Second Grade Poets, Architectural Students, and Radio Broadcasters

By Shannon Shupak, 2012 WPWP Fellow

Second graders at The Environmental Charter School call themselves poets. That is because over the last few months, these students have been reading, writing, and ultimately enjoying a wide range of poems. Expressing themselves through poetry has been both an educational and rewarding experience. Best of all, they were able to cross-connect poetry with architecture and public broadcasting and gain a better appreciation of the community.

Early in the poetry unit, Louise Sturgess and volunteers from Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) visited ECS second graders and connected poetry to the architecture of Park Place School (Environmental Charter School’s K-3 building). ECS believes in place-based learning, so it was a natural fit to study the lower school building since it is a member of the National Register of Historical Places. Students toured the building and learned about egg and dart molding, stained glass, and other architectural elements of the 110-year old structure.

Afterwards, students reflected on specific areas of the school and wrote poems about the architectural details. When they were finished, their poems were affixed next to photographs of the elements and placed on pubic display. This experience exposed the young poets to the melding of rhyme and personification with architectural details of their school building.

After the writing process was complete, the poets had the opportunity to share their work at the First Annual ECS Poetry Slam. Students competed to earn a spot reciting their poem on the Saturday Light Brigade program broadcasted from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Nine students shared their work live, on-air with Larry Berger, the Founder and Executive Director.

The young poets were energized by this experience and are looking forward to future partnerships with SLB in our next unit: persuasive writing.

Shannon Shupak, 2012 WPWP Fellow, teaches 2nd grade literacy at the Environmental Charter School with coteacher, Carly Catello.

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