During my language arts block of teacher ed. classes in college, my professor made us a do a poetry file. At the time, I was 20 years old, not interested in poetry at all and could have cared less. But, because I was an over-achiever and wanted to alwasy have 100% on everything, I worked my butt off to get it done right. We have to have 25 poems in there, but 5 or so had to be reated by us, following a certain poem type (haiku, etc.). I did it, got my 100% and then put it in my portfolio that we had to have to graduate. Looking back, it kinda sucks, but so do a lot of things I thought I did great in college, compared to what I do now!
10 years ago, I started to do poems with my students. Each week, we have a new poem. Most of the poems are based on the seasons or something happening within the season. The first week of school I have a poem about school, then we hit colors, etc. In September, we do all our poems about apples, though it's always about 100 degrees and we don't grow apples where we live! October is pumpkin type poems (I don't focus on Halloween at all really), November is fall/Thanksgiving, December is Christmas, January is winter/snow, February is a mess right now, March is spring, April is bugs/insects/plants and May is whatever...it's a mess, too!
I started doing the poems as part of my morning routine. We do the same poem for the week. On Monday, I introduce the poem, read it to the kids, we talk about the meaning, read it together a few more times and then go on with the day. The rest of the week, we read thepoem about 3 times each morning. Then we look for sight words we know, phonics skills ("Who an find a word with a short a?" "Who can find a word with an l blend?, etc), and rhyming words. Then on Friday, I will copy the poem for each kid and they will illustrate it. They then put it in a folder (the cheapy ones are at Wal-Mart right now for 15 cents!!!! and in cool colors this year!!!!) and keep it in their desk. For students who are here all year, they will have about 38 poems. That would mean they would have to be here every Friday, which would never happen!!! Anyway, it's a nice thing for the kids to take home at the end of the year and it's also a book pf poems that they can read on their own. It takes the kids til about November or December to realize they can read the poems in there. Once they do, they will pull it out at times and start reading poems from the beginning of the year. Eventually, half the class will be reading their poems together. It's noisy, but it's fun!
I have bought several poetry books (all from Scholastic) over the years to find the poems to use. I try to use some of the easier poems at the beginning of the year since most kids aren't reading and it's easier for the EL's to figure it out. I have even begun writing some of my own poems because, well, I think they are better. They aren't anything award winning, but they work for me. I am working on changing up some of my poems this year. Like everything else, I feel like I am in a rut and need to put a little change and pizzazz into my stuff. Now the problem is finding some good poems. I looked through my books, but I don't like any. :( Time to get creative...which has been hard this summer!
Here's my poem for the first week (3 days)of school:
Today is the day,
It's the first day of school
And I'm on my way!
Nothing's the same.
Because I'm going to learn,
To write my name!
by Patricia Hubbell