The Perfect Poem to Close Read!

27 10 2013

We did a close reading of the poem, Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser last week. I read the poem aloud, then had the students read it again individually and then hold their thinking and note their observations, thoughts, questions etc.. 
Then we brok the poem down and looked at the tone of the poem. We found words that stuck out to us that showed the tone (broken, something went wrong,money scarce, winters cold). I had the students wrote the mood down and then find specific lines that supported the mood. We noted how each stanza talked about a different person: a man, woman and child. I had the students go back to the poem and find out specific things we knew about the people in the poem, and list them (the man was tall, the woman liked lilacs, the child played with a tractor etc..). We looked at repetition, figurative language and we discussed specific word choices that the author made.

Click here to check out the poem

Although we did a close reading of this poem, the students really did a nice job. They noticed a lot of really interesting things.   I liked this poem because we could discuss all of the things I mentioned above and the students were able to understand the poem. They didn’t feel like the content, topic or language was above their heads. It was a manageable length to close read, and  It didn’t scare them.

After we read the poem I had my students write a journal prompt about a place where they live, or have things. What would their room, house, or objects say about them. I also showed them this image. I felt this image really went well with the poem. They shared their writing and we all enjoyed a close reading and a writing session.

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Give a try, and let me know how it went! 🙂


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? 


Poem for your Personality

13 03 2011

Pick a Poem for your Personality!

I have used this activity at the beginning of the year and also when doing a small poetry unit.

I gather as many poems on numerous topics that I can and I cut them out so that they are all different shapes and sizes. I then scatter them around the room. I give students some time to look through the poems and read them. I then have each student select one poem that they feel represents themselves. I either have them get into groups and share the poem and why they picked it, or have them write why they picked the poem. It is a nice way to get to know students as they always have interesting reasons as to why they picked the poem they did.  I also pick a poem and explain to the class why I picked it so that they get to know me better and I model what I want them to do.

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! 🙂 )

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