Students should be exposed to multiple forms of text both in and out of the classroom. As educators, we cannot always control what happens when our students walk out the door, which is why it is so important to use our precious time in school to get students engaged in reading all different types of materials. Poems are just one form of text that students need to be exposed to, one of which becomes of high interest to many young learners. A reluctant or low reader may be highly interested in reading nursery rhymes, as they are poems that have most likely been heard or read to them before. This can prove to be a huge ego boost with some students at a low reading level. The confidence they can get from being able to "read" and identify words in a poem is priceless. Even if the student cannot decode each word, the self reliance and independence helps set students up for success in other academic areas. In this unit, I will point out several ways in which familiar poetry can be worked into the reading and writing routine.
When poetry is used as a part of independent reading and literacy centers, students can develop a better sense of fluency along with using their voices to play with tone and inflection. The sound of words creates meaning, which can vary from reader to reader. Teachers can also use poetry in the classroom to develop author, or poet, studies. This unit will explore several themes found within children's poetry, and suggest ideas for classroom use.
As far as writing is concerned in the first grade, poetry is particularly useful to be utilized as a classroom tool to help develop sentence structure, syllabification, spelling strategies, and proper use of punctuation. For example, in reading and writing a haiku, students have to recognize the number of syllables per line. This skill relates directly to phonemic awareness in the primary grades and is an important skill for students to develop with time. Being able to read and write words by recognizing word families is another important skill we focus on in the first grade. By developing the ability to read, recognize and write word families, students can develop a better sense of spelling as they create their own words within poetry. This unit will identify the links between children's poetry and the basic phonemic awareness instruction within our city curriculum in addition to providing skill building activities for classroom use.
The use of descriptive language in writing becomes an essential part of writing in our first grade curriculum. Reading and writing Cinquain poems help students to utilize descriptive language in a basic and fun way. While getting young students to use descriptive language in a narrative can be a daunting task for many teachers, this particular style of a poem focuses on the use of descriptive language in a very primary sense. As a part of small and whole group instruction, I hope to provide a variety of poetic structure that will support student mastery of writing skills in the first grade.
This unit will incorporate strategies utilizing poetry to support the implementation of district objectives along with state and national standards in the first grade. My goal is to tie in the aforementioned skills and strategies into one unit to help develop confident readers and writers in the classroom. I plan to research and develop literacy strategies to engage learners of different academic levels in the classroom through the use of poetry. A main focus of the unit will be on the sound of sense and nonsense in the first grade classroom through literacy strategies using poetry. Through the unit I will develop and explain strategies that may be used in morning meeting messages, team building activities, literacy centers, independent reading, along with guided and whole group reading that build upon the New Haven Literacy Curriculum in the first grade.