Thursday, June 22, 2017

welcome, summer: the round-up is here

Welcome, Poetry Friday friends, and glory be to the circle of the year!  We have come around again to that moment I love, where another year of teaching (my 30th!) is concluded and the summer break lies open ahead of me with time to do the things I have put off for days, weeks, months: writing, reading, rethinking, planning....nothing!

I like to think of myself as 50% teacher + 50% poet, but as all you other full-time teachers will attest, teaching is not a job which allows itself to be easily contained in a given chunk of time or attention. And if you add in a couple of family milestones, it's even easier for the 50% poet intentions to be overwhelmed by the ever-greater percent teacher obligations.

Just when we think we've got the hang of [insert your grade here] 2nd grade, along come new [insert your new initiative here] Monthly Instructional Reading Level assessments, and when we've got the hang of MIRL, along come [insert your next big thing here] Elementary Math Assessment Tasks, and when we've got the hang of EMAT, suddenly we realize that the daily discomfort is not an issue of "simple" overwork--it's an issue of INTEGRITY.  Am I spending my time in the classroom doing what I know is right for the children, or am I spending my time carrying out the agenda of adults who don't know my students?

The best classroom moments for me are when we are doing poetry.  Is it selfish to be thinking of expanding those moments, or is there something about the Lead Learner's passion that intensifies learning for everyone?  Right now I feel pretty certain about the latter.  On the very last day of school, I invited my class to collaborate on an acrostic poem using their class name, the Diamond Miners.  I typed their suggestions straight into a prepared format so that I could print it out and they could glue one last gem into their Poetry Anthologies.  Here is what they wrote:



What strikes me about this is the vocabulary they pulled out.  They knew we were celebrating our year, and I did give 6 or 8 examples of words we could start with (including "daring"), but other than that, my 2nd graders showed that they had actually taken in and now own the following concepts that were taught, modeled, discussed and practiced:

*accomplishment through effort, motivation and persistence, as by accomplished figures in American history
*moral courage, as in doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do
*open as in "open, open, o o long o"
*knowledge, as in what we know and have learned even if that doesn't include a silent k
*morning meeting as a way of greeting the day and each other, practicing silliness and mindfulness together
*intellectual risk-taking even if you're not sure
*that normal learning is enough for some
*that caterpillars metamorphose and so do we
*that "radioactive" is more than a cool word starting with R that names a song
*and that stamina, from the first day of school when we learned that IRS stands for "Independent Reading Stamina" to the last day of school when we all needed one more blast of stamina to get through, may be the most important learning skill

The surveys and letters I asked my students to write in the last days of school did not reveal this learning--a poem did! And it proves to me also that this poem also, used as a greeting and a game, sank in over 10 months.

Diamond Miners, diamond diggers
finding all the precious rocks.
Diamond Miners, diamond shiners,
lock them in your treasure box.

And just in case you can't guess, your treasure box is your mind and/or your heart.  Thanks for coming by today!  I wish you all a wonderful summer and look forward to being much more regular in my Poetry Friday participation than over the last 6 weeks.  Please leave your link below--it makes such a pretty patchwork--and enjoy the bounty!


35 comments:

  1. Wow, "Diamond Miners," they are! What a wonderful acrostic poem by your students Heidi, with such rich words. Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday, and I hope you enjoy your extra time this summer too!

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  2. Hi Heidi! I feel your frustration being a 50/50 teacher/poet. It must be very tough. Good work getting some poetry into the teaching side! Your kids did a great job! Best, BJ

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  3. Happy Summer, Dear Heidi! How proud you must be of those living "gems," and what amazing characteristics to come sparkling to the surface. :0) Enjoy some much deserved weeks of less structure; more personal poetry. (I have to pass this week re. an actual post, though folks still have a few more days to comment & enter a random giveaway of the ISSA book I featured last week.)

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  4. What a compliment to you and a year of learning together. This is authentic teacher assessment. I'm thrilled you got to see some growth and creativity in your students. Very special. Many congratulations on the milestones. I hear you loud and clear on the teaching and writing life. Rewarding after fighting for minutes!

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  5. Wow. Blown away that your Year 2 kids wrote that! Because yes, it was the vocabulary that leapt out at me, too! (I was thinking I must have missed your transition into Yr 6. :P) I too hear you loud and clear on that teaching/writing/life thing. I've just taken leave from teaching, because family and writing commitments were needing time that I didn't have - and teaching was demanding more time than it was entitled to. We shall see what the future holds... :)

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  6. Heidi--boy, oh boy--those lucky kids. And what a beautiful poem, reflecting the diamond talents of their teacher, clearly. I want to be a 2nd grader in your class! I, too, after decades, am experiencing major changes in the shape and scope of my class (though I teach adults in extension classes). I have new empathy for you and your colleagues who have been bashed from side to side for so many years. Congratulations for all the milestones in your family And HOW DO YOU HAVE TIME TO HOST, for heaven's sake? Enjoy your well-earned summer break.

