Silver Linings

Great resources, organizations I support with dollars, these, I’ve decided, should make their way into my posts. Among them is the Academy of American Poets. If you follow the link, the blog’s tagline from Poet Laureate Jo Harjo says it all, “Without poetry, we lose our way.” I’ve written several times about my love of poetry and of specific poems and poets. What I share today emanates from a particular feature they offer every Monday. You can subscribe to receive the “Teach This Poem.” I hope you’ll check it out.

I don’t think I’ve shared how wonderful it was to start a day in my middle school classroom with a poem, and after reading it a couple of times with different voices, to let the kids write off of it or sketch. Nancie Atwell, Tom Romano, McKeel McBride, Georgia Heard, the list of those who recommend a poem-a-day goes on.

My students’ work astounded me, gobsmacking art, poems in response. When they’d choose their favorite phrase, often a complete line, because they just couldn’t abbreviate the beauty, and we’d read the lines in what some NCTE presenter once dubbed, “Symphony Style,” oh, the chill-producing wonder of it—and not just for me. When silence greets the end of an activity among eighth graders? Magic.

All the lovely arts-sharing that I’m seeing via social media affirms what we know to be true: crisis triggers creativity. I know I was inspired. (Thanks to blogger Paula Bourque, a participant in the Slice of Life March Challenge).

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(“The Truth about Why I Love Potatoes” is by McKeel McBride who always rocks my world!)

6 thoughts on “Silver Linings”

  1. Poetry seems to have a power no other form of written expression has. I have often been surprised by some of the work my students produced. I understand the that silence you mentioned. When something inspires and touches a roomful of students it is magic.

  2. I love your post – it makes me miss teaching. Nancie Atwell’s “Naming the World” was one of my favorites to use with my middle schoolers, and I adore all of Georgia Heard’s books. Thank you for sharing the Academy of American Poets resource – I’m going to look into “Teach this Poem”. Are these your journal entries/notebook pages in your post? Do you do this on your own, or are you still working with kids? (I’m thinking I may start doing this for me.)

    1. I’m a substitute and have written several posts about that. I have been a journal-keeper forever, boxes of notebooks.Donald Murray called writers ones who have twice-lived lives. I love that idea.

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