School projects as therapy

My students are currently completing their poetry unit by doing the Insight Project, NO not Project Insight a la Captain America: Winter Soldier, yes I know my geek is showing but I’m good with that. Anyway, for this project students picked a song, specifically they were looking for lyrics. They then analyze the lyrics for elements of poetry: rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, symbol, personification, refrain/repetition, allusion, imagery, theme, and response to theme.

It’s the last two that are the kicker, the students identifying the theme of the song and making a personal response to it. I’ve had several students who picked songs that may not have had a lot of elements of poetry but that instead had a great deal of meaning to the student. Two students picked songs that lead to them discussing the loss of someone in their family, one was near tears when they finished. Another student spoke of a time that a neighbor purposely hurt his dog. Yet another student shared how they connected to a song about being alone because at one point they had no friends.

My students seem to be using this project not only to review their elements of poetry as therapy. Working through personal issues while they do their assignment.

This should really come as no surprise to me. I have a close friend who used our term paper junior year to help work through a deep seated issue. It was hard to watch knowing the issue that my friend was dealing with but at the time I had no idea just how hard it might be for the teacher watching. My friend let the teacher know ahead of time that this was an issue that was very personal and after the presentation on the term paper that they  might need to leave the room and could I come too. My friend made it through presentation (I was SO proud) and then pretty much bolted from the room. All it took was a quick look at the teacher who nodded to me and I followed. As awful as it was, I think it really did help my friend start to heal and was one of the bright spots for me in an English class that I really didn’t enjoy with a teacher I really didn’t like, odd for me and English classes/teachers.

Now I’m on the other side, watching my students work through their rough spots, their traumas, their lives through school work and I just want to hug each and every one and let them know someone is there for them.

Yep finally had one break down into tears couldn’t even finish the presentation. Knew it had to happen at some point. Have the kiddo a hug as did several classmates which really made me tear up, then the student came back later in the day to apologize for bringing the class down. I love my kids!


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