Today is Poetry Friday! Our host is Laura Purdie Salas and she has tons of good news on her blog today. Make sure you check it out! You can also connect to more poets and their poetry at the end of her post! Thanks for hosting Laura!
I’m preparing a presentation on bats for Environmental Day at a local school. I’m excited to speak on a topic other than monarchs, forests, or spring phenology – some of what I’ve done in the past! I always learn so much when I present a new topic.
The topic of bats isn’t entirely new to me. When I was an Education Outreach and Program Manager at a local land trust I had to organize an event at a real “bat cave” in Wisconsin. The cave was home to hibernating bats but in August, when we held the event, they were still living outside and we could safely bring a few hundred people through the cave.
Although I learned about caves, bats, and white-nose syndrome, from the experts we hosted from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) my job was more about organizing the event, than teaching the public. (This was also my reason for leaving the job, as I view myself as an educator, not an event planner).
Thus, when I agreed to present on bats to first grades at an Environmental Day even in April, I was excited to add to my knowledge base. The challenge here, however, was to make the information digestible, interesting, and not scary to students as young as first grade.
To organize my thoughts and plan what material (there is a lot of it) I would cover, I made an outline. This is my usual modus operandi. I learned to outline extremely well in 8th grade. The skill of outlining has shaped how I approach learning and organizing new material my entire life.
Tentative Lesson Plan for WS Environmental Day Are You Afraid of Bats? You Shouldn’t Be!
Next, I needed to learn new information and confirm information I already had. Enter trips to the library!
Since we moved last summer, I am becoming used to new public library systems. There are three public libraries within a half hour of my home. Two are tiny libraries with limited resources but connected to larger county library systems from which I could order materials if needed. There turned out to be no need as I found more than a dozen books from early readers to more scientific texts in the children’s section at the larger library.
I’ve been slowly reading my way through the pile.
Last week we traveled to New York to make our quarterly trip to see my parents. While there I worked on my slide presentation. I’m just starting section B in my outline so I have some more work to do! But it’s coming together well!
As with most of my environmental presentations, I incorporate many subject areas. To start, the students will be given a list of the books I found for more reading on the subject of bats.
Poetry Use in Environmental Ed (EE)
In the past, I incorporated poetry into my EE lessons. I’ve had students write haiku on wetlands, bees, flowers, and hummingbirds, as well as butterflies after a lesson on those subjects. As you know, much of poetry is inspired by the natural world. It is no different for children and might make it easier as they have something tangible to focus on – like bats! Can you see where this is going?
Tonight, I started a poem using some of the simple points I want to reinforce in my bat lesson. This is what I have so far:
Unique are the bats, Mammals flying at night. Eating thousands of skeeters Saving us from their bite. Sending echoes ahead To hear from behind. So as to not bump into a wall, Going home they will find. Their babies in a cave with Thousands of others, Recognizing their call, They are nursing mothers. Bats feed their young milk like us, ….. © Unfinished Draft, Carol Labuzzetta, 2023.
I doubt there’ll be time for sharing my poem with the students but perhaps I can make a word bank based on bats for the first-grade students to use in a creative writing exploration after my visit. At the very least, it’s an idea I can leave with the classroom teachers.
Enjoy your week! Spring is near!
~ Carol ~
Enjoyed hearing all about your preparation for the Environmental Day presentation. Great outline and I love that you wrote a poem too. Wonderful!!! Have fun, I know it will go over well with the students. 🙂
Neat! Your presentation sounds fun. But, I am baffled at how to get first graders to listen to anything! You’ll have to let us know how it goes!
Yes. First grade is NOT easy but this is my 7th year presenting to that grade level. I never seem to have a problem with their attentiveness. This is the first year I’ve done bats, so that might be THE challenge. Finding content that’s not too far above them is also a challenge but I like to start with what they already know and go from there. The key is to not scare them but I still awe instead. I’d love to do 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade because of the content but the organizer keeps putting me back at 1st, so I must be doing something right! Lol. I’ll get back to you – probably with a story or two! The kids always keep it interesting!
I love NF info-rich poetry. Your bat poem is perfect!
Carol, thanks for sharing all the resources and your outline. What a great experience to be able to teach the first graders in this special event. Your staying busy in education is motivating me to get involved again.
Hooray for bats! And outlines! Thank you for letting us take a peek at your process. It’s very cool to see! And, I love the idea of a word bank to help inspire poems. 🙂
Nonfiction poetry is a great hook to snag learners into a topic!
Wow, you’ve done a lot of research, Carol. I like the poem, seems good for the young audience you’ll be working with & includes the top points for bats. Our zoo has a bat cave which is fascinating to see and observe. Enjoy this new presentation time!
It’s so awesome to learn lots of facts and then try to work them into the poem! I love it when educators of all stripes do this. Hope you get to share at least a bit of your poem with 1st graders, Carol :>)