Tag Archives: listening

Poem A Day Challenge

I was recently inspired by an image on Twitter when someone shared their classroom bulletin board for #ABookADayChallenge. The image showed 180 Polaroid Photos turned backwards, each numbered along a grid to be turned over with an image of the picture book shared every new day of school. I thought, how cool to read aloud picture book everyday of school and share the joy of reading and books with students.

The #BookADayChallenge started back in 2009 by author Donnalyn Miller as a public declaration of to the commitment to read one a book a day for every day of summer and now it has morphed into a school year challenge.

Thinking of my own middle school students, I thought what are other ways that I can read aloud short sections of text (four periods a day) daily to my students to participate in the Challenge and share great books. I thought about picture books and whether my students would feel as if I was reading down to them with picture books. Yes, I know that picture books are written for all ages and I have read many picture books aloud to my students over the years with no quarrels. My thoughts extended to poetry. What if I read aloud a poem everyday of school to my students to jumpstart class, celebrate words, begin a discussion, and make connections.

Newbury award winner and poet, Kwame Alexander says, “The power of poetry is that you can take these emotionally heavy moments in our lives, and you can distill them into these palatable, these digestible words and lines and phrases that allow us to be able to deal and cope with the world.”

And so begins a new school year with #APoemADayChallenge. The read aloud will be a bell ringer and appetizer for the classroom activities for that day. The plan is to choose poems that connect with our inquiry units and build community.

Here are the poems planned for the first week of school:

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

A Journey by Nikki Giovanni

The Sweetest of Nights and the Finest of Days by Judith Viorst

Smart by Shel Silverstein

Additional Poems to be included this month:

So you Want To be A Writer? by Charles Bukowski

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel by Sherman Alexie

It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers by Margaret Atwood

My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni

Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde

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What, exactly, do I say to students? Teacher Prompts that Promote Positive & Specific Directions

Have you ever had someone give you directions and you got completely lost? Or attempted to follow a recipe and the dish turned out awful? Maybe to were trying to recreate a craft or model you saw online and it turned out nothing like the original picture.

In my speech and debate class I used to have students write out the directions how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I set up a table in the front of the room with the main ingredients: bread, peanut butter and jelly. Then, I selected two volunteers: one student to read aloud his or her directions and the second volunteer to literally follow the directions exactly as they were being communicated. Here is where the challenge (and silliness) began. Giving clear, concise instructions to others is an important skill for young people to learn. In this activity, students practiced communicating ideas to others, recognizing steps in a process, and recognizing the importance of the use of clear language.

As teachers, we are always looking for ways to support student learning, articulate our objectives clearly, prompt students thinking or actions in positive and specific ways.  Here are more than a dozen positive and specific teacher prompts that cue student engagement, action, and thinking from George McClosky, Bob R. Van Divner, & Lisa Perkins’ list of “Self-Regulation Executive Function Definitions with Examples of Teacher Prompts.” No matter the student, classified or not, prompting in positive, specific, and brief directions helps all students succeed.

Perceive – “Everyone look at the board.”

“Listen to this.”

“Try and notice how . . .”

Modulate – “This is the kind of problem that requires a lot of thinking power to complete.”

Gauge – “What kind of thinking will this situation require?”

Sustain – “You might need to think longer about this if you want to come up with a good answer.”

Stop/Interrupt – “Please stop doing that.”

Inhibit – “Let’s listen to what XXX is saying.”

Hold – “Hold that thought while we continue.”

Manipulate – “Now take what you just said and try to think about what might happen next.”

Foresee/Plan (Short-term) – “Can you come up with a plan for solving . . .”

General/Associate – “Is this similar to any other  . . . . we have already done?”

Balance – “Be sure to look closely enough to see all the details.”

Store – “Remember what you just heard.”

Retrieve – “Who can recall what we saw . . .”

Time – “Spend about five minutes thinking about it.”

Monitor – “Look at each item carefully. Some require  . . . and some require . . .”

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