Out of This World Literacy : March 2014
menu   home About Me Freebies Products Workshops  

Spring Cleaning Sale!

Hello friends!

I am joining in with other amazing teacher-authors at TpT for a little spring cleaning sale!

Click on the image below to hop over to my store and save 20% off EVERY resource through the end of March!

You may want to check out my month-long Poetry Units of Study just in time for National Poetry Month!

Or you could try some seasonal interactive edits!

Or, if you are like me, you are wanting to plan ahead for the end of the school year.  I know that is so hard to believe that the end of the year is right around the corner!  Check out these fun end of the year resources.

Thank you for stopping by my blog.  I hope you are able to clean up your wishlists with some great deals from all the amazing teacher-authors this weekend!!

Best wishes to all!

How to Get ALL Students Writing Poetry in 3 Steps

Hello friends!

April is National Poetry Month!  I have a few tips for you that have worked so wonderfully over the years when introducing poetry to my classes.

Some students are natural writers and can jump write in when asked to write poetry.

Other students will stare at you like a lost puppy, suddenly develop a stomach ache, have to go to the bathroom, call their mom because they forgot their lunch, or just simply want to run and hide!

So, how can we get all our students writing poetry?  How can we challenge those already eager writers while bringing those reluctant writers along?

There are 3 steps to how I introduce poetry that have always worked!  

Step One:  I read, read, read a ton of poetry to the class.  I let them spend several days just listening and enjoying some great poetry as readers.  Sometimes we share our opinions, questions, and thoughts about the poems.  Other times, I just read for pure enjoyment.

I make sure to have at least three overflowing bins of poetry collection books of all varieties.  I usually get these from the school library and my own collection.  Here are some of my favorite poetry collections:

Each day after I read, read, read, I put the bins of poetry books in the middle of the carpet.  I then tell the kids to choose one book that interests them and begin reading those poems independently.  I make sure to have enough poetry books so that there is at least one per student and they have lots to choose from!

We repeat this process of reading poetry for several days.  There is no pressure to begin writing poetry yet, just enjoying what has already been written!

Step Two: To transition kids from reading poetry for enjoyment into beginning to think about poetry as a writer we move into step two.  During this stage I continue reading great poetry to the class.  But, during their independent work time I have students copy poems they really enjoy.

They simply choose a poem that stands out to them as something special and copy it exactly as it is written.

By doing this for a few days, there is still no pressure on kids to come up with writing their own poems.  Here are some great benefits to this step:

1. Every student can be successful at copying a poem
2. Students are building a level of enjoyment for poetry
3. It is a great assessment to see what types of poems each student is really interested in
4. It builds a great sense of community as students share their favorite poems after they are copied
5. It introduces the ideas of line breaks, spacing, and font changes in poetry

Step Three:  After students have copied several of their favorite poems, ask them to choose their absolute favorite.  Choose a class favorite from all the poems you have read.  On a large chart paper, write a poem similar to your favorite.  Ask the class to help you write the poem, inviting them to share their ideas with the class.

After the class poem is finished, instruct students to do the same thing with their favorite poem.  Tell them there are no wrong answers and that they can be as creative as they would like.  That's what makes poetry so great!!

These three simple steps have saved my students from the pressures of having to instantly write poetry.  They have also saved me a lot of headaches when trying to force students into writing poetry when they have no clue even where to begin!

I hope these tips will help you and your students during National Poetry Month!!

If you are interested in learning about the month-long common core poetry units of study I have created for both the reading and writing workshops, you can click on the links below.

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Best wishes to you all!!


Tips for Using Picture Books in Upper Elementary and Even Middle School!

Well, hello again friends!  Thanks for stopping by during the bright ideas blog hop!!  There are so many fabulous ideas from my blogging friends, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for using picture books with older kids.  I have taught grades 3-6 and found that students in all these grades enjoy listening to reading, even shorter texts the we may think only younger kids can enjoy!

I have found that shorter picture books, rich in meaning, can offer great reading and writing learning opportunities for older kids.

Tip #1: 

Before introducing the text to the class, read it over and decide on 3-5 teaching objectives you can focus on before, during, and after reading the text to the class.

Tip #2: 

Share your thinking that focuses on teaching objectives by stopping during reading and modeling what you are thinking.

Tip #3: 

Invite students to share their thinking before, during, and after reading by having them turn and talk with a partner about what they are thinking as they are listening to you reading. (This way, everyone has a chance to share their thinking, not just the one or two students that always raise their hands and answer for the class.)

Tip #4: 

LISTEN to students' thinking as they share with the class.  Let their thinking direct your instruction.  Take notes on the things they are noticing/thinking during reading.  The things they are thinking about will lead you to create intentional future teaching that is highly engaging and appropriate.

Do NOT be afraid to get those big kids on the carpet!!  It's a great way to keep them focused and making time to talk with partners quick and easy!!

*** Here are just a few of my favorites short texts to read aloud with older kids.  Check out the list of teaching objectives that would be great to use to develop deep meaning.

Ira Sleeps Over

 1. Build a sense of classroom community by having each student share items they have slept with when they were younger.  Or have them share something their brother, sister, cousin sleeps with.

2. Recognize rising and falling tension in a story.

3. Judge the main characters based on the things they do and say in a story.

4. Identify problems and solutions in stories.

5. Analyze how characters attempt, but fail, to solve problems.

6. Compare how the main characters are alike and different.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers 

1. Form opinions about real people in biographies, using evidence from the text to support your opinions.

2. Consider how illustrations in a text add to the meaning of the words.

3. Identify the setting (time and place) and consider how the events would be different if the time in which the events occurred were different.

4. Infer the reasons behind the main characters' actions.

5. Identify the author's purpose and message

6.  Consider different possible solutions to problems in a story.

As you can imagine, the list of teaching objectives from just these two books could go on and on!

So, the next time you see a picture book, don't think it is too easy for your students.  And don't even worry if they have read it before.  They are older now; they will look at the book with a new perspective.  If you look closely and keep an open mind, you will likely find countless teaching opportunities!!

If not, just read it to the class and ask them what they are thinking.  Their ideas will spark so many teaching opportunities you won't have enough time in the day to cover them all!

Next up on the blog hop is Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B. Elizabeth has a great post for
you all about getting all those task cards organized! Just click on the button below to check it out!

Alternatively, you can search by topic using the link-up below and move along to any
other blog on the blog hop!

An InLinkz Link-up

Best wishes to all and happy teaching!!!