Welcome to the Buccaneer Bistro and Poetry Cafe

Oh man guys! This was a good one! Kids loved, the teachers loved it, my principal even popped in was impressed! So what are we waiting for, let’s dive into the details!

This all started when I asked the 4th grade team if they’d like to do some kind of poetry tasing to kick of their ELA unit on poetry. The idea behind a poetry tasting, much like a book tasting, is to give kids the opportunity to sample a variety of poetry types (rather than book genres) in a short amount of time. The teachers were down with the idea but also asked if we could collaborate on some lessons on poetic devices as well. Even more collaboration? Please and thank you!

Each teacher came down with their class every day for a week during their ELA time (which is 60 minutes), throughout the month of December. Here’s how we broke down the lessons/activities each day:

Day 1: Poetry Tasting-Based on a book tasting I read about here and modeled after the “supplies” in this Book Tasting unit I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers, my clerk and I turned the library into a poetry cafe for the day. I brought in tablecloths, vases, fake flowers and, battery operated candles from home to set the scene.

Students rotated from table to table “sampling” different forms/types of poetry and completing short activities with each poem type.

Table 1: Rhyming Poetry

Table 2: Concrete (Shape) Poetry

Table 3: List Poetry

Table 4: Acrostic Poetry

Table 5: Non-Rhyming Poetry

Table 6: Reverso Poetry  

The teacher, myself, my clerk and any TA’s assigned to the classroom for ELA time each manned and ran a sampling station. When there wasn’t enough adults for each table we tried to leave the rhyming station and acrostic station as self guided (they’ve done acrostics in the past and have some familiarity with them already).

With the exception of the reverso poetry table, all the tables had a simple lesson and activity for the poem type taken from years worth of Shel Silverstein Poetry Month activity packets I’ve collected. As such, those tables also each had a Shel Silverstein poem book or two, for any potential early finishers to look at. The reverso poem station was based on a lesson I did when I was student teaching. First, we looked at  examples from Marilyn Singer’s book Mirror, Mirror. Then, I gave each student in the group a set of index cards. Each index card has 1 or 2 words on it and can be arranged to create a simple reverso poem. After completing that activity, they were given time to look at Mirror, Mirror  and Follow, Follow (Singer’s other reverso poetry book we have in the library) on their own. Each station lasted approximately 8 minutes. At the end, we had students fill out and hand in a comment card reflecting on what they did and didn’t like about learning this way.

Day 2 & Day 3: One of the 4th-grade teachers had found and purchased this Christmas Poet-Trees Unit on Teachers Pay Teachers so we used those lessons and activities for the next two days (sans fully decorated cafe atmosphere). We focused on hyperbole, onomatopoeia and, alliteration on day one and simile, metaphor and, personification during day two.

Day 4: Students were given time to reexamine the activities they had worked on the past two days and try to turn some of their practice lines into full poems (choosing any of the 6 poem types they had learned on Monday).

Day 5: We turned the library back into a poetry cafe, complete with low lighting and a spot light, and students took turns presenting their poems. I even put on jazz music in the background and we did the whole snap instead of clap thing. Almost every student in every class finished a poem that they wanted to present! They had so much fun and the teachers loved teaching them the necessary background knowledge for their ELA unit in a fun, engaging way. I think we’ll definitely be repeating this one again next year!

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