Week two: poetry experiment. So this week my students returned with their research on Moore's "Baseball and Writing." Elston Howard was the first African-American to be on the Yankees. He held all kinds of records, and he played in ten World Series, winning six. A-mazing. This is just one thing they learned. We discussed how writing was similar to baseball in that writer's block is an "injury" one must treat, that writing is difficult, but worth it, and that, again, reading effectively is a process and a practice.
Then came Thursday. I have all kinds of fantastic poets on my reading list for this semester. These are writers whose poems examine American identity with artful thought. But I could not find a poem that I felt was appropriate for the second week of teaching my freshmen. One of the reasons last week's poems were what they were was for their "ease of use." Establishing trust in my classroom is the most important thing I can do in the first few weeks. No trust equals no results. I didn't want to drop an emotional bomb week two. So...I spent three hours Thursday morning searching for a poem about identity that was not too heavy, man.
Then, I found Glyn Maxwell's "Rumpelstiltskin." What a fantastic little huge poem. We read it. Then they blogged. We talked about lying, living two lives, privacy issues including OnStar and GPS, color theory, what nurses need to know about patients who lie and the reasons they lie, what teachers need to know about students who lie and their reasons, the nature of signifiers (!), and the relativity of truth. Yes, yes we did.
And...at least 50% of my second semester freshmen have never heard of Rumpelstiltskin. Seriously.
Tuesday, I expect to hear about how knowing the folk tale makes (or doesn't make) a difference in understanding the poem. I expect to hear about spinning straw into gold. And I expect to discuss the importance/significance of naming. Most of all, I expect (hope?) to hear interest in their voices and to see passion for learning in their eyes. How fantastic.