Working with poems is an integral part of a balanced literacy program. Both in German and English school, we work with poems on a daily basis using the following format based on Jill Eggleton's work in Lighting the Literacy Fire.
Shared Reading Books and Poems
One book and poem is used over a period of 10 days. (In English, this is 5 days since we have regular instruction all day in English.)
Grouping: Whole class
Time Slot: Introduction to the reading block before grouping for guided reading for shared book. At the end of the writing block or other appropriate time for the poem; but not directly before or after using a shared book.
Duration: Ten minutes per day on Days 1-4; one hour or more on Day 5
- Introduce the poem or story. Use the terminology title, author, illustrator, and illustrations. Get the children to think critically about it.
- For the story, ask one or 2 critical-thinking questions, e.g., “How do you think…” “Why do you think…” “What do you think…”
- Revisit the text.
- Read the poem, encouraging the children to join.
- Explore the language, look for Wow words, interesting words
- Revisit the text.
- Read the text together
- Focus children’s attention on punctuation or any visual information in the text. These will include, for example,
- Deal with these naturally as the arise in the reading.
- Revisit the text.
- Use the text to introduce, reinforce, or examine any phonological patterns that arise. These might include
- initial letter sounds, blends or diagraphs, rhyming words, contractions, compound words, abbreviations, words with prefixes and suffixes, singular/plural, antonyms, homonyms, synonyms, similes, etc.
- Story – encourage the children to think about the plot, the characters, the scene, and the theme.
- Retell the story using drama or role-play or respond to the text in a written or visual way. Present the children’s responses either by making another book or using as a wall display.
- These now become part of the independent reading resource.
- Poem – encourage the children to say the poem and move in some way, e.g., clapping, stamping, thumping.
- Provide a blank book for each child. Paste a copy of the focus poem into the book, and allow the children to visually respond to the message of the poem.
- If possible, allow children to take home their poetry book to share with parents.
Source: Sails Literacy Series, Shared Reading by Jill Eggleton and Jo Windsor
Here is another list from notes of Jill's session:
Guide Notes for Reading Poems
Begin each poetry session with a ‘warm up’ using four or five poems that the class have already been exposed to.
Introduce the poem. Discuss the title, author and illustrations—build anticipation. Read the poem using good voice characterizations. At the conclusion of the reading, ask students a variety of different question types to stimulate discussion. Get the students to generate questions and use the message in poem to make connections.
1. Who were the characters? What can you tell me about them? Where did the poem take place? What was the problem? Did the problem get solved? How?
2. What did the …. Do…? How do you know that…? Do you think…? Why?
Why not? What could they have done instead? What do you think… will
3. Ask one student to pretend to be either … or …. Ask the other students: What question can you ask …? You can use—How, why, when, where, what, who?
4. The characters were… ? Have you ever been/felt/acted like the character? What was it like? Why did it happen?
Read the poem, encouraging students to join in during repetitive portions of the text. If an interesting, unusual, or difficult word appears, read the poem and then focus on the word. Discuss its meaning and other words that could mean the same thing. Then ask students to demonstrate the meaning with actions. Include the word on a WOW WORDS chart. (Do this only on one or two pages with about five words.)
Use the Day 3 suggestions to focus student attention on the print conventions and punctuation that appear in the story. Reinforce how these visual clues will help them read with expression. Then have the students join in as you reread the story. E.g. Make a circle around a period. Ask the students: What is this? What does it tell you to do ? (stop) Comma (take a little rest) Ellipses (pause—something else is coming) Exclamation points (read with excitement) Words in bold or other types of illustrative text. What do you notice about these words?Read the page. Use the clues to help you read well.
Focus: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Word Study
Reread the poem together. Then use about 2 pages with to reinforce letter names; rhyming; the sounds of letters, blends, and digraphs; word families; contractions; compound words; and word ending. Whatever we are focusing on this week.
Focus: Responding to the Poem
Get students to move to the rhythm of the poem, e.g. clap, stamp. Try saying the poem in a different way, e.g. make up a turn for it, say it like a change or a rap. Paste a copy of the poem into each student’s poetry book (blank pages book). Encourage the students to respond in some visual way to the poem.