Creating Spine Poetry

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form made popular by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!
I’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) DID NOT result in a stack of books that formed a poem.

Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.

book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge

Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  I am getting a jump on National Poetry Month and trying this with my 5th graders this week.  Here are some photos of some of the students stacking and arranging their books:

spinepoetry2      spinepoetry1

Have you done spine poetry with your students?  Please leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about it!

Images:
SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on flickrcc.net
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on flickrcc.net

 

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Reflecting on 2014-2015

I often use this blog as a place to “think on paper” and reflect on different aspects of my job.  As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I’m scratching my head and wondering where the year went!  Robert Browning tells us that our reach should exceed our grasp, so I suppose it’s okay that I had more plans than I was able to implement this year.  But in looking back over the ideas that did come to fruition, here are some of my favorites:

  • Our annual Comic Book Read-In is always a hit with students, and this year I was able to help teachers connect it to the curriculum with my companion workshop Comics in the Classroom.  I went on to share those resources at the S.C. Association of School Librarians conference in March of this year.
    Boys on Beanbags
  • This year I celebrated International Dot Day: Make Your Mark with all of our 5th graders.  I shared the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds on the Promethean board via Tumblebooks, and we discussed the importance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to experiment with new things.  We then used Microsoft Paint to create digital dot art, which I displayed in the library and online.
    Dot Art
  • Our 2nd graders practiced their research skills and their technology skills with our African American Biography Timelines.  They learned how to use Encyclopedia Britannica Elementary (part of the SC DISCUS suite of databases) to gather facts and photos, then synthesized their information into an online timeline using the ReadWriteThink timeline tool.
    Timeline
  • We discovered some budding poets through our Found Poetry project with 4th grade.  We examined various nonfiction print sources to create word banks of important facts, then used the elements of poetry to communicate the information in more lyrical ways.
    Down Deep in the Ocean
  • The Quest teacher asked me to lead an Hour of Code with the gifted and talented students at my school and the other elementary school she serves.  We used a Scratch project, and the kids astounded themselves with their results!  “Wow, I’m really good at this!”  (Those types of comments are music to my ears!)
    scratch animate your name
  • My LOOK! NEW BOOKS! new book preview for teachers this year included a QR Code twist!  Many of the new books on display in the library contained bookmarks with QR codes that teachers could scan to access additional teaching resources for using the books in the classroom.  I created the codes with QR Code Monkey, which I really like because it allows you to upload a logo or photo as part of your code.
    How to Write an Ad QR Code
  • I created several technology tutorials for teachers using the free screencasting tool ScreencastOMatic.  When I can’t provide assistance in person, a screencast video is the next best thing!
    Promethean Timer

What did you try this year that was a hit with students or teachers?  Tell us about it in the comments!

 

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Creating Weather Poetry

My 4th grade teachers were looking for some new poetry ideas for their students this month, so I suggested introducing them to Found Poetry.  I was introduced to found poetry by author/poet Kami Kinnard at my state school librarians conference last spring.  It basically involves reading nonfiction text on a topic, pulling out the important words and facts to create a word bank, and then using one of the elements of poetry (repetition, alliteration) or forms of poetry (free verse, haiku) to create a poem.

Teachers are bringing their classes to the library next week to research weather using books, magazine articles, online encyclopedias, and websites.  Then some classes will create weather “shape poems” (their idea, which I love!) while another will use a “free verse” approach.

I recommended the following books as good examples of shape poems:

Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham explores light in all its forms, from reading lamps to moonlight to flashlights to campfires. (Hover over the image above to see clickable links for additional resources for this book.)

 

Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape by J. Patrick Lewis (former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate) takes a more eclectic approach to the subject matter – with poems ranging from sports to seasons to animals – as well as with the mixed-media illustrations.  (Hover over the image above to see clickable links for additional resources for this book.)

And I just discovered a book that explains Found Poetry in a kid-friendly way:

found all around Found All Around: A Show-and-Tell of Found Poetry by Krishna Dalal gives instructions and examples of choosing words from newspaper and magazine articles, books, etc to create and using them to write poems.

Do you have other book recommendations, or poetry-writing ideas?  Please share them in the comments!

You can find more books and resources on my Thinglink Poetry page!

 

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Spring Poetry Wordles with First Grade

I celebrated the First Day of Spring with 1st grade in the library today!

I read excerpts from two books that offer colorful descriptions and vivid details to get the students thinking about spring :

when spring comesA New Beginning by Wendy Pfeffer

This book uses poetic language and form to celebrate all the signs of new life that spring brings.
“Leaf buds uncurl on bare branches.
     Frogs leave their winter hideaways,
     hop to the nearest water, and lay eggs.”

when spring comes natalieWhen Spring Comes by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

A young girl mired in the cold of winter looks forward to all the delights that spring will bring.
“When spring comes, Grandma and I will walk to the high pasture to pick wild strawberries that glisten like rubies.”

