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May 18, 2022

Start thinking those summery thoughts......

My brain is already buzzing about what fun things I want to do this summer!  

Now, If I am thinking all of these summery things.... I know my students are thinking about it too! 


A great project to get your kids' sunny thoughts down on paper is to have them create a summer bucket list! 

I love this project as an end of the year capstone.  I double love it because it is easily adaptable to multiple ages and grade levels.  Click the image below to download it for FREE!!  


For beginning writers, use the buckets with sentence stems.  New writers simply have to fill in their thoughts! If you have a writer that really struggles, use an adult or fellow student to act as a scribe. 


For older students, or students who love to be creative--try a bucket with a summer story starter.  You will be amazed at some of the creative stories students can come up with. 


 Other buckets are just blank templates. These are designed with advanced writers in mind, as experienced writers do an excellent job of generating ideas, organizing their thoughts and getting it down on paper.

This activity is definitely one that you can use year after year!


Happy writing!


May 11, 2022

We are close to the end.....

 Say hello to the end of the school year!  

This time of year is always full of so many emotions.  It is stressful and chaotic with wrapping up instruction, benchmark assessments and finalizing grades.  

Whew....so much!  


It is also fun and filled with excitement as you celebrate the learning and growth with your students.  

PLUS who can forget all of the end of the year celebrations---ice cream parties, field day, yearbook signing, graduation assemblies, etc. 

In my intervention group we always end with an ice cream party with LOTS of toppings and then the students have a chance to play games, or play outside.  It isn't anything fancy or a lot of work, but a great capstone for the end of the year.   

I also hand out student awards to celebrate the growth students have had in my classroom.  I like to include a special treat with my awards--so candy themed awards are a go to!  

Each student receives a certificate and then a candy bar that corresponds to the certificate.  For example a Milky Way because the student is "out of this world" or a Snickers because he or she always tells funny jokes. 



I have also done drink awards, which is basically the same as the candy awards.  

Instead of receiving candy, the student receives a drink that corresponds to the certificate.  For example a Fanta for being fantastic, or Dr. Pepper because they pepped up the class all year. 



Hop on over to Mind Sparks on TPT where you can nab these fun certificates, and alleviate some of the stress in planning an end of the year celebration! Just click here, or the images above!

If you don't have a ton of time to purchase treats, or your wallet is looking a little thin....generic certificates are fun as well.  

Lets face it--it is just nice to be given a certificate...it makes you feel important and special!  Click the image below or click here to download the black and white generic set for free! 


How do you celebrate students at the end of the year?  I am always looking for more ideas!


May 3, 2022

Teacher Appreciation Sale

Today (and tomorrow) is THE DAY!!

It is officially TPT's Teacher Appreciation Sale!  Whoop Whoop!


My ENTIRE store is set to 20% off, but you can receive an additional 5% off when you enter code: THANKYOU22 at checkout.  

This is a great time to purchase all of those items you have been eyeing for a fraction of the original price.  I know I have my cart loaded and ready to go!


Happy Shopping!  I hope you all snag some great deals....you deserve it! 


April 26, 2022

Using Poetry to Support Struggling Readers

Did you know the use of poetry in the classroom has been on the decline in recent years? (Gill, 2007)

This statistic makes me sad, because poetry is a fantastic tool to use in the classroom--especially for struggling readers! 

Below are four reasons why poetry is PERFECT to use with students with reading difficulties.

1. Less Text

Struggling readers often get overwhelmed when they see a long text passage or story, which makes the concise format of a poem less stressful.  The text of a poem is often shorter, and the use of stanzas (groups of lines within the poem) chunk text on a frequent basis.    

Chunked text, and less of it, reduce the overwhelm a struggling reader might feel.  In addition, less text means a greater likelihood a struggling reader will be able to master the text more quickly.  Experiencing reading success is a great confidence booster! 

2. Build Phonological Awareness Skills

Did you know problems with phonological awareness have been identified as a major cause of reading difficulties? (Share, 2011)  Phonological awareness skills are ESSENTIAL  in order to become a successful reader, as they are the anchor to written words.  

