These are three samples of lessons that may be included in this unit. Feel free to modify as necessary for your students. However, this is the suggested order of the lessons, beginning with the most concrete concepts and moving towards the more difficult ones.
Topic: Onomatopoeia/sound words
a. Students will learn to identify "sound words" in poems.
b. Students will learn to read the sound words with appropriate expression and intonation.
c. Students will be able to explain why the poet uses these sound words in the poem.
a. "Budgie Babies" by Joyce Sidman, or another poem with multiple onomatopoeic words, on a poster or on the overhead projector so all students can see (and a copy of the poem for students to put in their poetry folders)
b. Other poetry books and/or photocopies of poems easily accessible to students (to be used during the literacy centers block).
a. The teacher presents the poem to the students, reading it a couple of times with appropriate expression and pointing to the words as s/he reads them. The students may also be given the opportunity to read along, either before or after the objective is introduced.
b. The teacher introduces the idea of "sound words", words that sound like what they refer to. The teacher points out a couple of examples, and then asks students to turn to their partners and talk about other examples they find in the poem.
Try to pair less proficient students with more proficient ones
so that all students have the chance to access the material.
c. Spend some time saying the sound words over and over, exaggerating the sound they make.
d. Then, lead the students in a discussion about why the author might have chosen these particular words, emphasizing the fact that poetry appeals to all the senses, including hearing, which helps create vivid images of what they are trying to describe.
e. Students are dismissed to their literacy centers, during which time they find other examples of poems heavy with sound words, and either use a graphic organizer or sticky notes to document their findings. They may also spend time practicing reading this and other poems to themselves, to a partner, into a tape recorder, and/or with the teacher during small group work. At the end of the centers time, students will come back together to share their findings.
a. Students will learn to identify the rhythm of a poem by finding the stressed syllables
b. Students will practice reciting a poem with rhythm, emphasized by their voice and/or clapping or other rhythmic sounds
a. "Rope Rhyme" by Eloise Greenfield, or another poem with a strong rhythm, on poster or overhead projector. Songs can also be interchanged with poems for this lesson, since the tune and rhythm are more apparent and may be easier for students to identify.
b. Tools to make rhythm (pencils to tap, bins to bang on, etc.)
a. Read the poem to students, placing emphasis on stressed syllables to create a strong rhythm. Then read again with no rhythm. Open up a discussion to identify the difference between the two readings. Through this discussion, introduce the students to the idea of rhythm and what it does for a poem. Have them clap along and/or use tools to tap along with the rhythm. In the poem "Rope Rhyme", they can talk about how the rhythm echoes the repetitive sound of the jump rope slapping the ground.
b. Have students help identify the stressed syllables, and mark them on the poster.
c. Read the poem together as a class, pointing to words and exaggerating stressed syllables.
d. Encourage students to find poems with rhythm during the centers block and share them with the class afterward.
a. Students will learn that poems have a tone in which they should be read. The poet creates a tone through word choice and subject matter. While this is a complex idea that students might not fully grasp, they should be able to understand that poems should be read in a certain way to fully make sense.
b. Students will be able to identify the tone of a poem (along with vocabulary to explain the tone).
c. Students will be able to recite a poem with appropriate tone.
a. "I Look Pretty" by Eloise Greenfield and "The Snowman's Lament" by Jack Prelutsky, or another set of two poems with very different tones (on posters or on the overhead projector)
b. A list of words used to describe tone in poems. A few examples include: silly, playful, serious, contemplative, fun, light, mysterious, nostalgic.
a. Read the first poem to the class. Together, identify the main idea of the poem, or what it is mostly about. Repeat with the second poem.
b. Explain to students that when poets write a poem, they have a tone in mind based on what the poem is about. They express this tone to the reader through word choice, sentence/line structure, and other techniques. Teacher can refer back to some of the other poems that have been used in class and begin identifying what kind of poems these are. Refer to the list of types of tone, defining them and providing examples whenever possible.
c. Spend some time discussing the tone of the two poems read in this lesson. Practice reading the poems in the appropriate tone and inappropriate ones, and let the students discuss what sounds right or wrong and why. Then give them the chance to practice reading with the appropriate tone, together and then individually (some of the more confident students may be ready to read in front of the class).
d. In their centers, have students choose a poem (not the ones used in the lesson) and think about the tone. They can fill out the graphic organizer and discuss with their peers, and then come back to share at the end of the centers period.
Preparing for final presentation
Students should be given ample time to prepare for their presentation. During this time, they should be choosing a poem to perform, identifying the different sound techniques in this poem, and reading with the appropriate expression, intonation, and pace based on the rhythm and tone of the poem. They can practice reading to peers, with the teacher, at home, and into a tape recorder. Hopefully they will practice so much that memorization will not be an issue, but more timid or less proficient students should be given the option to use a script. More creative students may want to incorporate props and/or costumes for their presentation, but I do not think this should be a requirement.
You can structure the presentation however you would like. I believe this would be an opportunity to invite families and/or other classes to participate. Before students recite their poem, you might encourage them to give a brief overview of the topic, tone, and sound devices used in their poem. Appendix C contains a rubric that can be used to evaluate the student's presentation of the poem and whether s/he incorporated the concepts covered in this unit. Most importantly, have fun! Take this opportunity to celebrate student progress and achievement, and create an experience for your students that they will remember for the rest of their lives.