Sunday, February 21, 2016

Poetry Night at the Scott's Club!

Poetry Night 2016!

On the evening of  February 18th, my students read original poems at the Scott's Club!  Students have been writing poems over the course of the year.  They each chose their two favorite poems to share.  Together we further edited the poems and printed them into our program booklet.  Students autographed their poems after the readings.  We had a wonderful showing and a really nice time.  Thank you to everyone who joined us!   The following poems are a couple examples . . .

by Johvanie

You are the sparkling plate drying on the rack.
You are the Einstein thinking of the answers.
You are the teacher looking to help.
You are the beautiful stars shining in the dark sky at night.
You are the ruby-throated hummingbird.
But you are not the hopping grasshopper 
and you are not the rat getting into trouble.
I am the sun making the beach warm and
I am the numbers on the page.
But don't worry, you are still the shining stars in the night sky.

I Am Mourning Dove
by Anijah

I like eating the seeds outside Mrs. Linstrom's window.
I see a big green lizard in her room.
I love going to her bird feeder.
I see the kids looking at me when they line up for a run.
I see the kids everyday.
I wonder what they are thinking.
I am in the bird book they have in their desks.
I wish I could learn long division too.
I am Mourning Dove.

Of course there are many more great poems where those came from!  I am surrounded by poets!  Thank goodness!  Our next writing objective is to convince our state representatives to make the monarch the official state insect.  We will study some of the latest findings on monarchs and work on our persuasion techniques prior to writing our letters in the next few days.  Students may also be armed with clipboard and petition forms at local events . . . please sign your name and help us with this worthy cause!     

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Great Backyard Bird Count with Russ

My class had the good pleasure of going birding with Russ Schipper on Friday for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count!  For the past several years, Russ Schipper, of the Kalamazoo Audubon Society, has generously volunteered his time and expertise to take my class out birding.  He comes each fall to our classroom and teaches us about birds.  Throughout the year we further study Michigan birds using the Cornell bird site.  In February, Russ comes back and takes us out into the field to look for and to record bird sightings.  We submit our findings online as citizen scientists in the Great Backyard Bird Count through Cornell University.  This year was cold and windy.  Although we were only able to find three species of birds out and about (3 chickadees, 2 crows and a cardinal) we had a great time.  Walking quietly through the trails on that cold winter day was an adventure.  We even had the bonus of seeing a couple deer wander past.  I think it is safe to say, we all had a good time on this short winter trip through our backyard.  It is always a pleasure and privilege to work with Russ.  He has brought his love of birds to over 500 classrooms and thousands of children and adults have had the opportunity to learn from him about his favorite subject, birds.  And there is something else he shares I've noticed it each time I listen to him talk with my students and with me.  He shares a sense of wonder and an openness to learning that inspires the natural scientist in all of us.   There is no question Russ will not entertain.  If he doesn't know the answer, he researches it and writes us back with a detailed explanation.  He models the joy of learning as a lifetime persuit and my students and I count him as a wonderful friend.  Thank you Russ!

Next week we will be reading poetry at the Scott's Club, here is South Haven.  Each student will read two original poems on stage and will autograph their poems after the readings.  Many of the poems were inspired by the birds we study or our trips outdoors.  The following poem is one example.

Ode to Birds
By Brad

I love the brilliant colors of the American Goldfinch.
and the crowds of house finches at the feeders.
I love the red belly of the American Robin.
and the hum of the hummingbirds' wings.
I love to watch the black-capped chickadee zoom in and out as it flies,
and the pounding sound of woodpeckers on trees.
I love the shriek of the screech owl,
and watching the wading of sandpipers.

Whether it is studying birds in the field or writing poetry in the classroom, learning that connects with the students' lives and the world around them makes learning meaningful and hopefully encourages a lifetime of wonder that is clearly modeled by our friend Russ.  Happy bird watching and poetry writing to all those who are so inclined.  

Our next adventure will be to write our representatives and try to convince them that Michigan needs to make the monarch butterfly our state insect!  We are currently without a state insect and my class is convinced that the monarch should hold that position!  I certainly agree!  Thanks to Ilse Gebbard for encouraging us on this mission!  We hope to welcome the monarchs back this spring with a new title!