Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders

Susan Notes:

This fellow knows more about
teaching third graders than the combined
of the U. S. Department of Education,
the US Congress, the White House, the Business
Roundtable, Education Trust, the Democratic
Leadership Council, the Broad Foundation, the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the
Annenberg Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation,
the AFT and NEA leadership, Teach for America,
U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Committee for
Economic Development, Council of
Chief State School Officers, the National
Governors Association, Achieve, Inc., the
Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt
Institute, the National Association of State
Boards of Education, Partnership for 21st
Century Skills, Core Knowledge, Center for
American Progress, ETS, CTB McGraw-Hill,
Pearson, NAEP, New York Times
editorial, Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor Daley, John
Merrow of PBS NewsHour (aka National Corporate
Broadcasting), flathead Thomas Friedman,
Nicholas Kristof, Jay Mathews, and so on.
NCTE, IRA, NCTM, and NCSS travel perilously
close to being included in this list of
corporate sycophants

By Gary Short

At recess a boy ran to me
with a pink rubber ball and asked
if I would kick it to him. He handed me the
then turned and ran
and ran and ran, not turning back
until he was far out in the field.
I wasn't sure I could kick the ball
that far. But I tried,
launching a perfect and lucky kick.
The ball sailed in a beautiful arc
about eight stories high,
landed within a few feet of the 3rd grader
and took a big bounce off the hard playground
Pleased, I turned to enter the school building.
And then (I don't know where they came from
so quickly) I heard a rumbling behind me
full tilt. They were carrying pink balls and
yellow balls
of different sizes, black and white checkered
soccer balls. They wanted me to kick for them.
And now this is a ritual—this is how we spend
They stand in line, hand me the ball and run.
The balls rise like planets
and the 3rd graders
circle dizzily beneath the falling sky,
their arms outstretched.

"Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders" by Gary
Short, from 10 Moons and 13 Horses. ©
University of Nevada Press
, 2004.

— Gary Short
10 Moons and 13 Horses


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.