Saturday, April 25, 2015

Poetry Is In The Air

April is National Poetry Month! It has also been the month of testing...testing...and more state testing. We needed something creative to re-energize our kiddos.

We launched a Reader's and Writer's Workshop poetry "mini-unit"! Welcome to 10 days of creativity and bliss (can you tell I'm biased...I LOVE POETRY!)
We began by "sketching out" what those 10 days would look like. We wanted to blend the learning between both reading and writing, so one lesson often led into the other with regards to content. We also thought about where we left these kiddos last year with their poetry learning/understanding. We created a combined unit plan in a Google Doc, so all members of our teaching team would have access and be able to contribute. We analyzed the standards that were applicable first, so we could ensure that our lessons were connecting to them.
We poured over other blogs, Pinterest, and more looking for fun inspiration for our kids. What would be new to them? What did they need? What interested them? We settled on creating a personal anthology. Last year, in 4th grade, we introduced them to different styles and terms of poetry. The kids were really drawn to the "funny" poems and just wrote what they felt inspired to do. This year, as 5th graders, our hope was for them to take their poetry to a more sophisticated level. We did some immersion of books and analysis for themes. We let them read as many poems as they could, take notes, and seek out common themes. We then had a grand conversation and created an anchor chart of their ideas.
Now that they had analyzed theme, we asked them to think about a theme that was personal to them. One that could represent something important in their lives, or a pertinent emotion to them. We, then, introduced the concept of a poetry anthology to them as a collection of poems surrounding an idea. Their task: To create a personal anthology of poems of any style of their choosing all tied to their "theme/big idea"

To support their writing, we provided them with an "ABC's of Poetry Mini-Book." This mini-dictionary has 60 definitions and terms tied to poetry. Each one also has an example with it. It was printed back to back and folded. They used this to draw ideas that they could incorporate into their own poetry.
Click image to be taken to our TpT store
In Reader's Workshop, we taught them how to closely read and analyze poetry (a tough skill for kiddos!) Each kid received a reading poetry packet to support their thinking. Within this packet, they had mini-anchor charts with questions to consider when analyzing poetry, figurative language helpers, and template they could use to help them analyze. As always, we provide this packet as a resource for our kids, but we also encourage them to create their own that supports their personal learning style best. We have many of our kids that prefer our templates. They really benefit from that guidance and support. On the other hand, we have a large percentage of our class that really enjoy creating their own, personal templates using tools like Prezi, Emaze, or Google Presentation.

This packet can be found on our TpT store, and not only includes the anchor charts, but it also includes the entire unit lesson plan for both reading and writing. It also has the analysis page templates for students, two different poems to analyze, and a 4-point assessment rubric.
Click image to be taken to our TpT store.
We began by doing a shared reading of a poem, "Millions of Strawberries" by Genevieve Taggard. We went over the different questions they could consider while analyzing poetry, then they read it by themselves for their first read. They tried annotating on their own. We got lots of "I don't get it", or "This is hard." Which, made us as their teachers, thrilled! 
Annotation of "Millions of Strawberries"
We, then, came back together to discuss what they noticed on this first read. Once they realized that their noticings were actually great analyses, then the room erupted in discussion/ideas! We wrote their annotations from their first read in one color on a class anchor chart. Then we sent them off in partners to annotate more! They wrote their new annotations in a different color. We then came back together for a final time to complete our analysis and theme thinking. The grand conversations that we had during this activity gave us goosebumps!!
Partner annotation
Our final anchor chart
In writing, we discussed different techniques that they could use in their poetry (example: figurative language, stanzas, line breaks, speaker point of view, etc.) We used some great tools to support that. The Brown Bag Teacher, has a great blog post about how to use "Let it Go" to analyze stanzas and theme! We also used fun online resources to practice line breaks like Magnetic Poetry and Storybird.

In reading, we then analyzed poetry of their choosing for these different things! We also tied into our Revolutionary War social studies unit by analyzing "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" as a way to tie all of their new poetry learning together!

We are about halfway through our unit, and the engagement is off the charts for our kids! We have had to build in extra "discussion" time for each workshop, because they are SO excited to share their writing and analyses! 

Their anthologies are starting to take shape! Even our writers that often struggle or dislike writing are engaged right now. Poetry is such a universal tool. There is something for every style, interest, and emotion! We cannot wait to see how this all wraps up! We'll post again soon with examples of their beautiful words!

How have you taught poetry? Do you have any other fun resources that you have found beneficial? Please share in the comments!

Happy Teaching!