Poem of the Week…a powerhouse of lessons. This seemingly small part of the day, can have a big impact…IF you know how to use it. Before talking to about how to use the poems there are a few ground rules about choosing and using a Poem of the Week.
When using the poem with emergent readers, the poem should be 4 lines in length. This length allows even the earliest of the learners to memorize the poem and discuss the contents of the poem.
The poem can also be the related to the season, a holiday or standards based content. I have been known to create poems to fulfill a need in the standard.
Like many other teachers, creating poems with familiar tunes to nursery rhymes can also link the poem to a tune and help early learners connect a known rhythm and making up movements can create a kinesthetic connection, as well.
Also, the Poem of the Week should be read and discussed daily. Each day digging a little deeper as the students become more and more familiar with the poem. Finally, the Poem of the Week is a two-week process.
One week, the students are introduced to the poem, the next week they will be reading it and dissecting it independently. Let’s explore 10 Reasons to Use Poem of the Week.
1. Content for Standards
At conferences, I have been asked by teachers all over the country about the developmentally appropriateness of certain skills and standards.
I have said more than once, we have to make the skill or standard developmentally appropriate.
We can’t change the standard, but we can change the way the material is presented.
Developing a poem about shadows can make understanding the nuances of shadows easily understood.
Virginia standards required a kindergartner to understand if the light source is on the left, the shadow is on the right.
2. Word Wall Words
When choosing or creating a poem, think about what word wall words need to be introduced or what words the students should be using.
On the first day, pull out the word wall words that are introduced or reviewed in the poem.
Highlighting these words will be important in centers NEXT week in the poetry and art centers.
3. Voice to Print Match
Students should be encouraged to read the poem with voice to print match.
Having students demonstrate their 1-to-1 match of voice to print weekly, solidifies that concept of print skill.
Using bingo daubers, students can dab on each word, then when it’s dry they can match voice to print with accuracy.
This can be especially useful when dealing with many multi-syllabic words.
4. Concept of Word
One of the most critical skills an emergent reader can demonstrate relate to Concept of Word.
As a reading specialist, I discovered a connection between struggling readers in first and second grade and a weak concept of word in kindergarten.
This weakness can be seen in reading skills as the readers progresses to independent reading. The Poem of the Week is used as a Concept of Word intervention the week after introduction.
This means the students have a working knowledge of the poem, but may not have a clear understanding of the poem on different levels.
Using the poem first as an auditory match to visual cues (pictures) and moving to word and sentence order, and word match in context and in isolation can strategically strengthen the concept of word knowledge of our emergent readers.
Using the poem of the week as an example of fluent reading can provide emergent readers with clear examples of fluency. Students should be encouraged to read and speak fluently, as if they were talking to someone else. A fun way to practice this is by asking students to read the poem with different voices or emotions. They can read the poem as if they were the Big Bad Wolf or if they were Cinderella. They may giggle their way through the poem, but they won’t forget it. Also reading the poem with a partner can help students read with success. The students can take turns reading the whole poem, take turns choosing emotion sticks (tongue depressors with emotions and emojis glued to the top), or take turns reading one line at a time and rotating for the 4 lines.
6. Poetry Center
Poem of the Week not only provides the class with structured guided activities, but also for independent practice in literacy work stations.
The poetry center is based on the poem of the week the week prior. Teachers can create a poetry folder for students including 9 poems at a time.
Students can independently open their folders to the next poem and follow the routine independently.
The first semester, students are asked to circle the word wall words in the poem with a pencil, color them with light-colored crayon, illustrate the poem, and read the poem to an adult int he classroom.
During the second semester, students are given a poem with lines replacing the word wall words. Students write the word wall words in the blanks, then illustrate and read the poem.
7. Art Center
Poem of the Week is the focus of the art center weekly.
Like the poetry center, the poem of the week from the week before is used in the art center.
Affixing the poem of the week to the art project, adds another layer of review.
Students should circle and color word wall words in the small poem, then read the poem to an adult of the room.
8. Pocket Chart Center
This center can be used as a group activity before becoming an independent activity. The poem of the week should be written on sentence strips and students in the center can work cooperatively to recreate the poem in a pocket chart. After the poem is created as a group, the students can create the poem with cut up lines of text. The students can be asked to color word wall words and read the poem to a friend or to an adult in the room.
9. Word Family
When choosing a poem, a word can be chosen as the word family focus of the week, as well. When using the poem “I’m a Little Fir Tree,” the word family -all can be used to create new words. Students can create words for the word family during Week 1, but then make those words in centers the following week. Using letter cards, word cards, and/or picture cards can help students manipulate letters and sounds to create word family words in centers.
I have a love/hate relationship with homework. I do not think homework should be graded or students held accountable for homework.
Five-year-olds do not have control over their lives enough to be held accountable for their homework. Homework should be review of skills taught, but never an introduction of untaught skills.
I have sent home a half-page copy of the poem with a choice board of activities home as homework. Students can do many different activities, but they are student choice.
Homework is also sent home on Monday and asked to be turned in on Friday, but if parents need the weekend to practice, that’s fine.
If they don’t turn it in, that’s fine. They can get review in centers and in lessons in the classroom. Homework is not required.
As you can tell, Poem of the Week is one of my favorite routines in the classroom. If you like this blog post, but want more information on some centers or routines, the following blog posts may be of interest to you.
If you would like my Homework FREEBIE for Poem of the Week, click the picture below or the link above.
Here are some other Poem of the Week blog posts that might interest you.