As I was researching when I was putting this unit together I found some great websites that I wanted to share with you. I wanted to find resources from poetry experts. Ken Nesbitt is a poet who has a wonderful website for kids and has many lesson plans for teachers on how to teach poetry. I came across this lesson on teaching rhyming poems. The lesson that I'm sharing with you is not Ken Nesbitt's lesson, but, after reading his lesson, I got some ideas going in my head and came up with the lesson that I'm going to share with you today. You may want to look around his site. He's got so many great ideas for teaching various kinds of poems that I just didn't have time to include in this unit.
Rhyming poems can evoke a lot of feeling, and, especially with kids' poetry, poems that rhyme can usually make readers laugh. They give the reader a sense of happiness/playfulness as we read them. The technique of rhyming is what helps to convey those feelings in the reader. I've included two rhyming poems that are exemplars from the Common Core Appendix B. I wanted to make sure my students were reading quality poetry in this lesson.
Standard RL1.4 is about reading poetry - not necessarily writing it. However, I know that writing is a strong indicator of reading comprehension. Students' reading comprehension grows as they write. Through writing they also begin to internalize why these literary devices help to convey a certain feeling to the reader. As a writer themselves, they intentionally use these literary devices to convey feelings to their readers. They are then able to describe why the author chooses the device in question and what the purpose is of using certain techniques when they craft a piece of writing. This is why we are spending valuable reading lesson time learning how to use these poetic devices for ourselves.
I called my students to the carpet in front of the Activboard. I said, "Today we are going to be learning how to write rhyming poems. Rhyming poems are fun to read. But just like the rest of our poems they also convey a feeling to the reader. I am going to read you some rhyming poems, and I want you to tell me what you feel when I read these poems."
I started on slide 42 of the Smartboard lesson. I read the poems "Ish," "My Violin," "My Puppy Punched Me In the Eye," and "Drinking Fountain." After reading these poems we discussed what the authors did in each of the poems. My students said they laughed because the poems were funny. I said, "Do you suppose that's what the author wanted you to do?" Then we discussed how rhyming helps to make the reader feel happy or silly.
Then I read the exemplar poem called "Covers" on slide 46 of the Smartboard lesson. This rhyming poem was very different. I asked, "What do you feel when you read this poem?" I received many different answers. One student said they felt cozy because of the line that said, "Blankets cover me when I'm asleep." Another student said they felt scared because of the phrase, "Nighttime covers all the things that creep." And yet another student said they felt like they were watching the snow on a cold day when they read, "Glass covers windows to keep the cold away." I zoned in on what my students said about this poem. You can see why I highlighted "Covers" in my reflection.
I sent the students back to their seats. I passed out a piece of paper to each of them and modeled how to fold the paper into 4 even columns. I said, "We are going to create some word family columns and then we are going to use these words to make our rhyming poems."
In the first column I wrote -at and underlined it. Under that line we brainstormed all the words in the -at word family. Then we completed the other 3 columns with the -in, -op, and -ick word families. You can see an example of what my student's work here: Word Family Example.docx. Once we were done writing our word families it was time for me to model some poetry.
One of the ideas that came into my mind when viewing Ken Nesbitt's lesson was how I could relate our rhyming words to a pattern. My students had worked on patterns quite a bit in kindergarten, so I built on that knowledge. I went back to our examples on the Smartboard lesson. I said, "The poets wrote their poems in a pattern. Not every single line rhymes." We looked at the poems and discussed which words rhymed.
Then I said, "I am going to give you some guidance today by giving you 2 patterns that you can choose from when writing your rhyming poems." I added a few slides to the Smartboard lesson and wrote the two patterns. I said, "You can choose from these patterns today - AABB or ABAB. Let me show you how to write a rhyming poem using these two patterns."
I went to my word family column and labeled all the -at words as A and the -in words as B. Then I created a poem using the AABB pattern. After writing the poem I labeled the end of each line with my A's and B's. Then I asked my students "How did my poem make you feel?" Then I went back to my word family paper and this time I labeled my -op words as A and my -ick words as B. I created another poem, this time using the ABAB pattern. After writing my poem I labeled the end of my lines with my A's and B's. Then I said, "How did this poem make you feel?" Once I had modeled my poems I said, "Now it's your turn everyone."
It was time for my students to get to work. They had their word family papers and I passed out more blank paper for each student. I said, "Remember, you have to convey some feeling to your reader and you can choose whichever pattern you want. You can choose whichever two word families you'd like. If you finish early, you can turn the paper over and write another rhyming poem using your other two word families."
The students couldn't wait to get to work. I have a very creative group, and they love to write. I walked around the room videoing my group. Some students had a hard time with the patterns, so I worked with them more closely on what they needed to do to fix their poems. You can see my students in action here: Creating Our Rhyming Poems.mp4.
My students were eager to share their work with their peers. We all gathered on the carpet again and the students who wanted to share their poems took turns reading. I was very happy with the quality of the work that my students gave me. You can see my thoughts and some student work samples here: Student Work Rhyming Poems.mp4.