Our two schools are part of a wonderful project called “Banding Together”. In partnership with In This Together Media, the Van Meter third graders kicked this off while working on their Rainbow Loom research projects. After creating so many beautiful bracelets throughout the project, they wanted to do something special with all of these handmade creations. They partnered with In This Together Media to bring these bracelets, happiness, and friendship to children from an orphanage in Mangalore, India. The third graders decided to call the project “Banding Together” and the next step was bringing others onboard to make a difference in the world.
Shannon told Andy about “Banding Together” right away….Van Meter School couldn’t wait for Barrow Elementary to be partners with them too. Together they would bring so much to the children in India….and to each other.
Recently during a Skype planning session, Andy brought up the idea of incorporating poetry into the Banding Together project. It started with a wondering. What if we added short poetry, like a fortune cookie slip, attached to the bracelets? Shannon said, “Let’s go for it.” And the brainstorming began.
We both started thinking of possible titles for the short poetry. We wanted the title to represent the spirit and joy of the Banding Together project. In looking through poets, we thought of Joyce Sidman and her new book, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, & Blessings. In her note to readers, Joyce Sidman writes, “We believe in the power of words themselves. Why else would we pray, sing, or write? Finding phrases to match the emotion inside us still brings an explosive, soaring joy.”
That idea of finding a phrase that matches the emotions in our hearts really connected with what we hoped the Banding Together poetry would represent. Suddenly, we had a thought about our poems. What if we called them “Heart Poems”? They would have a connection to our inspiration from Joyce Sidman’s words. They would represent spreading the joy in our hearts to friends across the miles. They would also be symbolic of the heart charms that we have been creating on our Makerbot 3D printers.
We both reached out to Joyce Sidman to share our ideas and see if she would like to meet our students to kickoff the heart poem project. Not only did she say yes, she pointed us toward a great graphic organizer on her website that would help our students figure out what their heart knows.
Today our students in Athens, Georgia and Van Meter, Iowa came together with Joyce Sidman via Skype. After a quick hello and meeting her dog, she read the poem, “Blessing On the Smell of Dog”. She reminded us that when she is with her dog, she feels like she is home.
This setup the idea that poems come from what he hold in our hearts whether it’s joy, treasures, things we long for, or even what scares us. Joyce spent time walking through each question on the graphic organizer and giving examples of what the question means to her and why it’s important to think about all of these emotions we hold in our hearts, even the feeling of being scared.
She encouraged our students to write from their hearts. She also connected with our Banding Together project. She said, “You’re helping form a bond between you and kids in another part of the world.”
Our students were able to ask her some questions at the end of our Skype. When asked why she writes poetry and not other kinds of writing, Joyce said, “I notice the things that are happening around me and I celebrate them. Poetry allows me to focus on that one thing”.
She also told our students, “Even if there are times when you don’t write, you can always go back to writing from your heart.”
Our students left this experience eager to begin writing heart poems to attach to our Rainbow Loom bracelets. They will fill out the graphic organizer and then submit their poems using a google form.
Students can quickly get to this form from Symbaloo or by scanning this QR code.
Poems will go into a spreadsheet when they are submitted which will allow us to easily print them and attach to our bracelets.
We invite you to join us by submitting your own heart poems. Use Joyce Sidman’s great graphic organizer and have your students submit their poems in our Google form. We’ll attach them to bracelets that we have as well as share them with other special friends in coming months. You can also use the hashtag #heartpoems to share some of your poems on Twitter.
Thank you, Joyce Sidman, for inspiring this special addition to the Banding Together project, and thank you for taking time to connect with our students.