Poems are; short, funny, full of rhymes and rhythms, loaded with vocabulary words, as well as have an unbelievable way of grasping the readers' attention so that they can relate to and understand the meaning. It is a wonderful tool to use when trying to differentiate among the various needs in the classroom. It can be used to build fluency, tone, expression, and voice. Students can engage in repeated readings of the poems to increase their fluency rate, pronunciation, and understanding of words. Poems get to the point. They are full of descriptions and metaphors that allow a child to laugh and the ability to understand the message behind the words.
Every teacher knows the weekly drill. We have objectives that we need to cover. We choose books to use for our shared reading and small group instruction hoping and praying that they will work in meeting the objectives. Sometimes the books are long and sometimes they are short. Usually we never get through the books in one sitting, causing our objectives to linger. The students can become bored with the same books, and if not made clear, they can forget the objective and their reading focus. This then can be difficult for a teacher to stick with and master the objective that was created. Because a poem is short, it allows the teacher to spend more time delving deeper into the meaning of the poem by discussing the reading rather than rushing students to keep reading so that we can assess their comprehension. However, this alone will not help our students, especially our inner city students. By simply using poems in place of books, we are not transforming our students into critical thinkers; we are simply just using a piece of literature to do what we have always done.
I want my students to dig deeper into the meaning of words and the message that they have on paper. I want them to be able to feel confident that they can read words on a page, decode the messages, the meanings of words and then be able to talk about it. Further more I want this to translate in to the students writing, where they can then become the author and practice using the same strategies that the authors are using to translate a message. I believe that if the students can master this they will achieve at a higher level in both reading and writing. In this unit, I will show you how to get students to become critical thinkers through inquiry or as some like to call it, play.