Then I asked the students to think of one springtime word to share so that we could create a word picture about spring:  something they look forward to doing in the spring, or a word to describe spring.  As students called out their words, I typed them into Wordle.  We then experimented with different fonts, colors, and layouts until the students were satisfied that we had caught the essence of spring.

Here are two examples.  Beautiful!

Stilwell Spring Wordle

ferguson's spring wordle

 

 

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Creating Poetry – What I Learned from Kami Kinard

Kami Kinard

Author/Poet Kami Kinard shares her poem “Tick-Tock Tick” from the anthology Nasty Bugs (poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins) during her Creating Poetry in Your Library workshop at SCASL Conference 2014.

I’m so excited about the Creating Poetry in Your Library session led by author and poet Kami Kinard that I attended at the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) annual conference last week!

She has perfected a process of poetry writing with students that combines research with writing to enable even the youngest student to create non-fiction poetry.  Kids use short magazine articles (such as those found in Ranger Rick and National Geographic for Kids) as a springboard for poetry writing by isolating the important words from the article and then using one or more of the principles of poetry (repetition, rhythm, alliteration, etc) to rearrange those words into a poem!

This activity encourages close reading of the text and improves comprehension.  (Hello, Common Core!) You can also have students reading from a variety of sources including newspaper articles and books, and older students can handle reading and taking notes from more than one non-fiction source.  Students can create a poem in a surprisingly short amount of time.  Her SCASL session was only one hour, and she had time to share this technique with us, along with a couple of other poetry-writing ideas, and still allow us time to read an article and create a poem ourselves!

You will want to take a look at the blog she created for a poetry residency she did at Summit Drive Elementary School and see examples of these “found poems” that she guided students to create.  I will definitely share this with my teachers — I think it will make a great collaborative project!

 

 

 

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SCASL Conference 2014

SCASL 2014 LogoWhooo hoooo!  I’m looking forward to attending the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) annual conference this week in Columbia, South Carolina!  Our theme is Leadership @ Your Library and we have some great speakers lined up including Ann M. Martin, author of Empowering Leadership; and Gail Dickinson, the current president of AASL!

computer_stick_figureI’m also excited about presenting a session this year titled PUTTING THE “TECH” IN POETIC.  I’ll be sharing lots of online poetry resources, as well interactive tools that will inspire students to write and share poetry.  We are using Edmodo at the conference this year, but I can’t post my group code online since it’s just for attendees.  However, all of my resources can be found in this Poetry LiveBinder which I’ve made public so that you can add it to your own collection of Livebinders and edit it to suit you.

Lori June presenting "Putting the 'Tech' in Poetic" at SCASL 2014.

Lori June presenting “Putting the ‘Tech’ in Poetic” at SCASL 2014.

I’m planning to “tweet the conference” using #SCASL14, but sometimes it’s hard to listen to a session and tweet it at the same time, and sometimes the technology just doesn’t cooperate.   We’ll see how it goes!

 

 

 

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Poetry Workshop Recap

I always appreciate the opportunity to share resources with teachers, and the poetry workshop I led last week gave me a chance to combine two of my favorite things:  poetry and technology!Writing PoetryPoetry Books That Connect to the Curriculum

Poetry Book Display

To prepare for the Putting the “Tech” in Poetic workshop, my assistant and I spent the afternoon setting up displays of poetry books for teachers to browse through before and after the presentation.

I pulled about a hundred poetry books and sorted them into categories (Concrete, Haiku, Novels in Verse, Themed Poetry, Art and Music in Poetry, etc) to make book selection easier, and Mrs. Jordan printed signs for each.

We also put out a display of books by our current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, and featured a collection of eight Langston Hughes titles designed to inspire a Poet Study.

In addition, I had one of our document cameras set up as an example of how you could give students a close-up view of a collection of objects to inspire poetry writing, using a poetry book like Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems by John Frank, or a nonfiction book like Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.

I also had a FLIP camera and a digital camera on display near a computer with a microphone plugged in.

Sign-In StationWhen teachers arrived, they signed in to receive technology re-certification credit and to win a door prize.  We had snacks out – after a long day of teaching you need something to keep you going! – as well as some discount coupons for our local bookstore.

Once everyone was settled, the real resource-sharing began!  I spent the last two weeks in March adding websites to a Poetry LiveBinder that I created for the teachers.  Resources in the Binder include links to lesson ideas for some of the poetry books in our school library (hosted at ThingLink), websites featuring free online poetry for children, poetry lesson plans from Read/Write/Think, web tools for interactive poetry writing, and sites that facilitate sharing and responding to poetry.

Workshop AttendeesMost of the resources I included are ones that teachers can explore on their own according to their individual needs, so I focused my presentation on the technology tools that they might need more assistance with.

For example, I showed them how they could use Padlet to upload student poetry and have other students respond to it.  (I especially like that Padlet doesn’t require an account to leave a comment, and keeps your links private until you share them.)  Click here and here for examples.

