I can't remember how I discovered this institute, which is offered free of charge and includes accommodation at the conveniently located but very dorm-like dorms of the University of Illinois at Chicago. There was a short application form to complete back in April, and then I was notified of my acceptance--it was that simple. It's unclear to me if there were folks who applied and were NOT accepted, but the Institute, which has sections for Elementary, Middle & High School, and Community College teachers, served about 80 people (very unsure of that number) of whom 20 were in my nicely diverse PK-5 group.
If I sound like I'm selling this program, I am. You'll see from the schedule below how varied the sessions were and how practically useful the outcomes were at a number of levels, and how time was allocated for processing as well as rest, tourism or home life, according to preference!
We began and ended the week all together with Carol Jago, familiar to me from NCTE--a true teacher leader. There wasn't a lot of difference between the "seminars" and "workshops"--they were all excellent presentations that often included opportunities to write for ourselves or to plan for our classroom practice; there were handouts and modeling, and in several cases, the gift of books! We all received a book collection from the Poetry Foundation which included an Engle book, The Flying Girl, and Ted Scheu gave each of us a signed copy of his Someday I'll Be a Teacher.
The range of the presentation content was wide, and if I have any tiny criticism, it was that some presenters seemed unaware that we were not a wide general audience of teachers, but mostly quite devoted to and experienced with poetry--and in addition most of us were poets ourselves. Thus a couple of the presentations came in at a rather basic level--and still we managed to glean plenty from each of them! Details from each presentation may be added throughout the day here, but I can identify the single best line of the week:
POETRY IS ART CLASS WITH WORDS.
This came from Beth Sampson, who runs Hands On Stanzas, a Chicago poetry-in-the-schools project. She outlined the first five lessons which this organization's poets do in classrooms, and thereby all my best practices as a poetry teacher became a newly organized, explicit, intentional approach with structure and labels! Concept #1 for kids (and perhaps teachers) with little familiarity of "what poetry is" uses children's experience of art class--a special subject carried out by a specialist teacher in a different room in most districts--to "do a lot really fast." By comparing the variety of materials, processes, and products that constitute ART, this definition clarifies the broad range of writings that can be poems, the endless ways that words can be used to create them, and the idea that we are using words in different and special ways when we make poetry than when we do other kinds of language work, especially in school settings.
I love, love, love this genius little metaphor (*forehead slap* why didn't I think of it myself?) and honestly, its powerful efficiency is going to change how I approach poetry in my 2nd grade classroom this year. Usually we begin with a period of input, analogous to the silent/receptive stage of second language learning, because I never know what kind of poetry experience my students will be coming in with. I wait until around December before I ask kids to Write a Poem, when they've had weeks of exposure to many different forms and a lot of my passion and excitement. (I also certainly don't discourage them if they think of doing so on their own!)
Being able to "draw on" their shared experience of Art with our seriously excellent art teacher, Leela Payne, will make that leap to writing work nearer to the beginning of the year. I can't wait! The other transformative concept from Hands On Stanzas is one that I carry with me as an implicit assumption--that all kids are poets. WE know that, but often they don't know that, so it's important that we let them know that just as in art class, they all come with all the creative tools they need to be successful. They'll just be applying them in new ways. Do all kids come to art with excellent scissor skills? No, so we model and teach and share techniques and they get better at cutting--but 99 times out of 100 they know WHAT they want to cut and what color it should be.
Here are some photos from the week, many taken by our Chicago Public School facilitator Shamika Keepers.
|We were asked to bring one indispensable resource. I couldn't get it down to one!|
|from Carol Jago's opening remarks|
|Looking at how we could use some of the books provided by the PoFo...|
|Notes from Margarita's presentation|
|We had time to explore the glorious Poetry Foundation Library. I recognized a friend!|
The many breakout sessions on the schedule were for self-selected groups to work collaboratively on poetry projects for the classroom. We were encouraged to make maximum use of the Poetry Foundation's website, and the culmination of the week was a Curriculum Fair at which we displayed our concepts Science Fair-style. Here were some of my favorites--not all from the Elementary section, either!
|A middle school idea which I loved--and I was so happy to introduce the group to Valerie Worth's small poems!|
|This was our group's project, designed to work up or down PK-5. That's my fab new friend Chii. See my Metaphor Dice?|
I'll leave you with a poem I wrote during Eric Elshtain's session, in which we worked on "the rearrangement of past perceptions to create new realities" using the logic of the senses. He said, "All knowledge and all art begins and ends with the senses." We imagined that we had met a cloud of our favorite color on the street and taken a handful...
