Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"I finally know what I am doing"

During one of the sessions at the recent Dodge Poetry Festival, Naomi Shihab Nye told the story of her second grade teacher, Mrs Lane. She was 75 years young and refusing to retire because in Mrs Lane's words
"Why should I retire when I finally know what I am doing?"
Mrs Lane organized her class curriculum around poetry. Each week Naomi and her fellow second graders had to bring in a poem or even just a section of one that they liked, for whatever reason. Each student had a section of the board on which to write their poem or piece of. During the week, as they did math, or science, and Mrs Lane could make a connection with something that was written on the board, she would do so.

On Friday, each student would go back to the board to copy down the poem or section of that they liked that was not their own. Then the board was erased and they would start all over again on Monday.

It is no wonder now that Naomi is (1) and accomplished poet and (2) a noted anthologist. Look where she came from! Thank you Mrs. Lane.

Now, Mrs Lane was teaching well before the current regulated classroom and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) came in to the picture. Naomi still believes that within the context of NCLB, poetry can be worked into the curriculum like this. She also mentioned that there is one group of teachers at a school in Texas who are attempting to do this and preparing some metrics to help prove the impact.

If you have the will, you can find the way.
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