As a teacher, you know that when you trust your students to be creative, you run the risk of being shocked. However, I have learned to accept the surprises as they come. Truthfully, I look forward to my students surprising me with their amazing talent and ingenuity. I must say it is the best part of being a teacher. Luckily, I have had many wonderful surprises, and I know I will continue to be delightfully surprised. And I was thrilled to see that my students didn’t disappoint me during this particular poetry recitation.
While reciting Billy Collin’s “Introduction to Poetry,” a student of mine decided to demonstrate what it was like to “drop a mouse into a poem / and watch him probe his way out” (Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry,” 1996). Needless to say, this “show and tell” was a big hit! Having met Mr. Collins at conference, I know he would have approved this recitation with enthusiasm.
Collins, B. (1996). “Introduction to Poetry.” The Apple that Astonished Paris. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/001.html
For “A Bird came down the Walk” by Emily Dickinson
Last year, I did this huge poetry unit with my students. We had a lot of fun, and my video of that lesson ended up getting posted on the ASCD Edge blog (http://tinyurl.com/d45jlfq). This year I even shared all the steps with several rubrics for the world to use (http://tinyurl.com/ceqofcx).
Now we are doing this again, and my students began presenting yesterday. As usual, we are having a lot of fun. Since I required them to have a poster or an additional 3-D visual, my students are showing their creativity in different ways. For example, a pair presenting “A Bird came down the Walk” by Emily Dickinson brought customized cups for each student in class filled with chocolate pudding and gummy worms (see the picture above). Another group reciting “The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton wrote the entire poem with glow-in-the-dark ink on the back of their shirts. We had to turn all the lights off in the classroom while they were reciting the poem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take their picture in the dark. But you can see their work below.
“The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton
Another pair reciting William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” built a tree and brought it to class (see below). I also had a pair playing the bongo drum while reciting their poem, a pair using a telephone made with good-old-fashion strings and toilet paper tubes, and another pair holding a bonsai tree and a bird house to represent a tree outside the window. These kids are using their creativity beyond my limited imagination. I am so proud of my students, and I can’t wait to create another video to showcase their talent. I truly have the best job ever!
“A Poison Tree” by William Blake