Celebrating Poetry Through Book Spine Poems

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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.

Book spine poem #poetrymonth #poetry #poetryreading #bookspinepoetry #writing #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

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.

Time for more book spine poems #poetry #poetrymonth #bookspinepoetry #pocketpoem #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

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.

Book spine poems in progress. #foundpoetry #writing #poem #poetry #pocketpoem #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

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.

Earth Day Environmental Centers

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Our school is a green school, so we do a lot as a whole school to learn about caring for our Earth throughout the year. Our third grade has some specific science standards that explore pollution and effects of humans on the environment. They are beginning a unit on this during science, and the opportunity aligned to allow us to explore the topic during the week of Earth Day. Each class came to the library for a 45-minute exploration of 5 centers. Students began on the carpet for a quick intro to the 5 centers. Students did not have to make it to all of the centers. Instead, I told them to prioritize which ones interested them the most and do their best to make it to those and save the others in case centers were full or they had extra time.

The classroom teacher, gifted teacher, and I all walked around and talked with individual students as they worked to see what they were discovering and assisting them if they had a question. Here’s a look at the 5 centers they explored:

 

Center 1: Books

I pulled multiple books from our collection about the environment, energy, recycling, water conservation, and more. Students were encouraged to find a book that caught their eye and spend a few minutes reading parts of that book or parts of several books.

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Center 2: Flipgrid

I created a list of authentic environmental problems that exist in our school. These included things like printing to copiers and never picking up the copies, throwing away recyclables, and trash in our parking lot after a UGA football game. Students were encouraged to pick an issue from my list or come up with their own observation. Using Flipgrid, they recorded a brief video identifying the problem and naming possible solutions.

 

Center 3: Observation and Poetry

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This center included multiple books by Joyce Sidman. She is a master of making observations in the natural world, researching those observations, and then turning them into poetry. Many of her books feature side-by-side poetry and the information that inspired the poem. Students were encouraged pick a book, find a poem, and see how the factual information that Sidman researched made its way into her poetry.

Blackout poetry in action #poetrymonth #blackoutpoetry #writing #3rdgrade #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

 

Center 4: Environmental Blackout Poetry

This center was modeled after the blackout poetry of Austin Kleon. It is  kind of found poetry where you find words in magazines, newspaper, websites, or books to arrange into a poem and you blackout the rest of the words on the page. I copied multiple selections from books about the environment and students chose one of those pages to create a blackout poem. It’s always interesting to see how students boil the words down to the ones that stand out the most in the article or page. This year, I made sure that we did our blackout poetry on top of a table cover so that they black crayon and marker didn’t make its way onto our tables.

Earth day blackout poetry #studentwork #studentvoice #earthday #librariesofinstagram #centers #poetrymonth

A photo posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

 

Center 5: Environmental Online Resources

Using Symbaloo, I pulled together ebooks, websites, interactive sites, and videos about the environment. Students spent time on a few of the sites before moving on to other centers.

Now the students will use the topics and ideas that they discovered in this exploration as they continue to study these topics back in the classroom.

 

2015 Poem In Your Pocket Day (Part 1)

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Each year, Poem In Your Pocket Day morphs into something just a little bit new.  It’s always a day to come to the library and share poems into our open microphone, but we like to mix things up a bit each year.  This year, I put out soft seating instead of tables.  It allowed students to be a bit closer to the speaker and hopefully felt a bit more cozy.

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In the past, I’ve used Adobe Connect to broadcast our day.  While it is a great tool, it has some drawbacks.  I love that it is one room that our online guests can stay in all day long and I can communicate with them via chat.  However, I don’t love the way the archive is created.  I have to setup and name each recording right as I’m starting the recording.  It doesn’t take long, but it’s one more step I have to do.  Also, once all of the archives are done, I have to go in, change them to public, and copy the link to share in order for people to view them.

