Students Write Poems

Students from a Lemoyne Middle School’s sixth grade reading class completed their Iditarod unit by reading and writing about stories like: Balto, by Standiford, TOGO, by Blake, Where’s the Boss? by Harter for background knowledge of the Iditarod and sled dog experiences. We then read Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong.

One of the writing pieces they completed was the diamante poem format to reinforce identity of cause/effect relationships.

Line 1: Poem topic (the cause)

Line 2: Two adjectives about the cause/topic

Line 3: Three -ing words about the cause/topic

Line 4: Four nouns or a short phrase linking the cause/topic with its effect

Line 5: Three -ing words about the effect

Line 6: Two adjectives about the effect

Line 7: The effect



bad, terrible


spreading, killing, dying


Disease kills; dog’s relay


sledding, mushing, delivering


fast, cold


dog race


Diphtheria broke out in Nome, killing many people,

so they held a dog sled relay race to get the serum for diphtheria there.

Leah S




for Diphtheria is needed


scary, deadly


killing, terrifying, spreading


Mushers must have a relay.


willing, helping, needing


important, life-saving


The serum is delivered!


Diphtheria breaks out in Nome and serum is delivered from 800 miles.

Dakota P


The ice breaks


and Balto’s feet get wet


worried, threatening


fracturing, freezing, frightening


Balto’s paws; Gunnar’s hands


rushing, rubbing, reacting


relieved, encouraging


Gunnar rubs Balto’s paws in


the powdery snow


to keep them from




Balto’s feet got wet from the ice breaking and were in danger of freezing,

so Gunnar rubbed Balto’s feet in the powdery snow.


Jessica T


The sled slipped


and slid on the ice.


slick, slippery


worrying, falling, wobbling


Gunnar, medicine, snow, sled


panicing, devastating, terrifying


scary, breathtaking


Gunnar lost the




The sled slipped and slid on the ice, so Gunnar lost the medicine.


Ellis W


The ice cracks.


freezing, unlucky


frustrating, exhausting, pacing


team stops to warm feet.


rubbing, tiring, saving


friendly, moral


Gunnar stopped to warm


Balto’s paws.


Brett L

Students used “TOGO” by Robert Blake, and then “Balto” by Natalie Standiford to further identify and describe characters and understand the history of the Iditarod. The students’ narrative poems were written to the following given defined characterization descriptions:

  1. Character’s name
  2. Two words describing the character
  3. Three words phrase describing the setting
  4. Four-word phrase stating the problem
  5. Five-word phrase describing one event
  6. Six-word phrase describing another event
  7. Seven-word phrase describing a third event
  8. Eight-word phrase describing a solution to the problem.


Energetic, determined

Nome, Alaska-1925

People have diphtheria disease.

Townspeople discuss the diphtheria problem.

Announcement gets put on the radio.

Sled dogs get sent out for Serum.

Gunnar gets the serum to everybody in time!

Leah S


Courageous, skilled

In Nome, Alaska

Get serum to Nome.

The Safety Point was deserted.

Balto and Gunnar saved the town.

The serum was given to the sick.

The serum cured the disease gotten there.

Rosalia L


Perservering, malamute

Harsh Alaska, 1925

Two children have diphtheria.

Twenty-one dog teams including Balto’s

A big blizzard came but mushers proceeded.

He slipped, fell, and lost the serum.

Balto was a hero when he delivered serum.

Jordan E


Trustworthy, strong

January 1925, Nome

Diphtheria outbreak in Nome

Balto is Gunnar’s lead dog.

Hand-off driver wasn’t at the checkpoint.

Diphtheria outbreak requires serum; stuck in Anchorage.

Balto gets to Nome and people are cured.

Mark K