On Sunday I was super excited to help engage a group of young 3rd graders in nature and writing. Monday I would be a reserve teacher in my daughters classroom. A nature walk connected to writing poems was set for the afternoon. Yes!
Monday rose with grey clouds and heavy rain scheduled for ALL day. (Darn and *#*#*#*) My mentor text in the morning reading block was Song of the Water Boatman by Joyce Sidman. Joyce does this wonderful job of writing about nature through poetry, which would have fit the afternoon writing perfectly.
Quick change of plans – reading block was still Song of the Water Boatman. We made predictions and linked the word song to poems. I had a class set of these books (will wonders never cease) so I asked the students to partner off to read poems. They were to read several, choose one, practice it and be ready to read it to the class.
A bit of background knowledge for you – this group of bright and wonderful students were so out of control last fall when I reserve taught I had to have the behavior person in over and over again. So this lesson I thought might be a bit of a stretch for them. I was wrong! Amazing growth had occurred!
I explain what we were going to do – handed a book to one person and asked them to pick their partner and go read. (risky step -maybe) Then continued around the circle until everyone had a partner and a book.
They wondered off to different parts of the room. They read quietly with each other. Some needed help with words – Joyce has great vocabulary. They let me know that this author sometimes used rhythm and rhyme. They catch the onomatopoeia in several poems. They also knew that this was the author I had read to them another day when I was visiting. We had read part of Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Sidman.
Our reading block whizzed by and we needed to stop and go on to music and lunch. In the afternoon my writing needed to change so we continues our work with Sidman and used Red Sings from the Treetops – a year in color.
I had downloaded a copy of this text to my computer and projected it up for the students to see and follow along. This time I was the reader and they gathered ideas for writing a color poem for their teacher.
We were making list poems – they choose their favorite color for the day and then wrote about it. I provided a template for those who did not feel comfortable or didn’t have the skills yet to write on their own.
- Yellow ( color of your choice) looks like _____________.
- Yellow sounds like_____________.
- Yellow feels like______________.
- Yellow taste like______________.
- When I feel ___Yellow__, I am ________________.
It had been a long and rainy day, no outside recess and even though we did a dance/brain break for a few minutes I was so worried our writing would turn into just coloring a card for Ms. M.
These gems of students proved me wrong. They hurried off to their desks and began writing. I circled and helped with words and ask questions to keep them going. I am not going to say all poems were great and there were a few who struggled to stay with us but poems were written, decorated with the color of their choice and we were off to computer time and math.
Thank you Joyce Sidman, for poetry, nature and great mentor texts. Thank You Ms. M, for your great work with these students. It was clear these students were eager and ready to read and write. No one said do we have to! No one even stopped to think about it. They grabbed books and notebooks and we were writers and readers for the day!
Check out Joyce Sidman’s web site for teaching ideas as well.