Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Starting the Year with Self Portrait Poetry Anthologies

As I ponder innovation and learning paths, I recognize that I will spend the next school year similar to the past year engaged in a process of learning with children through a series of unit explorations, revisions, content creation and presentation.

Once again I plan to begin the year with the Self Portrait Poetry Anthology unit.  This unit serves as a wonderful vehicle for the following start-of-the-year learning goals:
  • Students choose poems that "speak to them" and those poems help the learning team (teachers and students) get to know one another in meaningful ways.
  • The short text provides an easy venue for quick reading assessments and beginning written reading responses.
  • Poetry lends itself to the teaching and understanding of writer's craft, thus this unit serves as a wonderful way to build students' writing tool kit at the start of the year.
  • Choosing poems that "speak to you" requires a metacognitive process of thinking about yourself, your interests and what you want to share--a process we'll continue to use throughout the year as we reflect on learning activities, process and goals. 
  • Students will learn to create a Google site for their anthology. 
  • Students will present one poem to an audience which will begin a year-long effort related to presentation skill and voice. 
This will be the third year that I've employed this unit. I like the fact that this unit is easily differentiated and personalized since there is a large range of project type, poetry genre and reading level. I also like the fact that the conversation, edits and work related to this unit elicit thoughtful, rich discussion and conversation which helps us to understand and get to know one another in meaningful ways at the start of the year. 

Last year, I felt that I rushed the unit a bit, and we didn't make enough time to celebrate and share the work we had done.  This year I hope to plan a poetry celebration with children.  We'll choose our audience and plan for the event.  The other change I hope to make this year is that rather than keep the anthologies just online, I am going to have each child make a book they can hold on to, leave by their bedside and access often to read and reread the poems that "speak to them."  While online venues are terrific as students don't lose their work, can easily edit and add images, and share their work with relatives and friends near and far, the paper copies also have merit and value.

I look forward to beginning the year with poetry.  Over the summer months I'll revise and add to my self-portrait poetry anthology so I have a wonderful exemplar to share with children during the first days of school. 

2011 Project Guideline (will be revised a bit soon)