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 Centers

To piggyback off of Jee Young’s post, I thought I would share what  I do during my poetry unit. I love, love, love, it when it is time to write poetry!

To kick off the unit I give my students a poetry notepad that they get to design, I purposefully make it long and skinny to help the students create line breaks. Here are a few examples of my students’ notepads from last year:

I love how each student’s is so unique (some of my students used three our four notepads throughout the unit!).

Since it is unrealistic to expect a child to write poetry for thirty to forty-five minutes, my teaching partner and I created centers. First, we have our mini-lesson (courtesy Lucy Calkins), and then we slowly introduce centers. For the first week, I explain a different center every day, or every other day. As the unit goes on, they are required to do each center a certain amount of times each week, along with their writing time.

I am including a few of the centers we do:

Missing Titles“- Students read a poem with the title missing and have word bank of titles to choose from.Click on the title for the link to the poems I use!

“Line Breaks”- Students are given a poem in paragraph form, they get the chance to create their own line breaks, and then they rewrite the poem. Here are a couple of examples: Beavers in the Bathroom,Hammock,Broccoli for Breakfast,Wavy Hair, and Shaking.

Visualize the Poem“- At this center, students read a poem and then draw a picture of the poem. Simple! The link is to the poems that I use.

“List Poem”- at the beginning of the poetry unit have each student bring in a random object from home (anything from an old watch, to a stuff animal, to a Pokemon card). Keep these objects in a basket, and allow students to look through the basket to create a list poem.

I also have a center where students can read poems to each other, practicing how to read a poem.

Here is a poem that I love to use when I start of my unit (poet’s look at everyday objects with fresh eyes), thanks to Lucy Calkins!

Pencil Sharpener
by Zoe Ryder White

I think there are a hundred bees
inside the pencil sharpener
and they buzz
and buzz
and buzz
until my point
is sharp!

Do you have a center you love to use during your poetry unit? SHARE!

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…

A New Kind of Graphic Organizer

To start off this beautiful week, I would like to share with you a new graphic organizer (new to me that is!) that I learned about during my time at EARCOS in Bangkok, Thailand. I went to a workshop held by Brett Dillingham and gained a lot of great tips to use during writing workshop. I implemented the graphic organizer just this morning.

At the end of this week, we are going to display writings from every grade, in an event that we like to call “Write Across APIS” (Jee Young has mentioned this before here). Each classroom gets a set of the same pictures, and this year we chose artwork by Norman Rockwell. (I personally LOVE Norman Rockwell’s work.)

This morning I gave my students a chance to pick a picture (they are allowed to choose the same one if they really like it, though most of them chose different pictures) and then asked them to write their own story about it. Before they started, I modeled an example, using this graphic organizer that Brett illustrated during his workshop:

You see, often we tell the students everything they need to include in their story (characters, settings, problem, solution, etc.), and we have them brainstorm, and then we make them write. My students will start a story, and not know where they are going with it, even if they have an idea of their problem and solution. This graphic organizer requires them to plan out their whole story before they even start writing. Once you have this drawn, you add a couple of words by each section to plan out your story. Then, you ask the students to share their story (with you or a partner) aloud. After they do that, they draw the main picture (or character) of their story in the middle of the organizer. For my assignment with the students this morning they already had the picture.

For my example, I chose this picture by Norman Rockwell:

And this is what my completed graphic organizer looked like:

The students can write a couple of words, or a sentence by each part of their story. In the end they might have 18-20 words on their organizer. Once they explain it a loud, they have a lot more than 18-20 words, and this is the story they write down:

Have you ever used this graphic organizer before?

Do you have a graphic organizer you love? Share it with us!

Writing Across the School

Every year, our school has a tradition, where we write across the different elementary classrooms around common photos/drawings/paintings. It started off a few years ago, where during the first time, we used the famous illustrations from Chris Van Allsburg‘s, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Each of his drawing has a line that goes with it. The students from all of the elementary classes, each chose one of the photos to write about. They each wrote their own story, starting with the line from the photo. Then, we hung up all the stories for each photo on the walls of our school. It was so interesting to see the different stories that students came up with from Kindergarten to 5th grade.

Last year, we used photos from different Allen Say books. He has great photos in his picture books with Asian characters. This year, our theme is Norman Rockwell. We are using different paintings of his that the students are writing stories about. Our awesome literacy coach made color copies of the photos and laminated 2 sets so the elementary teachers can borrow them. Here are a few of the paintings the students can choose from.

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I’m excited to see what kind of stories the students will come up with this year!

P.S. Melody is going to the EARCOS 2012 conference next week in Bangkok, Thailand! Anyone else going to be there?!

Said is Dead.

If you kind folks haven’t caught on by now, let me tell you, I LOVE POSTERS. I came across the design for this poster I made in my classroom on pinterest, which was linked to scholastic.com. It is brilliant:

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(Sorry for the shine on these posters, I just had them laminated so they can last me for YEARS!)

After discussing all of these words with my students, we started coming up with other ways to say a few other words. Here are a couple more posters I made:

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I love it when my students get up during writing workshop and walk over to these posters, searching for a different word to use.

What are some of your favorite posters?

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31 Days of Writing

I’m already on day 11. It’s been a busy month of March. I’ve been blogging every day for the slice of life challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. It’s a blogging challenge they do every month in March. The challenge is to write every single a day a “slice of life” and to post it on your blog. I love this challenge in so many ways. This is my second year participating in it.  Here are reasons why I love this challenge and why you should join next March! (Sorry, I should have posted this before the challenge started…)

1) Nurturing the writer within. As a teacher of writing, I think that it’s so important to continue to write. Why not practice what you preach. I know I need to do a better job of keeping up with my writer’s notebook. This challenge helps me get back into a routine of writing and remembering what it’s like to just W R I T E.

2) Building your readership & blogging community. Even after the challenge ends, I continue to try to read many of the bloggers that I’ve met through the challenge. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other bloggers and build your network/PLC.

3) COMMENTS!  I got over 30 comments on my first post this year! I was blown away. It’s always so encouraging when people leave comments no matter how short or long. It really helps affirm me as a writer. Comments fuel the writer!

4) Everyone has a story to share. I know some of you might be saying, I’m not a writer. I have nothing to write about. It’s NOT true! Everyone has a story that needs to be heard. Yes, some of the things I write about maybe trivial, but it’s all part of my s t o r y. Through this challenge already, I’ve written about so many things that are deep and dear to my  heart. I’m reminded that I write, not only to be heard, but to help me process and reflect on this amazing journey we are on.

5) Prizes! Yes, there are prizes as well! If you slice everyday and put your blog post link on the two writing teachers blog each day, you get a chance to be entered in the raffle at the end of the challenge to win some amazing prizes including professional books, hand stamped moleskin notebooks, books and more. 🙂