Common Core Connection
This lesson focuses on teaching students to understand that words of phrases in poems suggest feelings and appeal to the senses. This standard falls under the craft and structure grouping, so, as a teacher, I go at this a certain way. I approach the lesson by analyzing the author's strategy and how he or she has designed the text. We analyze why the author used certain words to express feelings or appeal to the senses. In addition, I try to analyze the way the author chose to structure the poem to entertain the reader and express his ideas. For example, when the author uses repetition they are making a point or when they choose to use alliteration it can appeal to certain senses.
In this lesson I use two poems about summer, which allows me to scaffold my instruction a little. Keeping the topic the same makes it easier on my students. I selected "Bed in Summer" and "Summer Song". We also begin analyzing the structure of a poem and how the author's use rhyme and stanzas. This is not a first grade skill, but understanding the structure of text can help students understand the meaning of the poems.
There are transitions placed every twenty minutes in the lesson to help my first graders refocus their energy. In addition, most first graders enjoy working together, so all of their work is done in small groups of two or three. The groups are mixed ability to allow peers to explain things to each other and engage in higher order thinking activities. I call the group members peanut butter and jelly, because I think it helps me organize who has what role during projects. It is also just fun, and we never need a reason to have fun in my class. Learning should be fun, right?
This is the time when I try to activate my students thinking by allowing them to share what they already know about summer. I listen closely because I am assessing their prior knowledge and hoping somebody has been to the beach, since "Summer Song" is about the beach. If they don't have much to say then I know I will have to give a lot of support and explanations to make sure my students understand the text as we read.
Now I explain what we are going to be doing in the lesson so the students understand what will be required of them. This seem to put them at ease. We will read a poem and analyze the text together then you will do one with your partner, but I will be here to help you. Say I can analyze text for meaning. It is important that first graders do not get to the frustration level in learning, because learning should be fun. They have a long journey ahead and we want education to be a positive thing.
Next the students are ready for a transition and we move to the desks, which keep students in the same groups, to echo read the poem, Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson. Echo reading means I read a line then the students repeat it as they are tracking on the page. Each child has to have a copy of the text to make sure they can practice tracking and to allow them to find evidence in the text later in the lesson. It's a great reading strategy for above level texts, and it promotes fluency.
Then we go back and begin a discussion around what the poem is about. By reminding students to look in the title, first line, and last line they can learn to identify what the text is about. So, the students discuss with their peanut butter jelly partner what the text is about for one minute or so. Peanut butter jelly partner are mixed ability groups of two based on oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS. By labeling one partner the peanut and one the jelly I can organize conversation if I want to, because sometimes I want a certain person to do the talking. For example, I might want the high person to read a portion of the text the other student and I can ask them to do this in a fun and organized manner. After their discussion one student shares their thoughts and uses evidence from the text to support their reasoning. To encourage conversation I ask another student to agree or disagree. Now, I only have the last word if I need to clarify something.
First we look at the structure of the text because understanding text structure can actually help student comprehend. Students look for patterns and discuss the ones they see with their partner. I am actually listening to assess their prior knowledge of the structure of poetry. After I see their conversation is over, I ask the students to share what they noticed. Hopefully they will see three stanzas and a rhyming pattern. Then I explain that the stanzas are like a paragraph and rhyming is fun to read. We locate the rhymes and identify the rhyming sounds.
Then I ask the students to analyze the first two lines of the poem and discuss what they mean. After a minute of so I ask somebody to share their thoughts. We agree or disagree. I ask the class to discuss why you dress by candle light in the winter? When does this story take place if the person is dressing by candlelight? How do you think the person feels? If they have to use a candle for light what do they use for heat? Do they have electricity? Then students discuss the next two lines of the poem and what they mean. When I see the discussion is over, I ask one person to share what the lines mean using evidence from the text. Then I ask why the person has to go to bed during the daylight in the summer.
Next the students discuss what happens in the second stanza while the person is trying to go to sleep. I ask one person to share their thoughts. Then I ask the students to discuss where the person might live and tell me how they know? How old do you think the person is and why do you think this? I am asking text specific questions to lead my students to being able to justify an answer. I predict this is a child because they are going to bed when other people are still awake, but I might be wrong. I think this because they refer to adults as grown ups too.
Last the students read the last stanza and discuss what the author is trying to say. Students share what they think and use the text to support their ideas. Now I ask them to tell me why they think the author is a child. I am taking this beyond the knowledge level of understanding and telling them the author is a child, but asking them to evaluate how we know. This is higher order thinking. It is that they don't want to do to bed, because they want to play and it is daylight outside. Check out our Board Work in the resource section.
Next we move to the center tables and echo read Summer Song by John Ciardi. This text might be hard to interpret if you have never been to the beach, but we are going to give it our best. It is also important to show the students that they have to fill in the blanks for some lines.
When I made this Summer Song Chart I kept in mind that first graders need the teacher to break text down for them to analyze. So, I have got the text down to a few lines at a time. Then the students feel in the meaning section.
I am really unsure if my students will actually understand the ending, so I walk around and help make sure they get it. Asking question seems to be a nice strategy I use to lead my students to the correct answer without just telling them. Could summer last too long? What do you think the author means? Are they asking this? How does the author feel about summer?
Next the class moves to the lounge, and I ask the students to work on their speaking and listening skills. This is one shift in Common Core and I find that being proactive helps my students be successful in speaking and listening. So, I remind them to talk loud when speaking, listen, look at the speaker, think, be still, and hold your paper still
After each group Presentation, I try to get some of the students to give their peers academic an Evaluation. This is not just "good job." I want them to say I agree that the word _____ means _____ because I saw it in the text. This is just an example, but what I am doing here is getting the student to engage in a higher order thinking activity and evidence text.
Last, we stay on the lounge and each student tells their partner one thing they want to learn and one thing they learned. Hopefully, there will be discussion about how words can mean more than just their literal meaning. Maybe we have to think about what feelings or ideas the author wants to project. Well, maybe that is a little wishful thinking, but I might add that in as my two cents. When they are talking I listen and this is one way I use formative assessment to plan for future lessons.
To close the lesson, we restate the lesson goal, so students know what was important. I can determine the meaning of words or phrases in a poem.