Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Day Three

Reading over the shoulders of the eighth graders working on the essay portion of their practice social studies test, I saw how far they've come since sixth grade: a long, long way. Their writing is so polished. Sometime in the last two years, they internalized a few things about introductions, conclusions, opening sentences, referring to text... I am so proud of them and of my colleagues who have helped them come so far.

After the social studies diagnostic, they worked on Power Point presentations to "sell" the core values. I've written before about the real tragedy of cutting art classes - and I stand by what I wrote - but today I observed that the students' aesthetic sensibilities have matured a lot over the summer. Every group chose just one background design for all their slides, and wrote in fonts and colors that make sense together.

Some groups were fooling around, yes, but I saw other things that I liked. One group split up the work so that each student was working in his or her niche, particularly one boy who often gets off task because he's a very weak writer. While the others wrote the script for their presentation, this boy worked on formatting the presentation. He was so proud of his contribution to the group!

I wrote this in April - but it is the best summary of today that I can imagine. The quote in italics is from Thich Nhat Hanh, who made Buddhism make sense to me. The dahlia was murdered by a feline intruder, by the way.



Today, my dahlia grew visibly,
yearning like everything in the city for spring
It was like they say about seaweed or the jungle,
you could almost hear it growing, cotyledons creaking upwards
tugged toward the thin glimmer of a rainy day.

At times a person may grow in this way.
I have seen children -
looked, one day, and seen -
the spreading of their minds, open, like first real leaves,
looked back on their writing, the way they think about things
and felt that one is not expected to grow so fast,
though children grow always with such beautiful urgency.

And I too may grow in this way.
A long season of germination, and then -
now I am a shoot, sun-nourished at last, noticing
how dark the earth was, though rich. I feel light.
The lotus flower does not think, "I do not want the mud."
I feel the earth around me, shaken from my leaves.
We are always in need of each other.
Filtered through the alley, the light pulls gently -
and in a day, I know I've changed,
you could almost hear me growing, unfolding
from seed, stem, leaves within leaves.


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