I admit I am not in love with my current ELA curriculum. It would not come as a shock to anyone around me. I try really hard to love it, I really do. I make copies of it, I keep it close to me on my desk, I stroke the pages, I highlight parts of it….nothing is helping. I keep thinking about that scene in Apollo 13 when the rocket scientists are told they have to fit a square peg in a round hole. (or vise versa) Its painful and awkward.
When I was a kid, I remember very little about actual school. It seems as though all my amazing skills were just shot into my arm with a really big syringe and bam! I’m brilliant. Well, at spelling, mostly, almost always…( I just misspelled always three times). The point is, I don’t remember lessons on grammar. I remember my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Katy, telling me that I should make my own dictionary. I would supply her with words that made total sense as far as prefixes and suffixes went, but apparently they were still undiscovered by the official ‘word making people’ of the world. I was disappointed when I found out there isn’t actually a word making job. (wait, writer!)
I remember going to a really amazing summer camp or something where I was titled ‘gifted writer’ and was told to write amazing things I probably should have saved. I thought that was the end all. I had reached the top and could probably order my graduation gown then.
Of course, I’m sure I had classes and worksheets and all that good stuff, but I don’t remember any of it. I only remember the creative writing classes where I got to do what I wanted. I also remember high school English where my teacher was the doppleganger for the crazy captain in the Kane Mutiny. (which he had us watch) Yes, I did buy him two steele balls and left them on his desk anonymously….or did I dream that? I should have if I didn’t.
If I had classes where I had to diagram sentences, or practice verb tense til I WAS tense or write poems about VA hospitals, I either skipped those days or I blocked them to dim the pain. I am passionate about words! About literature! About helping kids find the freedom in poetry! This is why, I don’t love my curriculum. Refer back to the squares and rounds….
We have stepped out of the box. We have torn apart words and poems and even papers. We have made dream poems, sensory poems, travel poems, nonsense poems, and even black out poems. Nothing sets a student free quicker than a black out poem. My sweet ‘challenge student’ composed a black out poem that almost made me cry. THAT is what I want to do and what I need to do.
I’ll do the worksheets if I have to, and I’ll read about figs and trees and birds on a walk, but when it comes down to it, I’m going to do my best to make my students fall in love with poetry and words and writing. This week is our blackout poetry event. Blacked out windows, lava lamps glugging, poems being read and snapped to. I may even take my drum. Because, would it be so bad if there were a few more people like me in the world? I hope not….cause I said so.
Image found: http://www.miataturbo.net