Hello Literacy Says Hello National Poetry Month!

Welcome to April...so I'm a few, ok, more than a few, days late!  This track-out has gone by extremely fast, but all I can say is, "I'M LOVING THE WEATHER!!!! AREN'T YOU??" It's great! And I have been enjoying myself, too.  Last Sunday, we took a picnic and our "new" canoe (that a friend gave us) and went out to Lake Wheeler for some fun family time out on the lake...canoeing.  It was fun and the weather was perfect.  Here we are watching the girls take it out without us....

Anyway...enough about the Jones family. 

April is National Poetry Month so I thought I'd share with you some of the poetry lessons we did in Reading Workshop before we tracked out.  As you are probably already aware, if you have started implementing the Common Core this year, you know that writing poetry is not in the Common Core, just reading poetry.  I'm not saying to not teach children how to write poetry, I'm just sharing with you, like I have tried to do all year, the elements of the Common Core that are valued and those elements that are not valued.  I, personally, feel that poetry helps students in so many ways, including fluency and working with figurative language.  I also feel that in an age of American Idol and The Voice, that poetry gives boys a chance to see that poetry, rhyme and verse are important skills in song-writing and music.  It seems "cooler" now to like singing and song-writing if you are a boy, and song-writing and poetry go hand in hand.  One of the essential elements of poetry is figurative language.  Students must be proficient in the tools that poets use to create such powerful poems.  As we were immersed in our Reading of Poetry unit, with lots and lots of close readings and rereadings of poems, Rachel, one of the students that comes to me for Reading Workshop, noted ironically, "poems are like dynamite...they pack a lot of punch in a little package."  Yes, Rachel, they certainly do and that was a great creation of an analogy and a simile [proud teacher moment!].

Here are some pictures I snapped during our close reading lessons while we were studying poetry and learning about what's in a poet's toolbox.    

You'll notice that students are using the whisper phones, the handy gadgets I made when I taught first grade. But here's the deal with guided reading with poetry...you know how we don't have students come to the guided reading table anymore and read out loud too much, they especially don't choral read or round-robin read, and for the most part, student read passages, articles chapters and paragraphs, silently either right before guided reading or right at the beginning of guided reading time.  I rarely waste time having kids actually sit there and read to themselves together.  Poetry is different, though than regular text in two ways.  One, poetry is short...ideal for close readings and rereadings....and two, poetry is meant to be read out loud.  Unlike fiction and nonfiction text, poems are meant to have a rhythm, a rhyme and a cadence that is very difficult to hear "in your head." So, I *want* my students to hear themselves read poetry...that is what the poet intended, hence the whisper phones (which the 3rd graders loved, by the way).

You'll also notice that students are reading the poems off a page.  I find poems online, usually at www.poemhunter.com, and then I copy and paste them into a Word document and add a Stop and Jot T chart to the bottom of the page for them to notice and note the author's craft in the poem.  If you use this website, you can enter search terms at the homepage, like Personification, and poems that use personification will populate.  

I also have them tape their poem pages right into their Reading Response Journal, so not lose it and to have a  sequential record of their thinking, for me and for them.  I also encourage the use of highlighters to note the author's craft we are looking for, we use pens to bracket the stanzas and number the lines and to write down our thoughts, predictions, visualizations, inferences, and jots in the margins.  Here is an example of what mine looked like when we were done with the lesson. 

The Base Stealer is poem ideal for teaching similes because the poet uses several of them to describe a baseball player trying to steal a base.   It's also a great mentor text for Small Moments because the entire poem takes place over a 5-8 second window of time. 

Here is the flow chart I created for my students to demonstrate the importance of ANNOTATION...a term the loved learning, by the way!

I also created an Author's Craft Cheat Sheet for my students that I am happily sharing with all of you. You can grab it and the Poetry Stop and Jot double T chart HERE.  

Students complete this sheet as an independent reading center with a tub of poetry books I leave out for them. 

Happy Reading of Poems! ~ Jen

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The Tally Tales said...

Love your ANNOTATION flow chart! I haven't considered using flow charts like that to teach word meaning and term usage. Thank you!


Unknown said...

Thanks. That was a "teachable moment" that came to as I was trying to help them understand, what it was they were actually doing and why. :-)

Ms. B. said...

Hi Jennifer! How would you do this with first and second graders who are still working towards increasing fluency? Would you read a poem aloud to them? Thank you for your wonderful blog. I've learned so much!

Melodee said...

I love this! all of your ideas are amazing! If it's ok I want to share this on my blog I will link it all back to you (tomorrow 4/15)??
the TPT download is just what I need this week, thank you so much!

Unknown said...

Definitely...go for it! Happy Weekend!

Brandee Green said...

Love the annotation chart! I will be using this tip in my own classroom soon. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Creating Lifelong Learners

Unknown said...

Hi Jen! First, I want to tell you I LOVE reading your blog. As a certified reading specialist and first grade teacher, I feel like we share a lot of same views/ideas on many things (related to teaching). I laughed when I saw your comment about how the CC doesn't value poetry. I have had many conversations with colleagues and admin, defending my use of poetry. Now that I am in the middle of my poetry unit, I am finding all sorts of ways to tie in many, many CC standards for reading and writing. It's awesome to see the students using all of the strategies they've learned and applying them to poetry.

That First Grade Blog

411 said...

Is it possible to get a copy of the chart you used with the base stealer?

whitney said...

I was also wondering if I could get a copy of the chart you used with the base stealer?Thanks so much!

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