Literacy Teaching Tips 11

Here's a basic idea that will fit into short stretches of time – on a regular basis, if possible.  It comes to us from Lee Galda, Bernice E. Cullinan, and Lawrence R. Sipe in Literature and the Child, seventh edition.  I confess that the title of the activity, "Fifteen Minutes, Fifty Poems!" perplexes me a bit, but that's OK – the power of this kind of routine is beyond beautiful!


After making sure that all students (and you) have poetry notebooks, embark on regular modeling sessions – via some sort of projection system.  "Tell students that you have a poem on your mind; invite them to watch as you try to capture it in words." 


Of course you will think out loud (as you do about so many things), demonstrating what you do when you become stuck – scribbling, sketching, leaving blanks for undetermined words, reconsidering line breaks, etc.  Finally, "Stop at a point when you are visibly excited about what you will next compose… Tell them that you must spend the next ten minutes writing silently in your notebook and invite them to do the same." 


The authors of this popular Children's Literature textbook say that it will be tempting to start circulating among your students, but you should keep writing.  When they get stuck, they need to see you still working at it. 


This is my favorite quote from this section of the text:  "The more poems your students write, the more poetic devices and forms they will notice in the poems they read.  It is a cycle that sweeps children into exploring and experimenting with language.  Teachers have the power to set the cycle in motion."


The resources cited by the authors for this teaching idea are as follows:


Graves, Donald.  Explore Poetry:  The Reading/Writing Teacher's Companion


Grossman, Florence, Listening to the Bells:  Learning to Read Poetry by Writing Poetry


McClure, Amy, with Peggy Harrison and Sheryl Reed, Sunrises and Songs:  Reading and Writing Poetry in an Elementary Classroom


Here’s an invitation to you teachers:  Try this a few times and report back via either the comment feature of this site or FB.  What did you notice?  What CCSS did you elect to address via this work?  Then, send me your school address, so that I can mail or deliver you some things for your classroom library!