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Earlier this month I blogged about how my students (and I) were not huge fans of poetry. I got a lot of comments from teachers who use poetry daily and couldn't imagine their classrooms without.
Needing a quick and easy activity for the week for my reading lab classes, I decided to grab the “fun” poetry from our library shelves: Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Dean Koontz, Judith Viorst, etc.
Yesterday my lab students had one task. Grab a book, read some poems, and then share with their friends. At first I got the moans and groans that I expected, so I opened Where the Sidewalk Ends and began reading some poem titles to get their attention focused.
Once they got their books, I started my data conferences. When I looked up 20 minutes later from the last conference, every head was buried in a book, and they were starting to whisper back and forth, gesturing to their pages.
I called time and told them to turn and share. Most of them got up and moved to where their comfort peers were, and I walked around getting them to monitor their conversations. The majority of groups were on task and talking poetry, reading each other the lines they found funny, and trading books so that they could read the rest of the poem their friend has shared.
What the teacher learned today: free choice, no pressure to analyze, and silly rhymes = engagement with poetry.