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April 8, 2016

Poetry as Mentor Text

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Usually I use a picture book or chapter book as mentor texts. For our study of fantasy, I decided to go another route. This was the first time that I thought to use poetry. Not only would my students totally not expect it, but since April is National Poetry Month, it is a timely way to celebrate the genre.

    One of the suggested texts for this fantasy unit was the poem, "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. I will admit that in the beginning, the poem was difficult to understand, but my students stayed the course and did some great close reading with it. They were able to discuss and annotate the text for meaning. I was able to take their discussions and create a retell anchor chart. 

     

    Annotating "Jabberwocky"

     

    Retell Anchor Chart

     

    My students are accustomed to annotating text for meaning and themes that they notice in the text, but this unit required that the students also close read the text by identifying and analyzing literary devices. According to www.literarydevices.net, literary devices are defined as the typical structures used by writers in their works to convey his or her message(s) in a simple manner to readers. When employed properly, the different literary devices help readers to appreciate, interpret, and analyze a literary work.

    Below is a list of literary device terms that my students are now responsible for as a part of their reading (definitions of these terms can also be found on the literary devices' website previously mentioned):

    • Allusion

    • Archetype

    • Authorial intrusion

    • Flashback

    • Foreshadowing

    • Metaphor

    • Portmanteau

     

    Annotating "Jabberwocky" for Literary Devices

     

    Foreshadowing

     

    Allusion

    Using "Jabberwocky" as a mentor text made me appreciate how versatile poetry is as a teaching tool. It should definitely have a place in the classroom beyond the month of April — students should be exposed to various types of poetry throughout the school year.  Even the Common Core State Standards for grade six expect students to be able to read and comprehend various genres including poetry by the end of the school year. Using "Jabberwocky" as a mentor text made me realize that I need to create more opportunities where poetry exists in my classroom.

     

    Dear Poet Project

    So as I began this journey on looking for poetry resources to use in my classroom, I was reminded of the Dear Poet Project (www.poets.org). It provides poetry lesson plans and activities, including audio and video of poetry readings by poets. The Dear Poet Project is what I would call your one-stop poetry supermarket: there’s something for everyone.

        

    Pearls of Wisdom — Spring is here. Does your classroom need some spring cleaning? Take a good look at your classroom. Are there some items that have seen better days or do you have items that you have not used in over a year? Think about downsizing by either donating to another teacher or recycling.

    Looking for some poetry inspiration for your classroom? Check out Scholastic's Poetry Printables and Poetry Collection for some great ideas and printable resources!

    How are you teaching poetry in your classroom? Do you have any ideas or tips to share to keep poetry alive in your classroom? I enjoy sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

    Usually I use a picture book or chapter book as mentor texts. For our study of fantasy, I decided to go another route. This was the first time that I thought to use poetry. Not only would my students totally not expect it, but since April is National Poetry Month, it is a timely way to celebrate the genre.

    One of the suggested texts for this fantasy unit was the poem, "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. I will admit that in the beginning, the poem was difficult to understand, but my students stayed the course and did some great close reading with it. They were able to discuss and annotate the text for meaning. I was able to take their discussions and create a retell anchor chart. 

     

    Annotating "Jabberwocky"

     

    Retell Anchor Chart

     

    My students are accustomed to annotating text for meaning and themes that they notice in the text, but this unit required that the students also close read the text by identifying and analyzing literary devices. According to www.literarydevices.net, literary devices are defined as the typical structures used by writers in their works to convey his or her message(s) in a simple manner to readers. When employed properly, the different literary devices help readers to appreciate, interpret, and analyze a literary work.

    Below is a list of literary device terms that my students are now responsible for as a part of their reading (definitions of these terms can also be found on the literary devices' website previously mentioned):

    • Allusion

    • Archetype

    • Authorial intrusion

    • Flashback

    • Foreshadowing

    • Metaphor

    • Portmanteau

     

    Annotating "Jabberwocky" for Literary Devices

     

    Foreshadowing

     

    Allusion

    Using "Jabberwocky" as a mentor text made me appreciate how versatile poetry is as a teaching tool. It should definitely have a place in the classroom beyond the month of April — students should be exposed to various types of poetry throughout the school year.  Even the Common Core State Standards for grade six expect students to be able to read and comprehend various genres including poetry by the end of the school year. Using "Jabberwocky" as a mentor text made me realize that I need to create more opportunities where poetry exists in my classroom.

     

    Dear Poet Project

    So as I began this journey on looking for poetry resources to use in my classroom, I was reminded of the Dear Poet Project (www.poets.org). It provides poetry lesson plans and activities, including audio and video of poetry readings by poets. The Dear Poet Project is what I would call your one-stop poetry supermarket: there’s something for everyone.

        

    Pearls of Wisdom — Spring is here. Does your classroom need some spring cleaning? Take a good look at your classroom. Are there some items that have seen better days or do you have items that you have not used in over a year? Think about downsizing by either donating to another teacher or recycling.

    Looking for some poetry inspiration for your classroom? Check out Scholastic's Poetry Printables and Poetry Collection for some great ideas and printable resources!

    How are you teaching poetry in your classroom? Do you have any ideas or tips to share to keep poetry alive in your classroom? I enjoy sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

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