PreK Shape Poetry

Today was lesson 2 in a 3-part collaboration with Ms. Spurgeon’s PreK class.  Last week, we read multiple examples of shape poems and wrote a model poem as a class.  Today, students focused on writing their own poems.  To prepare, Ms. Spurgeon and her parapro, Ms. Melissa, drew large shapes for each student and cut them out.  These shapes were the symbols that each student uses in class to label various belongings.  Each symbol has come to have special meaning to each student.  I pulled nonfiction and fiction books related to each symbol so that students could reference the books for words to put inside their shapes.

I opened today’s lesson by reading a poem from Joyce Sidman’s Meow, Ruff: A story in concrete poetry.  I used this as a reminder to students that the words that go inside the shape must somehow represent the shape.  Ms. Spurgeon and I found that it was a common mistake for students to want to put whatever words were in their heads instead of focusing on their shape.  She reiterated my opening by sharing a poem that she wrote about chocolate and reminding students that all of her lines were about chocolate.

Next, students each received the books about their symbol and proceeded to 3 work spaces where the pre-cut symbols were already out at chairs.  Ms. Spurgeon, Ms. Melissa, and I each went to these areas and sat with students as they worked.  Students began by looking through their books for ideas from the pictures or reading the words with adult assistance.  As they decided on words, students sounded out words and wrote their words inside the shapes with their best handwriting and spelling.  Next, students read their lines to an adult and the adult wrote the correct spelling of each word in parentheses.

Ms. Spurgeon will continue this lesson by giving students time to finish their poem and add color to it.  They will also practice reading their poems before part 3.  The last part of this collaboration will be recording each student reading his/her poem on camera and sharing those videos on Teacher Tube.

I was surprised by how helpful having books about their symbols was for the students.  Many got ideas from the pictures and several even used direct words from the text.  For example, one girl wrote a poem about rabbits.  In the picture, she got so excited when she saw that the rabbit’s ears were going down.  This turned into a line in her poem that was actually written on the rabbit’s ear.  Another student read her books about apples with Ms. Melissa.  She took facts such as “apples can be made into applesauce” and “apples are mostly harvested in the fall” and used pieces of those lines in her apple shape.

I’ll be sharing more about our media center’s support of poetry writing in the coming days and weeks.

Poetry Lessons 2011

Poetry Month is already in full swing in the Barrow Media Center even though it’s still March.  I’ve found that April gets shortened due to testing, so we start celebrating poetry early.  Classes at every grade level are signing up for various kinds of lessons from now through April.  Some lessons are done in a single session while others span 3-4 lessons.  Here are some of the lessons coming up:

  • Overview of multiple kinds of poetry
  • Book spine poems
  • List poetry
  • Shape poetry
  • Poetry and photography
  • Joyce Sidman poet study
  • Animoto and Photo Story poems

Yesterday, Mrs. Yawn’s class came to learn about many kinds of poetry and we explored a list poem together.  After using poems from the book Falling Down the Page collected by Georgia Heard, students wrote  a list poem together.  Every student thought of an object that was in their pouch in the classroom (the place where they keep their stuff), and they shared their line with a partner in order to give each other feedback to make the line more descriptive.  Then, I went around to every student and typed their line into a poem that we then read together.  I printed a copy for the class and a copy to display in the media center.

In PreK, Ms. Spurgeon and I are studying shape poetry with her class.  We explored many examples of shape poems in books such as A Poke in the I, A Curious Collection of Cats, and Doodle Dandies. Then we wrote a shape poem together about a flower.  Next, I’m going to their classroom to lead a writing

workshop where they will write their own shape poems.  Each student has a symbol that represents them that is used to label things in the classroom.  Each student will write a shape poem about their symbol.  Ms. Spurgeon is preparing chart paper with symbols already drawn on them, and I’m gathering nonfiction books that are about each student’s symbol.  These books will be a source for gathering words about the symbols.  On writing day, Ms. Spurgeon, the paraprofessional, parent volunteers, and I will sit with students to conference and assist as they write.

Finally, we’ve just kicked off our poetry contest.  Every student in the school is invited to submit a poem and prizes will be awarded in PreK-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, and 4th-5th grade.  Poems can be any form, can be short or long, and must be original.  Students can submit poems in any format:  a piece a paper, on a napkin, a digital file in my drop box, or anything else they can think of.

I’ll be sharing more about poetry in the media center over the next month.  If you have great things going on in your own library, or if you have a poem to share, feel free to leave a comment.

Battle of the Books 2011

Congratulations to the Fantastic 5 for winning today’s school level 5th grade battle of the books competition.  It was a very close match and went into a tie-breaker round, so a huge congratulations is also in order for Dumbledore’s Army who came in 2nd.  The Fantastic 5 will compete against the other 13 elementary schools on April 14th.





1st Place Fantastic 5:  Jack, Suvitha, Katy, Gabby, and Olivia

2nd Place Dumbledore’s Army:  Suncana, Aneesa, Gabe, Zoe, and Mary Carroll



Stitching Stars Storytellers

As part of enrichment clusters this semester, I am working with a group of 9 kindergarten and first grade students to learn how to become storytellers.  This group has been fun, but it has come with many challenges as well.  Since most of these students are learning to read, they are unable to independently read most picture books or folktales.  They also began as a very shy group that was soft-spoken and quiet.

Here are some things that we have tried:

  • Watching videos of rambler storytellers from the Wren’s Nest and commenting on what we noticed that the storyteller did.
  • Listening to stories read aloud and discussing the kinds of expression that was used.
  • “Reading” a wordless picture book together very slowly and with great detail, and then working with partners to read other wordless books.
  • Modeling partner reading using Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie books and then practicing with a partner
  • Kim James from the Athens Public Library did a lap puppet show and an oral story with the students and then offered feedback as students practiced their own wordless picture book stories.

With all of these pieces, students are gaining confidence, and I’m noticing that they are developing their imagination, expression, and volume.  In the coming weeks, we will practice listening to stories and drawing pictures that will be cues to help us tell the stories.  In the end, the students have a goal of each telling a story at our enrichment fair in May.  Wish us luck!


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Barrow Oral History Project Presentation @ the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature

The Barrow Oral History Project will be presented on Friday March 4, 2011 at the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature.  The presentation will take place at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in room V/W at 3:00PM.  Hope to see you there!