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.