Tag Archives: Poetry

a foolproof way to introduce poetry {to middle schoolers}

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by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

The first year I taught, I was faced with the daunting task of introducing poetry to a class of too-cool-for-school eighth graders.

I was young, naive…and therefore optimistic. I had grand visions of unearthing a poetic genius from this unlikely crew, and I just knew that they would connect with the authentic voices of Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings and Maya Angelou. If I could get them to keep an open mind.

Which–for eighth graders–is a big if.

Sure enough, when I announced the unit on the very first day, the word poetry was met with groans and rolled eyes. I knew I had to change the students’ perceptions. Clearly, they were thinking of poetry that’s limited by rules and rhymes.

I wrote the word “poetry” on the board and asked them for a definition. As they called out phrases (“it rhymes,” “it’s all mushy and lovey-dovey,” “boring”), I wrote them on the board. Every one of them.

Then I told them we were going to read some of my favorite poems. I pulled out the overhead projector (dating myself here :) and put up an overhead with a long poem on it. We started reading it, and they were still groaning. It was a love poem.

But, what they didn’t know was that it was actually a song; I’d typed out the lyrics to a song by Boyz II Men (dating myself again). But I kept that little secret to myself and just let the students tear into the “poem.”

Then, without saying much, I hit play on my CD player (phew, I’d have been really embarrassed to have to type cassette deck), and the song

There- ha! At least my photo is up-to-date. :)

started playing. It took my students a minute to catch on, but when they realized that they were listening to the “lame” words on the screen being sung by their idols…well, let’s just say I had them hooked on poetry.

After the song was over, I pointed out the obvious: music is poetry. If you like music, you like poetry. And so, with that revelation in mind, I erased their previous definitions of poetry from the board and asked for new ones. This time, they filled the board with phrases like “songs are poetry,” “meaningful,” “you can connect with it,” “sometimes it tells a story,” etc.

By the end of the poetry unit, I was right. They had connected with Hughes and Angelou and cummings. And…quite a few unlikely poetic geniuses had also been unearthed.

To search for song lyrics for your poetry unit, check out www.allthelyrics.com.

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Filed under Motivation, Poetry, reluctant readers

Daffodownlilly

by Kelli Lewis

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This springtime activity is perfect for the classroom or the kitchen table! It incorporates a poem and a craft…and could even be a great Mother’s Day gift.

Read A Poem

“Daffodowndilly” by A. A. Milne

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown;

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbour;

‘Winter is dead.’

Create a Craft

Photo of daffodil craft from http://www.dltk-teach.com.

This wonderful craft idea came from DLTK’s Educational Activities website: www.dltk-teach.com.

Materials for each Daffodil:

– a cardboard egg carton cup

– yellow paint

– glue/tape

– green construction paper (or a green straw)

– yellow and green cardstock paper (or use white and allow your students to color or paint the pieces)

Procedure:

• Cut out the flower shaped piece and two leaf-shaped pieces from the yellow and green (or white) cardstock paper. You may want to do this part beforehand for your students, depending on their age.

• Color/paint the pieces, if you chose to use white paper.

• Roll a sheet of green construction paper as tight as you can to make a tube, then glue/tape it so that it stays together (or you can just use a green straw).

• Flatten the tube a little.

• Glue/tape the leaf pieces to the flat part of the tube, somewhere in the middle of the tube.

• Glue/tape the flower piece to the top of the tube.

• Trim the edges of your carton cup if it is jagged.

• Paint the carton cup yellow, including the inside! (You can use styrofoam if you don’t have cardboard, but you will just have to leave it white since the paint doesn’t stay very well on styrofoam.)

• Glue the egg carton to the center of the flower piece.

After making sure everyone has their name on their daffodil, you may want to put all of them in a large vase for display in the classroom!

Extra facts you may want to share with your students…

Did You Know?

  • The first day of spring is special because daylight and darkness both last for 12 hours.
  • Spring is a time when we have many flower festivals here in the United States. In fact, Washington, D.C. has a yearly Cherry Blossom Festival when visitors come to see flowers and enjoy our beautiful capital. You could also research local flower festivals in your town or state on www.topeventsusa.com.

 Kelli Lewis is graduate student at the University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Poetry, Seasons

A Wintry Way to Review Patterns!

by Rachel Stepp

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Here’s an imaginative way to create a wintry wonderland in your classroom and also review patterns and counting!

Paper Chains

  1. First start by creating paper chains that you can hang from the ceiling. These chains can be made with different shades of blue and white construction paper.
  2. Mark strips on the paper using a ruler. Place the ruler along the paper and just make the strips as wide as the ruler. (No real measurement is necessary!) Older students can do this themselves. Make enough sheets for each student to have around 20 strips in several different colors of paper.
  3. Once your students have their paper, allow them to cut the strips along the lines.
  4. Now, teach (or review) patterns. Explain and model various patterns such as ABAB or ABBABB. For upper elementary/middle grades, this would also be a great time to get in a little literary integration by whipping out some poetry with various rhyme schemes. You can compare the rhyme schemes with the paper patterns…and students could even copy various lines of poetry onto their strips. For a great list of printable winter-themed rhyming poems, check out Apples 4 the Teacher.
  5. After students have had time to explore different patterns, teach them how to make a paper chain using their strips. Encourage them to hold the glued links for ten seconds to secure the glue. This will also help them count to 10 and review their numbers.
  6. Once your students have made paper chains, connect all of the chains together and hang them across the classroom from the ceiling. The classroom will be filled with snowy skies when you are all done!

