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Thursday, May 17, 2012


It’s about time, teachers, that we covered poetry literacy centers.  I {heart} centers that have high interest for the kids and low effort for me.  That doesn’t happen overnight, but you can start to establish a poetry center and train you students to use it.  Then all you have to do is swap the poems and a few supplies.

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.

Poems placed at the center are 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 will likely need scissors, pencils, erasers, crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers.  I also place a 3 hole punch at my center for students to use since we collect our poetry in 3 ring binders.

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 those 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
          Highlight 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.  Some skill lessons to consider include:
          Rhyming words
          Onsets and rimes
          High frequency words
          Spelling list words
Vowel sounds   
Blends and clusters
Base words
Prefixes and suffixes
Rules of grammar
Parts of speech
Homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, homophones

For higher performing students in the early grades, as well as students in middle and upper grades, additional activities may focus on the craft of poetry.  Such activities include:
          Make text innovations
          Compose a poem
          Identify elements of a poem
          Explore figurative language
          Compare 2 poems using a Venn diagram or a T-chart
          Write a response to the poem
          Conduct an author study on the poet

In my next post, I will explore some of the activities in more depth.

You may also be interested in:

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