Friday, August 31, 2012

seize the day

It's Poetry Friday here in the Kidlitosphere, Poetry Friday in my classroom, and I dream of a day when it will be Poetry Friday in every classroom across the country.   The new Poetry Friday Anthology, conceived and published by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, takes us one step closer to that happy circumstance.  Today I'm doing my part to bring it about by posting to my whole school about the availability of this resource for bringing poetry into the classroom every week.

Why poetry?  Among a mass of benefits, poetry
*reinforces phonemic awareness
*provides oral language practice and
*develops metaphorical thinking.

If that ain't enough for you, the new Common Core Standards place a stronger emphasis on poetry experience, enjoyment and study--so we're SUPPOSED to be doing poetry on a regular basis.  The Poetry Friday Anthology is just one source of good poetry with tips for bringing it to life in the classroom, but it's dear to my heart:  it contains the work of lots of folks I know and love as my poetry peers (and two of my own poems as well).

This morning, if I weren't obligated to choose a poem concretely connected to the actual red female betta living in room 166 (Mary Ann Hoberman's "Fish"), and if I were teaching older kids with a better sense of time, I might be using this first poem in the Anthology.  I include three stanzas, but to get all four, you'll need your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology!

The Most Glad-to-See Day of the Year | Allan Wolf

My favorite, special, most glad-to-see day,
the day I consider the best.
The day when I really get carried away.
The top day all year!  Can you guess?

It's not a one-timer.  My day never ends.
It's the first, second, middle and last.
It is here, holy cow!  It is new. It is now.
It is not in the future or past.

I'll give you the answer:  my day is...Today!
There's no waiting in line. There is no long delay.
What yesterday was and tomorrow will be,
Today's the most wonderful day for me.
The Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Sylvia Vardell herself today at her blog Poetry for Children. Go for a dip, a dunk or a dive into Friday's pool of poetry!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

OIK Tuesday: Is 200 a big number or a small number?

It's Day 2 of the new school year and Post 200 on this blog.  I realize that both these numbers are rather paltry relative to the overall number of school days I have taught (oh my, do the math:  24 years x roughly 180 days + camps and tutoring and a whole year of student teaching + 2 = 4502) and relative to the number of posts some of my favorite bloggers manage (daily! imagine!).

But Day 2 of a new year of school is an Important Day, a day on which you find out if you taught those children anything memorable on the first day of school, a day on which you test your initial hypotheses about each child's style and substance, strengths and weaknesses.  I had kind of a hairy first day yesterday (might have something to do with spending it in a classroom with a heat index of 90*), so I was really glad to find that, from their point of view, there were good reasons to come back today. 

It's hard work, though:  today I Overheard in Kindergarten the following exchange (at the end of a long and busy afternoon):

Arden:  "Do we come to school again tomorrow?"
Me:  "Yes, we have five days of school in a row this week."
Bertrand:  "My big brother told me that school goes on forever!"

And Post 200 is nothing to sniff at either, I reckon--that makes practically forever!  If I blog to record what's happening in the life of my mind and to stay in touch with a poetry-loving, kid-friendly community, then my usual two-posts-a-week is working.  This is where I build the box, where I construct a container however many cubits long and wide I need, not according to anyone else's specifications.  I use this box to contain my strings and chains and clouds of ideas that stretch and link and bounce and accumulate--kind of like the Large Hadron Collider, that 27-mile tunnel under Switzerland that the physicists use to crash particle beams together--only my LHC is seriously low-tech, a lot more like the Ark.

Thanks for coming on board!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Poetry Friday power-up!

The Poetry Friday Anthology:
Poems for the School Year
with Connections to the Common Core

compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Pomelo Books 2012 -- official release date September 1

This supremely practical anthology, which will be available in both soft-cover book and e-book versions, is the latest feat of  magic worked by that Daring Duo of Poetry, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

It contains 218 new poems by 75 of the best poets now writing for children, but unlike other quality anthologies of literary poetry, this one is organized with the busy classroom teacher in mind (and I should know).  In other words, it's the best of educational and literary publishing all rolled into one lively package!

