Saturday, January 09, 2021

Poetry Saturday -- The Week in Poetry


What a week. But also -- what a week in poetry.

On Tuesday, as I drove towards the beginning of the second half of the grand experiment known as Remote Learning Academy, I listened to Pádraig Ó Tuama on Poetry Unbound. I had finished listening to King and the Dragonflies that morning while I exercised and I hadn't chosen my next audiobook. Podcast time! I was a little behind on Poetry Unbound episodes. I chose Ellen Bass -- Bone of My Bones and Flesh of My Flesh. I'll wait while you go listen, if you haven't already.

At the end of his commentary, Ó Tuama says,
"I think this poem invites us to think about the power of language and how language can serve to silence or to eradicate or to erase or deny, or to elevate and acknowledge. And even within those denials, people survive with defiance, and they can raise language to an even better level of acknowledgement and public celebration about what love looks like, especially when that love and that dignity has been denied."
The words in bold/italics are what lifted me up on that drive to school, and as I wrote my welcome back message on Google Classroom, I referred to my students as "my lovelies."

In the comments to that post, AP expressed delight at being referred to as "my lovelies." So on Wednesday, I addressed them as an "Amazing Rainbow of Awesomeness." AP was nearly giddy. Would I do it again on Thursday? she asked. How could I not? On Thursday, they were "my sweet babboos" and on Friday, "Dear Ones." 

Thank you, Pádraig Ó Tuama, for inspiring me to find and create terms of endearment that infuse more expressions of love into my classroom. This is another one of those seeds that I plant, having no way of knowing if/how it will later sprout in these children's lives. But it's a seed worth planting.

Also this week, I started my Poem-A-Week project. After realizing that there are 20 weeks left in the school year, and therefore the opportunity for the close study of (just!) 20 poems, I asked the world (via Twitter) for suggestions of poems I might include. I made my choices, but then promptly chose something for the first week that wasn't part of the original plan. And it turned out perfectly. As we began a new routine of choosing reading goals and logging reading and evidence for our goals in a new and simplified digital reader's notebook (aka BOB, which stands for Book of Books, hat tip to Monica Edinger for the original idea of BOB and Maria Caplin for the digital BOB), and as I reminded myself to START SLOWLY, I chose Lee Bennett Hopkins' "Good Books, Good Times!" 

Each day we read the poem (I encourage them to read along behind their muted microphones) and then do just a little bit of unpacking together (hat tip to Tara Smith for the idea of unpacking poems). I have created a slide show for the poems and for documentation of the unpacking work. Here's the plan: on the first day, I just read the poem (projected so they can read along); day two, after reading the poem, I invite reactions/noticing; day three is meaning/craft; day four is respond/connect; day five (I haven't had one yet) might be a guest reader who will also give their thoughts about the poem. I'm making this a routine, but keeping the poem choice flexible on my end so I can be responsive to my learners and the events of the world. 

In light of 1/6/21, my choice for next week's poem might be " 'Hope' is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson, or "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry. (I think "Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes is too much for fifth grade, but it's the poem in MY heart right now.) Whatever I choose, it will be a way in for us to talk about the events of 1/6/21. My students weren't ready to talk on Thursday, and yesterday I invited them to give me feedback on why they were hesitant to talk about the news. I got some valuable insight. But that's another post for another day...or week. Stay tuned.

Poetry. Another seed worth planting.


Sorry to be a day late for Poetry Friday. This may be my new normal moving forward. Sylvia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children

(If you've had trouble with your comments disappearing from our blog, I think it's because the site takes a LONG time to load. That's what happens when you have 15 years worth of content (happy belated blog anniversary to A Year of Reading)! Here's the hack: stop the page from loading before you type/submit your comment.)


14 comments:

  1. Mary Lee, your post made me smile. Coming up with fun, sweet, even outlandish terms of endearment is giving your students something to look forward to each day -- and you're using words to connect with them. That is poetry.

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  2. It is the sweetest thing, Mary Lee, to find ways to call your students loving names. You certainly make me wish my granddaughters had such a teacher, although they are doing well. The day of 9/11, I had my students draw or write, & I gave them a copy of what I called "hope", John Lennon's lyrics to Imagine. We talked a lot & parents came in to join us. (The students were a bit older, FYI) Your patience with students' readiness to respond to Wednesday is wonderful, too. They will speak, and you will help them in many ways, including poetry. Best wishes to you & the class!

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  3. As always, you are so inspiring, Mary Lee. Your reading and your teaching and your care for your students is just so loveleeeeee!

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  4. There are so many hopeful seeds planted in this post. May they all bloom with your nourishment and cultivation. Those terms of endearment for your students are glorious.

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  5. What a difference words make, how they are said, and perceived…I like "sweet babboos" it sounds good as you say it, and offers such support and comfort. Endearing words sound like a wonderful way to connect, bond and build trust with your students–these days sure aren't easy, and we sure could use more TLC. Thanks for all you are offering your students Mary Lee–they'll remember.

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  6. You've inspired me to strive to be a "sweet babboo" in all I do and say, Mary Lee. And to pay attention to seeds sown in poetry garden. Thank you. :)

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  7. Wow! Fifteen years of content. Amazing. You continue to inspire me, Mary Lee. I started Poetry Friday again with students in my library LMS. I had dropped it in the chaos of the new school year in August. But, I'm delighted with the responses to our discussion so far. Poetry is INDEED a seed worth planting. I might be a few rows over from you in the field....but I"m there and so very happy to be planting with you.

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  8. Poetry Unbound is a "must-listen" for me, but I hadn't gotten to this episode, so thank you for reminding me to go listen. The terms of endearment for your students are lovely. Such a brilliant way to adopt Ó Tuama's advice. I love your weekly poetry routine, also, and will be sharing this post with all my colleagues so they too can plant the seed of poetry.

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  9. The way you love and show love for your students is contagious. I read One Today by Richard Blanco with my 5th and 6th grade students on Friday. It felt like good medicine.

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  10. As always, you inspire me to be a better teacher and a better human! Such amazing thinking. Such amazing caring and loving!!! Thank you, dear friend! Thank you! And congratulations on fifteen years of blogging!

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  11. Fabulous, Mary Lee--I love that your students are embracing the endearments! I listened to just a couple of episodes of Poetry Unbound. Need to go catch up--I loved the two I listened to!

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  12. So great! Thank you for sharing this!

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  13. I'm all filled up with this, Mary Lee. BOB, and the glorious gift of time to do what you're planning. And such a simple start--wise.

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  14. I'm all filled up with this, Mary Lee. BOB, and the glorious gift of time to do what you're planning. And such a simple start--wise.

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