Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Pocketful of Poetry for Poetry Month

Keep A Poem In Your Pocket

By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket

And a picture in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

The little poem will sing to you

The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you're in bed.

So - -

Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

I really enjoy using this poem to introduce poetry month (April).  It's a nice tool for explaining to young poets how a poem is able to "paint a picture in your mind."  Poems are so special because of their short nature.  The poet must pay careful thought to EACH and EVERY word in a poem in order to achieve the precise feelings and imagery sought.  We are talking pretty heavy stuff here!  Can you tell I have been reading Lucy Calkins?

To celebrate poetry month, I start by making sure each of my young readers (for those of you that don't know, I teach a combination of first and second graders in an innovation school) have a book of poems in their browsing boxes.  They love this.  Among my favorites are Jack Prelutsky and Shel Sliverstein, of course.  I let them "book shop" for their own poems even though some may be a little bit off with their reading levels.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I also celebrate an addition to our Morning Meeting routine.  I place a poem of the day on my morning message easel.  We share it after we read the morning message and solve my riddle/joke of the day.  After we choral read the poem, I ask my students what do they think, feel or notice.  This question is vague and open ended, but I do this on purpose.  I want my young poets to discuss what the poem means to them, NOT to me.

In addition to these two new routines, I put out my Pocketful of Poetry center and resources.  It includes 18 task cards good for any poem.  Students simply select a poem and respond to the task card on the stationary provided.  Tasks include searching for rhyme, figurative language and themes.  They also include writing a critique, discussing the poem's setting, visualizing and discussing feelings.  

I also use my cards for sharing poems to change up the way we read poems with partners, in a small group, during guided reading, etc.  We experiment with choral singing, cumulative choral reading, line-a-child reading, call and response reading, dialogue reading, impromptu reading and refrain reading.  All of these cards (with what they mean) are available as part of my Pocketful of Poetry resource.

For my second graders, or advanced firsties, they take some time to look at a poem in a more technical manner using my Pocketful of Poetry Student Glossary.  They hunt through a poem and answer the questions provided with help of the glossary (written in child friendly language).  The items include rhyming pattern, rhythm, author's purpose, speaker, descriptive language, figures of speech, summaries, audience and critiquing.  This part of my poetry study can be done over, and over again.  Once I model the steps whole class, it's a great "What to Do When You Are Done" activity.

I did want to share some pics of my putting together this product over the weekend.  I made it last year, but am finally implementing it this year in my classroom.  I'm a busy guy; things take time you know.  

Here I went printing away.  This took awhile as there are a lot of pages in this resource.  


Next up was laminating and cutting, laminating and cutting--repeat.  I have my own personal laminator at home and another personal laminator at school.  I was tired of transporting them back and forth.  I'm not the only one with two, right?

I had a mini-3D display board that a colleague gave to me last year (Thank you, Judith).  She knew I would find something to do with it and, and she wasn't joking.  I had some extra chevron borders from September, so I glue-gunned them to make a fun border that matches the heading banner pocket.  

I used Velcro patches to attach the pockets to the display.  I attached the task cards this way so that the poets could grab a pocket and a poem, take both to their seats and get right to work.  When done, they would just place the pocket back on the display.  I numbered the board so they would match the numbered pocket back up appropriately.

And this, folks, is what you call my classroom-bound, finished product. 

Stop on by my TpT store for a detailed description of this product by clicking HERE.  Happy poetry month!  What do you do to celebrate?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mr. Giso's Room to Read Bright Idea #14

Make a Set of Stacking City, Country and State Cups

Well it's certainly been busy, busy, busy since we came back from February vacation.  For those of you unfamiliar with this New England custom, we have a week off for President's Day.  Spring is here, but is definitely NOT in the air, for we are getting snow and maybe a (fingers crossed) two hour snow delay tomorrow.  I have been battling a three week sore throat--along with my students and colleagues as well.  YUCK!

I started our mini unit in social studies covering "City, Country and State" today with reading the all familiar book, Me on the Map by Joan Sweeny.  If you have not used it before to introduce this concept, you don't know what you are missing.  In this book, we trace the many global "addresses" of a young girl from Kansas.  Students are easily introduced to the theme that "we live in many places."  The sequence of events build from the immediate location of the character (her room) to the entire world in this sequence.
•my room
•my home
•my street
•my city/town
•my state
•my country
•my world

From this read aloud, I continue my introduction by demonstrating this concept a step further using a set of those baby/toddler stacking cups.  For this concrete model, I label the following using a permanent marker--starting with the smallest cup.
•city or town
I know this varies slightly from Me on the Map, but I prefer to include the terms continent and planet (rather than world).  As you can see, a set of these eight stacking cups works nicely.  My young geographers can stack and unstack the cups saying their address, their state, their country, etc.  It's great practice whole class, small group, with a partner or independently.

After this introduction, I make a flip book that I have customized to our city, state, etc.  It's done with good old cutting out pictures and permanent marker.  Sorry, I would love to post it for you.  I did, however, really enjoy coming across these two ideas.  Look at these nesting cans featured on Teach Beside Me's blog.

You can also download (for free!!!) this concentric circle idea from Courtney Quinlan by clicking HERE.

Please share other ideas you have on teaching this popular social studies concept.  I'd really enjoying hearing about them.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's a Mrs. Wishy-Washy Kind of Sunday!

 Happy Sunday folks.  I'm excited to share Hameray Publishing's celebration of Mrs. Wishy-Washy and all her funny farm antics.  As you may know, I contribute to their Classroom Literacy Blog.  Check out my posts, to date, by clicking HERE.  Who doesn't love Joy Cowley's Mrs. Wishy-Washy and all of her adventures with her friends the Cow, Duck and Pig?  Like her, I have an obsession with cleanliness and have no luck keeping my floors clean in this New England wintery weather.  My dogs, Toby and Winston, do a number on my house.  They are pros at tracking in the snow and mud on a clean hardwood floor.

