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School visits

I do them.

Last week, I spent a couple of hours a day as "poet in residence" at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, NJ, which is where my daughters both went to elementary school. You'd be surprised how many teachers remember my kids, and how many of them would like to see/talk with them again, despite the passage of six years' time for Maggie and eight for Sara. They both had the same teacher for third grade, who is going to text Sara in hopes of visiting her in Charleston this summer. That's the kind of great people the school has on staff.

So it was no surprise that my visits went very well. First off, I've always found that kids love poetry. (I have been told that is, in part, due to my enormous enthusiasm for the topic, which seems like a possibility.) Specifically, I've found that the kids with ADHD and those on the autistic spectrum tend to respond fairly well to it, and that was borne out yet again last week (to the surprise of the librarian and some of the aides who sat in on sessions with the individual classes).

And the fact that the kids loved the poetry - and, more specifically, At the Boardwalk, is supported by the (sad) fact that they had all read the text of At the Boardwalk, but hadn't seen the book before my visit. (The librarian shared the printed text, but didn't have a copy of the book on hand.) One fifth-grade class came in with papers from an assignment they'd done on the book, most of which I didn't see, but one boy named Jaden K. shared this illustration he'd done based solely on reading the text:

"I wanted to show some diversity," Jaden said. The attached essay said he doesn't usually picture stuff well when reading, but this poem made him picture things clearly. We compared his picture to some of the ones inside the book, which features a wonderfully diverse group of people, and I told him I thought he'd nailed it. Over on Facebook, Mónica Armiño agreed, "Wow, nice picture! That boy has great talent and imagination." I made sure that got back to Jared, who was thrilled to hear it.

Another student, Erin, came in with a poem she'd written to show the less pleasant side of going to the boardwalk. She told me that her eleven-year old brother, who's in 6th grade and therefore at middle school, helped her out. But the poem was all her own idea - not an assignment.

At the Boardwalk
by Erin F

At the boardwalk
On the beach
I try to tan
But my skin stays peach

It has not been a fun time
I am not in a good mood
So I take out my lunch
And a seagull steals my food

When I thought my luck
Had taken a different route
I decide to go fishing
But I catch a boot

It is time to go home
It was not a good day
I wash off my feet
And my flip flop floats away

Don't you love it?

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
Aww, kids are great! It sounds like you had a lot of fun.
That picture is wonderful. And I agree, he is very talented. I hope he keeps drawing.
And the poem by Erin is wonderful too. I hope she keeps writing!
Great post!
Apr. 23rd, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
The kids were all really excited about the visit. Some of them asked me to sign autographs, and on Friday, some of them asked me to sign their hats. (It was "hat day", so they had ball caps on.)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 23rd, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
No kidding!
Apr. 23rd, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
I do love it! How fabulous that you've inspired like that.
Apr. 23rd, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
It really made my day week!
Apr. 25th, 2013 05:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it went well :)
Apr. 26th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jon!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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