A few years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful book, "If You're Not From The Prairie" by David Bouchard. This is a beautifully illustrated poem about the wonders that you'd only know about it you lived on a prairie. I've used this book to teach writing before, but this year, I'm going to do something a little different. Since it is almost the end of the year, I would like my students to mimic the style of the poem and create poems called "If You're Not From Highland Lakes." (our school) Since my students are headed to middle school, I like to have them reflect on their elementary experience these last few weeks of school.
I will start the lesson off by reading the book and showing the pictures on the document camera. We will stop and discuss the descriptive language and images created with these words along the way.
Here is a clip of some verses put to music.
Now, it's time for the students to brainstorm a list of all of the things you'd only know about if you attended school at Highland Lakes. I'll have them start individually and then we will make a class list that everyone can us when writing. I'll ask students to start with sixth grade and work backwards as far as they can remember. I'll encourage them to recall special memories and special people from our school.
We will practice the process by writing an example together.
I will encourage students to write several stanzas of their poem. First, they'll make a rough copy in their writing notebooks. I want them to follow the same pattern and rhyme scheme, so I know revisions will be made. Once three stanzas are written, I'll have the students write their name up on the board under a heading that says "Ready for Feedback. " The next person ready will erase the first name on the list, and go partner with that person. I like using this strategy because it allows students to work with people they don't usually partner with in a non threatening way.
Once students have created a final copy, I'll ask them to add an illustration. I will eventually put these into their memory books. I think it would be great to do this earlier in the year, and create a class book with them as well.