Friday, April 6, 2018

My Favorite Subject is Science

The miracle is not to fly in the air or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.  
~ Chinese Proverb

My Favorite Subject is Science

Photosynthesis is the
inside plants. Our planet changing from season to season is
any less miraculous. And to
learn that planes fly
not because of the engine but in
response to the
lift of the air
under the wings -- amazing! Food chain or
food web – both work elegantly to
balance life in the wild. Walk,
run, stand, sleep: your heart beats on.
cycle, symbiosis, sound waves – more miracles asking nothing but
that we pay attention to
this walk
we have been given on

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Some process notes about this (crazy) project...

In about mid-March, each of the thirty 5th graders in my class chose a quote from the classroom quote books or the stack of GapingVoid ( cartoon-quotes I printed and laminated a few years ago.

Before the end of March, I typed each quote (vertically and right-justified) in its own document.

On the drive from Ohio to Colorado and back during spring break the last week of March, I fiddled around with most of the quotes and wound up with about 10 poems that felt mostly ready. I panicked a bit because I realized that I wouldn't be able to write a poem about each child using the quotes they'd chosen. So I made a sheet with all the names and a brainstorm list of all the topics we've studied so far this year. Whew! There are at least as many topics as students! Some of the poems will wind up being more about the child who chose the quote than others, but all of them taken together will be a record of our year together this year.

In answer to Diane's question from yesterday's comments about how I actually go about drafting the Golden Shovels: As I mentioned, I have the quote written vertically and right-justified. I write into those end words, going for as much enjambment as possible. I am trying to write a poem that's not necessarily on the topic of the quote so that the quote and poem together are a little bit surprising. I think I'll be doing a better job with this in upcoming poems where I won't try to write about the child who gave me the quote. I'll be choosing a quote and writing a poem on a topic from our classroom. Stay tuned. We'll see how that goes! Beyond that, there's lots of staring into space, starting and stopping, retyping the quote again below the first draft and trying another draft (and another), and a nice dose of mystery and magic and surprise!

Keep Your Promises -- this quote came from the child who gave me the 30 days 30 students 30 poems challenge. Seemed only right for him to go first!

Astronomical Passions -- the child who chose this quote aspires to be an astronomer.

Legos -- this original quote was written by a Lego-maniac.

Walt Didn't Say This, But He Would Approve -- my Everything Disney girl wrote this original quote. It was fun to work the Disney-ness in!

100% Authentically ME! -- if you knew this girl, you would understand how perfectly this poem captures her spirit. She beamed when I showed it to her!

My Favorite Subject is Science -- I'm not sure if the guy who chose this quote would agree that science is his favorite subject, but it's definitely a favorite for most students in my class. It's such a perfect age for beginning to learn about the way things work on this beautiful planet (and in this amazing solar system) of ours.


  1. You've set yourself quite a challenge! But the notes on the HOW are helpful for those of us who sort of flail every time we're presented with a golden shove, so thanks for that! I appreciate that this began with what they chose for themselves, and wraps up with you appreciating who they are/how they chose it.

  2. The juxtaposition of philosophy and science is wonderful. So often they get treated as mutually exclusive. I love this from your explanation on process: I write into those end words..." I've been thinking a lot about writing into poems, if that makes sense.

  3. This might be my favorite so far--tricky to get in all those "walks" without being simply repetitive, and I love the glimpse into all your classroom topics.

  4. Agree with Heidi, those walks are intimidating, but well-done!

    And photosynthesis. What an amazing process!
    And Rubisco? The most important enzyme on Earth?