What I do in my room: Poetry

I've decided to write some posts about what I do in my classroom.  I'm hoping one person gets an idea from it and it's a great way for me to lay it all out for myself, too! 

One thing I have been doing for at least 12 years is a weekly poem.  It started out small and has evolved over the years.  In college, my professor made us all make a poetry file.  I probably moaned and groaned about it since poetry wasn't my thing.  I remember we had to have all different types of poetry and I didn't know squat about poetry.  I didn't know what the different kinds were and I sure didn't want to analyze a poem.  But, I did my assignment, turned in it, got an A and then packed it away.  I think somewhere I still have it.  Maybe. 

Anyway, during my second or third year teaching, I started to put up some poems to go with whatever it was we were talking about.  In fact, my first poem I put up for my kids was one I wrote.  It was very short and simple, but it was easy for the kids to read and it was in my comfort zone.  I still use that poem now, although the kids laugh at my art work!  I started adding more and more poems to my collection.  I tried to do poems that went with the season rather than content area.  Some will disagree with me, but I like being able to bring in other things to my day that I may not have a lot of time for, but still make the kids feel like we are having fun talking about pumpkins (when in fact we don't spend a lot of time on pumpkins, but they don't know that!). 

A year or 2 later, I had enough poems for the whole year.  I would write them on chart paper and then put them up for the week.  On Fridays, I would copy the page for the kids to illustrate and then they would put them in their poem folders.  As the years have come and gone, I have stopped using some poems, have found new ones and in fact, have written many of the poems we use during the year.  I never imagined writing poems, but I like it and in fact, I get mad when I can't think of something!

Here's how my poems work:
Monday:  I introduce the poem to the kids and read it to them one time through while they listen.  Then we read it together 2 more times.  We discuss what the poem is talking about. 

Tuesday: Read through the poem 2-3 times together.  Then I read it in smaller chunks and have the students find the words that rhyme.  Sometimes we go through and find the rhyming words and then figure out more words that rhyme. 

Wednesday: Read through 2-3 times.  Then we go through word by word and figure out the number of syllables in each word.  This skill starts off slow, but then once they get it, they've got it! 

Thursday: Read 2-3 times.  Then we go through word by word and look at vowels.  It could be as simple as asking them what the vowels are in the words, what the vowel sound is, long/short, etc. 

Friday: Pass out a copy of the poem.  Students read it aloud.  Glue into their poem book and illustrate it. 

By the end of the year, students could have 38 poems in their books.  They can pull them out and read them when they have time.  Normally they don't pull them out til Fridays after they have put their new poem in.  Then they love reading all the poems from earlier in the year.  I think it's a good way for the kids to read and see that reading is more than just in a book.  I incorporate the poetry time in the morning with our opening.  We do it every day right after calendar and before our read aloud time. 

Today, I can cross one thing off my summer to-do list!  I re-typed all my poems so I can save paper next year.  They will printed 2 to a page and then glued into a spiral notebook.  For the last 14 years I have used a 3-prong paper folder to put them in.  But they are a lot of work for the kids (and me) and I wanted something easier.  So, we will see how this goes.  I'm hoping that it will be quick and easy.  I think I will make one with the kids this year.  I have never illustrated the poems before, yet I ask my kids to do it.  Guess I should walk the walk this year! 

Well, it's time for me to go.  I've been on the computer forever today and I's tired of sitting.  Time to do something else!  Happy Sunday! 

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