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.)