Writing while en route from DC to NY:
We’ve taken school away from campus this past week. Poughkeepsie Day School always has believed in experiential learning, and being immersed in a new place with teacher and classmates can’t help but be a learning experience.
Our sixth and seventh graders and their teachers have spent the week at one of the Nature’s Classroom sites. Our group opened the spring school season for them- and that meant this year’s group holds the PDS record for having the coldest trip week in PDS middle school history. With their teachers, the students have been learning about science, history, how to care about each other and the environment, and how to connect with each other. We like working with the Nature’s Classroom organization because they share the same values as our community, and have a dedicated group of teachers who love working with students and have high energy and fun ideas.
One night, the teachers used lines from the journals the students were keeping, to compose this found poem about the classes they took that day:
A Found Poem about classes
Today was amazing
I loved making my face feel perfect
I fed my face with fruits
The soothing cold moisturizer on my face
I fed my face food
Interesting facial features, followed by a dramatic response
Tasty food makes skin smooth
Red, hot, embarrassed cheeks
The wind hit my face as I walked through the mountains, peacefully as the sky
A lonely rock sat on the frozen water
In Nature’s Classroom, I went to a Haiku death match; it was really really fun
I felt the warmth of my finger as I crossed them, hoping the marble would make its way down the roller coaster
Round and round, passing the endless turns then suddenly we come to a stop
I built a roller coaster that smelled good
The sweet taste of kiwi brushing my tongue
The sweet smell of pineapple and the horrible taste of pomegranate skin
Sweet taste of the amazing apple lightly touching my tongue
Tension and strain are unrelenting; the metal groans and twists
As the stone drops, my heart sinks
The bridge sags
Everything is falling
Two fell in and all at once it fell to the floor
The loud crashing noise of pasta hurts my ears
Feel the squid blood ooze through my hair
Holding the dead and lifeless heart of a squid lying right in front of me
It feels weird and I can put my hand right into it
I listen for a splat, but all I hear is the swoosh of the parachute
Slowly falling down to the ground, landing safe and sound
White sphere falls
Yellow explosion follows
Yolk splashing in the sky like lightning
Warm mint and citrus tea filling up the room with a joyful smell
The smell of mint in the air
Anxious to drink it
This is not fair
Room crowded with the smell of tea and sweets
The scent of citrus and mint in the air
The warm tea washed down my throat giving my insides a hug
The burning citrus tea helped my raw throat
We made mint and citrus tea and it tasted and smelled so good
A wild cup of tea…it was divine
I sipped it down and it was sublime
You can read more, and enjoy an Animoto slide show of each day.
There are lots of ways to visit Washington, DC, and our eighth grade trip seeks to take advantage of making connections between the US history curriculum and our school values. Over the years, the trip has had some constants– doing some service, and student-led, not tour-guide led, monument tours are two examples. If we can, we make connection with an elected official or appointed official, or someone in an NGO.We also have found a couple of favorite eating spots, and we are proud of our step/mile count since we do so much of the trip on foot. (Thirty-one miles as of this writing– and we are not quite home yet).
We also add new things each year. This year we spent a night in Baltimore and visited the aquarium. It was a light-hearted way to start the trip. We ended on a more solemn note, since our last site was Arlington National Cemetery. Each night the students journal and each day also has a found poem composed from journal lines. This is the moving found poem from our serious day of service and the cemetery:
Today was a good and long day.
We were all pretty tired from the previous days.
We did so much today and were really productive.
We didn’t do as much walking and got to help to community.
We all woke up early to go to Subway to get some sub sandwiches for lunch.
First, we went to the food bank, at which my group sorted out over 700 bags.
It was exceptionally fun because I love sorting stuff in an orderly fashion.
The warehouse was MASSIVE!
We had to sort different types of frozen items into about 5 boxes.
It was a little intimidating at first, but then we got into a working rhythm and we worked fast and efficiently.
I felt great knowing that I helped out.
We went out to the Arlington National Cemetery, which was interesting and thought provoking.
It was kind of sad because there were tons of graves.
The graves seemed to go on and on, and it was an extraordinarily powerful sight.
The view from JFK’s burial site was breathtaking, and it showed the skyline of DC.
There were also beautiful quotes engraved on stone by John F. Kennedy.
It was really amazing to see the salutes for the Tomb of Unknown Soldier.
I can’t even explain how amazing it was to see how professional and precise these guards were, all the way down to their walk, which was steady, almost like something on wheels.
There were a lot of deep words and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was humbling. I will remember this forever.
I couldn’t believe that there was so much emotion.
I saw a side to my friends I’d never seen before. Deep feelings and thoughts, just being surrounded by so many dead people who had served our country.
I had a lot of fun in DC with all my friends, I wish it lasted a little longer.
I can’t wait to drag my entire family back to DC to tell them all of the amazing things I have learned on this trip.
Both groups are heading home and then off for spring break. Many thanks to families for supporting this program with your trust and enthusiasm. For some students, this marks the first time away from home. Once that threshold has been crossed, the entire world is open to them!
And of course, many, many thanks to the dedicated and caring teachers who accompanied the students. These trips originated through teacher ideas and enthusiasm. It is their commitment to the way we believe student learn: through community, immersive experiences and student-centered teaching that makes the trips successful and worthwhile.