Videoconferencing and Blogging with Poet Rita Dove

One of the best reasons to use videoconferencing is to connect to people who would be difficult to bring to your classroom otherwise.

Today’s ASK videoconference with United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia was an amazing experience.

The program was a collaboration between SAXophone, providing registration and coordination, Berrien County ISD, providing coordination, Macomb ISD, providing ASK training and event facilitation, Broward County Schools, providing bridging services, and Polycom, providing funding.

The ASK reading and journaling process culminates with incredible thought provoking questions from the students. Here are a few samples:

On the poem, Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967:
*Why did you use the word rhapsody in the line about historical dates?
*How did the librarian in the poem treat you, and why did you call her improbable?”

“What was the process you went through to write the poem, Lady Freedom Among Us?”
“You said in the poem we should never forget her. What other things in the world do you think we shouldn’t forget?”

Besides journaling, preparing questions, and writing their own poetry, students participated in a poetry blog. Students shared in-depth thoughts and questions, as well as their own poetry in response. Here’s a sampling:

A clip of a poem in response to Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967

The Books have whispered many things:
“You can eat an elephant…if you take small bites.”
“You can win soccer state…one game at a time.”
“You can help humanity…one life at a time.”
“You can end a war…if you take small steps.”
All between the bindings of books. by KJ

A response to Rosa

I love how with “Rosa”, Rita Dove creates very vivid images with very few words. This poem relates a hugely important moment in history, but instead of using elaborate detail to make the oft-told story seem new and real, Rita manages to do just that by picking out certain choice images that quickly give you a sense of who Rosa was and what that moment on the bus was like. by LL

Read all the student thoughts and poems at the Poetry by Rita Dove Blog.

At the end of the videoconference, Rita commented that she was very excited about the blogs and the students imagination shown in the posts. She also commented that she was asked several questions that she hadn’t been asked before. “Poetry can help you realize that you’re not alone on this planet and others have similar thoughts and fears. Read! Read! Read!”

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible, and especially we appreciate Rita Dove for taking the time to talk to high school and middle school students in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

0 replies on “Videoconferencing and Blogging with Poet Rita Dove”

  1. Janine,

    I enjoyed your “Videoconferencing and Blogging with
    Poet Rita Dove.”

    I am amazed that this is already posted! Technology is wonderful, isn’t it?

    Thank you for the bringing the opportunity to participate to us and for your part in coordinating the project.

    I believe my students have benefited from reading and working with Dove’s poems in preparation for the conference today. Hopefully, many will carry with them a new appreciation for poetry. What a way to celebrate National Poetry Month!


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