Saturday, April 13, 2013

Celebrate National Poetry Month #2

This week I taught my kindergarten, first, and second graders about our U.S. Children's Poet Laureate:  J. Patrick Lewis.  First, we talked about what laureate means.  Most of our students had never heard of this title before.  

laureate:  n. a person who is honored with an award for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement.

Wow!  I told my kids that must mean that he's super creative and really smart, too!  We talked about a U.S. Poet Laureate's job.  J. Patrick Lewis is responsible for getting kids around the United States really excited about reading and writing poetry.  He gets to visit schools all over the United States!  What a great job.  The kids also guessed that he has to write lots of poetry, too.  J. Patrick Lewis has definitely been busy writing and publishing poetry.  

We talked about J. Patrick Lewis' picture.  I wonder why he'd choose to put this picture on his website?  The kids said:
He likes gum.
He likes blue jeans (his shirt).
He is old.
He looks like he is a fun guy.
He must like to write funny poetry.

We listened to J. Patrick Lewis share a funny poem called Mosquito.

I like the way Lewis also shares with the kids why he wrote this poem.  His son was climbing up the slide one day on the playground and his pants fell down and a bee stung him on the bottom.  He said his son was very hurt and he didn't want someone to be hurt in the poem, so he changed the bee sting to a mosquito bite.

After watching the video, I showed the kids the poem and we compared it to a fiction book.  The kids noticed:
You can read the poem on one page.
The poem has lines.
The poem has paragraphs.  We talked about how in poetry these are called stanzas.
You can choose to read anywhere in a poetry book.  You don't have to read beginning to end.

Next, we shared an anthology of poems edited by J. Patrick Lewis and published by National Geographic.

  I told the kids that I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble and purchased it before I even knew I was going to teach about J. Patrick Lewis!  My favorite part about this book is that the real pictures really pair well with the over two-hundred poems that are written by a variety of poets.  We watched and listened as J. Patrick Lewis read one of his poems from the book:

Finally, I shared that J. Patrick Lewis is really good at writing riddles.  The next book we put on the Elmo so the kids could see the words in the riddles and use the picture clues as well to try to solve each one.  We checked our answers in the back of the book after we read several examples.  

Each of the riddles in Spot the Plot is about a storybook and I like the way the riddles are about classic picture books as well as some that are more recent.  We also talked about why the boy and girl are dressed as detectives.  A fun extension for this lesson would be to have your kids write riddles about other picture books that they love.  Fifth and sixth graders could even write the riddles for your younger students and it would get them back into your easy fiction books in a sneaky way!

For more information about J. Patrick Lewis and his many other poetry books, check out his website.  You can also visit the J. Patrick Lewis blogspot for guides and trailers for his poetry books.

If you've used the poetry of J. Patrick Lewis in a fun way in your classroom, please post a comment and share your ideas!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Celebrate National Poetry Month #1

I'm so excited that it's National Poetry Month!  Poetry was always one of my favorite writing units when I taught third grade and I love it even more now that I'm in the library surrounded by so many great poetry books!  I am going to share a few of my favorite books and resources in two posts because there are so many things to share!  Let's talk books first.  It's hard to narrow my choices, but these are the books that I come back to every year as well as a few new titles:

This book is beautiful and I use it with kindergarten.  Kristine O'Connell George has tons of information on her website that you can use with the book including a teaching guide walks you through writing apostrophe, mask, and process poems with your children.  We fold an origami dog (in the teaching guide) together after learning about each type of poem, we vote on the type of poem we'd like to write about our dog, write it together as a class, and then the kids write their poem inside their origami dog.  I've always thought it would be a lot of fun to make huge origami animals with chart paper and let the kids choose to write their own poem about their animals after we've modeled the writing together.

This is an example of a process poem from the book.  A process poem tells about the process of creating the origami creature.

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer is my next favorite poetry book.  This book will blow your mind!  Each poem can be read forwards or backwards, each time presenting a different point of view.  Amazing!  Some of your kids might be brave enough to try this strategy in their own poetry.

