Poems to kick-start the year!

It’s hard to believe that the school year has already begun.  The start of this year also marks the one year anniversary of this blog!  In one of my first posts (Paving the Way with Poetry), I wrote about something near to my heart: poetry.

As I plan beginning of the year lessons for my own 2nd grade classroom, I like to select and read poems as a way to introduce daily procedures and routines.  I do this for several reasons.

First, they are fast and fun to read.  Second, there are many poems written about the school day, which makes it easy to connect them to the students.  Third, reading poems early on (instead of waiting for National Poetry Month in April) helps to foster a love of poetry.  Finally, poetry opens a door to literacy that is not always accessible with other genres.  This is especially true for struggling readers and writers.  Because they are shorter by nature, poems often feel less threatening to these students.  And ALL students can enjoy and be challenged by poetry.

Ready to get started?

Here is a list of some of my favorite beginning of the year poetry books and poems, along with procedures/routines that connect to them.  Don’t have the books?  They should be easy to find in the school library or even online.

1. Almost Late to School by Carol Diggory Shields

Suggested Poems to Read             Routines to Teach  

Word Problem                                   Introducing Math Workshop/Journals

Gotta Go                                              Bathroom Procedures

Almost Late                                        Arrival Routines

After School                                         Dismissal

2. Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard

Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read                        Routines to Teach  

Fishes and/or Frog Serenade                    Partnerships and teamwork

These are “poems for two voices” and lend themselves well to introducing the concept of “working together.”  Let the students decide how to read them together as an initial team building activity.

3 & 4. Chicken Soup With Rice, by Maurice Sendak

Product Details

and

A Child’s Calendar, by John Updike

Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read                      Routines to Teach  

September (or August)                             Reading a poem to introduce each month

5. Way I Feel, by Janan Cain

 Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read                      Routines to Teach  

Scared, Shy, Excited                               Beginning of the year feelings

This is a fast read and I recommend reading through the whole book if you have time.  It’s also a great segue into Morning Meeting/Responsive Classroom.  The students can state one feeling that they have as part of the “share” portion of the lesson.

Note: Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis is another great read aloud for discussing feelings.

6. I Like it Here at School, poems collected by Jack Prelutsky

*You can purchase this for $.01 on Amazon! Now that’s a good deal….

Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read                       Routines to Teach

Why My Homework is Missing            Daily homework

Look in a Book                                            Independent Reading

7. If I Were in Charge of the World, by Judith Viorst

Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read                       Routines to Teach

If I Were in Charge of the World             Creating classroom responsibilities/rules

Apology                                                              Problem Solving/working cooperatively

Summer’s End                                                 Back to school

8. The Mouse Was Out at Recess, by David L. Harrison

*You can buy this used on Amazon for $.084!

This book is chock full of poems that connect to the school day.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Suggested Poems to Read                                                          Routines to Teach 

The Bus                                                                                               Arrival/dismissal

Mystery Lunch                                                                                 Lunch

They Call it Science                                                                        Science

In the Hall                                                                                          Hall procedures

Raise Your Hand if you Know the Answer                              Raising hand

Teacher’s Eyes                                                                                  Staying focused

9. Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield

Product Details

Read Things to introduce writing workshop. (Click on the link to for “Things” to see a Brain Pop activity on Eloise Greenfield.  This is one of my favorite poems to read with students so I’m sharing the text here:

Things

Went to the corner
Walked in the store
Bought me some candy
Ain’t got it no more
Ain’t got it no more

Went to the beach
Played on the shore
Built me a sandhouse
Ain’t got it no more
Ain’t got it no more

Went to the kitchen
Lay down on the floor
Made me a poem
Still got it
Still got it

I like to read this poem to introduce the concept that our writing is special, something to be treasured.  It’s also fun to act out.  Give one stanza or line to teams or partnerships.  Let the students be creative!

11. Lunch Money and Other Poems about Schoolby Carol Diggory Shields

Product Details

Suggested Poems to Read               Routines to Teach

Pledge                                                  Pledge of Allegiance and/or school announcements

Decisions, Lunch Money                Lunch routines

Far Away                                              Independent Reading

Moonwalker                                        Dismissal

I’m Doing my Homework                Homework

Read this book to hook your students on poetry!

12. Alphathoughts, by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Suggested Poems to Read                                 Routines to Teach

Books and Library                                               Independent reading

Pencils                                                                     Classroom pencil routine

Those are a few of my picks of poems to kick-start the school year.  Please let me know if you try them and/or if you have other favorites.  For additional book recommendations (poetry and otherwise), read:

A is for Musk Ox and a few other good books…

Launching a Love of Reading from Day One

Recommended Picture Books

And for more ways to integrate poetry into your lessons, click here: 5 Easy Ways to Get Your Class Excited About Poetry.

