Every Wednesday, Diane’s Language Arts class starts the day with a “Wednesday Walk”—a place-based, nature-based writing activity. This Wednesday, the walk was focused on using simile and metaphor based on the poem “The Night is a Big Black Cat” by G. Orr Clark.
The Night is a big black cat
The moon is her topaz eye,
The stars are the mice she hunts at night,
In the field of the sultry sky.
This class started with a group reading of the poem. Several students were eager to try to read it aloud in front of the class, and students patiently gave each other a turn. Along the way, Diane and the students stopped for lively discourse: What is topaz and has anyone ever seen it before? How could a sky be like a field? What clues can we use in the poem to help us guess the meaning of “sultry”? Is it related to the word “salt”? Should we use the dictionary to help us learn more?
Next, Diane explained that they would be practicing writing in the style of the poem and shared an example based on the melting snow banks outside the classroom. As Diane read, students noticed that it was fun to think of the child leading the parent!
Equipped with pencils and clipboards, students went out into the sunny morning and found something in the natural world to write about.
Many students chose to examine the melting ice rink—one student wrote that it reminded him of a frozen ocean with icebergs, while another said it reminded her of sleeping creatures:
Once each student had finished writing, the group went back inside to listen to each other’s discoveries.
This weekly ritual is elegant in its power and significance. Literacy development and community building are layered on top of student agency and creativity. This lesson is a perfect example of a Bridge School class—one where students work together, make independent choices, and stretch their creativity while learning concrete skills.