Kennedy Center Visiting Artist Teaches ‘STEAM Poetry’

Kennedy Center Visiting Artist, Mimi Herman, worked with JHS students, Nicole Rasmussen, Tiara Skinner and Stephanie Beriso from Barbi Price’s AT English 9 class during a STEAM Poetry workshop.

“We are going to take something from our science list and compare it to something from our ‘what is on your home list.’ So, let’s pick something we know a lot about from the science list,” said Mimi Herman, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Visiting Artist.

“Rocks,” said Jamestown High School ninth and 10th grade students.

“Let’s try comparing rocks to something in our house.”

“Rocks are the bedrooms because they don’t move.”

“Remember there are different types of rocks: Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary,” Herman said. “Do they stay the same the whole life of the rock or do they change? They change; so think about those qualities of rocks and see if something fits as a metaphor.”

Herman worked with Jamestown High School, and also Persell Middle School, students as part of her STEAM Poetry presentation. She helped students explore how poetry connects with science by brainstorming subjects they have learned in science so far this year and then brainstorming objects they find in their homes. They used those lists to make metaphorical connections, and from those connections, start exploring how to write a poem.

“Doing exercises like this helps strengthen students’ poetry techniques and deepen their science understanding,” Herman said. “It is important because it makes learning ‘sticky.’ Once students work a problem in a different way or do something hands-on, they tend to remember it.”

The classroom visits are part of the partnership team consisting of Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown Public Schools and the Chautauqua Lake Central School District who were named among 10 inductees in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Program. This is the second year of the collaboration, which gives the schools multiple visiting artists opportunities each year.

Teachers also had an opportunity to participate in a professional workshop with Ms. Herman to learn strategies to guide students in creating metaphors that makes the unseen scientific phenomenon visible. Participants learned ways to help students extend their metaphors into poetry that demonstrates understanding of the science content.

“Chautauqua Institution is proud to serve as a year-round arts education resource that now offers in-depth residency programs in schools, field trips at Chautauqua, and professional development for teachers. Partnering with Chautauqua County schools is an honor and a priority as we look to serve our community throughout the year,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts.

Herman is the 2017 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate, director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute and an A+ Schools Fellow. Since 1990, Ms. Herman has engaged over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, and provided arts-integrated workshops and institutes for teachers, administrators, parents, and teaching artists. She holds a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. The author of Logophilia and The Art of Learning, her poetry, fiction, and articles have been published in journals throughout the country. With her partner, John Yewell, Ms. Herman offers Writeaways writing retreats (www.writeaways.com) in France, Italy and North Carolina.


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