Writing Topics


     Below the high falls,
     Water crashes on boulders;
     Spray hangs in still air.
One strategy that I found helpful in teaching was the use of different writing-to-learn activities. In using such activities, basic skills such as comparing, contrasting, describing, defining, summarizing, and organizing are being exercised while the content topics are being taught or tested. Over the course of several years, I encountered a number of verse forms that lend themselves to writing in a biology class: cinquain, diamante, haiku, sijo, waka, tanka, acrostic, biopoem, double-dactyl, limerick, Tom Swifty, prepositional poem, and more.

This haiku is for you; it is entitled Cataract.

Here is a selection of verses that have a biological bent since they were written to illustrate the various writing forms for my students. I hope that you enjoy them.


Alimentary, Watson
Intestinal Fauna
Enteric Water Loo
Friend or Foe
Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Taenia solium, E. histolytica, Vibrio cholerae, Strychnos nux-vomica,
Tapeworm that lives within Nasty amoeba in Spread through excreta in Friend of Lucrezia
Pigs and man, too, Stool sample smear, Water supplies, Borgia and kin,
Dies from a remedy Acts as a parasite Roils the intestine with Poison of preference
Pharmacological: --Sesquipedelian Pathogenicity; Machiavellian,
Male fern's the Rx for Agent of suffering-- Practice good hygiene, or Swiftly will rid one of
What's eating you! Causing "dire rear." Cork it, you guys! Vermin ... and men.

Did you like those? Then here is a web site on Double-Dactyls that might interest you!


sour, sharp
biting, stinging, burning
red litmus ----- blue litmus
slippery, soapy, alkaline
bitter, caustic


green, silent
sleeping, living, changing
breathes, grows --- shrivels, dies
burning, shifting, waiting
bright, arid

(a student composition)

lush, verdant
rolling, swaying, fertile
food farm ----------- fish farm
wet, marshy, muddy
soaked, squishy

(a student composition)



globular, spiny
creeping, gnawing, clinging
delicate, prickly, ornate test


flat, treeless
comforting, nurturing, rippling
home, mystical, innocence, quietness

(a student composition)

green, gigantic
growing, towering, dying
sad, joyful, upset, enthusiastic

(a student composition)



Cumulonimbus --
A threat or promise of rain --
Man heeding Nature


As we gasp for air,
The forest's soul is dying
Because of man's greed.

(a student composition)

Slashing machetes ...
A tropical rain forest
Vanishes from view.

(a student composition)

When the nights grow long
And summer comes to an end
The leaves slowly turn.

(a student composition)


Prepositional Poem

   Mama Ridley

Without conscious knowledge,
Through her senses,
From distant waters
Across the miles
To the spot ...

Out of the surf,
Up the beach.
From her body
Into the sand;
Down the beach,
Into the sea.

Throughout the ages,
Without conscious knowledge,
Through her senses,
Beyond our ken.


   The Leaf

Within the branch
Along the stem
Into a bud
On the brink
Of opening
With the sun
Along with the rain
For man's enjoyment
Into a leaf
Against the wind
Through the summer
Into the fall
Among the dying
Into decay
For rebirth
In the earth
Into sustenance
For another tree
With a branch
Along whose stem
    begins a leaf

(Wanda Regalado)



There once was a babe born on Cyprus,
Impaired by a small, faulty thymus. 
With no T-cells for immunity,
Germs invaded with impunity,
And soon he succumbed to a virus.

Beta cells form islets in the pancreas;
Insulin governs glucose inside of us. 
But if it does not,
One likely has got
Juvenile diabetes mellitus.

There once was a youth from St. Paul
Who grew up exceedingly tall. 
When asked about his plight,
He replied "Oh, my height?
My pituitary's at the base of it all."


Are you curious about writing-to-learn activities? Write to me for more information.

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