National Poetry Month: Using Your Senses

We just can’t help ourselves — we had to start celebrating National Poetry Month a few weeks early. We are going to kick things off by introducing you to our FREE Poetry Sampler e-book with tips and ideas for teaching poetry from several Stenhouse authors. You can download the e-book right now from our website.

Now through April we are going to bring you one post a week by authors Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli. Their recent book Poetry Mentor Texts explores a variety of poetic forms and each chapter includes a “Your Turn” lesson that helps teachers transfer the ideas into their classroom.

The first post from Lynne and Rose is a brand new Your Turn lesson, not found in the book. Check back next week for a new lesson and then for more inspirational posts and poetry samples from Lynne and Rose.  Poetry Mentor Texts is still available for preview on the Stenhouse website.

Your Turn: Create an Ice Cream Memory to Use Your Senses

Hook: How many of you like ice cream or sherbet? Turn and talk with your partner about your favorite flavors. Let’s share with the whole group. (Teacher records some on the board.) You may want to read Ice Cream by Elisha Cooper; The Perfect Scoop: Ice Cream, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accomplishments by David Lebovitz; or Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems.

Brainstorm (Prewrite): Make your own list in your writer’s notebook. (Students share in small groups before lists are distributed.) Take your favorite flavor and create a word storm in your notebook—feelings, senses, thoughts, opinions, associations, and so forth. You may use it later to write another notebook entry. Turn and talk with a partner.

Purpose: Today we are going to use ice cream flavors to help us recall a vivid memory for our writer’s notebook. The entry will probably be fairly short, maybe four to ten sentences. You will probably use many writing strategies quite naturally, such as appeal to the senses, color words, and vivid adjectives.

Model (for grades 3–6): Teacher writes memory on the board.

The light, tinkling music from the Good Humor truck as it rolls down Durham Street pulls the children from their houses like a powerful magnet. Slap-slaps of screen doors are followed by the jingling of coins stuffed deep into shorts and jeans pockets as we dash for the street. Each child has a favorite. Mine is the rocket with its creamy vanilla ice cream swirled with chocolate.  I like to push up the ice cream slowly so I can enjoy the cool taste on a hot August day for a long time. My younger sister Sandy, with huge baby blues and ringlets of gold that jiggle as she jumps up and down in front of the truck window, always asks for an orange Creamsicle and spatters the sidewalk with drops of sticky sweetness—a prize for the ants!

Guided Writing: Turn and talk about the memory. What did you like about it? Open your notebook and try to write an ice cream memory. (It may be helpful to have students brainstorm settings and write one sentence about each before deciding on the entry.)  For example: Boardwalk—I sat on the hard, wooden bench and watched the waves rolling in and out, licking my creamy vanilla cone in rhythm with the waves. I will walk around the room and peek at what you are doing (roving conferences with clipboard).  (After some time, have students share in small groups and in whole groups. Copy some of their sentences on the overhead to include as “expert” samples.)

Independent Practice: Now try to write a notebook entry about a real ice cream memory. Think a moment, do a web or a list to get started, refer to your word storm and settings, or just start writing. Remember, you are not writing an entire story! Here is my example. (Share on overhead or distribute your thoughts on a handout. Give students time to write and share, even if only with a partner.)

Reflection: Let’s look at my paragraph. What writing strategies did I use? Reflect on the strategies you seem to use naturally and automatically as a writer. What are your “fingerprints”?

Write and Reflect Again: If you would revise this entry, what is one thing you would absolutely do? Try it out. Perhaps rewrite your entry as a poem in any format. Compare entries. Which do you like better? Why?

Projection (Optional): Create a goal for yourself that will help your reader to visualize your words.

  • Try to appeal to a sense you don’t usually use, such as smell, taste, or touch.
  • Look at your adjectives. Are they vivid and exact?
  • Do you use color?
  • Examine past portfolio entries to see how you have used the senses to create description. Choose a piece for possible revision(s).
  • Find examples in your reading where authors appeal to the senses, and copy them into your notebooks.

Rewrite of Model Paragraph as a Poem:

Ice Cream Summers by L. Dorfman

Slowly rolling down the street
Music pulls children from houses
Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Slap-slap goes the screen doors
And pockets jingle-jangle
As we dash madly for the curb.

Cries of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry
Fill the air with sweetness—
Cool words for a steamy day.

Rocket for me to last awhile
And orange Creamsicle for sister
Who bounces on the balls of her feet.

Ringlets jiggle up and down
As her baby blues grow wide
While sticky drops spatter sidewalks . . .

Ah! The ants will have dessert!


Add comment March 20th, 2013

Podcast: Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli on Poetry Mentor Texts

“Poetry is a great way to level the playing field–kids delight in the sounds…poetry appeals to our ears our eyes, our imagination, our very souls.”

Teaching poetry is daunting for many teachers, but given the right approach it serves an important role in literacy learning, and students love it. In this short video interview, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, authors of the new book Poetry Mentor Texts, encourage teachers to use poetry throughout the day and curriculum, and explain how their book makes it easy to do so. You can preview the entire text of Poetry Mentor Texts on the Stenhouse website!

Add comment January 15th, 2013

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