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This year, I decided to try Google Hangouts on Air.  We use this every day for our morning broadcast, so I’m very familiar with using it.  Ahead of our event, I setup a Google Hangout on Air for each session on our schedule.  Then, I opened each hangout and copied the Youtube link where the video would stream live.  I embedded these videos on one big Google site so that they were easily accessible in one spot.

Click to visit our Google Site

As each group came in, I opened the hangout, tested the sound, and pressed start.  Our guests could watch online, but as soon as I pressed stop the video was instantly archived on that same Google site.  It saved me the hassle of having to go back and find all of the videos in order to share them.  While it’s not huge, any amount of time I can save is valuable to me.

This year, to make up for the chat feature being taken away, we decided to use Twitter to talk about our poems.  We encourage our online guests and future viewers of our content to tweet using the hashtag #barrowpoems I used Tweet Beam to display the tweet on our projection board for students to see.  It was fun to see how this populated throughout the day and how much students smiled when they saw a tweet mentioning their poem.  Teachers even pulled out their phones and helped document the day through pictures, videos, and comments on Twitter.

Also, here’s a little look at what it’s like to be in the room.

This event always amazes me because pretty much every student in the school gets up in front of an audience and speaks.  It’s a small amount of speaking, but I love seeing students get used to speaking to an audience and seeing what that feels like.  This is a very positive and supportive atmosphere, so most students leave the reading feeling validated for their work.

I encourage you to listen to some of our archives and continue to tweet about #barrowpoems

Continue watching us live on April 10th!

 

Kicking Off Poetry Lessons for Poetry Month: Blackout Poetry

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I love to do poetry throughout the year, but April always brings an increase in poetry lessons since it is National Poetry Month.  It’s also the month that we have Poem In Your Pocket Day across 2 days at our school.

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Our 2nd grade has been busy with poetry in these first few days of the month.  They’ve already explored list poetry and now they are trying a kind of poetry called “blackout poetry”.  This poetry was invented by Austin Kleon when he had a case of writer’s block and started using the New York Times to help him write his poetry.  You can see a time lapse video of Austin’s process, which we showed to each class before we started.

Blackout poetry is a kind of found poetry because it uses words that were created by someone else.  You put boxes around the words that you want to use in the poem and then blackout everything else.  You can find your text in so many different places:  instruction manuals, pages from books, newspapers, junkmail, old tests,……the list could go on and on.

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Two classes at a time came to the library for this lesson.  We started by looking at the video as well as some examples of blackout poems online.  Then, we talked a bit about what we noticed about the process.  Austin Kleon put boxes around words that he thought he might use.  He tried to find words that seemed to go together.  We noticed that there were times where he was sitting and thinking without marking anything on the page.  We also noticed that he blacked out some of the words that he originally thought he would use.

We encouraged students to try out this same process at tables.  Since 2nd grade is working on animal and plant life cycles and habitats, we selected a few pages from a variety of animal and plant books and made multiple copies of them.  Students sat at a page that looked interesting to them.  The teachers and circulated to assist students as needed.

Most students jumped right in, but a few needed some help getting started.  One of the things that I did to help students was just to talk out loud about what I would do if I was writing the poem.  I said words that seemed to have a connection with one another and then scanned the page for more words that fit with those words (and so on).  Most of the time this nudged students to start.

As students finished selecting their words, they used crayons, color pencils, regular pencils, and markers to blackout their page.  Then, they practiced reading their poems.  Some shared with one another.

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Other students decided to use our poetry Flipgrid to record their poems.

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Click the picture to visit our poems!

Many of these students will carry these poems in their pockets on Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I love seeing how students break down the text to create a new meaning.

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Get Ready for Poem In Your Pocket Day 2015

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Poem in Your Pocket Day has grown to be one of our favorite days of the year.  Each year, we’ve found new ways to celebrate this day.  We write poetry to prepare.  We hold a poetry contest.  We encourage every person in our school to carry a poem in your pocket.