Awareness of the sounds in spoken language is required to learn letter-sound correspondences; to blend sounds together to decode a word; and to "map" words into long-term sight vocabulary. (Kilpatrick, 2015)   
When teachers use poetry in the classroom, students will be building their PA skills.  Students will be hearing rhymes, alliteration and syllabication. 

Also, many poems lend themselves to the exploration of individual phonemes which helps build phonemic awareness. Make sure to check out Playing with Poetry to Develop Phonemic Awareness by Mary Jo Fresh, a professor of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University.  In this quick read, Fresh provides a variety of teaching ideas that would be easy to try in you classroom!

Phonological Awareness work in action! When students heard a word that ended with a long o sound--they highlighted it.


3. More Opportunities to Read 

The more we can get text in front of a student--the better!  Poetry is often rehearsed and then performed--which is ideal for repeated readings.  Struggling readers need lots and lots and lots of opportunities to interact with text.  Rehearsal of poetry is an authentic way to provide those opportunities.

Repeated Readings don't have to be boring! Students could work with a partner, read the poem in a silly voice or record themselves reading the poem.  Vary the way students re-read to increase engagement. 

4. Increased Engagement 

I can vividly remember the first time I heard a Shel Silverstein poem.  I was in the fourth grade and my teacher, Ms. Child's read from Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I was immediately hooked!  On my next trip to the library, I checked out every Shel Silverstein book available!

 And...that's all it takes to hook a reader......one exposure!

As teachers, we want to foster the love of reading in our students.  Unfortunately, learning to read is REALLY hard work for struggling readers!  And...when something is hard--we don't often enjoy it.  

But, poetry.  Poetry is different.  It has that "something special" that kids crave!  

Do you want more reasons why poetry is perfect for a student who struggles to read?  Check out this article from literacy expert, Timothy Rasinski titled What's the Perfect Text for Struggling Readers?  Try Poetry!

Now.....lets go turn that statistic around and start using more poetry in our classrooms!

April 20, 2022

Top 10 Poetry Activities To Use In Your Classroom

There are still a couple weeks left to celebrate National Poetry Month!  

Scroll through these ten ideas--I promise they are easy, fun and great ways to incorporate poetry into your classroom!

1. Poem of the Week

Select one poem to share with students for each week of the school year.  Each day spend a few minutes interacting with the selected poem.  Below is a sample schedule you may want to use.   

  • Monday--Read the poem to your students.  Have them echo read the poem back to you.
  • Tuesday--Add actions to the poem.  Choral read the poem as a class with the actions.
  • Wednesday--Pick a skill (rhyming words, adjectives, nouns, personification, etc.) and have students highlight those words in the poem.  Do a repeated reading with the poem. 
  • Thursday--Black Out Poetry.  Students black out several words in the poem, and input new words in.  Students read their "new poem" with a partner or several partners.
  • Friday--Quick Draw.  Echo, cloze, choral or partner read the poem several times.  Give students one minute to draw what they visualized. 
There are SO MANY additional ideas for activities to do with poems. If you are looking for more great ideas, check out this list from Edutopia or this list from Home School Resource Room

2. Write Poetry

Writing poetry really gives students a chance to let their creativity and imagination take center stage. A great way to introduce poetry writing is by using simple poetry that follows a pattern. Some great starter poems to get pencil to paper are acrostics and shape poems. 


 

Another helpful tool for writing poetry are poetry templates.  With poetry templates, students have example poems to help them create their own poetry!  Students just have to fill in the blanks!

If you are looking for more in-depth lessons on writing poetry with your students, check out this article from Scholastic


3. Poetry Read Aloud

Children love when they are read too, and reading poetry is no exception.  Kids of all ages can be thoroughly engaged and entertained when you share poetry. 

Check out this list of nine teacher recommended poetry books.  These compilations will be sure to delight all listeners.  


4. Poetry Performances

Supply each student with a poem, and have them rehearse and then perform the poem to the class (or a partner).  Some teachers like to get real fancy and have a poetry performance day complete with a red carpet, flowers on tables, a stage.....


