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Interns Enjoy Hike and Write with Akron Students

Posted Sep. 30, 2013

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By Lisa Grande and Kyle Snyder, Teaching Interns
Under the trees at the Munroe Falls Metro Park, we waited for Miller South’s 4th grade class to arrive. The morning was cold, with little sunlight peaking through the branches. Mrs. Lori Galambos gathered her students around as we clenched our coffee cups and pulled at our sweater sleeves. Some students made sure to let us know that the low temperature did not bother them. Their interest was being held by the blue heron spotted at the edge of the lake. They were eager to hike, and to write.
They listened intently as I read My Blackberry Thicket by Ann Stafford. Some read along silently, others stared at me while I spoke, eyes wide. The poem was nature based, with strong images of rocks in the water, a green smudge of grass, a roof of bees. The students remembered these moments and recited them back when the poem ended. There was a definite creativity with this group and their imaginations expanded as we started on the trail.
As we hiked, I watched tiny heads hover above clipboards. A couple sets of feet stumbled over roots, as they paid more attention to the pencil in hand than the path itself. After just 10 minutes, some students kept pace alongside me, wanting to share what they had written. A majority of their papers were filling up fast, as they scribbled down images that caught their attention- the fuzzy caterpillar on a leaf, the fallen tree covered with moss, the hawk balanced on a log in the water. We assured the students they would have time to sit and write, but they continued to multitask, making true the title: “Hike and Write”.
At times, the young writers couldn't keep their streams of creativity from flooding off of the page. They told stories about being a wizard for a day, squirrels that had full heads of blonde hair, and falling into the green surface of an algae-topped pond. Nearing the end of the hike, stomachs growled for their paper-bag lunches and peanut butter sandwiches.  The students quickly soaked up a few final scenes before heading to where we would write and eat: the sponge-soft spot of land beside a pond and the haunting glide of a pack of turkey vultures.
We arrived at an area of picnic tables, and before the pencils were set loose, we shared a poem with them to reinforce imagery and present the ideas of repetition and alliteration. Then came the rush of lead and a flurry of vision. Every leaf and trickling brook was molded into the language of these young poets. Even the most talkative students stilled their restlessness and quickly filled the space between each blue line. They put voices in the air and turned lakes into pools of ink. All of the anticipation of lunch gently dissolved, and when it was actually time to begin eating, many students ignored their meal to continue their writing.  Their imaginations were too busy to let their stomachs do any talking.
“Who would like to share their poem?” After this question, almost every hand under the little pavilion shot into the cool air. The students conversed with their poems and spoke to nature. With the bench as their podium, they delivered their crafted words with quiet love and enthusiasm, and each piece was greeted with a chorus of claps and snaps. Unfortunately, time cut some of the sharing short, but there was enough poetry in that park to fill it from tree to tree. It is amazing to witness the pure imagination of these poets and their bond with nature. In such an uplifting setting, everyone grows a little bit, and everyone feels a change.