It includes 36 poems for each grade level K-5, which is one for each week of a standard 180-day school year.  Even better, the poems have been organized according to broad themes that repeat for each grade level, so that in Week 1, all grade levels enjoy a "School" poem, in Week 18 every kid K-5 gets a "Human Body" poem, and in Week 29 there are poems about...poetry!  There are heartfelt and serious poems under themes like "A Kinder Place" and "Families," and hootingly playful poems under "Stuff We Love" and "Nonsense."  By the end of the school year, when kids have had lots of poetry experience, the themes are related to poetic devices such as "Metaphor and Simile" and "Personification," addressed at accessible levels.   

For the few teachers who are truly poetry-phobic, this anthology is a gift.  It says, "Take a few minutes just one day a week to make poetry your focus...we'll help you do it right, do it in community, and enjoy all the rewards!"  To support the less confident, each poem comes with 5 quick tips for sharing, teaching, enjoying:

*a hook for introducing the poem,
*a developmentally appropriate way for students to join in reading and speaking the poem,
*ideas for discussion and teachable moments,
*and finally, a connection to another poem in the anthology or another poetry book to explore.

Of course, many more teachers will be doing as I'll do, dipping in here and there to select poems not by week but by theme, and looking beyond my own grade level to find other gems that I'll bring into our curriculum through content connections, writing and performance.   I'll be highlighting some of my favorites in coming posts, and you can bet that those of us contributors who also participate in Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere will be sharing more tips and tricks and on their blogs, too!

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 for 10: Picture Books for a New Year

I'm posting from my classroom today, where my efforts to move into a new classroom before the teachers' preservice week starts have been washed out by a flood.  Everything I did yesterday to lay out rugs and arrange furniture is now undone, and my precious carpet is filthy and soaking.  What can a teacher do but make a quick list of 10 classic picture books she couldn't live without?  The classicness of these titles perhaps shows my age, and I'll be taking a cue from Mary Lee in trying to find 10 newer books to add to my Class Favorites rack.

In chronological order as I'll use them this year:

1. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
2. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, many versions
3. Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson
4. Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
5. Frederick by Leo Lionni
6. Mattland by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert
7. The Tree That Time Built, edited by Mary Ann Hoberman
(okay, technically not picture book, but so rich I think of it as illustrated!)
8. Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomeranz
9.  The Little Red Hen, many versions
10.  Hazel's Amazing Mother by Rosemary Wells

I hope to voyage around the 10 For 10 Picture Book lists of others.  The round-up today is hosted nutritiously by Violet Nesdoly!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

OIK Tuesday: a little hot soup for you

I've been away on vacation WITHOUT my computer (gasp!) but have returned to continue my series featuring the poems--and songs--that became part of my kindergarten class's Poetry Anthology last year.  We began 2012 with an introduction to the months of the year, and what better way to do that than with Chicken Soup with Rice?  Authored and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (RIP) and part of his Nutshell Library, this and other poems were later set to music by Carole King, and were in their turn animated as part of the Really Rosie movie.  Here's another of our favorites in this group of whimsies, "Alligators All Around":

For the class, I made copies of all twelve verses of Chicken Soup with Rice and each child selected their favorite one to illustrate for their anthology.  Here's August:

In August it will be so hot
I will become a cooking pot,
Cooking soup, of course--why not?
Cooking once,
Cooking twice,
Cooking chicken soup with rice!

Long ago in a first-grade class in East Harlem, we turned this song into a performance, with kids acting out each little scene and everybody chanting the names of the months in order in between verses.  Those kids left first grade knowing the months of the year for sure!  If you're a teacher and would like a copy of the sheets I made--nothing fancy--for Chicken Soup with Rice, let me know in the comments and I'll send it to you.

Poems from Montreal on Friday!