In Awakening the Heart, Georgia Heard has a chapter entitled Making a Poetry Environment: A Place Where Your Life Really Matters. She describes many wonderful ideas for setting up a classroom environment "to nurture the poet inside all of our students." One example, from a second grade teacher in New York, really caught our attention. As Georgia Heard writes, Fran Rosen "framed part of a window with crepe paper and called it the poetry window - where kids could look out, daydream, observe the world, and write down what they saw." Here's our version (thanks to my assistant, Pam Maxey). This window is not in our classroom. Instead, it's in the stairwell and invites the entire community (parents, teachers, and children) to look outside. The window looks out over the courtyard. From this view you can see hundred year old walls climbing with ivy, young children playing and running, high schoolers soaking up the sun on their lunch break, squirrels causing mischief and a mama crow resting in her nest in a giant old oak tree. Here are a couple of the poems we've added to the window so far:
The Common Crow
Likes to eat.
Black and glossy.
Rude and bossy.
©1996 Douglas Florian, on the wing
Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.
If you stood with your feet in the earth
Up to your ankles in the grass
And you arms had leaves running over them
And every once in awhile one of your leafy fingers
Was nudged by a bird flying past.
If the skin that covers you from top to tip
Wasn't skin at all, but bark
And you never moved your feet from their place
In the earth
But stood rooted in that one spot come
Then you would be me:
© 1972 Karla Kuskin, Any Me I Want To Be: Poems