Literacy Teaching Tips 5

Fall is a very sensory time of year – the sight of brightly colored pumpkins and gourds, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of fresh apple cider . . . It’s the perfect time to work with this CCSS:


Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.


I mentioned Georgia Heard’s Poetry Lessons to Meet the Common Core State Standards last week.  Her idea about creating a Five Senses Word Wall (pages 47-48) appeals to me; it could be done on chart paper or by another means that you prefer.  The idea is for the students to generate sensory word lists that are displayed (seeing words, hearing words, smell words, touch words, taste words).  As you enjoy poems and books together, you can add to these lists; your students will be quick to catch on to this task.


It seems logical to me (and to Heard) that a natural next step would be for students to employ these kinds of words in their own poetry writing.  You could scaffold easily from writing a collaborative class poem, using some of the previously charted words – to individual poems. 


Some of your students will stick to using mostly previously identified words and ideas that have already been discussed.  Others will be eager to go beyond these limits right away.  Many will start “safely,” but get braver and braver with subsequent opportunities. 


Heard provides both a lesson sequence and little poems that “prove the point.”  She does the same for a variety of standards and provides especially handy references in the back of the book (an appendix titled “Correlation of Poems in the Text to CCSS,” some reproducibles, a glossary, a bibliography, and recommended collections of poetry/ websites).  This book is a great starting place  - and in no time at all, I predict that you will be thinking up excellent poetry teaching ideas of your own!


This would be a great time of year to include books by these excellent author/illustrators in your classroom activities:  Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, Denise Fleming. We naturally think of a young audience when we see these names, but older students can enjoy revisiting old favorites – especially if reading aloud to younger buddies or experimenting with the use of particular art media.