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Friday, May 11, 2012


It’s about time, teachers, to describe more ways I use poetry in the classroom.  
Poetry lends itself to guided reading lessons so seamlessly.  In my previous post, I referred to using poetry to teach compound words.  The following poem is one I use for compound word study.

Depending on the students, this poem can launch a study of compound words, or allow them to review that concept.  For first graders, I begin by having the students identify words they believe to be compounds, after explaining what compound words are.  For older students, I might challenge them to highlight all the compound words they can find.  (Using a pencil is a good idea in case they mistake a polysyllabic word for a compound.) 

For young learners, one of the most dramatic ways to explain compound words is to write some on sentence strips and then cut them apart in front of them.  Using a pocket chart, you can “rejoin” and “separate” the words until the concept is clear.  This is also effective in showing them why some words may sound like compound words, but actually are not. 

Using an example from the poem above, “middle” may seem like a compound word to emergent readers.  However, when you cut it apart, it becomes clear that it is not, in fact, 2 smaller words.  A bit trickier is “carrot.”  When cut in two, it certainly appears that it is composed of car + rot.  Understanding that the compound word must represent the essence of its components can be tricky.  Carrot, however, is in no way representative of a rotting car. 

In my next post, I’ll describe skill lessons that poetry readily proffers.

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