Improvising a Poetic Structure. If you are improvising a poetic structure, look for personal themes that emerged in the first piece of writing or through conversation with the teen.

  9

If you improvised a poetic structure for the first poem, and it was successful…

Try doing it again and Improvising a Poetic Structure for the next poem.

10

If you used a fill-in-the-blank poem for the first poem…

See if the youth now would like to write on her own, or if she has something on her mind that she would like to dictate to you.

11

If now, or at any point, you are at a loss for what to do next…

Follow the technique Using a Fill-in-the-Blank Poem. Collaborate with the teen on this activity, helping him make choices, as necessary, and reading back to him his completed work.