Saturday, July 7, 2012

Poetry Literacy Center

What an honor to be given the opportunity to contribute to Simply Centers!  I {heart} centers that have high interest for the kids and low effort for me. My Poetry Centers do just that after I train the children to use them.  

Poems placed at the center must be familiar to the children.  You are just inviting problems if you post an unfamiliar poem.  Through shared reading, your students should have a clear understanding of the poem’s meaning or essence.  During those reads, ensure that your students understand the vocabulary and have sufficient background knowledge.  Ideally, the poem will be one that everyone can read independently.  If that is not possible, and I don’t believe it always IS possible, have a system whereby those who can’t read it can readily find a helper.

Poetry placed at the center is in several forms:  individual copies for the students’ anthologies, an enlarged or poster version, and sentence strips with the poem copied on them.  A pocket chart is available for the latter.  Whisper phones are there, as well.

Have supplies available at the center so that students need not travel back to their desks to fetch them.  You can place the usual supplies, or for simplicity's sake, do as I do -- colored pencils only. I call them "Poets' Pencils," which makes them more special to the children.  I love the metaphor that "Poets' Pencils" create colorful, figurative language. Colored pencils are also preferable for highlighting and underlining words on the poem since they don't bleed through the paper.  They are erasable, too.

There are myriad activities for students to pursue. As you can well imagine, the activities available at any one time are limited and variable.  Following is an eclectic list of activities:
  • Read the poem with a buddy (EEKK)
  • Find rhyming words & highlight them
  • Illustrate the poem
  • Find patterns in the poem
  • Identify word wall words in the poem & highlight or make a list
  • Circle words that are hard or tricky
  • Complete a poetry Cloze exercise (fill in the missing words)
  • Make a bookmark based on the poem
  • Read with expression/read the punctuation
  • Build poems from sentence strips
  • Create poetry with magnetic poem kits
  • Memorize a poem
  • Perform a poem
Another set of activities at the poetry center is based on language arts skills.  The poetry center can reinforce skills currently under study or review some previously taught.  For example:
  • Onsets & rimes
  • Rhyming words
  • High frequency words
  • Spelling list words
  • Vowel sounds
  • Digraphs
  • Blends & clusters
  • Base words
  • Prefixes & suffixes
  • Punctuation
  • Rules of grammar
  • Parts of speech
  • Homonyms, homophones, synonyms, antonyms
For higher performing students in the early grades, as well as students in middle & upper grades, additional activities may focus on the craft of poetry.  Such as:
  • Compose a poem
  • Make text innovations
  • Identify elements of a poem
  • Explore figurative language
  • Compare 2 poems using a Venn diagrams or a T-chart
  • Write a response to the poem
  • Conduct an author study on the poet
I use task cards at my poetry center.  They describe what the students are to do that day.  For example:

Using a grease pencil or Vis-a-vis marker, I fill in the box (below) with whatever letter or blend we are studying at the time.  I provide a Poetry Recording Sheet, but blank or lined paper could be used.

As my students' capabilities grow, so do the requirements of the task cards.  The following is appropriate for emergent readers.  Or, use them with reluctant older readers, as I did with Title I students.

For upper grade and/or advanced students, the task cards require more.

In my next post, I'll describe poetry center tasks that focus on poetic structures, elements, and writing.

Until next time. . .

If you are interested in the poetry center task cards, they are a set of 52 cards available on TpT or TN for $6.  

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