Reading/Book Buddy Activity for… you guessed it: Poetry!

I don’t know where you are in the world, but here in Korea, the weather has been gorgeous! Which makes writing poetry that much more fun. Last Friday my students headed up to Jee Young’s classroom to meet with our fifth grade book buddies (also called reading buddies, your choice!). Jee Young and I decided that since we are both teaching a unit on poetry, it would be fun to have our students write a poem together.

(This is one of my student’s checking out Jee Young’s Classroom’s Poetry Corner with her book buddy.)

The fifth graders always hold a Poetry Cafe, and at the end of their unit they invite the elementary school to come and listen to them perform poems that mentored and inspired them, as well as poems they wrote. This year Jee Young thought it would be great if our book buddies wrote a two voice poem together and performed at the Poetry Cafe. I was so impressed by some of the poems our students wrote together last Friday!

Here is an example of a two voice poem that Jee Young’s students taught to mine: Fireflies by Paul Fleischman.

What are some things you do with your book buddies? Any creative ideas for us? Please share!

Poems in Pocket Charts

In March I wrote a post about the beauty of pocket charts. During my unit on poetry I have another way to use them! Last year, my teaching partner and I worked with our literacy specialist during our poetry unit, and she gave me a lot of great ideas.  Here is one of them (it can also be found in Luck Calkins book Poetry: Powerful Thoughts in Tiny Packages).

When you are teaching students how to create line breaks in poems take an example poem and write it in a paragraph form, like this:

Pay attention to the bottom half of the easel. (I am a big fan of chart paper, but because it is hard to come by in Korea, I also like to use laminated paper.)

Ask the students to help you create line breaks in the poem and mark them. Then have the words prepared on index cards and use a pocket chart to show the line breaks the students made:

Try the poem in a multiple ways, and have the students take turns reading it aloud. It is amazing how each student reads it in their own unique way! Model for them how you would read it.

You can also lay the words on the floor first and have the students move them, and then put them into the pocket chart. Another idea, have students write a poem on index cards and test it out in the pocket chart, to see where they want their line breaks, during center time.

I love poetry.

Poetry Walks

One of my favorite things to do in our poetry unit is have our students go on a poetry walk. I have my students take their writer’s notebook and a pen with them and we take a walk outside. Last week, the beautiful cherry blossoms were everywhere outside our school.  Our amazing guidance counselor was telling me about this beautiful hidden area on our campus with cherry blossoms.  She said, “It would be a crime to not allow the kids to see this…” So we took our 5th grade classes and went to a small park area on our school campus. The students got to write down what they saw and be inspired by nature to write down poems.

I wish that we could do more of these types of walk instead of always being stuck inside a classroom. I think that in my dream school, the kids would spend more time outside. 🙂


Poetry Read Alouds

My all time favorite poetry read aloud books are Sharon Creech’s, Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. These two stories follow Jack  on his journey with poetry and the teacher Miss Stretchberry that pushes him along the way. It’s a story that kids and adults can appreciate, smile and learn from. On Sharon Creech’s website, you can find some good teaching resources for using both books!

Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog

and the sequel…

Sharon Creech’s Hate that Cat

Another fun poetry read aloud book is Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston. This book was recommended by another 5th grade teacher. I did get to read the book, but didn’t get to read it to my kids. It’s a fun fantasy story written all in rhyme. It would go well during a poetry unit for upper elementary kids!

Here are some other good poetry resources!

Scholastic Poetry Site 

Poetry for People

Poetry Foundation

Online Poetry Classroom

Poetry Resources from NYC Department of Education

Do you have any good poetry read aloud books or resources that you recommend?

Poetry is back!

Poetry is definitely one of my favorite units to teach in reading and writing workshop. I love poetry because it is a nice refreshing break from writing literary essays and reading challenging historical fiction books. It is a unit where the students get completely immersed in poetry in both reading and writing. This week, we are launching our poetry unit in my class. I’m hoping to tweak this unit from the past, by using some of the suggestions and ideas from the 5th grade Curricular Plan for the Writing Workshop unit from Lucy Calkins.

Some of things that I like to do during this unit is have a poetry wall in my classroom. I just get a large sheet of colored paper that I put on the wall. I have the students write down poetry on the wall. They can write sentences, verses, complete poems, and even draw. It’s a wall to inspire them and others. It’s like poetry graffiti that is totally allowed.

Some other good ideas that are in the Lucy Calkins’ curricular plan is to start off with a class anthology of poetry. Usually I have them create a self portrait poetry anthology at the end of the unit, but it might be fun to have them doing a whole class anthology in the beginning of the unit as well.  I will brainstorm with my students this week on different possible topics we could do a class anthology on.

One of my personal goals for this poetry unit is to write more of my own poems and write in my writer’s notebook along with the kids. I would like to say in theory that I do that all year long, but that unfortunately doesn’t happen. So, I’m hoping to write more with my students in this unit and use my writing as an example of mentor text as well. So let the poetry begin…