I also demonstrated how student poetry could be shared both visually and orally via VoiceThread, and how viewers can leave an audio or text comment on a poem, provided they are logged into VoiceThread.  Click here for an example.

As a bonus, these tools can also be used to share other types of writing, as well as photos and videos.  I’m sure that some of the teachers who don’t use them for poetry will incorporate them in other areas of instruction.

Poem in Your Pocket Bulletin BoardAt the end of the session, I encouraged everyone to share their best student-written poetry with me so that we can feature it on our Poem in Your Pocket bulletin board over the next few weeks.  We’ll have multiple copies of these poems available for library visitors to read and take with them.

The workshop attendees left the library with a whole new set of possibilities for using poetry with their students, I’m confident that they will share them with the teachers who could not be there.

If you have a great poetry resource that I need to add to my collection, please leave a comment and tell me about it!

 

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Putting the “Tech” in Poetic!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ve been pulling together some poetry resources to share with my teachers in an after-school workshop tomorrow.  (Click on the image to download the flier I sent out.)  The focus is on using technology to enhance poetry lessons.

I’ve created a Poetry LiveBinder to organize all the resources to make it easier for teachers to plan poetry lessons for their students.  I especially like the lessons at the Read/Write/Think website, so I’ve given them their own Tab in the binder.  I’ve also included several sites featuring online poetry, and sites that offer interactive poetry-writing tools.

I’m also excited about sharing my ThingLink Channel, which features links to resources for some of the poetry books we have in our school library.  These images are “re-mixable,” which means anyone can add links to any of the books I’ve uploaded.  This way teachers can share their own lesson plans and activity websites for these books.  It’s a great way for them to collaborate, even when they can’t meet together in person.

In addition to the web resources I’m sharing, I’ve also pulled about 75 poetry books to have on display for teachers to check out after the workshop.  The books will be grouped into categories such as Haiku, Curriculum Connections, Concrete Poetry, Novels in Verse, and more. 

Of course we’ll have snacks and door prizes as well, and I’ll have a few computer stations set up where teachers can play around with responding to poetry using VoiceThread and Padlet.

I’ll update this post later with photos and more resources.  In the meantime, please leave a comment sharing your favorite poetry site for elementary students so that I can add it to the collection!

 

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Poetry Books on ThingLink

Are you using ThingLink yet?

I was just introduced to it a few weeks ago by @AuntyTech on Twitter, and I quickly realized that it was the perfect free tool for my new poetry project!

I want to make it easy for teachers to use poetry books from our library in the classroom, and since I know they don’t have a lot of extra time to search for lesson plans and extension ideas, I’m happy to do it for them.  ThingLink works well for this because I can upload a photo of each book cover, provide a summary in the comment section, and add unlimited links (to lesson plans, author interviews, book trailer videos, printables, etc) to the image.  This allows teachers to quickly choose the perfect book for their classroom and put together an entire lesson plan without spending precious planning time surfing the web for resources.

I’ve included some sample images here, complete with links, to give you an idea of how ThingLink works.  (Just hover over the image to see the links.)  I love that the images can be embedded in a blog, wiki, or webpage, as well as shared via the most popular social media sites.  You can choose from an assortment of link icons, and you can add a brief description of each link.

Here is my Link Icon Key:

Blue Circle = Lesson Plan
i = Book Preview
Person = Author Info
Red Circle = Book Site
Play Button = Video/Audio
Green Circle = Discussion Guide
Yellow Circle = Extension Ideas
Black Circle = Misc. Resource

You can visit my Thinglink Channel to see all the books I’ve curated so far. All of my images are set to be “re-mixable” which means anyone can grab an image and edit the links for your own use.  I have also enabled editing on each book photo, so if you have created a lesson for any of these books, or you know of a good internet resource that I missed, please add it!

My goal is to upload all of the poetry books that I have in my school library by the end of the month, so you may want to follow me on ThingLink to see when I’ve added new photos.  I’ll also be encouraging my teachers to share their own lesson plans for these books, so I’ll be adding more links to existing titles as well.

If you’re using ThingLink yourself, please leave a comment to share what you’re doing and give us a link to your Channel!

 

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(Empty the Shelves) Challenge Accepted!

Carolyn at Risking Failure has issued a challenge for the month of April:

During the month of April, I am challenging my students to read all of the books in our picture book collection…. If you would like to join us for the month of April, go for it!!!”

 

Poetry Shelves Before

Count me in!  But I am going to modify the challenge for myself:  Instead of emptying the Everybody shelves, I’m going to focus on the 811 section.  I’m already working on ideas to promote those books anyway for National Poetry Month, so rather than splitting my focus, I’ll just make an even bigger push to get them into the hands of students and teachers.  I’ve taken a “before” picture, and I’ll add an “after” picture at the end of April when I share my results.

If you’d like to join in, go to the Empty the Shelves Challenge post and leave a comment for Carolyn telling her what section of the library you want to empty out next month!

 

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