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.
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.