Exploring Poetry: A Writer’s Workshop Support

Our 4th grade is currently reading poetry in their reading block and writing poetry during writer’s workshop. To support their work, they asked me to create a lesson to give their students an opportunity to read multiple kinds of poetry to inform their work back in class.

Planning

I love working on poetry with students and many times this doesn’t happen until April, so I was so glad to see poetry being studied earlier in the year too. To prepare for this lesson, I spent a lot of time in our poetry section of the library looking for a variety of poetry. I of course looked for forms of poetry but I also looked for groups of books that explored a certain theme or idea. As I found possibilities, I placed them in stacks for consideration as I narrowed down our final choices.

Next I wrote a short description of each stack of books so these could be printed and placed with each table.

For students, I created a list of the types of poetry the would visit.  The list had an empty box by each type so students could check the kinds of poetry they liked.  There was also a line for them to write any notes or the titles of the books if they wanted to revisit them later.

Opening

To begin our time, I shared with students how I had a hard time coming up with a definition of poetry that I really liked. I asked them to think with me about how we might describe a poem.  Students shared amazing ideas:

  • a description of your thoughts
  • capturing an emotion on paper
  • rhymes
  • feelings in words
  • creativity

Each time a definition was offered we agreed with it but we always felt like it didn’t completely capture all the things a poem could be. I asked them to continue thinking about this as they explored the kinds of poetry around our library. I encouraged them to read their poetry aloud so they could hear the rhythm and sounds the poets included.

Exploration

Students sat alone or in pairs at tables and began their exploration. They started by reading the short description of the type of poetry. Then, they read as many of the poems as they could. Since I wanted them to experience lots of poetry, I kept us moving every 3-4 minutes.

As students sat and read, the teacher and I walked around and chatted with students about the poetry. Sometimes this was an explanation of the kind of poetry they were looking at. Other times we were making observations about the poetry and sharing our own learning with the students. I saw the teachers do this multiple times.  They discovered poetry they had never heard of and shared their excitement with students as they learned something new.

Here’s a look at the tables students visited:

Multiple Voices

  • The Friendly Four by Eloise Greenfield
  • Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  • Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! By Carole Gerber
  • Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco

These poems are meant to be read with a partner or group. Each person has a part they speak. Sometime you speak together and sometimes you speak alone.

Sijo & Haiku

  • Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park
  • Dogku by Andrew Clements
  • Guyku by Bob Raczka
  • Stone Bench in an Empty Park by Paul B. Janeczko
  • The Cuckoo’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen
  • One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis

Sijo poems are Korean poems that have 3 lines with 14-16 syllables each. Or…they have 6 shorter lines. Haiku poems are Japanese poems that have 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables.

Experience Poems

  • Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Brown
  • Black Magic by Dinah Johnson
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina
  • The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas

Experience poems showcase a group of people, animals, or objects and what they experience in the world. This collection of books is a sample of African American experience.

Single Word & Golden Shovel Poetry

  • Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka
  • One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Single word poems use one word to create other words that form a meaningful poem. Golden Shovel poems take a line from another poem. The words are written down the right side of the page. A new poem is created with each line ending in one of these words.

Acrostic Poems

  • Silver Seeds by Paul Paolilli & Dan Brewer
  • Amazing Apples by Consie Powell
  • Animal Stackers by Jennifer Belle

An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase.

Nature Poetry

  • Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman
  • Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman
  • Swirl by Swirl Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

Nature poems use facts and observations from nature to create poetry. The facts and observations are often included beside the poem or in the back of the book.

Concrete Poetry (Shape Poetry)

  • A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco
  • Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham
  • Ode to a Commode by Brian P. Cleary

A concrete poem is a poem that takes on the shape of whatever it is about.

List & Found Poetry

  • The Arrow Finds Its Mark by Georgia Heard
  • Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard

List poetry takes an ordinary list of things and makes it extraordinary with a few descriptive words. Found poetry is words found in places that aren’t meant to be poems and then turning those words into a poem with very few changes.

Reverso Poetry

  • Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer
  • Follow, Follow by Marilyn Singer

When you read a reverso poem down, it is one poem.  When you read it up, it is a different poem. However, the same words are used in both stanzas. The only changes are in punctuation and capitalization.

Perspective Poems

  • Dirty Laundry Pile by Paul B. Janeczko
  • If the Shoe Fits by Laura Whipple
  • Can I Touch Your Hair? By Irene Lathan & Charles Waters

Perspective poems invite you to think about the same topic from a different point of view. Sometimes they are written from the perspective of an object that you wouldn’t normally hear from like a shoe.

Pocket Poems

  • Pocket Poems by Bobbi Katz
  • Firefly July By Paul B. Janeczko

Pocket poems are short poems small enough to carry in your pocket.

Music

  • Hip Hop Speak to Children by Nikki Giovanni
  • Imagine by John Lennon
  • America the Beautiful Together We Stand by Katharine Lee Bates
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pinkney
  • God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday
  • One Love by Bob Marley/Cedella Marley
  • Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan

Song lyrics are poetry.  They have a structure and a rhythm.

