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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New RTI Progress Monitoring Assessments for More Advanced Phonics Skills + SALE!!

Just a short note to let everyone know that I just finished my next set of Progress Monitoring probes for more advanced phonics skills like sight word phrases, consonant blends, long vowel CVCe patterns, long vowel blends and digraphs and rimes (long and short vowel mix).  You can grab it here (and it's even on sale...everything in my store is on sale through Sunday...including my new Common Core Reading bundle.

Happy Reading! Jen

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