Teaching "IHope" Poems

Hilary GanHilary Gan is a teaching artist at Hollinger Elementary, an Education Intern at the Poetry Center, and an MFA candidate in Fiction at The University of Arizona.

I wrote with 17 first and second-graders on Friday afternoons. It was consistently the best part of my week. Not only were the kids able to relax and take a break from normal school work; I was, too. My favorite lesson caught me by surprise--I had learned that this class had never read any of Shel Silverstein, so I picked up my favorite Silverstein poem, "Whatif," which talks about the whatifs which crawl inside your ears at night and whisper things that could go wrong the next day. I had my students read it to me, and then draw pictures of what they thought a whatif looked like; finally, I had them write poems of Ihopes, which crawl into your ears and tell you about possibilities. When Katie came up to read her poem at the end of the class, my eyes went a little leaky. Her poem was so full of the juxtaposition of small, childhood things, and the big hopes that everybody has, even adults, and she said it all so baldly and without hedging that I was very touched.

In bed, while I lay thinking at night,

some Ihopes are nice and sing a song all night long.

Ihope that I finish

Ihope looks like a fish, it has pink scales

Ihope that I have friends

Ihope I don't have bad dreams

Ihope I draw pretty pictures

Ihope I run fast

Ihope I learn more Spanish

Ihope I hope

Ihope I learn

Ihope I lose a tooth

Ihope I get a new necklace

Ihope I get a new shirt

Ihope I get some shorts

Ihope I get a new pencil

Ihope I get a new eraser

Ihope I don't get sad

--Katie Tyo, Hollinger Elementary

Created on: 
Monday, May 21, 2012
Arizona Board of Regents