A few weeks ago, at the bottom of a vocabulary activity that came from our basal series, my students were asked to use several of their vocab words in a poem. Although I wasn’t surprised they couldn’t construct a poem very well, I was amazed at their inability to remember ever reading or hearing poems. I’m sure they did in the earlier grades, but it obviously hadn’t made much of an impression.
Today we read a few poems about basketball from our basal. They were written by Charles R. Smith, Jr. and they contain lots of color, various sized fonts, and the placement of the words on the page stress the rhythms of the poems. After talking about how the poems made us feel, just looking at the word on the page, we took turns reading them out loud. The first few kids read with monotone voices, as if they were the most boring words they’d ever encountered! I then told them what a poetry slam was. They looked at me with raised eyebrows and a few snickers. So I took the plunge and read one of the poems in the funkiest, hip-hop, basketball-playin’ style I could! They LOVED it! My only regret is that I didn’t start the video camera rolling right then! Every hand in the room went up. They wanted to give a shot at slamming the poems! We laughed and clapped – it was great!
So, to incorporate our Clams, while the excitement was palpable in the room, we brainstormed things we thought we could write neat poems about. The kids brainstormed and sketched out their ideas the old fashioned way (with paper and pencil), and then opened up Smart Notebook on their Clams. I thought this application would be the easiest tool to use because you can write in many different colors and sizes, AND easily make your word boxes slanted, vertical, or flow in any other direction. It would also allow the kids to draw an image or insert a photograph to accompany their poetry.
What occurred over the next hour was amazing! Splashes of color, words in caps for emphasis, shapes made out of words, hand-drawn pictures, and even some photos (which we learned how to properly credit) filled their screens! Tomorrow we’ll finish them and I’ll post a link so you can be as amazed as I am!
Who knew poetry could be such fun?! Maybe we’ll even hold a Cove Poetry Slam and post our video! Stay tuned!
Photo Credit: Jefferson College Library’s photostream via Flickr