Sunday, February 28, 2016

Teaching Ideas for Poetry

In light of literacy week at my school, I will be posting every day my favorite resources and ideas to "improve literacy" in a k-2 classroom. My school is incredibly huge on literacy, and it could be due to the fact that almost 90% of our students are English Language Learners. Since moving to this high ELL population, my teaching strategies have drastically changed, and I would love to share what I've learned.



If you are anything like me, then you hate poems. I know, you're probably thinking, is that allowed for a first grade teacher? I didn't start appreciating poems until I became a teacher. I've become an adamant believer after reading countless literature/research that showed its benefits for literacy in little readers and writers.

Though this post will not highlight why poetry is so important, it will provide simple, easy to use ideas to use with poetry in a primary classroom.

How do you get started?

To start, you will need  a poem. It can be in used in a poetry center, or you can work whole group with it.  If you have RTI groups, then this would be an excellent 10-15 minute addition to your already busy day. Once you have secured your poetry and the logistics of when you will be doing your poetry study, then you are ready to be a poetry teacher rockstar by using the ideas listed below!

1. Predictions from Title: Ask your students what the title is and what their prediction of the poem is. It's very basic, but it can get your students speaking from the get-go.

Speaking stems:
The title of the poem is____
I believe the poem will be about ____ because of the title.
The author's choice of title makes me think that the poem will be about ______

2. Circle words: If your class is learning about the 'th' sound, then ask your students to find and circle all of the 'th' words in the poem. If your class is learning about adjectives, then ask your students to circle all of the adjectives they can find. The ideas are endless with this.

3. Find Repetition: Ask children to find the repetition in a word and circle it. They can then write their own words with those reparative words.

4. Find Rhyme: Invite your students to find the rhyming words. When reading the poem, you can emphasize the rhyming words. Then can then write their own words that rhyme.

5. Create art: When all the word studies, noun phrases, and rhyming words have been analyzed, you can ask the students to create a border for the poem. They can even add an additional picture that goes along with the poem.

6. Class Created Poem: As a class, create a poem that mimics that poem made in class. It can be the same content, different rhyming pattern, or same pattern with different content.

7. Poem in a Shape: During holidays, there are always fun poems that this idea can work well with. For example, when reading a poem about love during Valentine's Day, help the students write the poem in a heart.


If you are looking for a set of poems to use, check out this set for March


Let me know if you have used any of the above, or if there are any other ideas you love to teach during poetry study time! I would love to hear from you!

Until next time!



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Common Core Integrated Writing with Digital Comics for K-12

Texting in the classroom is no fun, but with a piling list of to-dos and standards to teach, that technological hardware you have in your room can be your biggest asset. Not only do tablets, Chrome Books, and smart phones bring total and utter engagement in the classroom, but they also provide an endless supply of knowledge at the tips of your students’ fingertips.  Have I convinced you to use your tech yet? 


Today I want to share an online tool called Make Beliefs Comix.  This easy to use comic creator has build in characters, settings, colors, and bubbles to use.  Thankfully, their options are not so vast that the students are spending an excessive amount of time choosing graphics.  

Teachers have used this tool, myself included, as formative assessment within content subjects.  Especially with the new ELD framework, English Language Learners need more and more exposure to literacy in content subject areas.  This would be a simple way to implement literacy.  



I highly suggest you create your own comic, so that you get a feel of what questions the students might have while they are creating.  To get started, you would need to open an internet browser on your laptop, desktop, or Chromebook. You would also be able to use this on the iPad using the internet browser. 

If students creating a comic as a project within their unit, it would be convenient if they named their comic with that unit name. Make sure you remind your students to type in their name.  If your students are tech savvy and have a little bit more time then you can ask your students to create a 4 panel comic. If not, then the default is a 3 panel comic, which can be the perfect place to begin. 


Preferably, students will have completed a draft of their comic before they get on the computer. When they get on to the site, they have choices for characters, background colors, background setting, thought bubbles, and dialogue bubbles.

When the students feel like they are ready to finalize their comic, have them click the "next" button to the right. 


This will be the finalizing page for the comic. The students will have the chance to review, print, or email. If the students are working with a rubric, then this would be the perfect time for them to check their rubric if they have completed their tasks. 




The final product looks just like a real comic. Hopefully your students enjoy creating online and that it potentially leads them to acquiring digital literacy and content knowledge. Until next time!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Note to Educators: Fatherless Families are Not "Broken"



Dear fellow educators and friends:

Usually, I like to write about what is going on in the classroom, but today's post is going to be a little bit different. This topic may not apply to you.  If it does, I pray that you receive it well.  Please accept that this post comes from the bottom of my heart to make education a better place. I am not placing judgement on anybody. I simply want to get my thoughts on this topic out there for educators to read and relate back to their students.  


I am here to say that it is not okay to label a family a "broken home" because the father or mother is missing from the picture.   This term, "broken family," is placed on families with divorced parents or if one of the parents is not around. This term has been floating around for a few decades, and this type of label hurts people and places them in a negative category. It is also incorrect on many levels. 


Growing up, all I had was my mom, grandma, and my twin brother. My dad wasn't around, we lived in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, and we were learning a new language.  I kept hearing "broken family" while I was growing up in the LAUSD, but those words couldn't have been further from the truth. 


My brother and I were poor, fatherless, and immigrants but we were happy. Those other factors did not describe us nor did they define us.  Our mom and grandma taught us to have manners, hold education in high regards, and to have joy in our hearts.  Not having a father never made our family broken.   


I share this because many educators still believe that kids that are born in these types of situations are at a disadvantage, and that is a fallacy. This is how grit, perseverance, determination to succeed, and will to be on top is created. Take a look at these photos. Those are real families, happy families. I don't see anything broken. Do you?