Tuesday, April 24

First Grade Poetry

During the last two weeks, my kiddos have been writing lots of poetry.  I think that poetry is something that they are naturally drawn to and pretty easy to write.

We've read lots of children's poetry-- including my favorite Shel Silverstein.  My kids can't seem to get enough of him this year!

I started out teaching this unit by reading "Writing Dino-mite Poems" in the Learn to Write series.  This is a great tool for teaching writing.  There is a teaching book with printables and a read-aloud book for each type of writing.  You don't have to purchase the whole set.  Individual books are sold at my local parent teacher store. 

I've found that it's easiest to have structured poems for the kids to practice with each day.  I bind these in a little book to take home.  Click here to download a copy of my poetry book.  Many of these poems were inspired from the Dino-mite Poetry book.  Others were found online.

I hate that I let my kids take home their books without taking pictures first.  I'll do my best to describe each poem with an example.

Animal Riddle Poem- inspired by "Shanna's Animal Riddles"
1st Line- one sentence describing animal
2nd Line- another sentence describing animal
3rd Line- It rhymes with ___
4th Line- sound or action word, repeated three times
5th Line- It is a (name of animal)

*Make sure children pick animals that have rhyming words!

How Do I Know?
Students should pick a time of day, a season, a month, or holiday to write about

Simile Poem
Students can pick any object to write about.

Spring Is...
First Line- Color or colors to describe something "springy"
Second Line- Name of object
Third Line- a phrase starting with -ing
Fourth Line- Any thought pertaining to topic

A few other sping ideas (bumblebees, flowers, butterflies, basketball, baseball, grass, sandals, dresses)

I Can
On each line, the children will tell something they can do like an animal

The Book of Poems also includes an acrostic and a free verse poem.

How do you teach poetry?  I would love some new poems to try next year!

Monday, April 23

Reading/Math Tub Choice

I really love the structure of my reading and math tubs this year.  If you want to find out about reading and math tubs, you can read my previous posts.

I've never been super confortable with giving my children choices during independent work times.  I guess that's the control freak in me.  I like the control of grouping my children (either by ability or behavior).

But, I decided to give "choice" a try as we come to the end of the year.  I have a pretty good class this year, and I thought they could handle it.

I first started by adding student choice to Math Tub time.  We do math before reading each day, so it just made sense.  I told my kiddos if they could make good choices all week with math, we would give reading a try the following week.

I've been really pleased with their choice-making abilities.  Granted it's not as quiet as when I was picking the groups, but I think it adds a little more enthusiasm for the activities.

So... how does it work?

Well, I have 18 kids and 4 tubs each week (4 reading and 4 math).  At the beginning of our tub time, I let the children come up one at a time and make their choice on the Promethean Board.  They know that only four children can pick each tub- then that tub is full.  The two children picked to make their choice last get to be the fifth child at two of the tubs (so there are 2 groups of 4 and 2 groups of 5).

Here's what my flipchart looks like.  I just quickly change out the names of the tubs each week, to help the kids know where they want to go.
** If you're interested in this week's tubs: The homophone match was from First Grade Parade, the i sort came from Cara Carroll's March Unit, the Popcorn sort is from Babbling Abby's popcorn adjective unit, and the lightning bug round-up game can be found here for free.**

As they are making their choices, I also write it down on a little chart.  I probably don't have to do this part, because they remember what has already been completed.  But, I like to see what's been completed by the end of the week.  Maybe I'm trying to keep a little control??

After they make their choice they go ahead and get started.  This has helped space out the kids getting started, so they all aren't moving at the same time.

How do you do choice in your classroom?