PITW#32 Inject Creativity Into Everything
One way to encourage literacy skills in students is to get those creative juices flowing! As the Putting Idealism to Work #32 demonstrates, illuminating creativity is a wonderfully useful way to encourage students to write. At City Year Philadelphia, Corps members aim to improve their students’ literacy skills through cultivating an environment of reading and writing. Further, AmeriCorps members are placed on specific teams within the schools they serve to research and provide resources for best practices in literacy, math, extended learning time, social-emotion learning, and attendance.
For example, the Literacy Team at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School in North Philadelphia had a recent writing initiative, the Holiday Creative Writing Contest. Centered on the theme of gratitude, students were highly encouraged to write a poem on thankfulness. Although open to creative expression, the poem had a few requirements: 3-5 stanzas, four lines each, must illustrate gratitude. The poem did not need to rhyme, but many students exhibited their rhyming abilities, or “bars” in their words. To encourage the whole school to write poems, the team decided to choose one winner from each grade (5th-8th) and awarded them prizes.
Some students were hesitant to write a poem, citing their lack of knowledge about verse. Yet Corps members countered their uncertainty with “You listen to rap, right? Well that’s poetry.”
Students poured their lyrics to the Literacy Team, proving their ability to creatively write. Not only did students learn poetic terms like “stanza,” but more importantly they had the chance to showcase their writing in an environment that does not always have room for expressive arts opportunities. Through this City Year literacy initiative, the middle school scholars at Grover amazed and impressed their Corps member mentors, and found a creative spark within them.
Below are some of the our favorites:
“Poem” by a 5th grader
Roses are red
Violets are blue
When I go home I will sing with the love
And I will fall asleep with the sweetest
thing I love
And wake up with a wonderful life
And all I dream of is my family
My family made everything in my
My mom and dad cares, love, and make
Sure my life is good
My family has my back
My friends have my back
I have my family and friends’ back
And no matter what I will always
love them all my life
“City Program of the Year” by a 6th grader
Thank you City Year,
I wonder how you got here,
Once you came into my life,
My mind didn’t have to sacrifice!
But why am I grateful?
‘Cause everyday you guys help me pull,
So when I am in need,
You guys would help me take the lead.
What are you guys grateful for,
because I want to know more,
about you and City Year,
Now there is no fear.
Now I don’t have anything else,
but I would have this one last say,
so here I go saying this,
Thank you for helping me!! :)
“The Feast” by a 7th grader
There is a delicious aroma in the air
My mom is cooking a feast, which is very rare
Friends and family are visiting my humble home
Even my favorite great aunt from Rome
Everything in the house is sparkling clean
Even the very big flat tv screen
Everyone is dressed all fancy
Even my very sloppy cousin, Nancy
Everyone gathers around the table
And my dad turns off the cable
One by one you say what we are thankful for
Then it’s time to eat and my stomach roars
Written by Shannon Fasanella, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member serving at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School