What’s weird, conducts electricity, and is a good citizen?
The poets of Pasir Ridge International School in Balikpapan, Indonesia, of course!
Balikpapan is a strange sounding place populated by friendly and familiar faces. Who could forget a mascot such as the one above? I even recognized some of the faces in the assembly. Taller bodies, bigger feet, but the same smiles. Michael and I were here 2 years ago and were pleased as papayas to be back in this special learning place.
Pictured here is the reading space a middle school classroom, complete with pillows and plenty of books and space in which to stretch the mind and the legs.
In Theresa Marriott's 3/4 grade classroom, we tried our hands at personification and then performed close surgery on our drafts to pare them into more precise poetry. During our second visit with her classroom we wrote definition poems about electricity where I learned that a circuit has to be closed and cannot be polka dots.
This year there are both a K-1 and 1-2 splits at PRIS. We were lucky enough to spend two full hours with each class -- two full hours with beginning writers is an incredible opportunity for us as we are generally limited to one 30 or 40 minute writing session with this age group at a school. Sometimes all we get is a drive-by where we share a few poems and then are hustled off. But being a small school has some definite advantages, with class sizes of about 10, we had time to get serious about writing and get a little goofy afterwards.
In each class we introduced writing lessons from our book High Impact Writing Clinics that had originally been conceived for students in grades four and up. But as this is a writing school, the kids were quick to engage as we first co-constructed poems, creating our own mentor text, and then wrote independently. We wrote about feeling weird (why not?) and talked about how important a conclusion is in our writing.
The best part is
I’m drooling on my desk
The best part is making a silly face.
After this writing adventure, we brainstormed what it means to be a good citizen, first co-constructing the bare bones of a poem using a refrain and then going back to add in vibrant details before taking our clip boards and writing on our own.
Special thanks to Principal Seamus Marriott for the invitation, the opportunities, and the yummy meals.