17
Thu, Jun
6 New Articles

Poetry and Making Sense of the Natural World

Instruction

I have a deep love of the arts, music, and poetry. I also have a love for the outdoors, teaching, and specifically teaching young students outside about the environment. I often like to combine my two passions of environmental teaching and the arts with the students I teach. Each time I am pleasantly surprised at how well fourth-sixth graders respond to the integrations of arts and the environment, specifically to poetry.

I have a lesson that I’ve done quite a few times with students, that I have adapted and made my own. I call it the perspective and “I am poem”. I often do this poetry exercise when talking to the students about perspective, and that is often when we are high up on the suspension bridge, or at the very top of the canopy tower. After having a conversation with students about what perspective is, I introduce the “ I am poem” exercise. I have them open up their journals, and write down “ I am, I hear, I feel, I see, I think, I am”. Then I have them choose an animal or organism to take a perspective from. For example, one student chose a bat, and wrote “ I am a bat, I hear people talking, I feel the wind blowing, I see the trees down below, I am a bat”. You can make this poetry exercise as simple or complex as you want. I try to listen to what my group wants to do, and then adapt it to that.

This spring quarter, I was teaching 6th graders every Friday for 8 weeks in a row. I realized quickly that they love writing and are very thoughtful, so I often add more complex writing lessons in our day. One time I tried to do the “I am” poem with them, and they decided they wanted to do Haikus instead, which was great.

Any advice I can give is to not underestimate your students ability to listen and write poetry while outside. More often then not, being outside will inspire them to write more, and focus on writing what they see and hear around them. I would also advise not to underestimate fourth-sixth graders ability to listen to poetry. I am often pleasantly surprised that each time I sit down to read them a poetry book, they are all very excited and invested in the poetry story. Especially if the poetry book has pictures, the students are often excited about how the pictures match up with the storyline, and the poems.

At the beginning of this year, I was hesitant blending arts and the environment, because it seemed that the students might just want to run around and do more hands on activities after being in online school all day. I have noticed a need for still wondering, observing, and curiosity when it comes to books, and especially poetry for the students I have taught. They have inspired me to keep going and to continue to teach poetry and the environment outside!

I have a deep love of the arts, music, and poetry. I also have a love for the outdoors, teaching, and specifically teaching young students outside about the environment. I often like to combine my two passions of environmental teaching and the arts with the students I teach. Each time I am pleasantly surprised at how well fourth-sixth graders respond to the integrations of arts and the environment, specifically to poetry.

I have a lesson that I’ve done quite a few times with students, that I have adapted and made my own. I call it the perspective and “I am poem”. I often do this poetry exercise when talking to the students about perspective, and that is often when we are high up on the suspension bridge, or at the very top of the canopy tower. After having a conversation with students about what perspective is, I introduce the “ I am poem” exercise. I have them open up their journals, and write down “ I am, I hear, I feel, I see, I think, I am”. Then I have them choose an animal or organism to take a perspective from. For example, one student chose a bat, and wrote “ I am a bat, I hear people talking, I feel the wind blowing, I see the trees down below, I am a bat”. You can make this poetry exercise as simple or complex as you want. I try to listen to what my group wants to do, and then adapt it to that.

This spring quarter, I was teaching 6th graders every Friday for 8 weeks in a row. I realized quickly that they love writing and are very thoughtful, so I often add more complex writing lessons in our day. One time I tried to do the “I am” poem with them, and they decided they wanted to do Haikus instead, which was great.

Any advice I can give is to not underestimate your students ability to listen and write poetry while outside. More often then not, being outside will inspire them to write more, and focus on writing what they see and hear around them. I would also advise not to underestimate fourth-sixth graders ability to listen to poetry. I am often pleasantly surprised that each time I sit down to read them a poetry book, they are all very excited and invested in the poetry story. Especially if the poetry book has pictures, the students are often excited about how the pictures match up with the storyline, and the poems.

At the beginning of this year, I was hesitant blending arts and the environment, because it seemed that the students might just want to run around and do more hands on activities after being in online school all day. I have noticed a need for still wondering, observing, and curiosity when it comes to books, and especially poetry for the students I have taught. They have inspired me to keep going and to continue to teach poetry and the environment outside!

About the Author
Natalie Lassiter

Natalie is a current grad student, pursuing her Masters of Education. She currently an environmental educator at Islandwood.