Gratitude takes many forms. Gratitude for my online community means writing a haiku-a-day in December. Mary Lee posted the challenge, and Michelle is curating all the bloggers participating. We are all using #haikuforhealing.
I also feel gratitude for poetry and for authors who promote poetry in the classroom.
Poetry has the power to transform a classroom environment. On Friday I went off the lesson plan path and shared a new book that I received at NCTE16 from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the partnership behind Poetry Friday anthologies. Just You Wait is their latest anthology. I love the new way this one is designed with a poem from an outside poet, a response poem from Janet, and a poem writing activity from Sylvia. The subtitle reads “A Poetry Friday Power Book”, and it certainly packed a good punch in my classroom.
After showing my students a picture of Margarita Engle (by looking at her picture, we knew she was of a different race, but which one?), I read her poem “Who am I?”. This poem speaks of the half Cuban she is and how there is no bubble on the form for being half. I have bi-racial students, so we talked honestly about what this means.
We also discussed the mentor text poem and how the end is like a punch line that makes you think. So my students and I wrote together using the form “Today I am someone who…” I could not have predicted the impact this exercise would have on my students. They wrote from their hearts. So much so that some do not want to share with the public, but they did feel safe enough to share with me and their classmates. We were all moved. And through connections and writing, we became closer, a stronger community of writers.
Some posted their poems on our kidblog site for the public. You can read them here. I emailed Sylvia and Janet, and they both graciously left comments. I can’t wait to share these on Monday. #Gratitude for digital spaces that allow this immediate and authentic feedback.
Erin handed me her poem and asked that I publish it on my blog. She is bi-racial. Her mother is from the Philippines. She is determined to fight the stereotypes.
Poetry Friday: Stereotypes
not just another stereotypical Asian
I’m someone who doesn’t want to be a doctor
I’m someone who isn’t just a goody-two-shoes
I’m not someone who thinks studying is more important than friends
I’m someone who doesn’t always make good grades
I’m someone who will never be just another Asian
I’m someone who will crush these stereotypes and others like it
I write alongside my students. When I wrote this last line, little did I know how true it was. My students find poems and express their hearts.
someone who welcomes toe tickles from my dog, Charlie
someone who froths milk for coffee every day
someone who looks at nature for inspiration
someone who finds poems hiding in her junk drawer
someone who finds poems in the hearts of children
— Margaret Simon
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