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Monday, December 3, 2007

Poetry in Flight

Today I began a bug poetry residency with third and fourth grade students in Middlefield, Connecticut. We'll be exploring poetry, investigating insects, then putting our work all together in some kind of grand finale yet to be determined. The classroom teachers and art teachers are involved, and when the new music teacher heard about our plans he wanted in as well - something about dynamics I don't understand but I'm totally up for! It is a privilege, and very exciting to be in a school that celebrates, collaborates, and integrates the arts in this way.

Another extra wonderful thing about visiting this school is that it's the school my two college student daughters attended for first through fourth grades. Two of the three teachers I'm working with are "mine" - that is, they each had one of my daughters in their class. I am so lucky to be working with them and revisiting the elementary school I loved so much when I was a parent volunteer/hanger-arounder, wishing I was in elementary school again. I learned so much from these teachers then, and I'm looking forward to learning from all of them and their students as our residency progresses.

Each group of students brought a different interest sand excitement to our poetry study. Lots had poems to share with me that they'd enjoyed reading, or had already written themselves. In one of the classes, kids were raising their hands to volunteer rhymes, and one student raised her hand and also stood up. She was practically shaking with excitement. Wow, I thought, this lesson is better than I thought. When I called on her, her raised hand became a pointing finger. "Look!" she said, hopping up and down, "a butterfly!"

Sure enough, the first of 21 butterflies had emerged from its chrysalis, part of their class study of the life cycle of the monarch. We stopped rhyming to admire the insect's crumpled, small, but perfect wings, and then the students broke into a spontaneous welcome butterfly dance. Wahoo!

Within minutes, the monarch looked every bit as regal as its name. I can't wait to visit again next week and see whose wings will spread!

Posted by author Leslie Bulion, October 2007

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