After our class gets seated in our classroom meeting place (on a rug near our easel), I start today’s lesson with a quick story that I share with my students. I tell the students that a few weeks ago, we went to a birthday party for one of my little cousins. This weekend, I got a note in the mail. It was a thank you card. I ask the students if they think they know why I would have gotten this. Many of the kids have ideas that they share, including: “Maybe you got a thank you card because you brought a great gift that your little cousin really liked!”, or “You probably got the thank you card because it was fun with you at the party!” I say to the students that they're all on the right track. The author of the thank you card said that they wanted to thank us for coming to the party and for the thoughtful gift. The reason they wrote this card was to thank us. All writers, even poets, have a reason for writing their texts. Sometimes there’s a specific purpose, like wanting to thank someone for something, but writers can write for a variety of other reasons too! I ask the students why else they think writers might write a text. I ask them to turn to a neighbor and share at least one reason why a writer might write a text. Students speak for a few minutes and I listen in to their discussion. Allowing the students to turn and talk is a great opportunity to have students continually practice the speaking and listening CCSS.
After a few moments, I regain the students’ attention and ask them to share a few of their ideas. Some students say that writers could write because they want to teach you something, like in informational text. Some students say that they know writers might write a text because they want to entertain you, or make you laugh. Another student adds that they might just write because for fun, or because they like a topic. I confirm for the students that they are write on track by telling them that they are super smart third graders because all of those are reasons why a writer might write a text! The same is true for poets, and why they might write a poem. Poets, and all writers, write to accomplish many different tasks, but sometimes, they write to share their point of view, or their thinking, about a topic or feelings that they have.
Now I tell the students that I want to share a poem with them! It’s called “Do Oysters Sneeze?” and we looked at it a bit yesterday. Today, as we read through this poem, I tell the students that I'd like to see if we can figure out what the author’s point of view is, or what their feelings and thoughts are about the oyster! I read the poem to the students, and then, we do a quick choral reading of the poem together.
After reading, I ask the kids what they think Mr. Prelutsky’s point of view might be when it comes to oysters? Do they think he likes them? Do they think he dislikes them? What do they think he feels about oysters? I ask the kids to turn and talk to a neighbor for two minutes and share their ideas! The students turn and talk to each other about the poem “Do Oysters Sneeze?” as I listen in to conversations. I notice that students are using vocabulary such as “stanza” and “line”, which is wonderful! They’re using the academic vocabulary to speak about parts of the poem and how it builds upon itself! Great!
I regain the students’ attention and ask about their ideas. One of the students in our class raises her hand and says, “Well, my partner and I thought he must like them because he wrote a poem about them, and we wouldn’t write anything about a sea animal we didn’t like!”
I smile and agree! I'm guessing he must have some appreciation for them, also! We could say Mr. Prelutsky’s point of view is that oysters are animals worth appreciating, or liking. Nice thinking about his point of view! I ask if there are any other ideas. Another student raises their hand and offers, “My partner and I were thinking that the poet might not yet be sure of how he feels about oysters because he’s wondering a lot about them. Maybe when he gets the answers to his questions, he’ll know if he likes them or not!” I responded by saying that this is absolutely a possibility! Maybe Mr. Prelutsky isn’t yet sure of how he feels about oysters, but we do at least know that he has an interest in them because he is wondering quite a bit about them! So we could say that Mr. Prelutsky’s point of view is that oysters are interesting. I tell the kids that this is wonderful thinking about the poet’s point of view!
I ask for any other ideas one last time. A third student offers, “We decided that Mr. Prelutskly must just think that oysters are kind of an interesting, but funny animal, because he does ask questions like he wants to learn more, but he also is sort of funny in his poem, so he must be thinking oysters is a funny topic to write about!” I say that this is wonderful thinking also! We could say Mr. Prelutsky’s point of view is that oysters are funny sea animals. These are all great examples of thinking about the poet’s point of view!
I say to the students that I think their thinking is wonderful! I'm not sure if they knew or not, but they are doing a great job of identifying the narrator’s, or the author’s or poet’s, point of view! I tell them that I am thrilled that they're thinking about what the text says and what the poet is trying to say in their poem, and they’re deciding what their point of view might be based on that information! That’s wonderful, and that's what good readers do!
Next, I tell the students that today we’re going to get to read some more ocean poetry! I have been so excited about this because it’s so fun to read poetry and think about what the poet might have intended when they wrote the poem. As we’re reading the poems today, I ask the students to think about why the poet might have written this poem, and what they’re trying to share with us by writing it! I challenge them to see if they can figure out each of the poets’ points of view!
Each student heads back to their the seat and we pass out our copies of our Ocean Poetry books. We read through a variety of poems, including “The Waves” by Gertrude M. Jones, “The Barracuda” by John Gardner, “Sleepy Pearl” by Francis Gorman Risser, and “From the Shore” by Carl Sandburg. For each poem, I read it first one time through so students can feel/hear the rhythm in the poem (or lack thereof), as well as get an idea of the words and vocabulary in the poem. Then, as a class, we reread each poem chorally together.
After each reading, I ask the students to talk in their table groups about what the poet’s point of view may have been. During this time, I rotate around and listen in to students talking. Once they’ve had a chance to share and agree on a point of view, I have a student from each group share their thinking. I also ask the students to write about the author’s point of view after each class discussion on each poem, using the Poet’s Point of View page (see the Resources section here).
At the end of today’s lesson, I ask the students to share a few of their writings on each poem. As we listen to students share, I remind students that I love how students are using vocabulary about poetry, such as “line” and “stanza”. I also remind the students of our purpose in today’s lesson, by saying” “Third graders, what is a poet’s point of view?” One of the students raises their hand and says, “It’s what the writer is thinking or feeling!” I say, “Right! And how do we find out what the poet’s point of view is?” Another student says, “You have to read the poem carefully, thinking about each line and stanza, and then thinking about what you think the poet might be thinking or feeling, or trying to say.” I say, “That’s right! Wonderful job working on point of view today third graders!”