Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Connected in the Classroom: Never Poems

Even though I am no longer student teaching, I still have some teacher resources to share. My cooperating teacher suggested I do this activity with my fifth graders and it went so well! I actually used this lesson as one of my evaluations and everyone was a big fan - the kids loved it, my supervisor was impressed and I have to say, I loved teaching this lesson. This lesson provides such great structured fun - there are clear expectations and structures to follow but it allows for so much fun.

My kids took about 4 hour long periods to complete their never poems. I structured the poems into very clear sections - the words banks, the rough drafts, revision & peer editing time and the final copy. Some took a little bit longer to do their illustrations but they were able to work on them during 'finish up' time. I really stressed taking time to do their best work at each step. I emphasized that if they make a good word bank, it will be easier to write a rough draft and if they edit the rough draft carefully, it will be faster to write the final copy. This made for some really impressive end products! I will share all of the resources I created to structure this lesson below.
My never poem:
Sharing my writing makes me so nervous. I love writing but sharing it makes me break into a cold sweat. I had to conquer that a couple of times in this teaching experience because my students loved examples. They understood assignments so much better after hearing an example. This is the never poem I wrote to share with my students. I asked them to close their eyes and turn on their detective ears to see what they can notice about this poem. They easily noticed the repetition of the 'nevers' and they noticed the alliterations. From here, I talked about the never poem structure and the alliterations/ 

I read my never poem to the class but I also read never poem to them that were written by my family. My parents both wrote never poems and my auntie Lesley write me a never poem. The kids really got a kick out of this! They loved hearing how different people interpreted the assignment. 

From here, I asked the class to form a quiet line at the front of the class (if any of you reading are teachers, you're probably laughing. A quiet line is like a unicorn - super rare and magical). Once they were lined up, I got them to pick a letter from a little container full of letters. This letter became their alliteration letter. I went back and forth about whether or not to give them choice but ultimately I decided to have them pick blindly.
You can download the word bank graphic organizer HERE.
This is the graphic organizer I designed to structure the word banks. I tried to make them as user friendly as possible (for the kids and for the teacher). That little 'alliteration letter' in the corner makes it super easy to keep track of which kid is writing from what letter, especially when shuffling around the room to provide support. I asked my students to fill their word banks with 25-50 words. This felt super daunting to them at first, but they conquered this task easily! Many ended up with more than 50.

Something I should mention is that I did not allow dictionaries until the revision step. This is your decision depending on the group of kids that you have. I know that many of my kids would have opened the dictionary to their alliteration letter and started copying. I wanted to make sure they were using words they understood so I asked them to use class posters, class books, the map, classmates' names, teachers' names and other classroom resources to help them compile their lists. This worked super well!
You can download the rough draft graphic organizer HERE.
After creating a solid word bank, I asked students to begin their rough draft. This is where we spent the most time. I really encouraged them to squeeze in as many alliterations as possible. I encouraged them to use a thesaurus to form sentences that make sense but also maximize the use of the alliteration.

When the rough drafts were done, I asked students to re-read their poems out loud. This is an editing strategy I learned later in my studies but it seriously changed my writing. Then, I asked them to read a friend's poem and finally I read them over and finalized any corrections. Once they got the go ahead on their rough draft, they were good to start their final copy.
You can download the graphic organizer for the final copy HERE.
For their final copies, I asked my students to carefully re-write their entire never poem, give their poem a title and draw a picture to illustrate their poem. In this step, the kids were pretty independent. Their poems were polished and they were confident writing their final copies.

Ok, do you want to see some student work? This is the best part, right?

So good, right? I wish I had taken more pictures. My kiddos loved this assignment and it showed in their work!

Have a fabulous day!

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