When I checked out Marilyn Singer's website, I found that she has written a new book similar to Mirror Mirror!  Yeah!  She calls it a book of reversos.  Here's an excerpt from her website:

Fairy Tales
Read my book.
And then
just imagine this,
me in my garret, working all alone,
how hard it was to write.
I need to tell the world
the truth,
so here goes:
I beg your pardon–
fairies helped.
Fairies helped?
I beg your pardon!
So, here goes
the truth:
I need to tell the world
how hard it was to write,
me in my garret, working all alone.
Just imagine this,
and then
read my book.

AMAZING!  Everyone needs both of these books in their personal library!  Now that I've checked out Singer's site, I think I'm going to have to teach an author study spotlighting just her books!

The next book is one that I'd suggest to any classroom teacher as a read-aloud while they are teaching their poetry unit.  The whole book is written in verse!

When your kids ask for more, give them...

and they will be able to follow Jack into his new school year with Miss Stretchberry.  Download the teaching guide for both books here.

Another book that I found at Barnes and Noble recently that is also written in verse is:

The cool thing about this book is that many different types of poems tell the story.  Each poem is labeled by its could use this book to teach different types of poetry with your kids.

Another poetry book that I just purchased at Barnes and Noble is the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry.

Before reading poetry in this book, watch J. Patrick Lewis, U.S. Children's Poet Laureate, read his poem, "Make the Earth Your Companion," from the book.  The book also includes favorite poems from Robert Frost, Jack Prelutsky, Emily Dickinson, and more.  I especially love the beautiful photographs in this poetry book.

My final favorite is Douglas Florian.  Anything that Florian writes, I love.  My favorite is:

I like that Florian writes about nonfiction topics.  I learned so many cool facts about bees in this book!  Two more of Florian's newest books are:

I think Florian's books really appeal to boys as well.  Something that would be fun to do with Florian's poems is have your kids write poetry about nonfiction subjects and illustrate their own poems by using Florian's style of artwork.  

Oops!  I almost forgot one more...

This is Just To Say by Joyce Sidman is a book of apologies and forgiveness.  This would be a great lesson to use to collaborate with your school counselor!  There is a reader's guide and play adaptation for the book as well.

Here is Shel Silverstein's version of This is Just to Say...

and the original by William Carlos Williams...

                       This Is Just To Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Do you have a favorite poetry book?  Post a comment and share!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Teaching nonfiction features: Scholastic Discover More series

While shopping around at Barnes and Noble tonight, I noticed a series in the nonfiction section that was also new at our book fair this year.  The series is called the Scholastic Discover More series.  I purchased one about Bugs to read with my girls at home.  When I got home and looked up the series online, I found that it has been created for three reading groups.  Emergent readers (4+), confident readers (6+), and expert readers (9+).  Each group of books looks just a bit different from the others.  One of the features that drew me into the book is the free digital book that is advertised on the title.  You can sample a free companion digital book online to see for yourself how great they are!  The digital books include videos, definitions for new vocabulary, an encyclopedia feature, quizzes, and more!  I'd like to purchase sets of 5 of various titles from this series and use them to review our nonfiction features in the library.  Here's what I'm thinking...

I think I will call this lesson:  Can you see what I see?
First, I will teach the students about nonfiction features.  Using one of the free digital companion books could be used to pinpoint features together on your SMART board.  After nonfiction features have been taught, I will explain that we are playing a game called can you see what I see.  Students will be placed in groups of four or five.  Each student will have the same copy of the Scholastic Discover More title and some Post-It notes.  I will make a list of all of the nonfiction features that I've seen in their book.  The job of the team is to find the features in the book, post the page, and label the feature correctly.  Here are all of the features that I found in the Bugs book:

  • table of contents
  • cutaway
  • close-up
  • real photos
  • maps
  • diagrams with labels
  • photos with captions
  • charts
  • glossary
  • index
After the students have found each feature, they can check it off of a checklist that you have provided for them.  When they are finished, each team can come back to the group and share a few of their favorite nonfiction features with the group on the Elmo so everyone can see.