Monday, March 9, 2015

Poetry is Sunshine

Day 9 of 31 posts for the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by the team at Two Writing TeachersStaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth
Head over to the link up for seconds or to serve up your own slice!

It's amazing the difference an hour makes. School started this morning before the sun had fully risen. It was odd seeing students hustle to class in the pre-dawn darkness.

Students are working on poetry recitation this week. They are choosing pieces from Poetry Out Loud and other poetry collections I have in class. This morning I pulled all of my poetry books and thought, hopefully I have at least twenty-four books, enough for three per table. I had many, many more! Poetry is sunshine and light. I soaked it up all day.

I love the Poetry Out Loud resources (and the fact that a local student, Baxter Murrell, from a school in my district won the Florida competition!). I'm interested in hosting a recitation at our school--I added it to my future list.

{Note to self: Find details about Florida's contest here and get planning for next year.}

Today, we first listened to the audio "Introduction" and "The Power of Poetry." I modeled listening and then summarizing what was said in notes in my academic journal. Students will have a listening portion on our spring Florida Standards Assessment test, so I know I need to build in some authentic practice.

After that, I played a few of my favorites from the CD. "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" brought "OhOhs" of recognition (Thank you, Interstellar!). All of the Poetry Out Loud audio files are available online here. We listened to e.e. cummings and "Hope is a Thing with Feathers" and "The Road Not Taken." I played different pieces in different periods just for the sheer joy of listening to poetry. We talked a bit about the poetry--but today was not a day for that. After we listened,  I gave students time to explore the poetry collection online or in the books I gave to each small group.

Such fun to watch students read and share poetry. By grins and gasps, by chuckles and sighs, by snaps and notes, I saw their joy. They snapped pictures of poems with their cell phones to keep for later (or to share with friends, I overheard). They read much more poetry in the fifteen minute browse than I could have "covered" in that time.

Tomorrow they will come to class with their pieces picked out. My only stipulation is that the poem be at least fourteen lines long. We'll work on making the poems our own this week reading, questioning, re-reading, understanding and beginning the memorization process. On Thursday, a special guest is going to give us a few performance tips!

I can't wait. It's going to be a great week.  


  1. Loved this line, Lee Anne: "By grins and gasps, by chuckles and sighs, by snaps and notes, I saw their joy." That's just the kind of spontaneous enthusiasm for poetry that we teachers love to see.

  2. Thanks for the links, Lee Ann. I'm thinking of doing some performance poetry with my students & this is perfect timing, for me to look, listen & plan! Love the browsing idea. Sometimes I find that when starting the students keep with the same old books they know. That's nice, but I'd like to see some branching out too.

  3. Oh, I would love to be in your class. I can feel the magic of poetry in your piece. Sunshine and poetry and kids ---can't get much better than that. Have fun! It sounds like you are off to the perfect start.

  4. sounds like a pinkstone day

  5. Thank you for sharing your sunshine. I can feel the energy from your classroom in your writing, Lee Ann. Can't wait to hear more about this project!

  6. "By grins and gasps, by chuckles and sighs, by snaps and notes..." This, all of this. Excellent share!

  7. I bet I can guess who your guest will be! You definitely have your students I. The right mood and ready.

  8. Exciting! You do such great work with the poets on the slam team. Did you know that I coordinate the regional POL contest here for southeast WA? When you decide to plan a POL school contest, let me know! I might have some tips to offer (or at least an excel sheet that automatically tabulates scores). :) WW Erin