Two-Voice Poetry

5th grade spent two days reading and creating two voice poetry. This project came about after I met with Mrs. Freeman to brainstorm ideas for her ELA classes.  We were looking at this standard:

ELAGSE5RL6  Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

During our planning, we looked at books and poetry that featured multiple perspectives and decided that we would focus on poetry.  I found several books to serve as mentor texts.

  • Messing Around the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco
  • Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Lathan & Charles Waters
  • Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, & More by Carole Gerber
  • Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  • The Friendly Four by Eloise Greenfield
  • This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman

During the 2-day project, the students, Mrs. Freeman, and I read aloud examples of poems from each book and talked about the perspectives and style of the poem.  Some were funny.  Some were serious or about historical events. Some were sarcastic. We tried to showcase examples that would appeal to many different interests.  Then, we set students up for their work session.

In pairs, students continued to read mentor poems from the featured books to get more familiar with how two voices could work together from two different perspectives.

When they felt ready, they moved to a brainstorming sheet. On the sheet, they thought of possible topics along with what two perspectives could talk about that topic in the poem.  We encouraged students to choose two perspectives that would offer a different take on the chosen topic.  We tried not to give too many examples, but if students were stuck, we made suggestions that might spark their own ideas: hot cheetos/hot takis, cell phone/landline, nintendo/xbox, school/home, twitter/instagram, etc.

Once they decided on the topic and perspectives they liked, they started trying out some lines of their poem.  Many students looked back to the mentor poems for a structure or style of writing.  Others picked topics like politics, where they needed to do some additional research in order to truly take on the perspective they were attempting.

Mrs. Freeman, Mr. Kinnaird (student teacher), Mrs. Mullins (collaborative spectrum teacher), Mrs. Kelley (special education teacher) and I all walked around and conferenced with writing pairs.  We nudged them to expand their voice, use descriptive language, and practice their poem before publishing.

The work session spanned both days.  Once students were ready to publish, they used their computers to record their poem on Flipgrid.  This is a piece of the project that will continue in the coming days as students finish their poetry.

There were several moments where I paused and looked around at the whole group of students working. What amazed me was how engaged each pair of students was.  Yes, students worked at different paces and some needed more support than others, but no student sat back and did nothing. They were focused on the task, and it made me wonder about this particular experience and what made all students engaged.  Was it the choice? Was it the partnership? Was it the freedom of poetry? Was it interest? Was it the authentic audience on Flipgrid?  I don’t have the answer, but what I do know is that I loved this experience and I hope I can continue to create these kinds of projects with teachers and students in the future.

Please take time to listen to the many student voices on this Flipgrid.  You can leave students comments on this post or use the emoji reactions on each video to let them know how their poetry made you feel.

Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 1)

IMG_2872Poetry month is one of my favorite times of year because I’m always inspired by what kids come up in their writing.  I love that with poetry you can try so many different kinds of writing in a short amount of time.

Each year, we usually have several classes explore book spine poetry.  If you’ve never heard of it, book spine poetry is a type of found poetry where you use the spines of books as the lines in your poem.  In the past, we’ve used digital cameras to take pictures of our stacks of books and Photo Story to put those pictures together and record our voices.

This year, I really wanted to try something new.  I decided to try Tellagami since you can take a picture as your background image, record your voice for up to 30 seconds, and create an avatar to be the narrator of your poem.  I may try some other tools, too, but this one seemed like the best to start with.

Today, Mrs. Brink’s 2nd grade class was my first book spine poetry class of the year.  Right before they came, I walked through the process of making a book spine poem myself and recording a Tellagami.  Here’s how mine turned out.

We started our quick mini-lesson on the carpet by talking about what a found poem is.  Then, we used several Google and twitter images of book spine poem examples.  Some of my favorites are from my friend, Jennifer Reed, librarian in MA.  I love this one.

We spent a little time noticing things about all of the poems.  For example, we noticed how some of them stuck to a particular theme or some started with a main line at the top and then other lines seemed to support the first line.

