Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Teacher Tuesday. . .on Wednesday

(Here is the conclusion of the Teacher Tuesday interview with Andrea Patterson and Nicki Blake about poetry breaks!)


Why do you think an appreciation of/exposure to poetry is important for students?

It is important because as students get older they will recall how much fun they had interacting with poetry and will be interested in taking it to the next level in middle school and high school.  Additionally, we incorporate many content-rich poetry books so students can learn about science topics, math equations, history, and different cultures through poems. 

What impacts has this practice of poetry breaks had on your students?

Their confidence when reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  It is not long in the year before the students begin to ask if they can write their own poems to share in front of the class.  With so many opportunities to stand up and present their interpretation of their poems, they become confident speakers.  Of course, they learn to listen and support each other as they use the language of the 6-traits of writing when describing their choice for the poem.  In the real world, there are many adults who still fear public speaking.  Even our most unconfident students end up performing and loving poetry breaks.  Usually we try to buddy them up or offer to read the poem with them in the beginning to support them, but they always end up as confident as the other students.

This is a note from one of our parents (Andrea had Maeghan as a second grader, and Nicki had her as a third grader), who also teaches preschool: "I will forever be grateful to you two for helping Maeghan develop a love of poetry. The poetry journal from your class quickly became a family treasure. To this day, it still resides on the nightstand next to Maeghan's bed and she often chooses it for "bedtime" reading. She also enjoys reciting poems from her journal for extended family -- especially at holiday gatherings. This new tradition began on Thanksgiving 2010 with a whimsical reading of Albuquerque Turkey. Maeghan and I have enjoyed spending time together at local bookstores and libraries discovering new poems and poets. It is delightful watching her explore this genre. Thank you!"

What impacts has this practice had on you and your teaching? 

When Andrea taught first grade, a para-educator who was testing all the first graders on their sight words asked what she was doing different than the other 4 teachers because her students' fluency rate grew at such an accelerated pace from September to November.  I told her, “It has to be the poetry.”

Talk about some of the other ways you’ve incorporated poetry into the curriculum, please.
Poem of the week binder
Along with poetry breaks, we do a poem of the week.  This is a poem that is usually tied into our curriculum.  We might pick a poem that incorporates phonics, rhyming, homophones, contractions, onomatopoeia, inferring, science concepts or math concepts.  The poem is charted and available for all to see.   

On Monday the teacher introduces the poem by reading it out loud, then the students echo read it, and then we read it all together.  On Tuesday, we read the poem together again, we ask if there is any vocabulary that they don’t know and write the word on a post-it note and then have 2 or 3 kids predict the meaning of the word.  Wednesday we read it again and have a student arrange it into a choral reading (girls read two lines; boys read two lines, etc.) We do this twice.  Then on Thursday we ask the kids to find interesting things about the poem like small words in big words, rhyming words, words with a long vowel sound, etc. and we record their findings on a post-it note and put the post-it note around the poem.  On Friday we illustrate our mental image of what the poem means to us (we created a quality work rubric- the poem must be drawn in pencil first then crayon, no white space, do not write on the words, use at least 5 colors) 
Binder of classroom poems


These poems are kept in a small binder.  Then the child takes the binder home and shares this week’s poem with their parents and the parent writes him/her a compliment.  By the end of the year the students have their own anthology that they have illustrated.

Kids learn different poetry formats, and enjoy writing their own poems.

Why would you encourage other teachers to adapt poetry breaks for their classrooms?

Poetry breaks really help build a community of learners.  It helps build student’s confidence and most important their fluency.  We do book buddies with a fifth grade class and he stated that my second graders read more fluently than his fifth graders!  And it’s a lot of fun. 
 
Why would you encourage other teachers to adapt poetry breaks for their classrooms?

Poetry breaks really help build a community of learners.  It helps build student’s confidence and most important their fluency.  We do book buddies with a fifth grade class and he stated that my second graders read more fluently than his fifth graders!  And it’s a lot of fun. 

Are there some favorite poetry resources you can share? 











It took us a while to build our poetry library.  At first we only owned 2 or 3 books of our own and then checked out several from our local libraries until we had a good selection.  We purchased many of them from Scholastic book orders or our school book fairs.  There are so many fun poetry books but a must have for teachers are the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman. These poems are arranged to have 2 readers and the kids love them!  We also have poem books from classic poets like Robert Frost and Lewis Carroll.  But kids will usually choose the funny poems over the deep serious ones. To keep the books sturdier we tape the binding and edges of the soft cover books and then run the book jacket through the laminator on the hard cover books.






 

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