The thing about Poem in Your Pocket that people look forward to the most is our poetry cafe in the library.  I decorate the library with tables, tablecloths, lights, and poetry.  There’s a fancy microphone and a poet’s stool.  Every class in the school comes the library across 2 days to share poems into the open microphone.  This year’s poetry cafe will be on Thursday and Friday April 9th and 10th.

Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (1) Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (3)

For the past few years, we’ve used Adobe Connect to broadcast and archive our poetry readings for the world to see.  This year, we are once again trying something new.  We’re still broadcasting, but now we are using Google Hangouts.  Each class has a Google Hangout setup.  I’ve made one Google Site that contains all of the links to the hangout feeds.  At each scheduled time, the hangout will go live for an audience to view.

This year, we are encouraging our viewing audience to use Twitter to talk about our poetry.  Comments for classes or individual students can be tweets using the hashtag #barrowpoems  I’ll have a Twitter feed up on our board so that our students can see what people are saying about their poems.

I encourage you to tune in and watch on April 9th & 10th.  Please share this event with everyone you know.  It is sure to be a great 2 days of poetry!

Here’s what you need to know:

When:  8:00AM-2:30PM eastern on April 9th and 10th

Where:  Google Hangouts.  All links can be found at bitly.com/barrowpoems15

View the complete schedule here.

Tweet about the event and the poems using hashtag #barrowpoems

 

Collaborating Within Walls Using Google Hangouts: A List Poetry Lesson

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Last year, I tried something new with the 2nd grade.  My library schedule was packed and it was hard to get all 4 classes on the calendar, so I used Google Hangouts to teach all 4 classes at one time.  It was an experiment, but it proved to be a lot of fun and also showed the students and teachers how to use a Google Hangout and collaborate on a Google doc.

This year, we planned it again and added on a few layers.  One of our favorite kinds of poems to write is list poetry.  You take a list and add descriptive words to each item on the list so that the reader can experience the items on the list.  Our goal in our Google Hangout this time was to learn about list poetry, hear a mentor poem, practice list poetry together, and then create one collaborative list poem.

In advance, I setup a Google Hangout on Air.

 

I sent the link to the hangout to all of the teachers participating in the hangout.  I also created a blank Google Doc for our collaborative poem and shared editing rights with all 4 teachers.

 

I gave the blank doc a title and wrote each teacher’s name inside the doc to create a space for each class to add to the collaborative poem without writing on top of one another.

On the morning of the hangout, I emailed teachers a reminder that included the link to the doc as well as the direct link for  joining as a participant in the hangout.

At hangout time, I went in my office and awaited the classes.  As they entered, I did a sound check to make sure microphones were working.  Then I used the control panel in Hangouts to mute all of their microphones to eliminate feedback.

I opened our lesson by reading from Falling Down the Page, list poems collected by Georgia Heard.  We focused on “In my Desk” by Jane Yolen.  I pointed out how she gave describing words for each item found in her desk so that we would be able to picture it or experience it.  I built on the reactions of students to the line about a “great big hunk of rotting cheese” found in a lunch box.  These kinds of words cause us to react which is exactly what we want in a poem.

Next, I opened up a blank doc and started writing a grocery list:  bread, milk, eggs, cereal.  Then I assigned each word to one of the 4 classes and had them brainstorm describing words to add to each item on my list.  Each class had a chance to speak in the hangout as I added our words to the poem.

Finally, I invited all of the classes to work on a collaborative poem about things under our beds.  Each teacher facilitated the work in their own classrooms.  I checked in from time to time to give an update on when we would stop working.  Then, each class read their stanza of the poem to close out our time.

While we were writing, I invited people on Twitter to watch the doc in construction.  We had lots of viewers engaged in our work in progress, and students loved being published authors with one tweet.

Viewers

You can watch the whole thing here:

This lesson certainly saved me time in the library to give to other classes who needed a lesson, but it was much more than that.  Rather than having each class in the grade level feel isolated, this lesson allowed them to unite together to create a piece of writing that immediately reached an audience outside of our school.  It allowed us to collaborate within the walls of our school without the disruption of shuffling kids from class to class.  It gave each class a space to think and work with one another and also a space for all classes to work together.  I don’t think that every lesson would work in this type of setup, but it does make me curious to think about when this type of learning is the better choice than scheduling each class individually.

