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Friday, October 1, 2010

Follow Up: Poem in Your Pocket

Last week was Shel Silverstein's birthday (September 25).  I asked the readers of this blog to carry around a Shel Silverstein poem in their pocket to share with friends, family, and colleagues.  Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated every year in New York City, during April's National Poetry Month, not on Shel Silverstein's birthday.  I just happened to put the two ideas together.

I felt it was important to follow up on my experience as I had the opportunity to work with a group of second graders this week. I was asked to teach a lesson and only had 30 minutes. I thought the Shel Silverstein Poem in Your Pocket idea could work.  Here is how the lesson went down:

The Preparation (30 minutes): I selected at total of seven poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends that were on an appropriate reading level for second graders.  A few examples I chose were Hug O'War, Spaghetti, Boa Constrictor and Pancake? I made enough copies so every child could have one poem for their pocket.

The Lesson (30 minutes):

1. I wore a pair of pants with many pockets the day of the lesson and put a poem in each pocket.  I started my lesson talking about Shel Silverstein and his birthday.  I was mid-sentence when I reached into my pants and found a poem.  I said, "How about that! I have a poem in my pocket. Can I read it to you?".  The class shouted out, "Yes!"  So, I read the poem with expression and proper intonation that would have made any reading teacher proud. I then reached into another pocket and found another poem.  This continued until I exhausted all my poems.

2.  I then told the class that I was going to give them a poem to put in their pocket.  I suggested that they could read it to friends at school and to their family at home.  I passed out the Shel Silverstein poems randomly and asked them to read it to themselves.  Lastly, I had them ask a neighbor to help them with any hard words.

3.  The next step was to practice reading the poem aloud.  Students were grouped together with others that had the same poem.  This was quick since they already read the poem to themselves and asked a neighbor to help with the hard words.

4. Then, I stopped everyone and talked about approaching a friend to read them their poem.  I said, "You just can't walk up to them and start reading a poem.  They would think you are weird."  I suggested saying, "Hey, I have a poem in my pocket.  Can I read it to you?"  Then, if they said yes, it was okay to read them the poem.  We practiced saying our question a few times out loud as a whole group.

5.  It was time to break away from our groups and approach a friend.  It was awesome to see the students jump up to ask to read something to their classmate.  We gave the students a few minutes to enjoy this social time.

The Aftermath:

The teacher of the class was very excited about the lesson and chose to inform other teachers in the building.  By the end of the day, the second graders read their poems for three classrooms.  The energy and enthusiasm was exciting.  Many students became so comfortable with their poem that they were using gestures and facial expressions.

Thank you to the second graders and the teacher for allowing me to teach this lesson.  It will be one of my fondest memories of working with children in a school setting.

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