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    1. PS: Out of the blue, someone contacted me for permission to put one of my poems on a bench in North Carolina! Details at (http://www.teachingauthors.com/2017/06/you-can-sit-on-my-poem-in-nc.html), where we're also holding a book giveaway of Darcy Patterson's newest book, SLEEPERS (post goes live Friday morning)

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    2. April, I would gladly plant my seat on your poetry bench anywhere! Congrats--that's cool!

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  7. Congratulations on another year of amazing learning! (I feel like I should stretch my vocabulary in the example of your 2nd graders, but I'm tired tonight!) Enjoy lots of reading and writing and doing lots of nothing this summer.

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  8. That is amazing language for the second grade. Wow. You must have lit their inner flames all year, bringing the light to the possibility.

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  9. Heidi, congratulations on 30 years! And big applause to your recent graduate too. My favorite line in the acrostic is "moral courage." Thanks for hosting today.

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    1. It's one of our "Pillars of Character" addressed school-wide, so I can't take credit for teaching them that vocab--but I sure taught 'em what it means!

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  10. What a cool acrostic! Sounds like you had a great year with the Diamond Miners. :) And Congratulations on 30 years -- wow!

    Enjoy your summer break -- hope it's filled with lots of inspiration and new poems. Thanks for hosting this week.

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    1. P.S. My link will go live at 6 a.m. Friday morning.

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  11. That is fabulous, Heidi! What a great reflection of your school year and the gift you've given them (and they've given you). I love your point about teaching not being a job that can be contained in a box. So true. I am constantly in awe of teachers like you and Mary Lee and Margaret and others who give so much of yourselves to your students and still manage to find time and energy for personal writing! Thanks for hosting:>)

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  12. The notion of mining, excavating, are great analogies fro writing, particularly poetry. you and your students have done some excellent digging. Thank you for hosting Heidi. Always appreciated by we fellow poets and educators.

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  13. I love the list you shared along with both wonderful poems, Heidi. My oldest granddaughter had a lovely 2nd grade year and I was thrilled that her teacher included poetry in the classroom all year. Many don't realize the power of 7/8 year olds and clearly you do! Congrats on the 30 years, wow! Happy Summer!

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  14. Congrats on keeping it all together with pizzazz, Heidi! And thanks for hosting!

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  15. Heidi, I was totally absorbed in your Diamond Miners' original poem. It is a fine example of students owning their learning. Your second graders are amazing excavators of beautiful language. Congratulations again for the milestone celebrations in your children's lives and for your 30 year teaching career. Despite all the twists and tugs in teaching, you managed to show your students that poetry counts as they spread their poetry love.

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  16. Wow...radioactive stamina. YES! How fun. And congrats on 30 years. Bravo! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

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  17. I'll let everyone else send the congrats on 30 years...mine is a Welcome to the 30+ Club! Bring on the radioactive stamina for this last chapter of the teaching story!

    Love, love, love the poem. Love that your best summative assessment was one done collaboratively. Because that's the way we roll, right? And we are always smarter together than we are alone.

    Hooray for summer, and thanks for hosting!

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  18. Heidi, we are so much on the same page today! I wish I could come sit in your classroom. I love the poem so much!

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  19. So many congratulations on your 30 years, Heidi. You are a gift to your students...and I couldn't agree more about the value of the Lead Learner's passion. What a poem! So many congrats to your family and here's to a summer full of poetry and surprises! xxxooo, a.

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  20. I like what Carol V. said above, your students own their learning. It's a good goal, and maybe it will carry them through the summer and beyond.

    Have a great summer of your own!

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  21. I finished my 30th year this year, too. I love the poem and your reflections about it are so important. I believe so strongly in the power of poetry and wish there were some way we could influence others to see it. Maybe we could collaborate on a book. My thinking juices are turning.

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  22. Congratulations on 30 years, Heidi! I'm amazed at the poem your students put together. Their vocabulary and the concepts in it are quite vast for 2nd grade. I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in a few years, some student won't credit you and 2nd grade in his/her valedictory speech as the mentor or catalyst to their success.

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  23. Heidi,

    Thanks for doing the roundup!

    I was an elementary teacher for more than thirty years--and I agree that passion and enthusiasm are contagious.

    At Wild Rose Reader, I have a caterpillar poem by Christina Rossetti--which was brought to mind after a bunch of caterpillars eating the dill plant in our garden disappeared over the course of two days.
    http://wildrosereader.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-case-of-missing-caterpillars.html

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  24. Happy summer, everyone - and happy summer break to you!

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  25. Well, wow--that's quite a class of young poets you have there. I'm so glad you share your poetry passion with your second graders. Lucky them, lucky you. Enjoy the summer!

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  26. This is awesome, Heidi! Your students' energy and passion for learning explodes right off the page. Congratulations on 30 years of teaching and all your family milestones. Have a wonderful, writing-filled summer!

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