Folks will tell you that Texas heat is a dry heat – thus, us unannealed Yankees should quit fussing over it when we show up down there in August. To which I reply – a tortilla oven is dry heat but you don’t see folks lining up to get in. In fact the only thing warmer than the weather when Sara and I came down to lead a start of school PD session was the welcome and enthusiasm of our hosts and participants.
The Queen Bee of this visit to Region 10 – Richardson, just outside of Dallas, was the indefatigable Robyn Hartzell – she saw us speak a couple of years back with Nancy Steineke and Harvey Daniels at an IRA conference. After the day long institute she said, “What I love and always get out of your presentations is that poetry is not only a form of writing or art to express emotions, but it can be a vehicle for showing learning. You show how it is so relatable and “doable” which makes teachers and students much more willing (and able) to dive in and make it a part of everyday learning….not just a unit in April!”
Buy that woman a margarita! This is exactly Sara’s and my approach to using poetic devices in the classroom. We take the concept of precise and concise writing that is the backbone of poetry and use it to encourage close reading, distilled writing, and confident speaking.
We worked on refrain, summary, used personification to define content area words, wrote found poems from the text Of Mice and Men and practiced our public speaking skills – all in a jam-packed six-hour session – on the Friday before school started to boot! See what I did there? Texas – boot, ah ha ha!
Maybe my brain did cook a little in the Lone Star sun.
Nonetheless – I think we managed to grill up some pretty spicy strategies worth bringing to the table this school year that would rival any Tex-Mex offering from the joints up and down route 75.