Under My Bed

By Barrow 2nd graders

Under my bed you will find…

 

(Yawn’s Stanza)

Slimey Socks

Lost High Fives

Stuffed animals, toys, and books

Scraps of paper

Remote control plane

Hairy, mad Tarantula

Dusty Boogers

Junky Legos

Clothes and shoes and jackets

Hairy Monkey Eyes with a big chin

Tv, coke can, and baseball cards

Football cards and a zipline

Dirty underwear, rotten bread, and an old sandwich

 

(Ramseyer’s Stanza)

Two fat picture books

A fake diamond sword

My playful black kitten

Giant Lego parts

Huge dead bugs in the corner

A stinky, rainbow sock

A blue crate filled with Adidas shoes

A chewed up puppy stuffed animal

 

(Brink’s Stanza)

Hiding under my bed with my big, hairy monster

you will find

smelly dead cockroaches and dust bunnies

old paper candy wrappers

a big purple three horned monster

basketball shoes

an empty shoebox and an old toy

a skeleton reaching for water

a stinking mummy, rotten eggs, and a stinky sock

cuddly stuffed animals

a golden chair, medals, trophies

smooth rocks I found in the street

lost, overdue library books

a racing track

paper plates

 

(Wright’s Stanza)

Under my bed, I look and see

Flattened books

moldy food

cute and sleepy puppies

old broken legos I used to play with

misplaced and forgotten toys

and ripped, dirty money

 

So many things under my bed.

 

Following this lesson, I did a very similar lesson with one Kindergarten class in person.  We didn’t do the hangout, but we did share our work with the Internet so that students’ voices were already reaching an audience even in their beginning steps of writing.  It was so much fun to get a comment from one of the viewers of the doc.

 

 

Using Freedom Summer to Create Blackout Poetry

blackout poetry (14)In third grade, students learn about civil rights through the standard:

SS3H2 The student will discuss the lives of Americans who expanded people’s
rights and freedoms in a democracy.

Students specifically learn about Mary McLeod Bethune, Frederick Douglas, and Thurgood Marshall.  When these students get to 5th grade, they will spend a larger amount of time studying the civil rights movement, but I thought this would be a good time to explore some text that connected with their current understanding of civil rights.

Students spent a small amount of time sharing what they currently understand about segregation and civil rights.  They brought up things like drinking from separate fountains, riding in the back of the bus, and holding boycotts of the transportation system.

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Then, we read Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.  Students immediately noticed the connections to their own understanding of segregation as the 2 main characters could not do the same things together.  They were shocked when they got to the part in the story where the two boys couldn’t go to the pool because it was closed and filled in with asphalt.  The students used words like unfair, lunatics, and furious when describing their feelings and the idea of closing things rather than follow the law.

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After discussing the book, I showed them how some artists and poets use text that they find in the world and turn it into something new.  Austin Kleon, in Austin Texas, is one of these writers and artists.  We looked at a few of his poems called “blackout poems”.  He takes pages from newspapers or other texts and blacks out all of the words on the page except for the words in the poem.

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I gave the students one of three pages from Freedom Summer.  They spent time looking for words that stood out to them as a possible poem.  When they decided on the words of their poem, they circled them or drew boxes around them with a black marker.  Next, they used that same marker to blackout the rest of the words on the page.

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It was interesting to see how students interpreted the exact same page in a different way.

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We had students share their poems at the end, and it gave us a new understanding of what stood out on the page and in the story for students.  It was as if the poem helped us to look more closely at the meaning that we might all take from the text.  As usual, this was more difficult for some students than others, but we noticed that this kind of poetry did take away the barrier of spelling or deciding what to write.  We could instead focus on the meaning of the words on the page and use those words to interpret the story as a poem.

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Here are a few of the poems that students created.

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