Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time to teach the poetry unit....

Today I began a poetry unit with a group of second graders.  I introduced the concept to them with the morning message: a quick drawing of a cat and an equally quick haiku to get them going.  Big, tough 7 and 8 year old boys who are used to talking about the Bruins and Red Sox with me weren't sure what to do.  As they groaned and the girls squealed (and a mental reminder that there is a reason we have stereotypes for a reason).  The quick preview ended with, "Does anyone here have a favorite song?"

All the hands shot up with voices eager to volunteer their favorites.  Instead I simply said, "Think about that song in your head.  Now take away the music and think of the words and you'll find it's a poem."  I paused, looked at some of the boys who opened their eyes wide in shock and finished with my death metal voice saying, "Mind blown."

When we got to the lesson at the end of the day, we wrote a haiku together:

Sitting on the rug
Second graders eagerly
Learning poetry

We discussed the difference between prose and poetry.  I read them "Teddy Bear" by A. A. Milne the same way I would read a picture book or long reading.  I stopped to talk about some of the more awkward words (ottoman, stout, adiposity) and asked what was going on at various points just like I would with any other story.  By the time we were done, the boys were applauding and a number of the girls were sitting with notebooks writing away.  To illustrate my "mind blown" point, I also read Shel Silverstein's "Hug O'War" and asked if anyone had ever heard the Unicorn Song.  A bunch of the kids had and I sang the chorus and pointed out that it was originally a Shel Silverstein poem called "The Unicorn."

Reminding kids that poetry is not some scary stuffy thing is always fun, I just wish more peopel would remember that.

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