I write the work onomatopoeia onto the white board and I ask the class to try to decode the word. This is fun to watch and observe. Some students get pretty close. I then ask what the word means. This stumps the class. I try to give them clues and let them know that we see it often in poetry, but can be used in books as well. It is especially found in comic books.
I do not come right out and define the word so I will start by reading the poem, Street Music by Arnold Adoff. I will read it a couple of times so that they have a good chance to understand the poem and listen for any patterns or rhythms. You could make copies of the poem, but I make one and place it under the document camera for the class to see as I read.
Under the document camera, I then ask if they heard or see any patterns or notice anything that is unique in the poem. I also ask the class what they think the poem is about. To help them connect to comprehension strategies, I ask them what strategies, that we have learned so far, might be able to help us understand this story. I then begin to highlight any of the words in the poem that are sounds.
I then ask the question again, "what do you think onomatopoeia is?" The class discusses their thoughts with their elbow partner first. The class then decides on what they think the word is, and I help clarify and simplify what they said.
I ask the class to take out their white boards, and remove the poem from the document camera. I read the poem again. This time I want them to write any words I use that are examples of onomatopoeia. Even though I highlighted the words before, I want them to listen for them this time. We then do a quick share of the words they heard.
We discuss the poem and the class is very quick in explaining that the author is describing his street to us. They also believe that the street is special to the author because he want us, the reader, to know about it.
I then ask them if they think they could write a poem similar to this about their street. One thing I do not need is the same format, I would rather see them use onomatopoeia and adjectives that help set the scene. To help them brainstorm, I tell them to write all the words that are sounds onto their white board. They can then use the sounds they have written to write their poem.