Regardless of how many times I sit behind a piece of new technology, in this case a Makey-Makey, it continues to dazzle. You would think it wouldn’t, but it does. The inner child in me bursts full of life, thinking, how is this possible? Therefore it should come as no surprise if something I’ve played with hundreds of times still confounds me that when shown to school children for the very first time, well it might as well be the magic that fills their universe. And in Hacking Poetry, this was exactly the case.
Trying to forget expectations coming into this two day class of Katie Cooper’s at Salmon High School, I’ve learned from previous programs to cut down on the talking and get right into action. This was an early success. Get the kids moving. Get their hands on the material. Get them MAKING! I’m always amazed at the way different groups, genders, ages, attack problems. This class was no different. From cooperative listening skills and building in an organized manner, to the brute force trial and error approach. Two different roads, both to the same goal. No one more right then the other.
Instantly sparks of curiosity illuminated the room. What was this magical device? And how did it work? And how do we make it do what the Librarian just mentioned? After some key moments of hands on facilitating there was no looking back. The rowdy boy bunch took to the hallway to record their rapping version of their Dr. Pepper poem. Only to show up 30 minutes early to the second class to get the opportunity to work on their project some more. (always a good sign of a lesson plan). Others methodically broke their project up into the mechanical versus the creative. Collaborating to build in the end poem beauty. Each moment for them felt like a journey, a discovery of unlimited possibilities…and isn’t that what “Making” should do? Fill us with wonder? The power each child possessed in those moments drove them to completing the next. And then it was over….
With their poems complete, Ashley (Salmon School Garden Project coordinator, who helped them write their poems the day before) was our test subject to interact with their poems. From live chickens and cats, to a broken egg in a glass jar, she too experienced the joy of bringing literature to life. Having students of other classes preview such an interactive project-based learning asking out loud, “What class is this?” hoping to join in, visits from the principal and fellow teachers, only further demands the need to incorporate this type of learning. When we give students the tools and then steward them through a process, the learning is magnified, the engagement doubled, and experience remembered.
A HUGE thank you to the students who participated, the teachers who welcomed us, and to Colleen Graves – the inspiration behind this wonderful project, to incorporate the modern technologies we have at our disposal with the time honored art forms of poetry. What a revolution this is creating!