For the Love of Poetry

I love poetry month!  I offered poetry lessons for our kindergarten through fifth grade classes and met with 21/27 of them.  I shared a google spreadsheet with our staff and asked them to sign up if they wanted a lesson.  Of course, the first link I sent out didn’t work, but eventually the ball got rolling.  I also posted the lesson idea on my March 2015 Daily Flush aka the toilet stall newsletter.

I love my job because I easily get bored and crave challenges in my profession.  Hence, the reason I have never taught the same grade level consecutively, nor save my plan books each year.  Yuck.  I love to recreate, stretch and grow and being a library media specialist suits me well because I get to do this daily.

In planning my lessons the first step was about promoting it.  I provided students with a poetry challenge, talked about it on our morning announcements, and like I said previously, I stalked the teachers. 🙂  Next came the planning.  My first step is looking at the vertical articulation for ELA standards to make sure I am on track and then to consider additional standards if those don’t seem meaty enough.  Here are the learning targets I created for each grade level.  The learning targets did improve as my lessons went on.

Next, I consider my toughest grade level first, 5th grade.  I swear, I can’t get these kids excited about ANYTHING!  So, I turned to pop culture in hopes to hook them into the amazing world of poetry and figurative language.  The first lesson I taught, I used some songs and lyrics that I eventually realized could have been controversial, so I finally landed on Ferrel Williams, Happy and Flo Rida, Good Feeling.

As the students walked in I had the music blaring in the library.  No, our library is never quiet.  I could see it on their faces…I had them.  I would let them jam out for a bit and then get our learn on.  I am a freak about the importance of learning targets and refer to them often through out the lesson to ensure the students know their task and their goals.  My first question to the students was, Who loves music? All hands flew up.  Who loves poetry? All hands went down. I cried a little, but it was a trick.  I then told them that their love of music is actually a love for poetry, they just didn’t know it yet and yes, I do know they are not technically the same thing and would go on to explain that, but I wanted the students to see the parallel to figurative language in their lives.  I also would weave in where poetry is in the library and a review of the word genre.

I then would move to our learning targets and for fifth grade they were: We can examine how words and phrases create a deeper meaning in literature with similes, metaphors, hyperboles, and imagery.  We can explain the deeper meaning of the figurative language (this learning target was an upgrade after a couple of lessons).  We can create figurative language.  I had the students read the targets with me to begin so we were all on the same page.  We defined similes, metaphors, hyperboles, and imagery and wrote examples on the board.  We reread the learning targets and I told them their mission was to identify any figurative language, but not to worry, we would do this together too.  I then would pass out the lyrics and a high lighter and turn the music up. Everyone would sing and I would remind them of their learning target and let them continue on their way.  We worked through the first set of lyrics together, share our ideas, then dive back into the lyrics to find more figurative language.  I would challenge the students who thought this was easy, to start to label the figurative language and explain their thinking in the margins.  After we examined the lyrics and discussed our ideas, it was the students’ turn to create.  I turned it over to them to write something with figurative language and gathered their information to provide data for their teacher.  I didn’t think to do this originally, so the first 5th grade teacher didn’t get this. Sorry!

I taught grades 2-5 using this same strategy, but tweaking the targets to fit their grade level needs.  I was able to use the lyrics for our second graders because of the repeating lines and rhyming.  In kindergarten and first grade their standards were so different that I had them look at poetry that met their standards.  In kindergarten the lesson was modeled as a whole group, but in first grade students were able to highlight and identify words about their senses and feelings in the poems.  The toughest grade to get going was typically 3rd grade and it makes sense because it is the first time the standards actually define the different types of figurative language.  In the third grade lessons we didn’t have time to create because we spent more time talking to build their understanding.  There was definitely a rise and fall to my stamina as I did this 21 times, but it was a blast and our poetry section has never been so empty!

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