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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Workshop Wednesday {Reading Tricks and Treats!}

I am linking up on this hump day with my BBB, Jivey, at Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday!  This week's topic is Reading Workshop Tricks and Treats.
We recently started working on our poetry unit.
My ELA classes are reading Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.
Before we begin reading the novel, I have the students write some quick thoughts in their journal about poetry.  They can write anything that comes to mind when they hear the word "poetry".  I wish I had taken pictures of what they wrote because some were hysterical!  I will try to add pictures of this to my post tomorrow.  Here are some pictures of their thoughts:

Overall, they knew very little about poetry just like the main character in the novel, Jack (although they hadn't read about Jack yet).

Since fourth graders have such little background knowledge about poetry, I try to expose them to as much "fun" poetry as possible.  I spread out many poetry books on my back table and read from them as well as have students borrow the books to explore themselves.  Today, my students had to choose a couple of poetry books to read when they were at "read to self" or "read to someone" center time.  We only got through one center today and I have four stations, so tomorrow the other two groups who were at "work on writing" and "word work" will do read to self and read to someone.  

Here is a picture of some of the books at the end of the day today after they had been sifted through many times:
I gave each student a mini post-it note and had them stick it on a page of a poem that they like (name written on post-it).  I will photocopy that poem for them and they will try to memorize it to recite to the class.  We will recite our poems for a fun activity on Halloween.  It will be a "trial run" and students will be allowed to use their copy if they need to when reciting (most students will actually memorize it!).  After this "trial run", students will choose another poem and then be given about a week to memorize it.  We will have another poem reciting day.  See the post-it notes sticking out of the books in the picture below?
When I first started this years ago, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Could the students really memorize the poem?  If they can memorize words to songs so easily, why not poems?  I found out that they ABSOLUTELY CAN memorize poems and they love it!  They are so proud to choose a poem and then be able to show off how they have memorized it.  We practice using the right expression, volume, and tone.  It is so much fun that the students slowly start changing their attitudes about poetry.  

It is my hope that when my students see poems, they will think that this is something they CAN read and understand.  Actually "liking" poetry is half the battle and if I can get my students comfortable with different styles, it may just allow their minds to work more freely instead of "shutting down".  
I think I can...I think I can...goes a long way!!

Be sure to check out more Reading Tricks and Treats at Ideas by Jivey!


  1. Love it! I find that my students fear or know little about writing poetry each year too! Great way to get them excited about it! Shel Silverstein is always a big hit in my class!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. Love this! I did something similar to this when I was in middle school and it totally changed my opinion on poetry!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  3. I love it! I also use Love that Dog and I think the book itself is so real to the students. I have lots of those books - I also love the concrete poem book called, "Technically it's not my fault." My kids LOVE that book! I had to buy two copies because the kids weren't returning it to my library for us to use a mentor text! ;)

    My Shoe String Life

  4. Loooove this idea! My kids need to get more into poetry too. I have been meaning to read Love That Dog. Thanks for linking up, friend!

  5. We will be gearing up for poetry before too long.. I'll have to pin this post for later. Thanks friend!

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road