(If your county’s fire marshall is anti-ceiling-hanging, you can hang the chains from bulletin boards, white boards, walls and doorways instead. Just as magical!)

Glitter Snowflakes

  1. Add a little extra pizazz to your room with snowflakes from your students. Students just start with a regular piece of white (or light blue) paper. Then have students fold the paper multiple times, until it is a small, folded rectangle. They can fold as many times as they’d like…so long as scissors can still penetrate the folds.
  2. Next, students will cut small snips and shapes out of the edges of their folded rectangle. They can also snip and round out corners. You can review shapes with this lesson (and practice fine motor coordination) by guiding the students in cutting out specific shapes: triangles, circles, squares, rectangles, etc.
  3. Then, when students unfold their snipped paper, voila! A unique snowflake.
  4. Add some glitter so they sparkle in the light.

You can also use the idea of reflection and have students draw half of a snowflake and then reflect their drawing on the other side of their paper.

Then, you could follow up these chilly activities by reading your favorite winter storybook to your class. I love Jan Brett, but if you have another great wintry-themed book suggestion, post it in the comments below! I’d love to hear your favorites!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.

Photo from http://www.bunchfamily.ca/paper-snowflakes-garlands.

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Filed under Classroom Decor, Math, Poetry, Reading, reading aloud, Seasons, Uncategorized

Inspired Poetry (Made Easy)

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by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.

Okay, so not every child is going to be Langston Hughes or Emily Dickinson out of the gate. But that’s alright. As teachers and parents, we need to remember that some of the most effective learning is not about a polished (or publishable) finished product, but rather about the process itself.

So it goes with this fun little poetry activity. Since poetry can be a big yawner for many kids, spice it up with magazines. Have the children each bring in a magazine* for cutting from home. Then, tell the students that they’re going to write a poem entirely out of the words they find in the magazine. They will cut out individual words and phrases and glue them onto a large sheet of white paper in the form of a poem.

Step One: Model

Pass out magazines, ensuring that each students has one at their desk. Then, show a model you made previously (or, if time, model in front of the class how to make one).

Step Two: Get Inspired

Encourage students to spend some time browsing a magazine or two, looking at ads and article titles. If they see anything they like, they should cut it out and put it in a pile on their desks. Tell them to swap magazines after a few minutes, to browse a new one.

Step Three: Piece it Together

Now, using a glue stick, students should glue their words and phrases to the paper so they make one cohesive poem. This is a great time to address the conventions of poetry in a mini-lesson. You can discuss usage of commas and periods, as well as the role of white space in a poem: most often, the words go down the center of the page with a lot of white space around them. If students need a word that they can’t find, they can build it out of individual letters.

While the students are working, circulate the room and hold up good examples to inspire the other students and give them a few concrete ideas.

Step Four: Share!

Give students a chance to share their clever poems with the class. Then hang them up! The principal will wonder why your classroom is filled with ransom notes. It can be your and the students’ little private joke. :0)

* It’s a good idea to browse the magazines that are brought in from home BEFORE this activity, to ensure that the content of articles and ads is appropriate for your classroom. Tear out inappropriate pages. Bring a stack of “safe” magazines from your house as a back-up.

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Filed under Parenting, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Introducing Poetry: Makin’ it Cool with Music

by Elizabeth Cossick M.Ed.

The first year I introduced poetry to a class of too-cool-for-school eighth graders, I was optimistic…but skeptical. I had grand visions of unearthing a poetic genius from this unlikely crew, and I just knew that they would connect with the authentic voices of Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings and Maya Angelou. If I could get them to keep an open mind. Which–for eighth graders–is a big if.

Sure enough, when I announced the unit on the very first day, the word poetry was met with groans and rolled eyes. I knew I had to change the students’ perceptions. Clearly, they were thinking of poetry that’s limited by rules and rhymes. I wrote the word “poetry” on the board and asked them for a definition. As they called out phrases (“it rhymes,” “it’s all mushy and lovey-dovey,” “boring”), I wrote them on the board.

Then I told them we were going to read some of my favorite poems. I pulled out the overhead projector and put up an overhead with a long poem on it. We started reading it, and they were still groaning. It was a love poem. But, what they didn’t know was that it was actually a song; I’d typed out the lyrics to a song by Boyz II Men (who were seriously hot stuff at the time). But I kept that little secret to myself and just let the students tear into the “poem.”

Then, without saying much, I hit play on my CD player, and the song started playing. It took them a minute to catch on, but when they realized that they were listening to the words on the screen being sung by Boyz II Men…well, let’s just say I had them hooked on poetry.

After the song was over, I pointed out the obvious: music is poetry. If you like music, you like poetry. And so, with that revelation in mind, I erased their previous definitions of poetry and asked for new ones. This time, they filled the board with phrases like “meaningful,” “you can connect with it,” “sometimes it tells a story,”  etc.

By the end of the poetry unit, I was right. They had connected with Huges and Angelou and cummings. And…quite a few unlikely poetic geniuses had also been unearthed.

To search for song lyrics, check out www.allthelyrics.com.

Comments Off on Introducing Poetry: Makin’ it Cool with Music

Filed under Motivation, Poetry, Teaching