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Alan Gann is a widely published poet, Big Thought Teaching Artist Fellow, and long time trustee for the Dallas Poets Community (DPC). He is a poetry editor for the literary journal Illya’s Honey and helps facilitates the DPC’s twice monthly poetry peer critique workshops. In 2011, the journals Red River Review and Red Fez nominated his poems for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. In addition to teaching creative writing workshops in after-school programs, Alan also teaches a comprehensive sex education course for 8th graders at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church. Somehow he still finds time to get outside and ride is bicycle, bird watch, and photograph dragonflies.

My Comments

I was inspired my the Thursday plenary session with Shakti, Margie, and Maribel's directly addressing the role of race in arts learning opportunities. Probably the most useful session I attended was on the Science of Happiness and the Happiness of Art. The presenters were brothers, one who worked in Arts Education and one as a Prof of Psychology. They gave us tools to help us identify and measure levels of happiness in our organizations. I think these tools might also be useful in helping us measure the success of programs as well.

My 3rd graders really responded to a creative writing exploration of camping. Only about 1/2 had ever been camping. I shared photos from one of my camping trips and told a story about waking up in the middle of the night with hundred of deer surrounding our tent (and how both dangerous and beautiful it was). The students enjoyed brainstorming what to
bring and eat, what to do, and what they might see/hear/feel/taste/touch on their imaginary camping trip. Then they wrote paragraphs about one amazing thing that might happen (everything from going swimming and making smores to seeing a tiger and fighting a giant).

Smaller than normal class allowed a couple of my shy guys to be more vocal and share their poems with pride rather than reluctance.

Blog Post Title: Friday at Ireland

Today Comstock Middle School celebrated Lights On Afterschool with parent visits and demonstrations by the various afterschool clubs (modeling, hair swag, marshal arts, DJing, and DaVerse Lounge Poetry Club). 6 members of the DaVerse Lounge Poetry Club (which I facillitate) did excellent work reading their original poems. One girl was especially proud to get to read her poem with her equally proud Grandfather looking on.

Tomorrow we will explore POV and persona by performing a little Halloween magic and bringing inanimate objects to life.

Blog Post Title: Lights On Afterschool

Expected to be in NYC with the Fellows, but Sandy had other ideas, so I found myself exploring narrative with 3rd graders at Ireland Elementary School. The plan was to present narrative pictures out of time sequence and the students were going to correctly order the pictures and then tell/write/draw what happens next. And some students did just that, but some had a different idea. They imposed a narrative on the pix as they were ordered. Often they focused on a background or side character and made them the center of a totally original story. My students never cease to thrill and amaze me.

Blog Post Title: Amazing 3rd graders

If you're on FB, please like the DaVerse Lounge page at www.facebook.com/#!/daverselounge.

You can also see the photos I took of DaVerse Lounge on 10-11-2012. I think they really capture the both the supportive enthusiasm and depth of expression that occurred. I especially enjoyed seeing some of my students go from frightened to perform to begging me to get on the list. Will Richey is a magical MC.

But the real magic happened at the next Poetry Club meeting. Students had gotten it and wanted to write something that would kill at the next DaVerse Lounge.

Blog Post Title: DaVerse Lounge

We're almost 2 months into the program, and the ideas are flying around fast and ambitious. We've participated in Eric Booth workshops; we've taught amazing and amzingly frustrating frustrating classes; we've watched our students perform; we've walked around West Dallas meeting the most amazing people eager to share their deep funds of cultural knowledge, and we've talked, and we've thought, and we've shared, and everyone of us is a better for it.

I know that I am a better Teaching Artist this week than I was last week, and last week I was a better teacher than I was the week before.

When I joined the Fellows Program, I was pretty good at teach my students creative writing and helping them have artistic experienced, but I didn't how or why I was good at it. Now I realize that much of my success was due to strength of personality--that once the student realized I cared, and really listened, and was basically different, they would follow me anywhere. Now I know how to be more intentional in my engagement, how to design it into my lessons, how to design a question that will focus their thinking. And thats just a tiny example of the many things I am better at today than I was two months ago.

Blog Post Title: Re: Big Thought Fellows