For one night, third-graders at Stevenson Elementary School were members of the Beat Generation.
The students participated in a poetry cafe event Tuesday, March 18, as the culmination of their focus on poetry.
The Stevenson gym was set up like a cafe, with dimmed lights and a spotlight to showcase students as they each read two poems they had written as part of class assignments.
"We invited the students to dress up like beatniks and they've learned to show their appreciation by snapping their fingers instead of applauding," third-grade teacher Susan Falk said. "I think a lot of them were excited about getting dressed up."
The cafe was a new twist on a Stevenson tradition of a performance-based activity related to what students were learning in class, Falk said.
In past years, students participated in a biography wax museum, portraying a notable person they admired and telling their story, she said.
"With the adoption of the Common Core in Ohio, there is a new emphasis on figurative language, so we thought a poetry project would be a good way to address that change," Falk said.
Students have been reading and learning about different types of poetry and writing their own pieces, she said.
"We required them to use at least one example of figurative language in their poems," Falk said. "It could have been similes, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia."
Each student chose two of their poems to read to parents and guests attending the poetry cafe, she said.
"When we first brought up writing poetry, there were a lot of groans," Falk said, "but I think as they got into it, many of the students really began to enjoy expressing themselves through poetry."
"I like the feeling I get when I write poems," third-grader Maddy Smith said. "I found out it's kind of easy for me to write poems, so I really enjoy it."
It's been fun learning about different kinds of poetry, she said.
Haiku is probably her favorite poetry to read and write, Maddy said, because its simple form still allows her to use her imagination and creativity.
Some people may like writing poetry, but Ian Gecse said he still hasn't fully embraced it.
"It's complicated and it's a little scary to try to write a poem," he said. "It's not something I'm used to doing."
While he feels more comfortable writing compositions, Ian said he found poetry a good way to write about nature.