5. Poetry Voices

Much like performing poetry, the teacher will provide each student with a poem.  The student will then rehearse the poem and then perform the poem to the class (or a partner) using a silly voice. 


6. Fluency Practice

Reading poetry aloud to students is great way to model fluent reading while building listening skills.  Poetry lends itself to many opportunities for expression, phrasing and smoothness.  Pick a favorite poem and have students choral or echo read as a class!

Let students pick a poem and have them do repeated readings or partner readings.  Rehearsing poetry is often a great motivator for students, as the text is often concise and rich with colorful and engaging language. 


7. Create a Class Book of Poetry

After spending time writing a variety of poems, allow each student to select his or her best work and create a "published" classroom book.  

For extra fun (and to brag about your class's awesome writing skills), allow each student to take the book home to share with their families!   


8. Listen to Poetry Performances

Have you heard about The Children's Poetry Archive?  It is a place where you can listen to poems read aloud!  They have a HUGE archive of poems organized by theme, grade level and even poets.

Also a simple search on YouTube can yield lots of results of poetry readings from celebrities to students.  Be sure to check out The Poetry Foundation, which has several video recordings of poetry performances.


9. Act Out a Poem

It is always great when we give kids a chance to get up and get moving.  Not only is it fun for kids, but movement helps reinforce learning.  So, why not pair poetry with movement?  

After multiple repeated readings and rehearsals have you students perform a poem in small groups, individually or with a partner.  For an extra level of fun, you could invite other classes or parents to watch the performances! 



10. Visualize a Poem

Visualizing is a powerful comprehension tool, and fun for kids to do!  Read a poem aloud, listen to a poetry performance or have students read a poem independently; and then have them draw what they pictured in their brain.  

I like to have students do "quick draw" where they only get 1 minute to draw the images they created in their mind.  Quick draws get 100% participation and they don't eat up a lot of instructional time!  

April 4, 2022

Time to Celebrate....it is National Poetry Month!


Happy National Poetry Month!

Inspired by Black History Month (February) and Woman's History Month (March) The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month in April of 1996.  The goal for this celebration was (and continues to be) reminding the public that poetry matters!  

Over the past three decades, this event has become the largest literary celebration in the world! Tens of millions of readers participate each year and share in the joy that poetry brings to our lives!

To celebrate I am sharing nine books that will make perfect read alouds for your students!  Reading a few poems from the following books will definitely foster the love of poetry in young minds!





Judy Young remembers sharing one of her first poems with her grandmother at ten years old.  She has loved writing poems ever since!  This book uses delightful little poems to explain and highlight poetic tools, terms and techniques. Readers will surely be inspired into crafting their own poems after reading or listening to this text!



Animal Poems by Valerie Worth

Valerie Worth perfectly illuminates what makes each animal unique by the careful use of chosen words.  Readers will be delighted to read or hear these twenty-three exquisite poems, and view the breathtaking cut-paper illustrations by Steve Jenkins.


Lizards, frogs and Polliwogs by Douglas Florian

A great collection of poems about some fascinating animals!  Students will be be delighted when they learn about transparent glass frogs, ravenous rattlesnakes, stressed out skinks and sticky geckos!  This collection is informative, fun and hard to put down!



Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein's name is synonymous with poetry.  Each collection he authored is abound with imagination and humor.  In this particular collection you will meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale! 




A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Open the pages to find another delightful collection of poems from Silverstein.  Inside you will discover Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire!



Falling Up Shel Silverstein 

Are you noticing a trend?  I can't help it....I LOVE Shel Silverstein! 

I mean...who doesn't love him?  In this compilation of poems, one will read My Nose Garden, Little House, Strange Restaurant, Sharing Noise Day and many more!





New Kid on The Block by Jack Prelutsky

This entertaining compilation of poems would make a wonderful introduction to the pleasures of poetry.  Jack Prelutsky is a master poet and makes word play in this collection incredibly entertaining!

In this book you will meet strange people such as Baloney Belly Billy and the Gloopy Gloopers.  You will also be introduced to jellyfish stew, a bouncing mouse, a ridiculous dog and a boneless chicken!  




