Saturday, May 8, 2010

poetry, dance and the Harlem Renaissance

One of the things I most appreciate about the school Elizabeth attends is the teacher's willingness to let the students take the lead if a particular topic sparks the class's interest. Several weeks ago, Elizabeth's class began studying the Harlem Renaissance, and each student was assigned a particular musician or poet from the era on whom to gather information. The lesson block was shortened by some late snow days and other factors and the class needed to move on to the rest of their poetry block (for National Poetry Month) and then to studying for standardized testing. Elizabeth's class so enjoyed studying about the Harlem Renaissance that they requested the unit on poetry be folded into the Harlem Renaissance unit, and they requested to write a poem about their selected person from the Harlem Renaissance. Thus their wax museum performance was born. I was able to attend their performance yesterday and was moved by the excitement and care each child had put into composing and reciting their poem (as their character).

{Elizabeth, reciting her poem as Bessie Smith}

I'm Bessie Smith, Empress of Blues,
coached by Ma Rainey in the Roaring '20s.
"Downhearted Blues" was my biggest pay,
and I subbed for Billie in Stars over Broadway.

I performed with all the greats like Louis Armstrong,
though only African Americans could watch me.
I started out singing on the streets
and ended up in the Hall of Fame of the Grammys.

Following their wax museum performance, the class did a tap dance (Tap, as a style of dance, developed during the Harlem Renaissance period.) to a Duke Ellington recording.

What a treat to see their natural interest in learning take off in this manner!


  1. Adam taught a survey course on the Harlem Renissance-- it's some of his favorite poetry!

  2. your daughter is just stunning! cool photos:)

    Happy mothers day sweet mama!


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