I Hate Poetry

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SWBAT read and analyze poetry to make connections to understand the fears of poetry

Big Idea

Poetry is not as clear-cut as prose, so this can make reading it seem daunting.


I absolutely love teaching this unit because it bridges a gap between poetry and prose. The main character in "Love That Dog" and "Hate That Cat" serves as my guide to get the kids to start loving poetry. The kiddos get to read about Jack and his struggle with poetry, yet at the same time, they get exposure to famous poets and classic poems. We get to see how "normal" kids react to poetry at first and then dig deep to find hidden meanings. My boys and my struggling learners seem to come alive during this unit, which is priceless to me because it's sometimes hard to find reading material that really clicks. This unit gives me the opportunity to not only teach the poetry standards, but to hit those literature standards as well. AND an added bonus- they can compare and contrast to novels written by the same author. They can chart the journey that Jack goes through and gain an understanding of the author's craft and choices. These two books are, by far, my favorite to teach; not just because I like them, but because my kids love them, they're quick reads due to the poetic structure, and they connect with kids. I also throw in "Locomotion" by Jaqueline Woodson during my RTI and independent reading time, so my kids can further study poetic novels and compare that author's approach to similar themes of loss and struggle. It's really an amazing unit, and there is SO much you can do. 

Unit Set-Up

25 minutes

Since this is the first day of the unit, my students will spend some time setting up their new interactive notebooks. For more information on this see my interactive notebook overview. Here is an example of my Introductory part of poetry interactive notebook.

To start off, I pass out new notebooks to my students and the necessary unit materials provided by my district. We use Learning Focused Strategies, so my students receive a student learning map (SLM), which is just a common core aligned road map for the unit, and a Know-Understand-DO (KUD) organizer. Here's a Sample Grade 5 Poetry KUD and the Sample Grade 5 Poetry SLM . My students set up their notebooks with a title page (which they will complete at the end of the unit to synthesize all lessons learned), the table of contents, the KUD,  the student learning map, a place to answer the essential questions from that student learning map, and the Poetry Terms for the unit. 

Once everything is secured in their notebooks, I ask students to look at the KUD and SLM. Students read through the information with their table partners and get an idea of what we'll be doing for the unit. This gets the students thinking about what they already know and let's them know what we'll be doing throughout the unit. I walk through each essential question on the SLM with my students and let them tell me something they may know about the topic. We just generally discuss this for about 3-5 minutes. We don't spend too much time on it. 

Then were take a good look at the vocabulary. Again, this is just a preview; not instruction. Students will review the terms for a minute or two and then I call on a few students to share what they know about those words. I have my students glue the poetry terms on the right side of their notebook, and on the left they reserve the space to summarize the unit using those words. They will come back to this at the end of the unit. 

I also show students two tagxedos that were Poetry Tagxedo to introduce one of the projects I will ask them to do at the end of the unit. More information will be given in later lessons, but I like to get their interest sparked so they are familiar with it when the time comes. 

Launching the Unit

15 minutes

In this unit, students will be learning about poetry through the eyes of a young boy named Jack in the story, "Love That Dog." The story is written like a poem and takes us through the hate, fear, discomfort and confusion with poetry that Jack experiences. We know all too often our kiddos experience these same feelings, so I like tying my unit together with this novel and Sharon Creech's sequel, "Hate That Cat."

In the first novel we'll talk through poetry analysis, characters, feelings, mood, and the overall elements of poetry. "Hate That Cat" hits more on the language of poems, so we'll wrap the unit up with that novel. Throughout these lessons, students get to interact with poems, learn the necessary information, review key fiction standards, and compare texts. I have a class set of both books, but one copy of each will do with a document projector, or you could even use some You Tube versions of "Love That Dog." "Hate That Cat" wasn't available for read aloud yet. 

Once I show students the Love That Dog First Page, I'll get them started on some conversation

 How is Jack feeling? What do you think his teacher asked him to do? Have you ever felt like this? 

I'll let them talk and share a bit just to get them talking. I'm not looking for accountability here. Most of my kids told me they hate poetry, so I'm just loosening them up a bit with everything we're doing. 

Meet Jack. We are going to get to know him fairly well over the next few weeks. Through our unit, we will not only be learning about poetry, but we'll also be learning about Jack's progression through poetry.

Then I show students the Hate That Cat First Page. Ask students: Are these feelings normal? What do you think makes poetry so scary for Jack?

Once this discussion is over, I have students think about their own feelings of poetry and have them write those feelings on the board. I save these in my SMART notebook to bring up at the end of the unit, but this can be done by anchor chart, in notebooks, etc. 

I stop the lesson here because the start-up can sometimes go over and the discussions about loving or hating poetry can get meaty. I find that by giving the students this time, they have more buy-in to the unit and actually love poetry by the end, just like Jack.