Poetry. Every. Single. Day.

29 09 2013

Poetry books. Every day I read a poem to my students and we Mine for Gold.  To understand Mining for Gold, click here to see a previous post where I explain how I do it in my room.

I don’t close read it with them, or analyze every line. We just enjoy the poem, mine for gold and let it be. Every. Single. Day.

I want my students to become familiar with poetry and I want to expose them to many different types of poems. I want them to see that reading poems isn’t something we just have to do in April for National Poetry Month, but that poems, like fiction and non-fiction are to be read and enjoyed.

What are my favorite go to poetry books that the kids really enjoy? Paint Me Like I Am, Tell the World, Angst: Teen Voices From the Edge  and You Hear Me: Poem and Writing for boys..  Things I have to Tell You: Poems and Writings by Teenage Girls. Make sure you check out the poems, before sharing with students, and there are some content and words that may be inappropriate for  your students.

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I’ve had students beginning to check out my poetry books, and want to know which book a certain poem came from after sharing a poem because they want to read more like that. As we mine for gold they’ve started to notice things like structure, word choices the author makes and they even notice figurative language in the poems. They are definitely growing in their interaction with the text, but I’m mindful to not force it.

After doing this for the last six weeks, I have had students mention that they should bring in their own poems to share, and that my friends, was music to my ears! Students wanting to find poems they like and bring them in to share?! Sounds awesome. 🙂 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for close reading poetry and I will share my experiences with that and a great resource that has been successful with my  8th graders in a future post.

I really believe to be able to successfully close read a poem, we first have to start  helping students overcome their fear of poetry and let them see that there are so many types of poems to enjoy.

What are some poems or poetry books you like sharing with your students? 



Emotion Poems~Bring out the Emotions!

14 12 2009

Today during writing workshop, I gave my students some sparks and they ran with it…. We brainstormed what courage is and made a list as a class.

Then we read, Courage by Bernard Waber. It is a really great book that asks the question- what is courage? This book shows the everyday kinds of courage that normal, ordinary people exhibit all the time, like “being the first to make up after an argument,” or “going to bed without a nightlight.” This books  explores the many varied kinds of courage and celebrates the moments, big and small, that bring out the hero in each of us.

I then showed them the poem “Fear” by Raymond Carver. This is a catalog- list type poem. We looked at the poem and discussed it. The students loved pulling out their favorite lines, and discussing lines that they would change. We had an interesting conversation on the last three lines. I then showed the students the Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion and we went through the various emotions besides the common love, fear, hate, joy etc….

I then let the students lose to choose an emotion and write a poem. I encourage them to write their poem with a twist at the end to follow the same format as the original poet. They really got into writing their emotions out on paper. When we did a quick share at the end of the period, we noticed and discussed that as the list got longer, then poem got deeper, because the writer had to think harder about what that emotion evokes. Some students took their writing notebooks home to work on their poems (I have to call that a success for the day! 🙂 )

Moving Forward with Writing Groups

9 12 2009

During writing workshop, I have found that my students are not giving each other good feedback when they are sharing their work with each other.  I find that they are just sharing their writing pieces, and not taking time to hear other people’s pieces, give or ask for advice to improve their work.

In writing group meetings during writing workshop:

I have my students tell their listeners to: Bless, Address, or Press with their writing.

Bless means to say only positive comments about the piece.

Address means that the writer picks one or two things that he/she specifically want help on.

Press means that the writer is in the publishing stage so give him/her everything you’ve got to make it great. The writer also tells the listeners what specifically he/she needs help on.

Even though I have the students do bless, address, press- I think I need to revisit it and remind the students to move to the address or press step.

What we have done in writing groups so far:

  • At the beginning of the year, I had my students get into writing groups and gave them written pieces (written by published authors). I had the students mine for gold and share their thoughts.
  • I also gave each group a selection of poems to read through, mine for gold and then give the writer advice on what they would change and why.
  • Once we got to the students sharing their own work I had them start by saying positive feedback only, then having them move to press.

A possible solution I am going to try:

I am going to read my own work to the class,  and go through the critique process (bless-address-press) with the students so that they can see that even my writing is not perfect and go through many steps before becoming polished. I know that students love to read stuff that the teacher writes because it is so personal. I have found that Students are more willing to share, when the teacher “exposes” him/herself.

Mining for Gold~Finding the Golden Lines

9 11 2009


* I can’t figure  out how change the orientation of this picture I took of my Mining for gold poster- turn your head to check it out!! 🙂 )*

I often have students Mining for Gold, or finding the Golden Lines in writing. I started the year off by exposing them to writing from all different genres and from professional writers to former students. I started by telling them that I was going to read a piece aloud, and they were to read along and then we were going to Mine foe Gold, or find the golden lines.

Mining For Gold

a passage, phrase or sentence that :

Makes you wonder

Makes you laugh

Makes you sad or upset

Connects with your life

Is your favorite

Sounds poetic

This is a simple warm up activity that I do a few days a week. At first the students didn’t really know what to say, and just commented if there was a grammatical error or word they didn’t understand. I  would always share the first few times, pointing out lines that stood out to me, words that resonated, etc…. As time went on, the student’s responses became much deeper. They were looking at the writing as a writer.

After a few weeks of just commenting on the work, we then moved to “next steps” for the writer. We would give suggestions that the writer could do to improve their piece. Now that we have written various pieces, I ask some students if I can put their writing piece on the Elmo*** to share with the class. Eventually I hope to have my students bring in their own passages to use golden lines.

***I always put the writing piece on my Elmo (if you don’t have one of these – do everything you can to get one- it’s my BEST Friend in the classroom! http://www.elmousa.com/).

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