Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers
Today began a short poetry unit in my reading and writing workshops. In writing class we began by immersing ourselves in the words of poets. After sharing a few of my favorite books with my students, I let them loose to read any poetry books they desired – alone or with a partner. Imagine my happiness when I glanced up after a few moments to see my normally chatty class quietly enjoying the world of poetry.
We spoke at length about the Ted Kooser quote I have hanging on my wall stating that you need to read 100 poems before attempting to write one. My students are well on their way.
In reading we are studying figurative language. The mentor text I am using for this unit is Sharon Creech’s Hate That Cat. To begin our unit we visited the poems in the back of the book – the ones Miss Stretchberry will reference throughout the book. We also read a few from Love That Dog.
In each of my three classes I cried twice. Once when I read the poem from Love That Dog where you learn what happened to Sky. We shared how brilliant Creech is that she is able to invoke such emotion in so few words. I felt the tears come again in the beginning of Hate That Cat because of a simple sentence, “you understand my brain.” I shared that the eight graders – the class I looped with – used to tell me that. After two years together, I truly did.
And then I remembered kids from the current seventh grade class and students from my class last year. Faces flashed in my mind, scenes from our time together raced through my memory. It has been awhile and I miss them terribly. I looked up at the final class of the day, my homeroom, and smiled. I knew that next year I would be thinking about them. I shared with them that I am always astounded by the power of words and story to make us remember, reflect. I dried my eyes and we moved on.
At the end of the day I began straightening up our carpet area after the last student was gone, picking up our pencils and pillows. I glanced up at my laptop in the front of the room and noticed a blue post-it stuck to the keyboard. I grabbed it to toss it in the trash when I saw the writing, “Dear Mrs. S., please move with us to sixth grade. You understand our brains.” Yowza. There it was – another moment, another relationship growing. Thanks, Sharon Creech for reminding me of what is important and for giving my students the chance to connect to a poem, a story, and to me.