The rhyme, rhythm and repetition common in Cowley's books are great for my younger readers.  When high frequency words are introduced, they are done nicely in context to promote automaticity.  I like how the story structure of a Mrs. Wishy-Washy adventure is linear and comical--perfect for introducing my readers to the problem and solution in fictional texts.  As a series, my readers gravitate towards filling their browsing boxes with her tales when book shopping for independent reading material.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy, along with her husband, make us laugh.  Her barnyard friends make me chuckle when the pretend to be sleeping when it's time to take a bath.  It's adorable when a mirror is introduced to the characters for the first time.  I enjoy a good mystery and am eager to find out what happened to all Mrs. Wishy-Washy's corn.  All of these familiar plot lines are favorites among my students too.

To celebrate, I'd like to share Hameray's Mrs. Wishy-Washy Contest.  Enter it by clicking HERE.  All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to win books, puppets and more.

I'm also offering up a little contest of my own thanks to the folks at Hameray--the chance to win a title chosen at random from the Mrs. Wishy-Washy Big Book collection mailed to you.  Sorry, but you need to live in the 48 contiguous states to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mrs. Wishy-Washy is on Facebook, so be sure to shoot her a "like."
For more information on Hameray's outstanding literature collections, find them on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook.  Have a good week and do Mrs. Wishy-Washy a favor and STAY OUT OF THE MUD!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers 3 Million Teachers Strong Sale

Just a quick post to remind those who don't know already that there is a HUGE TpT Sale going on until tomorrow.  I'm offering every item in my store for sale plus you can get an additional TpT 10% discount when you enter the code TPT3.  This totals 28% off.  Not too shabby.  It's time to go through your shopping carts and ring up those purchases.  I'm doing the same.  Happy shopping everyone!  Thank you to all my followers and customers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Little of This and a Little of That

Busy, busy, busy just about sums up my winter so far.  A snow day here, another snow day there, too.  I took a bunch of pictures before I left my classroom today because upon looking up from my table I thought to myself, "There's a lot going on here!"  As a result, this post was born.

I'm really liking my new part of my dry erase board where I "post" my objectives.  Before, I had them typed out and would switch them out of clear pocket charts--a real pain.  They had to be refiled which means they were kept in a pile.  To fix this, I hung some letters with ribbon and clothespins.  I added a border and magnetic signs for each subject and viola.  I can erase and change my "We Can!" statements in just a few seconds.  Waaaaay easier.

We are well into our Lucy Calkins unit on Opinion Writing--I'm a big fan of her ideas, her language and her overall philosophy on how to teach writing.  The only problem I have, though, is that I have no more room to hang her anchor charts!  Completely out of room this afternoon, I had no choice but to hang a chart on my bookshelf--it's actually the perfect fit.  Don't you think?


On my writing bulletin board we are still enjoying our New Year's project of mine--"Ringing in the New Year."  Our resolutions are not only radiant.  They look pretty nice on display.  Check out this item by clicking HERE.

In science, we are studying matter.  In particular, we are learning about changing states.  We have two ongoing experiments with evaporation happening in our classroom.  Both are so easy and oh so interesting.  Today is day 73 of our evaporating orange water experiment.  All we did was fill an old snack jar with water and food coloring and made predictions on how many days it would take for the water to completely evaporate.  We have been marking its evaporation every so often.  Here's what we have so far.  Boy, this is taking much longer than I had expected.  You can see by my guess of 80 days.

We also started an evaporation race.  I put an equal amount of water in four different containers with four different sized openings.  I measured the water right in front of my young scientists.  We made predictions as to which container would cause the water to evaporate the quickest.  We are watching carefully for the winner.

Moments ago, I uploaded my newest item--  A Bloom's Taxonomy Jar.  I put color coded prompts for each of Bloom's level on large craft sticks in a spray-painted, recycled can (I added some fun accents).  I haven't used these yet, but I plan to send my students off with a prompt to write about after a guided reading lesson.  We will see how this works.  You may get this item by visiting my TpT store or by clicking HERE.  It also comes with a ladder visual to use in explicit instruction regarding the levels of questioning.

Well that's all my pictures.  I hope you have been able to be inspired!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Activating Schema

Good readers and writers--well good learners in general, bring a "backpack" of prior background knowledge to school each day along with the backpack that holds their lunch, homework, and so on.  This knowledge is what has been coined the "fancy-smancy" term schema by Piaget.  We all know that what children learn is based on their adaption to the world as we present it through books, inquiry-based learning, read-alouds and technology.

Assimilation occurs when our young learners use their background knowledge to learn something new.  Accommodation occurs when the background knowledge doesn't fit in the right way so things have to be adjusted.  We do this through reading all the time.  It's our job to explicitly teach our young readers this skill.  

Since the best ideas I get are often the ones I learn from other teachers, I saw this idea from Erica's Ed-Ventures (check out her blog by clicking HERE) and had to use it.  Here's her photograph that was my inspiration.  She used this anchor chart to activate her students' schema on bats.

I decided to type up these headings for myself because my first and second graders are well into our Weather Unit, specifically studying about rain.  We discussed our background knowledge to kick-off our study.  We did some science experiments, and I read aloud several books on rain.  My favorite book is Down Comes the Rain by the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out series.  All of these are AWESOME, by the way.

Here is what our Schema Map looked like.  Notice in these two pictures how we started to move the stickies along as our schema was assimilated and accommodated--what a powerful visual to trace our learning.

The possibilities for these headings are endless, and I'm sharing them with all my followers by clicking HERE.  Enjoy and please share how you plan to use them by leaving me a comment--share the love!

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