This winter they were discussing Poetry Mentor Texts, so I was invited to be a member of the discussion group. It was so gratifying not only to see that the ideas in the book were successful with the students, especially the reluctant writers, but to witness how the teachers went beyond the lessons to make them their own. During the course of the discussion they shared personification poems that could be used as formative assessments across content areas. There were scaffolds applied to writing about reading (“I hope my ____ remembers…” after reading Holes), and poems for two voices that students constructed after reading two articles with different viewpoints on a single topic. The most poignant poems came from a fifth grade class who constructed acrostic poems about the characters in Wonder. These were not single word poems as many acrostics are, but acrostics that expressed continuous thoughts and deep thinking about the feelings and actions of the character. Needless to say, I was impressed.
One recurring comment I heard was that sometimes the teachers took time from their test prep work to sneak in these lessons. I hope they come to realize that lessons such as these that allow students to think deeply about their reading, get excited about writing because they are trying something different, and practice point of view and figurative language are exactly the types of test prep lessons students need. I hope they come to realize that reflecting with their students on what they learned and how they can apply it to “the test” is exactly what will ensure their success.
Thank you, teachers from Glen Acres Elementary, for sharing your passion and inspiration.