I have just finished creating the sixth (and final, for now, at least) book in my 30 Painless Classroom Poems series. Most of you probably already know my collaborator for this one, but if not, I’d like to introduce you to Mary Lee Hahn, who created a fantastically thoughtful activity guide for Why-ku: Poems of Wonder About the World.
Mary Lee Hahn
Teacher and poet Mary Lee Hahn is Superwoman! She teaches. She innovates. She writes gorgeous poetry. Here’s a recent one I like that reminds me I need to go put some Icy Melt stuff on our driveway! Anyway, it’s been wonderful to see her identify herself more and more as a poet grow over the past several years. She blogs. She joins or runs literary award committees. She wrangles the Poetry Friday calendar. She does it all. And, she does it well!
On top of that, she’s an excellent presenter (I was so glad she was part of the CLA Master Class: Reading Poetry Across the Curriculum session at NCTE last fall) and an all-around fun person to be around!
I don’t know exactly how she manages this, but it’s very impressive. Mary Lee’s blog posts about her classroom are both thoughtful and practical, and I knew her activities for Why-ku would be, too. I’m thrilled she agreed to collaborate on this book with me by writing these activities.
Bio: Mary Lee Hahn is a 5th grade teacher with more than 25 years’ experience in the classroom. She is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse, 2002) and has poems in the Poetry Friday Anthologies (K‑5, 6–8, and Science) and the anthology Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems.
She is a member of NCTE and is active in NCTE’s Children’s Literature Assembly. She is also a member of IRA and NCTM. When she’s not teaching or writing poetry, Mary Lee can be found reading, blogging, gardening, baking, fly fishing, or swimming.
Check out her website (and here’s where she stores her lovely poems, in her Poetrepository):
Visit her blog with Franki Sibberson: A Year of Reading:
Follow her on Twitter:
Here is Mary Lee’s introduction to her activity guide. It gives you a peek into her philosophy and approach:
?Answers are closed rooms; and questions are open doors that invite us in.? — Nancy Willard
Constantly asking, ?Why?? is the sign of a curious mind, and one of the most important traits you can help your students to develop is curiosity. Curiosity lasts a lifetime and keeps a mind learning long past schooling.
Each of the Why-Kus in this collection begins with an observation of the natural world. Noticing is the first step towards curiosity. Next comes the question, just as it would in a curious mind. The ?answer-kus? in each pair are not the ?closed room? answers in the Willard quote above. They are more like a poetic peek in the direction of an answer that the reader might go on to explore in his or her own way.
The activities that accompany each Why-Ku were also chosen not to close the door on learning with a pat scientific answer, but rather to extend student thinking about each of the questions. And of course, they are completely optional. First and foremost, enjoy the poems and the wonderful wondering they embody.
–Mary Lee Hahn
I’ll be sharing a couple more why-ku from my new book this week (I shared my first pair on Friday). I hope you enjoy them! If you do, check out Why-ku and Mary Lee’s awesome activities! It’s available for Kindle and in paperback–and if you buy the paperback, you get the Kindle version free. Thank you, Mary Lee, for adding your wisdom, classroom experience, and creativity to this collection!