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Calgary and Lethbridge Poetry Workshop

Collaboration really does pay off – at least it did for some Calgary and Lethbridge students this past week. literacydays2 Two of the province’s Vision Resource Centres – Calgary and South, as well as the Calgary Separate School District offered a poetry workshop for students from both the Calgary and Lethbridge communities.  In Calgary, the program ran on January 27-28, 2010, with the first day focusing on those students who read braille and the second day focusing on those students who have low vision.  They had a wonderful turnout on both days, with 16 and 20 students in attendance respectively.  Students of all ages were encouraged to attend, thus creating an environment where students from Grades 1 to 11 were interacting and working together.  This unique learning environment not only gave the older students a chance to develop their leadership skills, but it also offered the younger students some insights as well.  For instance, one young student asked, “Do all of these students have white canes too?”

Although friendships were formed and new skills were practiced, the intended focus of the workshop was poetry.  Actually, one of the highlights of the program was the attendance of a guest author, Lori Nunn from Canmore, AB.  Lori proved to be a wonderful and motivating speaker, as she shared a lot of different poems and stories with the students.  On the second day of the workshop, Lori was even able to present to Lethbridge via teleconference, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the three education teams that were involved.  It was a brilliant example of the benefits that can be reaped from the sharing of resources.

Aside from Lori’s presentation, the students in Calgary worked in groups and traveled to four different centres throughout the course of the day.  The centres included:  literacydays3

-A poetry walk-about where the students navigated throughout the school to find/read/discuss poems that were mounted along the wall
-A poetry reading centre where the students read poems/books written by the guest author as well as turn-taking poems with a partner from their group
-A poetry writing centre where the students were given the opportunity to write their own poem
-A discovery centre where the students were able to tactilely and visually explore many different artifacts from nature

Each of the centres was engaging and well planned, and it was quite evident that the students enjoyed them. 

The program was quite different in Lethbridge, where the students were able to explore both poetry and music.  Food was the theme used to engage the students as they explored word play, rhythm and rhyme while putting their own version of a poem to music.  The students used a unique version of Mary had a Little Lamb, a Lobster, and Some Prunes as a starting point for their creation of Yucky Food.  The students also had a chance to learn the song Rats for Lunch.  After listening to the song, the students had the chance to decide which phrase evoked a particular mood or feeling that could be represented with a sound effect.  The students had to listen for their part in the song and then make their sound effect at the correct time.  Once the song was practiced and complete, it was recorded with Andrew, a music therapist, and shared with the guests who attended the program.

Overall, both events were a great success, and as such, congratulations are certainly in order to each of the three vision teams that were involved in putting this fabulous program together!  Keep up the great team work!