Sunday, April 17, 2011

Poetry Study

Our most recent Unit of Study has been poetry. For my lessons I draw from resources such as Regie Routman's Kids' Poems: Teaching First Graders to Love Writing Poetry, Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parson's Poetry: Powerful Thought in Tiny Packages, which is part of Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum, and my frequent source of inspiration, About the Authors: Writing Workshop with our Youngest Writers by Katie Wood Ray with Lisa B. Cleaveland. I love Regie Routman’s emphasis on reading and talking about poetry by children. From Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons I draw mini-lessons that help the children focus on specific aspects of poetry such as how to decide on line breaks. From Katie Wood Ray I get the basic structure I use in our study as we read various examples of poetry by both children and adults and discuss what we notice the authors doing in their poems. I also incorporate lessons of my own that I have developed over the years.

As always, some students “catch on” to poetry more quickly than others. Often some of the students who are most prolific with prose writing can be hesitant about poetry. Working together we help each other learn some of the ins and outs of this kind of writing. We talk about how important it is to read our poems out loud as we write them to get a feel for how they sound. As one students said, “I read it and it sounded more like a story so I changed it to make it sound more like a poem.” Another student talked about making her poem sound more “poety.”

At the end of our unit each student chose one poem to put in our group’s poetry collection. I also got to choose one poem written by each student for the collection. We then edited and revised the poems using peer conferences and student/teacher conferences. The booklet of poems was ready in time to share on Grandparents’ Day with our visitors, which made it extra special.

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