Sunday, January 20, 2013

Poetry Tool #1- Rhythm

Welcome to Post #2 in a series of posts about my current journey teaching poetry to a group of 60 students composed of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. If you missed the intro post to this series, click HERE and check it out. It was posted on All Things Upper Elementary of which I am a contributor.

I was excited to start teaching the tools of poetry because that is where the students would get the chance to actually WRITE some poetry. I also planned to integrate our grammar study into this unit. Having tried to do a grammar lesson and then integrate it into the writing later was a total bust for me. I figured that I would have a longer block to to teach poetry AND it would be more authentic for my students. Turns out I was right!

We started by labeling the top of "the next clean page" in our journal (the next page after our listing of the difference of poetry and prose, and of the 6 tools) with "Tool #1- Rhythm". Student then wrote what they thought the definition of rhythm was . It was an interesting discussion. My musical students could show me examples with clapping and tapping, but couldn't really put it into words. After sharing several ideas, we decided that rhythm is comprised of beat and repetition.

First, for beat, I handed out rhythm sticks (thick dowels cut into thirds) to each student and (after explaining the expectations for use like "When I am talking, both sticks are in one hand", "No drumming on your desk or neighbor", etc.) then I asked them what was something that most people had around them every day that  has rhythm.

It was pretty quickly decided that MUSIC has rhythm. What I did next shocked them. I cranked the music and we practiced finding the rhythm of different genres of music. We played everything from county to heavy metal- (WHOA ON THE HEAVY METAL- more than I can take, I think). But they LOVED it. Whenever they struggled to find the beat of the song, I would have them close their eyes and listen before tapping. It was amazing how fast they were able to find it when they weren't distracted by their neighbors tapping.

After we jammed out for a bit, I  read several poems and had them tap the rhythm. I read some rhyming poems, but also many that were not rhyming because I wanted them to see that more than just rhyming poems have rhythm to them.

Then we studied what was meant by repetition. Both in beat AND in words. I read them the poem "Negro" to them and we discussed possible reasons that Langston Hughes would have repeated the words, "I am a Negro: Black as the night is black, Black like the depths of my Africa." at the end of the poem. I was surprised at their thoughts about this. Many picked up that he wanted to show that, despite the trials and problems his people had faced, they were still a proud people.



I then handed out all the poetry books again and had the students scavenger the pages looking for places where words were repeated. It was great fun to hear what they found and watch as they made connections between what we discussed to what they were reading.

For their homework, I gave them a poem called "Snowflake Souffle" by X. J. Kennedy . The students were to read it to a parent/family member and get it signed, underline common nouns, and circle proper nouns.

It was a wonderful end to a wonderful lesson. Don't miss Post #3 coming soon.

Cheers-
MrHughes


15 comments:

  1. I love teaching poetry to my upper elementary students. I will have to make it a point to read the whole series of posts.

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    1. Greetings Mary!
      I am so pleased to have you join us here. I look forward to "seeing" and hearing from you in the future! :)

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  2. I'm glad you are doing the series of posting to help me catch up on things I miss when I'm notthere during your class time. Can't wait for more and I definitely need to get the book you are teaching from to add to my reference library. Mrs. E

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA mystery
    http://elysabethsstories.blogspot.com
    http://eeldering.weebly.com

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    1. Hey- The IS a bonus. Didn't even think about that. Hope you are well. :)

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  3. I love the idea of using rhythm sticks. So much fun!

    Go YOU with the heavy metal! Too funny! Of course, you know I would LOVE that. I remember you teasing me about my last concert tickets. Haha!

    I am really enjoying your poetry posts. :) I look forward to the next one.

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    1. Yeah... I can do it for a short time, but WHOA! lol. Of course for the Christmas program my students did a heavy metal version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". It was way fun. I will have to share the video with you! :)

      Thanks for stopping by. I will hopefully have the next post up soon.

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  4. So glad to find your posts about poetry. I am a "poet tree nut." Quite often I blog about using poetry in the classroom. Hop over to my blog and check out the archives.

    I'll be following your series.
    Barb

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    Replies
    1. Hey Barb!
      Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to browsing your blog! Have a wonderful day!

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    2. Oops! Forgot to leave a link to my blog. Here it is:
      http://itsabouttimeteachers.blogspot.com/

      Barb

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    3. Thanks! I am now following your blog! :)

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  5. I am just starting my poetry unit, and I am so excited by this post! It sounds so fun and engaging, and I can't wait to read about what else you do. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!

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    1. Welcome!
      I am so excited to have you along for the ride! :) I should have 1-2 new posts this week on what we are doing. I need to get caught up before I drown in pictures and things to say! Ha ha! Please visit again soon.

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  6. Fabulous idea to teach rhythm in poetry! I have lots of kids who tap their pencils all day. They would love this lesson. We are studying poetry right now. May have to plan to do this at the end of next week. Do you teach stressed and unstressed syllables with rhythm?

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    1. I did with my 6th graders. My 5th and 4th graders we just worked on rhythm. It was scary how many of them could NOT follow a beat... ha ha!

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  7. Would you mind sharing that video with me also of your students performing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"? eshepherd79@gmail.com

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts...

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