Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.
In this week’s reflection, I wanted to let you know my thinking behind my “A Poem a Day Challenge!”
Last year, the students and I ended the year writing poetry on one of our Padlet Walls (you can see this year’s work, so far, HERE). A Padlet Wall is an incredibly easy way for students to QUICKLY publish work. All posts are moderated by me, but everything else is in the “hands” of the students. All a student needs to do is “double click” on the Padlet webpage and start writing. Poems are automatically saved.
I have long believed that Poetry is a perfect fit for young writers at the elementary level. It’s rich in visual images, is a great mode to introduce new vocabulary, can be used as an assessment tool (i.e., “Write a poem about something you learned about Magnets”), but most importantly, is manageable for young writers. For years I have seen poetry “hook” students and ignite a love for writing. Poetry allows for freedom and often can be written in one sitting. Also, most students are able to independently type up their own work for publication, which is very rewarding. I also believe that poetry comes naturally for young children because they speak in poems. I have at times listened to a student talking and written down exactly what he/she has said, verbatim, and guess what? It reads just like a poem. A great example of students thinking/talking in poetry is this amazing poem from Jillian last year:
Outside of the Box by Jillian
lightning storm of wonder
bursts of color
splatters of star light
Nothing’s wrong with thinking outside the box
Have you seen anything
Each of these lines was written during different Computer sessions as sentences independent of each other. Jillian was writing the lines as a brainstorming activity, working with Ms. Gregory and an “art-generator” web tool. Jillian had not thought of the lines as poetry until we read them back to her as a poem. It is one of my all time favorite poems.
As I watched students return again and again to the Poetry (Padlet) Wall at school and at home, I became very inspired! Without really thinking about it, one day I declared: “Next year, I am going to publish a poem a day as a personal challenge!” Students thought this was cool and it wasn’t until later that I did the math and realized that this comes to about 300 poems for every day of the school year—weekends included! Yikes!
Well, I’ve stuck with the challenge and wrote plenty of poems over the summer to get ready. A new poem will be published daily on the “Poem a Day Challenge!” blog. All of the poems I have written/will write are with my students in mind as my audience. I have written many funny poems, but also many poems that connect to our skills/curriculum in Computer and other subjects. I plan to use the poems in lessons and teach students how to respond to the poems by logging into the blog and creating comments.
The main reason I’ve gone on this “adventure” is that I strongly believe that if we want students to do something (anything), then we, as teachers, need to also do it. Making poetry a staple of my own day will hopefully keep poetry —and thus, writing— as a main focus for the students.
Things You and Your Student Can Do at Home:
- Ask your student what they think about the “Poem a Day Challenge!”
- Go to the site and ask them to read some of the poems with you.
- Check out other poetry sites:
- —Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry for Kids (http://www.poetry4kids.com/)
- —Giggle Poetry (http://www.gigglepoetry.com/)
- —The Children Poetry Archive (http://www.poetryarchive.org/childrensarchive/home.do)
- —Write poetry with your student! A great place to get you started (“instant” poetry!) is at the ETTC’s Instant Poetry Forms Website (http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/newpoem.htm)