Friday, April 5, 2013

Science, Math, and … Poetry?

The Peer Learning Facilitators complete weekly Professional Development trainings to hone their skills, build their teams, and maybe even have a little fun!   

A recent training asked the science and math students to write haikus about their experience at work.  A haiku (simply a three line poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5) may seem easy to create, but having the students try to capture the essence of their jobs is the real challenge.  

Here are some of the results:

Dreaded Calculus!
The students hate you, Newton.
This is really hard.

Math is pretty hard.
I believe you can do it,
just work pretty hard!

My week was easy.
The students were excited
to begin Spring Break!

There was even a little free verse in the mix:

Time to go to class
so I can help students pass.
It’s all good 'cause life goes by fast.
PLF life, it’s a blast:
Integrals, derivatives—man I love math!
Teaching students, that’s the way
I earn my cash.

The exercise stems (no pun intended) from a concept called "Writing-to-Learn," essentially the idea that short, low-stakes, and informal writing assignments are just as effective at helping students process ideas, concepts, and emotions.  The ability to self-reflect, even in silly ways, and to process those thoughts in written form are critical skills especially for students in the STEM fields, where writing can sometimes feel uncomfortable.

You can learn more about "Writing-to-Learn" concepts at UNM by visiting the English Department's Writing Across Communities page here.