Poetry in Writing Workshop: Seeing with Poets' Eyes

We've just started our poetry unit during Writing Workshop. This is new for me; I haven't ever taught how to write poetry. Really, never. I was interested though, and wanted to go for it, especially after our last unit, nonfiction "All About" writing. I knew we needed something different.

This is my first year teaching first grade (first years are always difficult, aren't they? No matter how long you've been teaching!) and I stumbled upon a great resource in my cabinet
It's written by Georgia Heard and Lester L.Laminack. The only problem was that it's organized on the premise that you teach poetry all year (which actually makes perfect sense) however, I hadn't been doing that! ... but I will next year! 
Anyway, I decided that it wouldn't have worked to try to us it as my main resource so I went back to my Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College, Columbia University
I went the the Writing Institute almost two summers ago and I can't recommend it enough! I love the way she scaffolds everything for teachers in her resource books, and they are extremely helpful, however, there's just nothing like participating in the workshops themselves- an amazing experience and so inspiring! I love that Lucy and her colleagues teach and guide us teachers, but still leave us with the expectation that we can, will and should make these lessons our own. (I think that's the way it should be- you have to stay true to yourself and who you are as a teacher).

Back to the classroom....prior to this first mini-lesson, we had spent about two weeks reading, discussing  and thinking about poetry. Students brought in poems- some kids had personal favorites while others had to do a google search and print something, anything off the internet! The range of their background knowledge was vast- interesting! After many discussions and time to reflect, I created this anchor chart (it's a thinking bubble, but you could already tell, right?) 

from the post-it notes I collected with students' thoughts and ideas about poetry. I plan to refer back to this as the writing unit goes on so students can continue to think about how their learning is growing and changing.
Before the actual lesson, I collected a number of natural objects (with the gracious help of our art teacher, Susan) for our "poetry museum". 
After the mini-lesson using the poem, Pencil Sharpener, by Zoe Ryder White (as recommended by Lucy), students began to explore and write about these objects at their tables. I encouraged them to use their imaginations as they tried to think about the items in novel and creative ways. They loved getting their hands on all that stuff, and who wouldn't? Don't you love things from nature- they're just so beautiful.
As we closed with a share, I noticed that there were a couple of diamonds in the rough among the first attempts, but for the majority of the class, I would need to discuss the difference between writing like a scientist versus writing like a poet, but the goal of he lesson was met; my students "had a go" and we were off and running! 
What resources do you use to teach poetry?
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1 comment

  1. Karli,

    Thank you for sharing your ideas! I think your blog is super cute!

    I'm so jealous! I want to see Lucy Calkins so badly! I went to the IRA this year but missed her.

    I look forward to reading more!


    The Perks of Teaching Primary



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