Closing

At the end of our exploration, students took time to think about what there favorite types of poems to read are. They also thought about one kind of poem they wanted to try to write back in writing workshop. Now that all classes have visited, the poetry books they explored are available to check out as mentor texts back in the classroom.  I look forward to seeing the types of poetry they create in the coming weeks.

Poem In Your Pocket Days 2019

We just wrapped up 2 days filled with poetry readings. For many years, we have been celebrating poetry month and national poem in your pocket day by hosting a poetry cafe in the library. During this 2-day event, every class in the school comes to the library for a 20-minute session. Students sit in a specially decorated area of the library filled with soft cushions, lighting, flowers, and a fancy microphone.

Every student has a chance to come up and share an original or favorite poem into the microphone and we celebrate each poet with snaps and quiet claps. This even is broadcast via Youtube Live so that family and friends can enjoy our poetry from afar. Ahead of the even, I setup each Youtube event and put the links to every class on a Smore page for easy access and sharing. As we broadcast each event, it immediately archives to Youtube and the Smore page.

One of my favorite parts of these days is that it is one time where every single student in our school has an opportunity to be seen and heard. While not every students chooses to get in front of the microphone, they all have the opportunity.

There’s always magical things that happen: kids who are shy have a friend who encourages them and stand with them, a poem is tucked away in a special place like a shoe, a student creates an unexpected poem that stands out in a beautiful way, a student reads a poem in a different language, a parent or teacher shares a favorite or original poem.

I invite you to listen to some of the student poetry by visiting the Youtube links on our Smore page. You can continue to leave comments for the students on Youtube or on Twitter by using the hashtag #barrowpoems

Happy poetry month!

Using Objects from Nature to Inspire Creativity

As we near the end of the year, I’m collaborating with Natalie Hicks, one our gifted teachers, to create a project with the entire 3rd grade. In science, 3rd grade studies habitats and human impact on them. Our school is also a “Green School” which offers many opportunities throughout the year for students to explore how we care for our planet.

Each 3rd grade class is coming to the library for 2 one-hour sessions. The purpose is to use found objects from nature to create letters. Those letters are photographed so they can be used to spell various words and also inspire writing. Ms. Hicks and I both gathered as many objects as we could from outside the school and our own yards. Our original plan was for students to bring in objects to use for the project, but that piece didn’t happen this time.

Session 1:

As students were seated, they saw a clip from a Rose Bowl Parade video.

The purpose was to get them thinking about real-world examples of people using objects from nature to create. Another purpose was to think about the time and planning that went into the floats. Our students had a connection to the Rose Bowl since UGA played there this year.

Next, I segued into a book called Our World of Food: Discover Magical Lands Made of Things You Can Eat. Each page features a scene made with foods of a similar color and poetry that brings the scene to life. Again, we talked about how each object was intentionally placed into the scene.

Finally, I gave students their challenge. They could choose up to 5 objects from our nature tables to create one of their initials. I asked them to think about the shape of their letter and which objects might be the best choices to form that shape. We looked at some pictures of fonts as well as some letters found in nature for inspiration.

I covered our library tables with colorful tablecloths to use as backgrounds and building spaces.  Students sat in groups of 5 and waited for their turn to collect objects. It was wonderful to have Ms. Hicks, the classroom teacher, and Ms. Em (EIP teacher) as support during this project. Ms. Hicks had conversations with students about their selections, while the classroom teacher and I supported students with questions about how to build their letters.

When letters were made, students used iPads to take a photograph and then bring the iPad to me to upload the picture in Google Drive.

Then, students returned their nature objects for the next class to use and went to Ms. Em to select nature poetry to read while others finished. My hope was that reading lots of nature poems would serve as a mentor text for the work we will do in session 2.

I was very impressed by how efficient students were. They selected objects, experimented with combining them in different ways, and moved through all the areas of the lesson with the help of adults. Adults were all able to circulate and have conversations with students about their selections, creations, and reading. I wonder how things would have been different if we had time for students to actually collect the objects themselves.

Before session 2, I’ll print the pictures so students can use them in their writing and recording.  We can’t wait to see how all of this comes together.

Join Us for the 2018 Poem In Your Pocket Poetry Readings

Each year, we celebrate poetry month by hosting Poem In Your Pocket days in the library.  Across 2 days, every class comes to the library to read aloud original and favorite poems into an open microphone.  We broadcast these readings over Youtube Live so that families, community, and beyond can enjoy our poetry too.

Our readings will take place from 8:00AM-2:30PM EST on April 12 and 13, 2018.

All the links to the Youtube events can be found at our 2018 Poem In Your Pocket Smore. https://www.smore.com/p9qbk

You can also view the schedule here:

Thursday April 12

8:00 2nd – VanderWall
8:30 2nd – Woodring
9:00 2nd-  B. Douglas
9:30 3rd-Morman
10:00 1st-Cunningham
10:30 1st Skinner
11:00 PreK-Trina
11:20 PreK-Heather
12:00 Lunch
12:30 1st Stuckey
1:00 K-Clarke
1:30 4th Coleman
2:00 4th Weaver

 

Friday April 13

8:00 2nd – Brink
8:30 K-Hocking
9:00 2nd-Boyle
9:30 3rd-Thompson
10:00 5th grade class 1 Freeman
10:30 1st Wyatt
11:00 5th grade class 2 Freeman
11:30 3rd-Haley
12:00 3rd-Arnold
12:30 K- Sandifer
1:00 5th grade class 3 Freeman
1:30 K- Lauren
2:00 4th Monroe

If you choose to watch our videos live or watch the archives, we encourage you to tweet comments to our students using the hashtag #barrowpoems  We’ll share your comments with students as they come in.  Happy Poetry Month!