Here’s to a successful start of the year!

Happy reading,

Lisa

 

Two Amazing Sites (and a few books too)

We often turn to our favorite professional books and web sites to start the year. What books do you turn to again and again and how do you use them? 

Teachers need books that are accessible, practical and easy to implement.  Sometimes a book looks great at first glance but can be daunting once we actually try to use it.  We are busy, of course, and don’t have the luxury of time to sit and read a book from cover to cover.  (Okay, let’s face it.  Sometimes even finding the time to read one chapter during the school year can be tough!!).

Here are a few books that that I’ve used, as well as two web sites that I recommend to help launch the new school year:

Web Sites

1. Two Writing Teachers

Two Writing Teachers

I just recently discovered this writing blog and am so glad that I did.  It’s jam packed with practical, research based ideas on writing workshop.  Sign up to receive daily blog posts through email, written by a whole host of authors.

A recent post is about A Game Plan for Transitions in Writing Workshop.  Read this short essay to help plan mini-lessons and strategies for successfully lauching Writing Workshop from the first day of school.

Another cool thing about the site is the Slice of Life on Tuesdays.  More to come on that, as I plan to start taking the weekly challenge.

2. The Next Steps in Guided Reading Companion Site

Jan Richardson Guided Reading

I learned about this site in a professional development seminar last year.  Already familiar with her book, I wasn’t sure how much different the site would be.  So glad that I took the time to check it out!  It’s definitely worth exploring, whether you use her companion text, The Next Step in Guided Reading, or not.

Click here: Jan Richardson Resources to find a whole list of free printables that you can use to enhance guided reading in your classroom. This is a site to bookmark!

Books

1. The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

 

This book is exactly what the title states: an index of reading strategies.  The chapters are divided by general reading goals, like fluency, decoding, etc.  From there, each goal is further broken down, with one page lessons for each.  For example, fluency is not just fluency, but has separate lessons for “reading with phrases,” and “paying attention to ending punctuation.”  And each lesson has specific, easy to use language that teachers can use to introduce the objective as well as sample anchor charts.

What I love about this book is that you can find an example of how to teach almost any reading strategy or skill, without having to sift through multiple pages to find what you need.  And the chapters are further divided by reading level, which also saves time for teachers.

A great resource to have for any elementary (or possibly even pre-K) teacher!!

2. The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson

This book is used widely in my local school district and is a great resource for guided reading.  Divided into four main stages of reading development (emergent, early, transitional, fluent), this resource has everything that you need to plan and teach guided reading to all students.  What’s great is that there are several options for each stage, which makes differentiating instruction easy.

If you teach guided reading, I highly recommend taking the time to get familiar with this book!

3. Children Want to Write, by Donald Graves

I just discovered this text during a spring PD session with my school district.  There were many new ideas and strategies that I would like to try with my students this year, including a sharing protocol (ways to share during writing workshop) and also “actions” that teachers can take to better know their students. One of the Donald Graves key points is that when we truly know our students, we can better support them and help them grow as writers.  He also believes that as teachers, we should sometimes write alongside our students.

4. The Cafe Book, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Product Details

I like this book because not only does it take teachers step by step through the nuts and bolts of small group instruction, it also has a handy appendix with strategies and skills to teach during guided reading (or even whole group).  Do your students need help with “using context,” for example? Or reading with fluency?  Use the appendix to find the right language to teach exactly what your students need.

 

5. Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell

An oldie but a goodie.  When I taught third grade, I used this book as a way to introduce the procedures of independent reading and reading workshop.  Turn to The First Twenty Days to find easy to teach mini-lessons to help your students become focused and independent while you meet with small groups.  What I loved about these mini-lessons is that they came complete with sample language and even anchor charts.

Product Details

 

What is your favorite “go to” book or web site and how do you use it?? Have you used any of the resources above and did you find them useful? Please share your comments here so we can support each other as we begin a new year!

Focused Students or Interrupting Chickens?

Do you ever feel like you’re being interrupted more than you’re actually teaching? You’ve planned a great guided reading lesson but spend the majority of the time reminding students about what they’re supposed to be doing.  Maybe you feel like a “chicken with its head cut-off,” running from table to table, trying to keep your students on task.

I recently discovered this book, Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein.  It’s a great read aloud to help introduce centers and the idea of no interruptions.

And it doesn’t hurt, of course, to create a list of responsibilities with your students to further promote independence.  Encourage them to solve problems on their own instead of interrupting your group!

