Thursday, April 6, 2017

Post PARCC Poetry

This week, my third graders are taking the PARCC test for the first time.  So far, we've taken three of the four 1-hour mathematics tests, and they seem to be handling it very well.  In prepping them to take this test, I talked with them about how their parents and I want them to do their best, but at the same time, their lives to not hinge on the results.  I don't believe in getting kids all worked up and anxious about their performance on standardized tests, especially in third grade.

As I was doing my lesson planning for this week, I thought about how I wanted the kids to feel at the end of the day.  Because the math tests were taking an hour of my literacy block, I decided to steal that time back during my scheduled math time so the kids could have more than 30 minutes to read or write.  We're in the tail end of our study of myths and legends, so I knew they would be planning and writing their legends.  April is also National Poetry Month, so I wanted to work in some poems as well.

I made the decision to take that hour after lunch to read and discuss a poem or a poetry picture book and then invite the kids to try out whatever poetic device or poetic form featured.  So far, we've read Dogku by Andrew Clements, some recipe poems I found online, Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerWater, and Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard.  Each day, the energy and buzz in the classroom during our literacy studio have been amazing.  The kids are trying out their poetry writing without hesitation.  I see them taking risks and playing with words and rhyme and meter, reading their writing out loud to each other to see how the poems sound.  They are playing with poetry.
Students experiment with color poems inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerWater's Writing the Rainbow Challenge
I made a conscious decision NOT to do formal lessons on meter, rhyme, figurative language, and poetic forms.  I wanted this exploration of the possibilities of poetry to be playful and low-stakes.  I wanted this hour to be the complete opposite of the hour of PARCC testing the kids experienced in the morning, where they had to be silent and still.

There has been no silence in my literacy studio this week.  There has been no stillness.

And I am TOTALLY fine with that!