I Finally Choose A Favorite Color, 1997
Turquoise, you persist, you win,
and I shake your hand.
You are slick and solid with shiny sharp edges,
which surprises me.
You smell like sky upside down water.
Next to my ear you breathe
a meditation sound, a Mediterranean sound
not laborious but lively.
When I open my mouth for a taste,
I find you are also drinkable, liquid, tart,
which surprises me.
Returning you to you,
you reshape yourself, no longer
a tile of middling blue but a bowl,
a curved mirror
exactly the size of my face.
You make everything more brilliant.
draft © HM 2018
So, there is a good some of it, but not the sum of it! If you are a teacher, do apply for next year, and maybe I'll see you there, since repeat offenders are welcome.
And now....the Round-Up! Please leave your links in the comments and I will line them up old-school throughout the day. Thanks for joining us today!
Linda Number 1 is sharing a jam sandwich at A Word Edgewise.
Linda Number 2 has popsicles--four flavors--at Write Time. Now, who has the main course?
Alan has fighting words for beating the blank page at Poetry Pizzazz.
Sally is dealing with a very very very challenging misfortune: Too Many Books.
Diane is in with an original called "Pictures of Liberty" over at Random Noodling.
And at Kurious Kitty you'll find two anniversary poems by Douglas Florian.
Tabatha has a found poem from The Hare with Amber Eyes, to which she refers like everybody knows The Hare with Amber Eyes. 😉 Read this beautiful object at The Opposite of Indifference.
Matt will be cooling us down with an original called "Summer Frost" at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme.
Laura Number 1 would like to warn you that her post includes a powerful response to the Parkland HS shootings by Tim Singleton. You will also find a link to her stop on the blog tour for Margaret Simon's Bayou Song.
Laura Number 2 has been sharing her entries for the March Madness Poetry Tournament and concludes today with her last, "Spurious Sayings." Find it at Writing the World for Children.
Our friend at Books4Learning has a very thorough an enticing review of Javaka Steptoe's anthology In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall.
Michelle Kogan celebrates butterflies and bees in art and writing over at More Art 4 All.
Rebecca lets us enjoy her Summer Poem Swap from Irene about "creepy lakes." I will soon be swimming my curious self over to Sloth Reads to find out what that's about!
Jone is introducing a new haiku anthology at Deowriter that includes some of her work. Congratulations, Jone!
Fats at Gathering Books is highlighting the work of a young Instagram poet, Caroline Kaufman.
Mary Lee reports on a miracle she witness this morning at A Year of Reading.
There's more about lakes--not all creepy--with Irene at Live Your Poem.
Ruth is sharing poems for travelers at There Is No Such Thing As a God-Forsaken Town. I love airports too, as last week's travels reminded me.
Little Willow reminds us to keep dancing over at Bildungsroman.
Tara is sharing some Mary Oliver today at Going to Walden.
Catherine has poems commemorating the 49th anniversary of the moon walk at Reading to the Core.
At the Mistakes Anthology blog Tabatha has a poem by Michelle Kogan to share.
Margaret has a review of Marilyn Singer's new book and a writing prompt to share at Reflections on the Teche.
Mandy is following a question this week about disappearing parsley at her blog Enjoy and Embrace Writing.
Carol is looking at Long Island through the eyes of Emma Lazarus at Beyond Literacy Links.
And now, a flash poem: Molly Hogan's hollyhocks. The End. 😀 Read about them at Nix the Comfort Zone.
Christie has also been away at Cornell's BirdSleuth educator retreat! She has hungry herons at Wondering and Wandering.
And, to close out the weekend's reading, Sylvia brings a report on her presentation about pets and reading from ILA at Poetry for Children.