Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Reading and Writing Projects

You can have worked so hard to support your students' growth in reading and writing this year.  Now you'll want to send them off for the summer with their bags filled with ideas for summer reading and writing. 

Kelly, a first grade teacher, and her students spent the final days of the school year last June making summer reading and writing plans.  Here are some photos from her room and some tips on making your own summer reading and writing kits.

Remember that summer reading and writing is all about independent projects.  Kids can think about the following:
  • What can I make all by myself?
  • What favorite authors/series do I want to read?
  • What topic do I want to learn more about this summer?
  • What tools will I need?
  • Where can I keep my tools?
Kelly's class decorated simple tote bags with fabric markers to hold their summer plans.
They took home blank calendars for the months of July and August and jotted some of the things they might do over the summer. 

Then they used the calendars to dream up some of the writing they would like to make.  For example, if they knew that they were spending a week at grandma's house and grandma has cats, they might decide to make an All About Cats book at her house.  Or, if they really loved the poetry unit and they knew that they were going to be at a summer camp or day care program, they might take several sheets of poetry paper to make an anthology.  Be sure your kids plan for several projects to create over the summer. 

Kelly's class used old charts from previous units to make decisions about the writing they will make over the summer.  They could choose from a paper buffet that included the following:
  • Small moments and fiction story booklets
  • All About book paper choices
  • Poetry paper 
  • Letter writing paper
  • How to Paper
Kids can also imagine audiences for their summer writing projects.  Kids will most definitely do their summer writing projects if they have someone to send their story/letter/book/poem to in the mail.  Kelly's class made these simple address books so kids could collect (with family permission) the addresses of friends and family.

You'll also want to fill the kits with tools (besides paper) that will help kids follow through with their summer reading and writing plans.  You might include the following:
  • Pens and pencils
  • Copies of your word wall, alphabet charts, or other spelling tools that have supported kids
  • Strategy charts from some of the units that kids have found helpful
  • Phone numbers of writing buddies or partners (with family permission)
  • Library card
  • List of favorite books/authors/genres
  • Small summer reading log 
One of my favorite blogs, Tiny Reader, has lots more great ideas for summer reading and  writing kits.  Click here for the post.  

Look for another post soon about creative ways to get students to read over the summer including a post about making a summer reading DVD for kindergarten and first graders as well as making summer reading plans for yourself. 

Poetry Charts Part 2

Hello Teachers,

We all want our students to write one poem after another during our poetry unit of study.  We hope that they choose meaningful topics and look at the world with a sense of wonder.  You can give them some mentors who do this such as Georgia Heard and Valarie Worth.  And, you can chart some of the same strategies these poets use on charts for your young writers. 

Two examples of these charts are shown below.  Thanks to Bianca, one of our followers, for sharing these!  You'll notice that the second chart was used to help kids make songs too.

We also know it is important to have examples of poems up in the classroom so kids can see the writing craft that their mentors use.  Bianca shared this example of a Valarie Worth poem with me.  Notice how she and her students highlighted some craft the author has used.  Now, with coaching, the students can try some of these things themselves.

This Valerie Worth poem, Coins, can be found in her book tall the small poems and fourteen more.  it is filled with great poems to use in your k-2 writing workshop.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poetry Charts

Hello Poets,

Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons teach us that poets often write about deep feelings with honest and precise language in their beautiful minilessons in Poetry: Powerful Thoughts in Tiny Packages.  I love the way they ask kids to be honest with the words they choose.

I have been wondering how I can capture some of the things that poets do, like using honest and precise language, and create some strategy charts to go along with the minilessons I teach.  I want the young poets I teach to be able to write poems about big feelings too, and to have some ways of finding honest and precise words.  The following is a chart that a first grade class and I made together this week to help us write poems with big feelings using honest and precise words.

Happy writing.  I hope you and your writers enjoy this time to celebrate poetry with one another!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Poetry Centers Book List

Hello Teachers,

I've been busy collecting some poems for kindergarten, first, and second grade students to read in Poetry Centers.  You may have some favorites too.  Share them with us!  I searched for poems that help kids understand the following:
  • Poets can use honest language to create strong images.
  • Poets can use interesting patterns on the page to create sound and rhythm.
  • Poets can write about big feelings they have and make their readers feel big feelings.
We sorted some of the poems into three simple categories so kids could read poems around topics first and then later they could perhaps sort them like writers, noticing some of the author's craft. 

Poems about Different Kinds of Animals:
Turtle by Charlie Reed
Cow by Valerie Worth
Goldfish by Valerie Worth
Fish by Mary Ann Hoberman
Cat in the Dark by John Agard
Cat Kisses by  Bobbie Katz

Poems about Nature:
March by Elizabeth Coatsworth
Pebbles by Valerie Worth
Sky by Grace Nichols
From My Window by Zaro Weil
Mermaid’s Lullaby by Jane Yolen
The Wind by Stanley Cook
Rainy Day by William Wise
Spring by Hugo Majer
Silence by Eve Merriam
SSSH by Betsy Hearne
Sunrise by Frank Asch
Autumn Leaves by Leland B. Jacobs
Go Wind by Lilian Moore
Until I Saw the Sea by Lilian Moore

Poems About Insects:
Fireflies by Zaro Weil
Clickbeetle by Mary Ann Hoberman
Ants Live Here by Lilian Moore
The Caterpillar by Christina Rossetti
Crickets by Valerie Worth
If You Catch a Butterfly by Lilian Moore
Hey Bug by Lilian Moore

Many of the poems above are favorites of children's author Georgia Heard and mentioned in her professional resources as well.  Her resources for supporting kids as the read poetry include Climb Inside a Poem and Awakening the Heart.  

You will also want to have a collection of poetry anthologies on hand in your classrooms.  Some Georgia's anthologies as well as other favorite anthologies are listed below. 

Stella Unleashed by Linda Ashman and Paul Meisel
Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia Maclachlan and Emily Maclachlan Charest
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard
Animal Poems by Valerie Worth
All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth
The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman
Climb Inside a Poem (Big Book) by Georgia Heard
Falling Down The Page: A Book of List Poems by Georgia Heard
Honey I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield

I have plans to put up more charts, video, and mentor text to support poetry reading and writing this month.  Looking forward to sharing more with all of you!