Well, this was a super cool lesson and I have to thank New City Arts for the great idea! Definitely check out her blog. I even used her student examples on my handout to show my kids the haiku and free verse poetry that we were trying out. I started by asking teachers for rocks to borrow, because the only ones I had were kinda boring. Little did I know, we had so many rock collecting teachers!
We used a range of shading pencils to complete a 7-part value scale, then set to work with our sketches and poems. Many kids asked, "Can I trace my rock?" which sparked a great conversation about drawing three-dimensionally versus a "footprint" drawing. Students used at least 4 of the values in the final drawing, along with a cast shadow.
The poems are so expressive - as we sketched, we jotted down descriptive words on our worksheet and even added a little personification by noting what our rock's mood or personality would be like. Some are serious and deep, while others are funny and light.
At the end of class, when most were finishing up, we watched an interesting 5 minute video from the TV show "How It's Made" about graphite pencils - it's attached at the bottom of the post. This is definitely a keeper lesson and a great start to the year.