Students should be through at least one novel written in verse by this lesson. I introduce today's assignment, which is a twist on an old fashioned book review. Today kids will be writing a Novel Written in Verse Poem Review. The twist being, they will need to write their reviews in the form of a poem.
Kids got very into writing these reviews! They had lots of questions: Can I tweak the format? Can I speak from a character's point of view?
My answer is usually yes. Remember, you always want to think about the goal of an assignment. My goal is for students to show me that they read and understood their novel written in verse. If they can achieve this, why be a stickler for correct formatting?
Here is a sample review from the novel Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown.
We have our discussion for the day, which circles around point of view. I like to juxtapose the two poems. Poetry is a great time to talk about point of view. This is because the speaker is never introduced, so students are forced to infer information about the speaker. Who does this sound like? To whom is this person speaking? This is how I open up the discussion of "Valentine" & "An Angry Valentine."
Then we compare and contrast the two speakers. We often agree that "Valentine" sounds slightly stalker-esque. While "An Angry Valentine" sounds much more like a younger speaker, having a temper-tantrum.
We also annotate and trace our figurative language underneath the document camera.
At the end of the block, students share a stanza from their novel written in verse reviews. These should entice other readers to pick up this novel on their own.
If the review-poems are short, like this review of "Heartbeat," I allow students to share the entire poem. This builds interest for kids to pick up the novels to read on their own, and allows sixth graders to do what they love most, share!