Teaching students about poetry and memoirs isn’t unusual. However, teaching it remotely is a different story – one that Nicole Eldridge, seventh-grade English language arts teacher at South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy, is becoming familiar with during the school closure. Though, one thing that has not changed is her high expectations for her students.
“Miss Eldridge is an outstanding educator who has the highest expectations for all of her scholars and teaches to the whole child,” said Darren Terry, middle school dean at South Pointe. “Whether she is teaching greater academic skill through her engaging lessons or she is working with students on their self-control skills, every child in her care improves and becomes better.”
The school closures have switched up the game for many teachers this year, and traditional classroom activities aren’t able to take place. April was National Poetry Month, and usually Miss Eldridge would assign her students a project around slam poetry – where the classroom transforms into a café and they share muffins, cookies, and juice. This year looked a little different.
Miss Eldridge still had her heart set on celebrating National Poetry Month, so she found a way. “We haven’t technically done poetry yet,” said Miss Eldridge. “But since April was National Poetry Month, I wanted to honor that.”
Students were challenged to take an existing text and create a poem, known as found poetry, where they make new meaning with the words on the page. Students were able to use pages from old books or newspaper/magazine articles to create blackout poetry where they cover words to make a poem from the remaining words. One student created an environment-themed poem, and another created one from an old informational article.
“I loved seeing their creativity and how they used positive words, phrases, and bright colors to share their message,” said Miss Eldridge. “The students who submitted work used our current situation and chose to share an uplifting message to encourage others during this time.”
While she misses having day-to-day connections with her students and coworkers, the jokes her students would tell her, and seeing “ah-ha” moments with her students, she has come to enjoy giving students feedback in real time.
“I have a lot of students submit their constructed responses through Google Classroom, and I can read them right away and provide feedback for each student,” said Miss Eldridge. “I also love seeing students take accountability for their own learning. I have a handful of students up at 8 a.m. sending me work and asking clarifying questions. Students who were shy to speak up in the classroom are thriving on the Google Classroom format, and that makes my heart so happy. It’s truly amazing to see.”
After the poetry assignment, she gave her students a quarantine-themed task – creating a memoir based on their quarantine experience. “They are sharing how they felt when school was closed for three weeks, then how they felt when they found out they would not be returning to school for the remainder of the year,” said Miss Eldridge. “They will share their memoir with a classmate and that classmate will read it and write a summary of what they learned. They were very excited to try this.”
Keep up the incredible work, Miss Eldridge!