Poetry Friday Anthology

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I’ve found a great resource to share with my teachers who want to use more poetry with their students this year:  The Poetry Friday Anthology by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong!

To quote from Vardell’s Poetry for Children blog:

[The book] features 200+ poems by 75 poets, plus curriculum connections for every single poem tied to the new Common Core standards….providing a poem-a-week for every grade level, K-5 along with 5 minutes of skill-based activities.  The Poetry Friday Anthology officially launches tomorrow, Sept. 1, and now includes both paperback and digital versions. The paperback includes ALL the poems and activities K-5. The e-books can be purchased as the entire K-5 collection, or simply for a single grade level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.  The added beauty of the e-book versions is that you can project the poem (via computer and Kindle app), and the e-book is searchable…

And if the book itself weren’t enough, the authors have also created a companion blog titled (what else?) The Poetry Friday Anthology blog, which provides samples of poems and related activities, and explains how those activities align with the Common Core standards.  Librarians will especially enjoy the Week 1 poem!

You can use the “Click to Look Inside” feature at Amazon to preview the book, and to read reviews from teachers, authors, and poets.  (As of this writing, there are 16 reviews, and all have rated the book 5 stars.)

I plan to see how many of my teachers would be interested in using this book, and whether they prefer a hard copy or an ebook, and that will determine what we decide to order for our school.  I will post again later in the year to share  some of our Poetry Friday success stories!

Update 9/7/2012:  I’ve shared these resources with a 4th grade teacher who I know uses poetry with her students throughout the year (rather than waiting until April to do a poetry unit) and who has agreed to evaluate them from a classroom teacher’s point of view.  I will post again later on how the “test drive” goes!


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Students Sharing Poetry

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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.


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Periscope: Poetry Edition

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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!

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Using Wordle For Poetry

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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

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