Poem In Your Pocket: Connecting Our Voices Through Poetry

For 2 solid days, students in every class have been visiting the library to share poetry into our open microphone for poem in your pocket day.  As always, this was a special day where every single student in our school had an opportunity to step up and share their voice through poetry that they carried in their pockets.  Many students shared original poems which ranged from silly to humorous to scary to sentimental to observant.  Many students also shared favorite poems that they copied from our large poetry collection in the library.  Sometimes it takes a lot to get up in front of your peers and read aloud, but I love the accessibility of poetry. It can be short but powerful.  It can give you a chance to shine before your nerves kick in.  It can quickly create reactions from your audience. It creates moments.

As usual, there were many special moments.  Teachers shared poems from their phones in their pockets.

A student who spoke limited English, broke out of her comfort zone to share a poem all in English with a friend standing by her side.  PreK poets recited their very first poems of their school career as their teachers whispered the words into their ears.

5th graders filled up their poetry slot by repeatedly going to the microphone to share poems from the books displayed on our poetry tables.  Families who couldn’t be here with us in the room were able to watch their children perform via our live Google Hangout.  Sweet poems about brothers were shared.

Tweets rolled in via our Twitterfall wall.

A retiring paraprofessional shared her final Poem In Your Pocket moment.

If you missed any of our poetry readings live, you can watch any of the archives by visiting our Smore.  Take a moment to look at all of the poets in the gallery below.

 

Join Us for Poem In Your Pocket April 6 & 7, 2017

One of our newer traditions at Barrow is to participate each year in Poem In Your Pocket Day.  This national event takes place on April 27 this year, but due to our state testing, we will celebrate a bit early.

On these days, all students carry an original or favorite poem throughout the day and come to the library for a 20-30 minute slot to share poems on our open microphone. I setup a poetry atmosphere with decorations, and each student has a moment to share poems.  We celebrate with rounds of snaps and quiet claps.

We also broadcast this live on Youtube Live(Google Hangouts On Air) so that other schools, family, and community can join in the 2 days of fun.  If you watch live, you are highly encouraged to tweet your snaps of celebration for students so that they can see your tweets on our media center projector.  They love to get shout outs.

Visit our Smore page for a full schedule as well as links to every live feed.  As each feed ends, it is automatically archived to Youtube for your future enjoyment.

 

https://www.smore.com/x4hh5

It’s already amazing to see where in the world people are taking a look at our event.

 

Celebrating Poetry Through Book Spine Poems

book spine poem

One of our favorite kinds of poetry to create each year is book spine poetry. It is a kind of found poetry where the words found on the spines of books create the lines of a poem. Every 2nd grade class came to the library for a one-hour session to create book spine poems individually or in pairs.

To begin our time, I briefly explained found poetry and then told a story about how I created my own book spine poem. The story was meant to serve as a model for how students might craft their own poem, but they certainly didn’t have to go about the process the exact same way as me.

I started in the everybody section of the library and started reading the spines of all the books on the shelf from the beginning. I was looking for a title that jumped out at me as a starting place. I happened upon Quest and Journey by Aaron Becker. I loved how those two words sounded together and I decided to start looking for titles that seemed to go with those two words, which meant looking for titles that were about traveling in some way. I passed by many titles that didn’t fit, so I left them on the shelf without pulling them off. I continued this process until I had found I Took a Walk, In My Dreams I Can Fly, and Goin’ Someplace Special. I also had the book The Ride but I decided that I didn’t like the sound of those words with the others in my stack so I put that book back on the return cart. Next, I tried several ways of arranging the books until I had a sequence I was happy with. After practicing a few times, I recorded my poem with my phone and uploaded it online to share with the world.

After my short story, we went back through the steps and put them into a concise list on the board for students to reference. Then, students got to work. They wandered the shelves looking for that first book and then went from there. As was expected, some of them found their own strategies for creating the poems. Some struggled with finding that first book. Some wanted the support of someone walking with them to look for books. The teacher and I wandered around too and talked with individual students until they started reaching the recording phase.

Once students recorded using an iPad, they brought the iPad to me and we immediately plugged the iPad into my computer and uploaded to Youtube. They also went to the teacher to take a photograph of their book stack that could be printed and put into their poetry books they are creating in class. All books that were used went onto a cart parked in the middle of the library, and students were welcome to read those books while they waited on classmates to finish.

When students finished, I pulled all of their work into Youtube playlists which I emailed to teachers to share with families. We concluded our time by sitting together and snapping for each poem on our playlist. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen to, enjoy, and snap for the poems from each 2nd grade class.