November 2015 057

When everyone knows where they’re supposed to be – and how to be independent – there will be less interruptions and more time for teaching.

So how do you teach procedures to keep your own students from being “Interrupting Chickens?” Please leave a comment and share your ideas here.  Let’s all stick together and avoid getting “pecked!”

Happy reading,

Lisa

Scaling the Mountain of Independent Work Time – Planning Activities

As teachers, we know that keeping the rest of the class engaged during small group instruction can be a challenge.  Planning independent work time options (i.e. centers, workstations) can feel like a mountain to climb. This does not need to be the case.

We should not expect (nor desire) to scale Mount Everest on day one (or two or three).  Instead, we can view this mountain as a series of individual steps to be carefully orchestrated in advance. Follow these easy steps to get you started in your own classroom.  With patience and planning, you will reach the summit in no time!

The Plan: What should my students do while I pull groups?

Step One: Make a list of all the independent options for your own class. A great place to start is with independent reading.  Other options include independent writing, word work, buddy reading and listening center. Click here to see a more comprehensive list that you can adapt to your students:

  Step Two: Once you have decided on options for your class, it’s time to plan out all the materials. For example, if you are introducing independent reading, you will need leveled books, book baggies and/or bins, pencils, reading logs, sticky notes, etc.  Write this out for each center that you plan to introduce.

    Step Three: Now decide on the procedures that you need to teach for each workstation/activity.  When deciding on procedures, don’t assume anything!  Sometimes it’s helpful to think of your students as visitors from another planet.  Don’t assume that they know to push in their chair and throw trash in the wastebasket. Take time to teach exactly what’s expected. To continue with the independent reading example, you will need to teach routines such as: how to choose books, how to know if a book is “Just Right,” how to return books in the library, where to sit during this activity, etc.

Step Four: The final planning step is to decide when to introduce each center. Plan to allow for at least one week between each activity, so the students have time to practice and build stamina. Then be flexible and adjust as needed.

So you’ve made a list of ideas, procedures to teach, materials needed and due dates.  (Click here for a chart that you can use with your colleagues: Independent Work Time Planning Sheet). What now?  Where to go next?

Start by introducing one thing, such as independent reading or another item on your list.  Take it slow and give your students time to practice.

 

Other resources to support meaningful independent work activities include Literacy Workstations, The Daily Five  and Words Their Way

Happy Climbing,

Lisa

 

P.S. This is a great video on the subject of establishing procedures for independent work                                                                                     time during guided                                                                                   reading:

Classroom Management with Jenna

Launching a Love of Reading from Day One

The first day of school is fast approaching and you’re doing all the usual things that teachers do:  setting up reading corners, hanging curtains and other decorative items, clearing out the cobwebs in corners.  You’re climbing on top of desks to tack up number lines, stapling paper to bulletin boards, fastening letters onto the word wall.  Photocopying your introductory parent letter, an “All About Me” packet and the supply list. You leave at the end of the day exhausted, sweaty and…excited.

Excited for the new faces that will enter your classroom in just a few short days.  Excited for their stories, their enthusiasm and their own unique sense of excitement.

You’ve made a list of procedures to teach the first week, ice-breaker games, math lessons.  Everything’s ready or as ready as it will be.

But what about read alouds?  Sometimes we feel like we have so much to squeeze in those first few days (and beyond) that the read aloud is often the first thing to go.

Don’t let that happen.

There is so much to be gained from reading to students: fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and even phonics/phonemic awareness.  And perhaps most importantly, developing a love of reading and a community of readers in the classroom.

I’ve listed a few of my personal favorites here, along with a possible classroom connection for each:

Book Title                                Author                            Classroom Connection

A Chair for My Mother            Vera B. Williams             Helping others

The Carrot Seed                    Ruth Krauss                    Hard work and persistence

Something Beautiful               Sharon Wyeth                Caring for our classroom and community

The Important Book               Margaret Wise Brown     We are all unique and important

Chrysanthemum                    Kevin Henkes                  Diversity

Today I feel silly…                 Jamie Lee Curtis              Understanding feelings

A Bad Case of Stripes           David Shannon                Being comfortable with who we are

Bad Kitty                               Nick Bruel                         Following directions

The Relatives Came             Cynthia Rylant                  Summer vacation writing

Knuffle Bunny Too                Mo Willems                       Getting along and sharing

Lunch Money and                 Carol Diggerty Shields      Poems about the school day

other poems about School

Have any of your own “go to” books to share?  Please leave a comment so we can add to our list.

Then sprinkle in a few extra read alouds to your schedule those first few days.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Happy Reading!

Lisa

fall 2011 025