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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


Second Graders’ Reveal Their Poetic Side in the 10th Annual Poetry Cafe


On March 1, 2017, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) hosted its 10th annual Poetry Cafe led by Second Grade General Studies Teacher, Marsha Cowan. This event consisted of two mandatory components and an optional opportunity. The Choral Reading and the reading of the student’s original poem were required, however “Poetry Out Loud” was voluntary.

During the Choral reading, all students recite and hand motion Shel Silverstein’s famous poem, Invitation.

The second component of the program is an optional component called “Poetry Out Loud.” In preparation, students memorized famous poems and then could read them aloud independently, with a friend, or with an older sibling.

Two second grade students present a group piece. Photo by Josie Safir.

“Students create two anthologies of poetry” says Cowan. First, students brought poems relating to animals, humor, nature, or internationalism and “individually organize these and create a picture for the cover.” On the wall, there were photos of the students holding up their anthologies. At the Café, the students recited their original poems up on stage. After the students finished reading their poem, some adults raised their hands, and the child would call on one of them to compliment them on their work. Then, they would draw one name out of a box on stage, and call the child up to the microphone to give them another compliment.

Cowan started the Poetry Café over ten years ago when HBHA was following the using primary and middle school years International Baccalaureate program. “I created Poetry Café as a culminating celebration to the second grade “Poetry Power” unit. My vision is providing time and opportunities for children to read and write a variety of poetry, think critically, write creatively, explore language and literary devices, be reflective, and engage in student-led discussions,”  regarded Cowan.

Second grader Evan Albee presents his poetry. Photo by Josie Safir.

Second grader Eliezer Rich said “My favorite thing about Poetry Cafe was writing a poem, and saying it out loud.”
Cowan’s hope is that her students “discover that poetry offers a delightful vehicle for expressing feelings, values, spirituality, and responsibility.” Their large amount of effort culminates into a palpable feeling of happiness in the room.

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