Poetry on the iPads, Part 2

I have been waiting all day to write this post!  We had another wonderful week writing poetry in first grade.  As I watched my students this week, nearly all children made attempts to compose on the iPad.

The children who had explored line breaks and revision last week deepened their understanding of these skills.  Using mentor texts in class, I showed them poems that had shape or used line breaks in an unusual fashion, like to form stair steps. Below, this child modeled her line breaks off a poem she read that formed the text of the poem into the letter V.  Here, she attempts to model that as each line gets shorter in length forming a funnel down the page.

Another child modeled their writing off the stair-step mentor text.  Differing slightly, as one can see in the piece below, the child attempted the steps to progress in a backwards direction. The intensity and importance of the words “it will grow” shines through as each word is provided its own line and space to communicate the message.

As we often see, kids who are innovators, like those who suggested creating poetry on the iPad, often turn into mentors for other students.  I saw this take place many times throughout the week.  Initially, they mentored their peers on technology management–how to copy an image, how to paste an image into the document, which apps to use and how to move the cursor to insert a line break.  As the days passed, they inspired their peers to “have a go” and make attempts at writing on the iPad.  A reluctant writer was moved to create this wonderful  poem on Laptops and inserted the strategy attempted (repetition).

As more and more students created poems on the iPad, the role of the student mentors shifted to that of revision partners.  My students asked these early innovators for advice on where to split their lines, suggestions for powerful words and modes for formatting their writing to communicate a message.  Recognizing the powerful impact that reciprocal teaching can have on learning and long-term retention of information, I was thrilled to see my students engaging in such a manner!

This week I introduced inference and shared how poets oftentimes make their readers infer what they want them to know.  We looked at Eloise Greenfield’s poems Things and Rope Rhyme as mentors.  Most students understood the strategy and attempted it in their writing as seen below.

Things I noticed as students created their poetry on the iPad:

My students created their poems in several different formats.  I had not suggested, “If you want to write a poem on your iPad, do it in Pages.”  Therefore, as students began to write, they chose a format that met their needs as a learner and writer.  My kids chose to use Pages, eBook Magic, StoryKit, Keynote, and Notes to create their text.  Similarly, they also varied in the tools they chose for illustrating, however, most used Drawing Pad or Doodle Buddy.

I believe that by providing them choice in their mode for creation, students were able to personalize their learning experience.  They used a format they were comfortable with.  They had authority over the outcome of the project.  Their design aesthetic and sense of style was present throughout the piece and this enhanced their ownership of the poem. As they viewed different products when we shared, they were also introduced to new formats and were provided additional ideas for their next writing attempts.

I also felt that these poems synthesized our learning across the school day.  We’ve investigated poetry in both reading and writing workshop.  We’ve studied artistic techniques designing classroom murals and inquiry projects.  We’ve identified our audience and layered our technology skills across the year. NOW we see it all come together.  These poems–the art, the word choice, the format and the voice–provide a special window into each child as a learner.  They give a peek at their personality, their interests and their dreams.  These poems share who we are and hint of where we are going. My students are truly learning to use poetry to communicate their message.

I’m not sure if this child’s intent was to represent our classroom community, but on a Friday afternoon, I like to think of that as a possibility.

We do live in small world.  It’s very important.  And I think my students are showing with their poetry just how important that world can be.

About Kristin

Kristin Ziemke has spent her career teaching and learning from children in both urban and suburban school districts. A first grade teacher in Chicago, Kristin engages students in authentic learning experiences where reading, thinking, collaboration and inquiry are at the heart of the curriculum. Co-author of Connecting Comprehension and Technology, Kristin pairs best practice instruction with digital tools to transform learning in the classroom and beyond. An Apple Distinguished Educator, National Board Certified Teacher and Chicago’s 2013 Tech Innovator of the Year, Kristin seeks opportunities to transform education through technology innovation. She inspires educators around the globe as a staff developer, speaker and writer. To learn more about her work follow her on Twitter @KristinZiemke.
This entry was posted in Active Literacy, Collaboration, iPad, Poetry Friday, Technology, Writer's Workshop. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Poetry on the iPads, Part 2

  1. I am fascinated by your slice today. I want to read more of your posts. Thank you for sharing how you approach teaching your students.

    ” I had not suggested, “If you want to write a poem on your iPad, do it in Pages.” Your teaching approach really is letting the children find their own inner creative voice.

    And I agree with you on this statement.
    “I believe that by providing them choice in their mode for creation, students were able to personalize their learning experience. ” I have talked to many adults who said they were not creative because of a negative learning experience in their childhood. where they were told to do exactly what the teacher said. And felt like a failure when their work was not the same as the teacher.
    Including several examples of the students work is a great illustration of your approach.

    • Kristin says:

      Thanks so much for the comment!
      I often find when I let my students select the mode for their learning, or the process they want to go about to share their thinking, they frequently come up with something that I may have not even thought of! We need to set our sights and our ceilings high for our youngest learners. They are capable of doing AMAZING things…sometimes we just need to know when to get out of their way.
      Of course, when we let them “have a go” it’s not always perfect. But from that point we can scaffold their learning and nudge them along as inspired learners who are actively involved in their education and who want to try again and learn more. What could be better than that?

  2. Stacey says:

    You’re doing such important work in your classroom. I particularly love that you’re not saving poetry for (just) April.

    • Kristin says:

      Spoken like a veteran teacher! :) My students are so enamored with poetry it’s all they talk/write/blog about! It feels great to see six and seven-year-olds embrace poetry and see it as a “part” of them. I hope they continue to allow it to be an important part of their lives.

  3. shaggerspicchu says:

    Wow! The poems that your students created are beautiful. My favourite is ‘It‘. I wish that I had a teacher like you when I was learning about poetry in school.

    Ever since my lovely literacy coach introduced me to the power of teaching writing through inquiry, I have been AMAZED by the enthusiasm children develop towards writing. It is so exciting!

    • Kristin says:

      That child wanted the reader to infer the poem was about love. Did you get that? :)

      I feel like I have seen a major shift in the attitudes of my students towards writing as I’ve engaged them in that inquiry piece and as I’ve provided more choice in genre, format and process. Kids really do have a lot they WANT to write about, don’t they?

      • shaggerspicchu says:

        I absolutely got that from her poem. It is so amazing what they can create when you give them the opportunities.

        • Kristin says:

          I showed the poet your comments to my blog today! The child was thrilled to have an audience and got to see first hand the impact of her work on the greater community. Thanks for sharing–your feedback had a significant impact on my young writer.

  4. Pingback: Styling Librarian: Poetry Fun Resources « The Styling Librarian

  5. Pingback: Styling Librarian: Technology Resources Shared for April 2012 « The Styling Librarian

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