Monday, May 28, 2012

Poetry Cafe

One of my absolute favorite days from this school year was our Poetry Cafe.  We completed a poetry unit in March this year.  Yes, I know it's a month early, but it is what worked out best for our schedule!  We spent the first week studying poetry and learning literary elements.  My students were introduced to a lot of new vocabulary including: rhythmic pattern, rhyme, personification, alliteration, imagery, and many more poetic words.  We spent each day during reading studying a certain element, and then in writing, trying it out.  We kept all of our poems in a Poetry Folder.  During reading I would present a type of poem, or poetic element during a mini-lesson.  Students would then "search for" this element in poems that I gave them, highlighting examples.  In the afternoons, my students would attempt each strategy.  There results were amazing!  The poet language was incredible.  Even my struggling writers enjoyed the process.  They loved trying different styles of poetry.  My students created Alliteration Poems, Repetition Poems, Personification, Similes, Imagery, and Onomatopoeia.  After practicing each strategy in isolation, they also attempted poems that included many strategies.  One of my favorite lessons was on Color Poems.  We used Hailstones and Halibut Bones as our mentor text.  We attempted a shared class poem, and then students went off and attempted on their own. The results were amazing.  Students descriptive language was incredible.  One student poetically writes, "Yellow tastes like a cinnamon roll dancing on my taste buds."  Another child says, "Red feels like a soft beautiful blanket that keeps me toasty warm."  Yet another student shares, "Blue is the blueberries that cool my lungs. Blue sounds like peaceful music.  Blue feels like the wind on my face.  Blue is a magical thing!"  Each student was able to  beautifully describe a color using imagery and descriptive language.  This was then translated into their other types of writing.  After completing our study, my students turned blank books into a Poetry Anthology consisting of ten original poems, and two of their "favorite poems" by famous poets.  As a culminating activity, we had a Poetry Cafe in our classroom.  All family was invited into the classroom on a Friday morning. Students were asked to dress in black, and could bring in sunglasses.  I (with the help of my mother, thank you mom!!) created berets for each child out of black fabric and pipe cleaners.  Our Poetry Cafe was presented in true Beatnick Style. "During the 1950's and 1960's a style from the "Beat Generation" where poetry readings at small coffee shops were popular.  People often dressed in black, wore sunglasses and berets, and recited poetry into microphones.  Jazz music was also popular to play during the readings.  Audience members would listen and snap to show appreciation of the poets." I transformed my classroom into this style with black tablecloths on the tables, a black backdrop, and silver and gold decorations with battery operated candles for ambiance.  The day of the big show was incredible.  We had over forty family and friends come to watch our Author's Celebration.  Each child read an original poem from their completed poetry book.  A PowerPoint Presentation accompanied the event.  Students then read a shared class poem that I created from their definition of "What is Poetry?"  It was a truly magical event, and the parents and children absolutely loved it.  I believe it will be an event remembered by my students for a long time!

A Class Poem created by the students in my class, describing what poetry is, using one line from each child. I was amazed by the insight from these seven year old writers.

Poetry Is…
Poetry is like a song that has no music.
Poetry is words that you can sing.
Poetry is as gentle as a flower.
Poetry is not in paragraphs, it is in lines.
One or more words can be on a line of a poem.
Poetry is to me, learning about writing.
Poetry is something I enjoy.
You can write about your life or everybody in your family.
Poems have imagery, personification, 

 rhythmic patterns, and word choice.
Poetry is joyful to my ears.  Poetry is just a soft sound.
Poetry is like rhyming sounds just calling your name.
It is your own story that you make and
can keep it as a treasure forever.
Poetry is action, poetry is description, poetry is me, poetry is love,
 poetry is inspiring, poetry is music to my ears.
Poetry is my soul, my dreams, my love, and makes me control my heart.  I love poetry and poetry loves me. Poetry makes me sing and dance.
 Oh wonderful poetry.

Check out the pictures of Poetry Is...Definitions, Literary Elements, our Poetree (of blooming poems), and completed Poetry Anthologies for students to read.

An article posted about Poetry Cafe in our Pinellas County Schools Newsroom:

Young poets shine in the spotlight

April 2, 2012

First, the second-graders studied various poets and their works.

The second-grade students learned about imagery, alliteration, personification and other poetic elements before creating books of their own poetry.
Then, they used some of the writing techniques and strategies they’d learned about to create a full anthology of their own poetry.
And on the Friday before spring break, students in Suzie Lak’s second-grade classroom at John M. Sexton Elementary School in St. Petersburg took center stage and read their original works to a classroom full of visitors.
Lak’s classroom was set up like a mid-20th century poetry cafe. The kids wore black clothing and berets made out of felt.
They started with a shared, class reading, went through their original pieces of poetry and ended with a poem that the students created together.
More than 40 family members came out to celebrate the students’ writing.

1 comment:

  1. I'm doing a poetry fortnight soon and you have given me inspiration and some great ideas! Thanks so much