Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Graders Are Poets...And They KNOW It!

Ahh...the joys of poetry. We spend so much time as teachers teaching, reminding, reteaching, and re-reminding (??) the parts of a complete sentence, rules of punctuation, and other basic mechanics...then, poetry comes along.

The joys of teaching poetry is that it does not have to follow some of the same rules of other types of writing we do in the classroom, but that can be a little scary to let your little ones write with disregard of some of the typical "rules" of writing!

However, this is precisely why I believe poetry is one of the most important ways to teach the kiddos, who don't naturally feel drawn to the subject, how to write! I always begin my big poetry unit with reading aloud a variety of poems written by other kids. We also talk about oftentimes kids are much better at writing poetry than adults because they are so creative!

Case in point...can you think of one adult who would instinctively write a concrete/shape poem about an armadillo?? Neither can I! There you have it...kids are just so stinking creative, and I just stand back in awe sometimes<3

Do you see the armadillo above? This little guy wrote his poem inside his animal's body!

Then comes the nitty gritty of teaching about the many types of poetry! I teach one form at a time, and by the end of the two week unit, my class has a solid hold on how to write SIX DIFFERENT types of poetry!!

We learn one form at a time, and as students discover how each type of poetry is different from the others, I have them assist with posting my poetry vocabulary cards in a pocket chart at the front of the room. My absolute favorite part about my poetry vocabulary cards is that the word is equally as prominent as the picture cue and definition so that their is a quality visual reminder when students are practicing the forms of poetry during their writing rotation of The Daily 5!

Example of the Rebus vocabulary card...the kids were constantly referencing off of these things!

 It's I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E time!!

In case you're interested in checking out the extensive unit I created (and really my kids just adored!) feel free to check it out here!

Ohh-kay...cue the heart melt. Do these types of notes and affections ever get old?! Absolutely not! This proud teacher just had to make a copy...sorry it's so blurry! I zoomed time a zillion from my camera phone:)

 Is it too blatantly obvious that I have a weak spot in my heart for teaching a love for writing? I hope y'all enjoyed the creativisms of poetry from my little hive, and forgive me for making your eyes strain on my last blurry beautiful photograph!
                                             Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chain of Words

This is my fourth blog post in my series "Feature Presentation...Word Work!". I ADORE teaching literacy and writing because it is truly the key to unlocking the learning process across the content areas!!

Today's feature presentation is about a super fun activity to enlist the knowledge of a team of little learners in their effort to review the entire word wall...we can't forget about the words we have studied in week's past!

This activity is endearingly called "Chain of Words" by my little ones, and they love to hang their handiwork around the classroom. It is suuuper easy to set up and quickly brightens up a bare wall, ceiling, or...in most teacher's case...adds color to a wall that is already weighed down with the wonderful work of their children!

Teacher preparation is as simple as cutting a stack of long rectangles in a variety of colors (or if you want to get really snazzy you could only cut rectangles in the color that fits your learning space color scheme!) I keep a basket full of these colorful strips always at hand on my Word Work bookshelf space!

To get started with "Chain of Words" students simply work in a small groups of 3-6 to build a chain of words they can confidently read and spell! The small group decides who will kick start the game and this student selects a word from the classroom word wall. Then, they adorn their selected word on one piece of colored paper. The next kiddo in the group searches the word wall for a word that begins with the last letter of the previously chosen word. For example, student 1 chooses the word "these" and student 2 selects the word "each." 

The chain of words continues on with each student recording their word on their paper and attaching as they go with tape. I remember being dubious of my little ones ability to attach and manipulate the tape, but wow-y they always manage! I am convinced it's because they get slightly competitive about making a chain that's ridiculously long in the designated 15 minute time frame!

It should also be noted that each time a whole "round" of students attaches their word to the chain, they are expected to each read and mini "quiz" one another on the spelling of their words so that we never forget our previously studied words. I also like this word work activity because it teaches students to truly use their word wall...they really do reference it while writing!! I promise!

Give it a go...it's fun, practical, and helpful in the beginning of the year when teaching students about how to use the easily accessible classroom word wall! Oh yeah, it's also adorable!