Then, I told the students the story of how I made my own poem.  I started with Joyce Sidman’s What the Heart Knows.  Then, I walked around and looked at books that were sitting on the tops of the shelves to see if any of them had a title that showed what my heart knows.  I was amazed at how many of them did!  It only took me about 5 minutes to find my stack of books and another 2 minutes or so to make my Tellagami.

The students were ready and eager to get started.  I really try not to give them too many rules, but we did go over a few things to think about:

1.  Spend some time walking and looking without taking books off of the shelves.

2.  Find a book title that speaks to you that might make a good starting place and then start thinking aloud about your poem with your group.

3.  Try your best to use each book you pull from the shelves.  We spent just a few seconds thinking about what would happen if 22 students starting pulling every book that they saw from the shelves.

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I designated different work areas of the library.  Single tables were setup in the middle of the library for students to bring books to and sort them into their poem.

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Another section of tables had iPads ready for creating Tellagami projects and taking pictures.  I did not spend time teaching students every step of how to use Tellagami because I knew they could figure this out.  However, I did have Carol Buller-McGee, a graduate assistant, with me today, and she stayed at the iPad tables to assist students.

My office, equipment room, makerspace room, and storage room were available for students to go to and record their projects.

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Originally I was going to have students make individual poems, but I made a last minute change to small groups.  The teacher had the whole class stand in a circle and find their own groups of 3.  She assisted students who needed help forming a group.  They went right to work.  It looked something like this.

The teacher and I walked around and talked with students about what they were choosing.  Many of them found one book to start with and started adding books from there.  For example, one group found Please Bury Me in the Library.  Then, they started looking for books that might designate where in the library they might be buried.  I loved how their poem turned out.

Other groups went with a theme.  For example, one group found a book called Dreaming Up, so they started looking for books that had something to do with the sky.  They even went to Destiny and searched for sky books to see if there were any interesting titles.

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I must say that this was the first time that I’ve done book spine poetry where I really felt like kids were thinking about the books going into their stacks.  In the past, it has felt like students just throw a bunch of books in a stack and say they’re done.  While this is still a poem, in my opinion, what I saw today was much more thoughtful and purposeful.

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After students went through the whole process, some of them started again and made a second poem.

We finished by putting our poems up on the projector screen.  I played a poem and we celebrated with snaps.  While I prepped the next iPad, the students talked through the steps that they went through to form their poem.  I really loved this step because it showed me that students really were thinking carefully about each line that went into their poems.

 

I have 3 more classes coming this week, so we’ll see how this lesson evolves across the week.  I think I’m going to stick to small groups rather than individuals, but we’ll see.

Take a moment to enjoy their book spine gallery.

 

First Grade Google Form Choose Your Own Adventure

IMG_0050A small group of five 1st graders have worked with me during their writing time to create a Google Form Choose Your Own Adventure.  This year, some 4th graders tried this with some social studies standards.  These 1st graders were free to write about anything that they wanted to.  We met during 4 one-hour sessions that looked something like this:

Session 1:  I showed a completed Google Form Choose Your Own Adventure as a model.  Then, I showed the first steps of creating the story which were to create a title, a beginning, and the first 2 choices the reader had to make.

Session 2:  We made new pages for each of our 2 choices and created 2 new choices for each of those choices.  We linked the choices from the beginning of the story to the correct pages.IMG_0049

Session 3:  We made 4 endings for each of our choices from the middle of the story.  We also made a “The End” page.  We linked each choice to its correct page.

Session 4:  Students used Google to correct spelling, added details to their stories, traded computers with a friend to test their story out, chose a theme for their form, and emailed their final form to me for this post.

IMG_0048These students needed a lot of assistance during this project, so I feel like this is something that would work better in small group settings with adult support for younger students.  I do think that the structure of these 4 sessions was very obtainable for these students and 1 adult.  These students now have a lot of expertise that they can now share with students in their class.  I’m not sure that they could fully create one of these on their own yet, but they definitely developed their skills in Google docs and forms.

 

You can read their stories here:

The Apple and the Chocolate Trainer by Kyusung

The Clouds by Katie

The Fairy by Adaline

Ninjago by Bo

This story was still in progress at the time of this post:

Tinya the Teacher Fairy by Carinne