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!

 

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

 

 

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!

 

Book Spine Poetry = Library Skills Practice

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form invented 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!

stack of booksI’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!  Thank goodness Travis Jonker is a benevolent genius who shares his great poetry ideas, and not an evil genius who keeps them to himself.

I plan to try this with my 5th graders next month; I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Maybe you’d like to try it with your students too, in which case you can leave a comment and let me know how it turns out!

 

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

 

The Long Winter: a Book Spine Poem

I’ve long enjoyed the book spine poems invented by Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes, and this year I finally decided to try my hand at creating one.

 

book spine poem

The Long Winter

 

Here’s a close-up, or you can click on the photo to see an enlarged view that’s easier to read:

 

Book Spine Poem Closeup

The Long Winter

 

And here it is in typed text:

The Long Winter

Cold, Colder, Coldest
It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing!
Snowy Flowy Blowy
One Leaf Rides the Wind

Rain, Snow, and Ice
Rosy Noses, Freezing Toes
Clouds, Rain, and Snow
Waiting for Spring

 

This was actually a lot of fun to create, and not as hard as I thought it would be!  Have you created a book spine poem?   Please leave a comment and tell us where to find it!

 

To Catch a Fish

If you’ve read the “About” page of this blog, you know that I’m a person who thinks things through by talking them out, and that writing these posts is like having an internal conversation with myself to sort out my feelings on various subjects.  Lately I’ve been writing a lot about how frustrated I am with the apparent lack of interest in technology integration at my school, and I must say that even I’m getting tired of my whining on the subject!  “Oh, I wish more teachers at my school were interested in using technology in their classrooms.” 

Well, a couple of days ago a third grader shared a poem during a Poetry Pass in the Library that smacked me right between the eyes:

To Catch a Fish

It takes more than a wish
to catch a fish
you take the hook
you add the bait
you concentrate
and then you wait
but not a bite
the fish don’t have an appetite
so tell them what
good bait you’ve got
and how your bait
can hit the spot
this works a whole lot
better than a wish
if you really want
to catch a fish

Eloise Greenfield

So, am I letting my “fish” know what great bait I have, and how it can hit the spot in the classroom?  From now on, no more sitting around wishing — it’s time for positive thinking and constructive action!  I do have good bait, and it’s up to me to make sure my teachers know it!

Students Sharing Poetry

We have been celebrating National Poetry Month in my Library, and last week I read aloud a selection of poems from various poetry books to my 3rd grade classes.  They enjoyed the poems, a few checked out poetry books to take with them, and I considered it a successful activity.  This week I’m doing a Poetry Pass with my 3rd and 4th grade classes, which means I put a stack of poetry books on their tables, set a timer for five minutes, and allow them to read silently until time is up.  We switch books and repeat this two more times, so that each student samples three different poetry books altogether.

As an afterthought, I told the first group of students that if anyone came across a poem he or she would like to read to the rest of the class, we would have a sharing time after the Poetry Pass.  I figured there might be three or four kids at the most who would be excited enough about a particular poem to want to read it aloud, so imagine my surprise when nearly every hand shot up for sharing time!  These kids were thrilled to stand up in front of the class and read the poems they had discovered!

Were they all polished presenters of poetry?  Not by a long shot.  Did they all choose poems that the rest of the class was interested in?  Hardly.  Were they at least able to pronounce all the words in the poems they chose to read aloud?  Unfortunately, no.  But there was excitement there!  There was a feeling that they were reading for an important purpose – to find something worthy of sharing.  There were real decisions to be made – this poem or that poem?  There was a sensation of power standing in front of the class commanding the attention of all the other students, a flush of success when the audience laughed in the right places, and a feeling of triumph at the sound of applause at the close of the reading.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a teacher reading her favorite poems to the class, but the experience felt so much more authentic when it was the students choosing the poems to share.  And the scary thing is that the sharing component was only, as I mentioned earlier, an afterthought.  Yikes!  So my challenge from here on is to remember this “aha” moment when planning future Library activities, and to find other ways to let go of the power and give students more control over their own learning experience.

 

Periscope: Poetry Edition

I recently found out about a wonderful resource called Periscope!  To quote from the site:

Welcome to Periscope, the observations “e-zine” created for students and teachers in South Carolina. Each issue will focus on an event observed by schools and communities in the United States. Periscope provides you with stories, images, audio and video related to the “who, when, why and what” behind every featured event. Periscope also suggests books, Websites, tours, television and radio programs and other resources related to the event. For teachers, Periscope provides classroom activities related to South Carolina curriculum standards. So put your periscopes up, and take a look at what is going on around you!

Even if you don’t teach in South Carolina, I’m sure you will find ways to use Periscope in your classroom because much of the information provided is of a general nature.  Back issues of Periscope are also available and include topics such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, National Book Month (a personal favorite of mine!), and more.  Extra Teacher Resources and Student Resources are also provided for each topic.  So what are you waiting for?  Go take a look!

Using Wordle For Poetry

We are celebrating National Poetry Month in my library, and one of the most enjoyable poetry activities we’ve done is to create “shape poems” using Wordle.  I began by dividing each class into groups to brainstorm a list of either nouns, adjectives, or verbs related to Spring.  Then I asked the students to choose their favorite Spring words to type into Wordle to create a word cloud.  Once students were comfortable with the procedure, I allowed them to individually choose topics that were meaningful to them and brainstorm a list of related words to create their own Wordles.  Now, is this really a shape poem?  No, because the shape created by Wordle really has no relation to the idea of the poem.  But playing with all the fonts, color palettes, and layout options Wordle allows does get students thinking about the fact that words can be arranged in many different ways on a page to create mood and meaning, and that’s not a bad day’s work!

Wordle: Spring