Guess Who Haiku by Deanna Caswell

Kids will delight with this collection of haikus!  Each poem describes an animal and asks a question that rhymes with the answer on the following page.  What a wonderful interactive read aloud!






Sijo is a traditional form of Korean poetry.  Like the Japanese haiku, sijo is syllabic with three lines of 14 to 16 syllables each. The first two lines introduce the topic, the third and fourth develop the topic and the fifth and sixth lines contain a humorous or ironic twist.

Lind Sue Park illuminates funny an unexpected aspects of the everyday (breakfast, houseplants, tennis, washed socks, etc.) within the verses of this book. What a great read aloud to expose students to another form of poetry!


looking for more ideas to celebrate National Poetry Month with your students?  Check out these ideas and free resources from the Academy of American Poets





March 29, 2022

5 Reasons Why You Should Teach Poetry

Do you teach poetry in your classroom?

If you don't teach it YET, then hopefully this post will give you the courage to give it a try!

Lets dive into the TOP 5 reasons why you should be teaching poetry to your students!

1. Adds Text Variety!  

Researchers say it is important to have multiple types of texts in an educational setting. 

In fact, Teachers who have greater quality, greater quantity and a greater range of text types in their classrooms actually have kids who grow more in their reading comprehension during elementary school. (Duke, 2010)

Poetry is a great way to add variety to your instruction, and your classroom libraries.  Kids need (and want) variety!

2. Builds Reading and Listening Skills

Have you ever listened to someone recite poetry?  The spoken words have a magical, almost musical quality.  Reading poetry aloud to students is great way to model fluent reading while building listening skills.  Poetry lends itself to expression, phrasing and smoothness.

In addition to increasing listening skills, poetry is a great way to boost comprehension skills!  Poets carefully craft their verse with descriptive language---making it very easy for students to create mental images in their minds.  Visualizing is a powerful comprehension strategy!  

Check  Picture This from reading rockets, which gives steps to teachers (and parents) on how to increase mental imagery for their children. 

3. Increases Vocabulary

Poems offer students exposure to words that aren't normally used.  Poetic text is typically short, which means poets have to be very selective with the words they choose.  

Authors of poetry must use words that illicit vivid imagery and provide the intended effect when readers are interacting with the poem.  Which means....poems are abound with "juicy" new words for students to discover!

4. Builds Phonological Awareness Skills

What is phonological awareness?  Well....phonological awareness (PA for short) is the broad skill that encompasses identifying and manipulating all parts of oral language.  PA is an umbrella which has houses skills underneath (i.e. rhyming, identifying final, medial and initial sounds, syllabication, etc.).


Phonological awareness skills are ESSENTIAL  in order to become a successful reader, as they are the anchor to  written words.  

Awareness of the sounds in spoken language is required to learn letter-sound correspondences; to blend sounds together to decode a word; and to "map" words into long-term sight vocabulary. (Kilpatrick, 2015)   

When teachers use poetry in the classroom, students will be building their PA skills.  Students will be hearing rhymes, alliteration and syllabication.  

In addition, there are many activities teachers can do with poetry to build PA skills with their students.  Make sure to check out Playing with Poetry to Develop Phonemic Awareness by Mary Jo Fresh, a professor of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University.  In this quick read, Fresh provides a variety of teaching ideas that would be easy to try in you classroom!

5. Creates a Love of Reading 

I can vividly remember the first time I heard a Shel Silverstein poem.  I was in the fourth grade and my teacher, Ms. Child's read from Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I was immediately hooked!  On my next trip to the library, I checked out every Shel Silverstein book available!

 And...that's all it takes to hook a reader......one exposure!

As teachers, we want to foster the love of reading in our students.  Unfortunately, learning to read is REALLY hard work!  And...when something is hard--we don't often enjoy it.  

But, poetry.  Poetry is different.  It has that "something special" that kids crave!  

Children's Poetry Books

When we share poetry with children, it is essential that we share GREAT examples of poetry.  Some of my favorite poets are Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Roald Dahl.  I guarantee if you share poems from any of those authors---kids will beg for more!