Ms. Jolie and Ms. Luper worked hard to get all the classes scheduled in between testing, field trips, class photos, more field trips and more testing. One of the biggest challenges is getting the kids to focus, when they are understandably itchy to be out of the classroom. One way we figured out to deal with that was to let the kids out onto the field to investigate a big eucalyptus tree. In one class we brought bits of the tree back with us and wrote poems; in the other class the teacher passed out little notebooks she had, and the kids collected words while out in the field. Both techniques worked: the kids had tactile sense imagery literally at their fingertips. This photo is the group poem we wrote in Ms. Luper's class before I set them loose on their own work. I particularly love "little chewy plus nuts" -- an apt description of those little seed pods that fall from this particular variety of eucalyptus. One student came up with the phrase, and we both wrote it down in our notebooks.
On the day of the last lesson, the day before their last day of school, we had planned a lesson in personification. So, to kick of the lesson, I brought out a photo of my cat, Freya, taken by stellar photographer and friend Hannah Jenny. I asked the kids what feelings the cat was feeling. They came up with quite a list, and we talked about how you could tell if someone was tired, hungry, just waking up, just going to sleep, scared, lazy, or angry -- just by looking at their bodies, faces, hands, movements.
Then we listed all the feelings that the students were feeling about the end of school. Excitement was a big feeling, but they were honest that they also felt sad, confused, anxious, and happy, in some cases at the same time! The instructions for the lesson are to choose a feeling, and imagine that feeling as a person (or animal). Personify the feeling.
These are the personification poems we wrote about two of those feelings.
|List of feelings about the end of school on the left; prompts on the right.|
|Fear, described as a cat|
|Tiredness, described as a person, a boy and a girl|
Personification is a fun lesson. Sometimes students needs a helping hand, so we ask them to think about what they like, what makes them afraid, happy, sad, excited. One boy in this class wrote (approximately):
Excitement feels like going to Florida for the summer.
Excitement is your heart beating hard, running, dunking a basket.
Excitement wears a blue and gold t-shirt!
That last line imagines the feeling "excitement" as a Golden State Warriors fan. This young poet was so happy that he'd done something that surprised him.
Go Warriors!! And thanks for the fun, Stevenson Elementary!