I am pondering the creation of this unit. Why do I want to have my students read and write poetry? Does poetry have a place along side of literature and informational texts? How will I launch the unit? What poems will I include as demonstration texts? Will the unit get boring to students? Does poetry writing align to CCSS? How does reading poetry align to CCSS?
Here are a few answers to these questions I have posed to myself.
Why read and write poetry? Gathering resources I found this reason for including poetry from the Massachusette English Language Arts Curriculum General Standard:
From poetry we learn the language of heart and soul, with particular attention paid to rhythm and sound, compression and precision, the power of images, and the appropriate uses of figures of speech. And yet it is also the genre that is most playful in its attendtion to language, where rhyme, pun, and hidden meanings are constant surprises. The identification and analysis of the elements generally associated with poetry-metaphor, simile, personification, and alliteration-have an enormous effect on student reading and writing not only in poetry, but also in other genres.
Initially, I want my students to read and poetry for enjoyment, wonder, and amazement. My purpose is to expose students to the language of the heart and soul. This year my units of study have included literature and informational texts, I feel poetry as a genre is a critical part of a well balanced reading and writing curriculum. The reading of poetry is a great way to demonstrate and foster rich, precise, imaginative language. Poetry's short, spare and concise format can be more manageable to read, especially for struggling or reluctant readers, and enhances confidence and reading motivation.
Poetry is a way to give voice to children's feelings about themselves and the world, and helps them to make a personal connection to literature. Two books on teaching poetry to students I found helpful with the creation of this unit are Teaching Poetry and Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard.
"Today students you will begin a unit of study in reading and thinking about poetry. I wrote a poem for you titled "White Space". I"ll read it to you now." Read the poem. Now you'll have a minute or two to compare ideas with your partner. Partner A go first.
Listen in and rephrase what you heard. 'I heard that the topic of this poems is "poems", and it talks about how the poem can look on the page', that's right. Now, I'll read it again but this time I will put it under the document camera so you can see how I decided to write the words on the page. This time as you listen I want you to also look at the form or shape of the poem as well as listening to the meaning of the words.
Partner B start the conversation with your partner by sharing your ideas about what you notice now."
Listen in and restate what you heard: "I saw some stanzas of four lines, I saw two lines together. I saw lines that stretched across the page."
"Thats right, poets write to share their ideas with words and they also make choices about how to actually put the words on the page. Poets make all kinds of decisions about these kinds of things.
Now I am going to ask you to talk about any of these 5 questions: (show and read questions).
Have a conversation with your partner about any or all of them.
"What do we know about poetry?
What do poems look like on the page?
What kinds of things do people write poems about?
What are some different kinds of poetry?
Why is poetry important to read and hear?
How do we read poetry?"
After their partner talk, call on a few students to share. Write their ideas down. I am pre-exposing students to the questions they will be addressing in the partner share at their desks in a few minutes.
I will capture a few ideas the students have in a list under the document camera. Then I will say,
"Now I want you and a partner to share some books of poetry. Your job is to preview poems with the purpose of finding answers to the questions we were just answering. Use the poetry preview sheet to jot down your thinking about these poetry questions."
This activity will provide an informal assessment about the ideas and attitudes my students hold related to poetry. I am curious to learn about my students feelings about poetry and their experience with it. I will use this knowledge to design the upcoming lessons.
"Students, your task is to collect data on these five questions with a partner.
1. What do poems look like on the page?
2. What kinds of things do people write poems about?
3. What are some different kinds of poetry?
4. Why is poetry important to read and hear?
5.How do we read poetry?"
You'l have about 25 minutes to find out all kinds of things about poetry and even to read a few poems too. Be on the look out for new kinds of poems that you will want to share with the class.
I will collect your papers at the end of our workshop.
Circulate as students are exploring the different kinds of poetry books and coach them as needed by asking questions to deepen their thinking about formatting, topics, kinds, etc.