Fun Way to Analyze Poetry Techniques in Upper Elementary

October 17, 2012

Become a Poetry Detective

This week, we started a short unit on reading and writing poetry. Poetry is my absolute favorite! I love seeing kids get creative when they are given the tools to express their ideas any way they like. Reading poetry is also a favorite in my class and I love sharing them with my students! Becoming a poetry detective is a fun way to analyze poetry techniques in upper elementary – and a great way to introduce your poetry unit.

Poetry Techniques Anchor Chart

At the beginning of every new writing unit, we start an anchor chart to analyze mentor texts. I usually add a picture of the book (or poem, in this case), the author’s name, and what we notice about the author’s writing techniques. It is especially fun to analyze poetry techniques since authors do so many different things!

The trouble with starting to analyze poetry techniques is that there’s just SO DARN MUCH of it. All different kinds, authors, lengths…you name it. So, I shared 3 poems as class mentor texts. Which didn’t seem like enough. At all.

Reading Poems and Recording Observations

They really needed to see more examples than just 3. And notice more things than 3 poems could provide.

So….I sifted through my poetry books and pulled several poems that I thought had a lot of elements of poetry sprinkled throughout. I made color copies (shhhhhhh! Don’t tell!) and put them all together in a little packet.

After we worked on the poems for the chart together, they took a packet with their partner and used the graphic organizer below to record what they noticed – they turned into Poetry Detectives. We have been focusing on what the author does as a writer, so I asked them to notice and record things about the writing techniques, NOT the topic of the poems.

Making a Class Anchor Chart

After they worked with their partners, we had a discussion as a class about things they noticed in a lot of the poems or all of them. They wrote their top 4 on sticky notes and added them to our chart.

Our goal was to have a list of elements that can guide our study of poetry and tell us what we need to include in our poems, and what we can be looking for when we read them! This is always a fun lesson and students have a great time while being exposed to lots of different poems.

Grab the free Poetry Detectives note catcher here, and give this activity a try with your class this week!

 Do you use mentor texts in your classroom? Leave a comment below to tell me how!

Anchor Charts Galore!

September 23, 2012

Who loves a good chart? ME!

We are to the point this year that when I get out the markers and head for the rocking chair, I can always hear someone say, “Are we making another chart?” And of course, the answer is “YEP!”

We make our anchor charts together in our group meeting area.

Here is our meeting area…I would rather have a different chart stand, but this one works!

We make anchor charts for EVERYTHING! I love that the ideas come from the students instead of me.

Here are just a few:

Our Kit Inventory for our first science investigation.

Daily 5 anchor chart for Work on Writing
Daily 5 anchor chart for Read to Self – I moved it from the big chart to this smaller one.

Mentor text for Slice of Life writing – What do we notice?

Anchor chart for different types of leads

Ten Friends!

As you can see, we are running out of room! In past years, I have always struggled with this inevitability – spend time to make a chart, run out of room, and take down said chart that kids actually look for and use! Soooo, after some intense Pinterest surfing, I found a way to solve that problem.


Each subject has its own section and then I take a picture of the chart to add in.

I downloaded the covers and divider pages from Clutter Free Classroom’s TpT store. You can get them {here}. They worked perfectly AND there are some great planning pages in the download for thinking ahead about your charts!

The original pin I found came from Nancy at Teaching My Friends. Here is her Anchor Chart binder:

I love how she organized the binder and I am so excited that kids will be able to access the charts even as we move on and make new ones.

I’m so happy that I won’t have to throw out our hard work this year!

Leave a comment below and tell me how you manage your anchor charts!

Must Have Picture Books Linky

July 18, 2012

Yay for my very first linky! I am so excited to be a part of this one!

Let me tell you how surprised I was to learn that intermediate students love picture books as much as primary students! Since I figured out this simple truth, my picture book collection has grown. And grown. And grrrooowwwnnn! Every where I travel, I look for picture books and I’m pretty sure the bookstore employees know my credit card number by heart. My husband has resigned himself to carrying home much more than we started with on our trips, due to my love affair with picture books. I love this linky from Lindsey at The Teacher Wife, even though I know my pocket book will suffer! 

The Teacher Wife
Here’s 5 books I don’t think my classroom could live without…
1. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
I read this book every year near the first day of school. I love the twist at the end and the surprise on the kids’ faces when they realize who the book is REALLY about!
2.  Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter
This book comes in very handy when we start discussing Writer’s Notebooks and ideas for writing! The main character realizes that there’s a story hiding in plain sight in her neighborhood. Now that I think about it, there might be a lesson about cause and effect in there too!

3.  The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
I have used this book for many years and in many different ways. I love to let students use it as a mentor text for writing in other content areas about concepts or ideas. It’s a great way to share new knowledge!

4. Fireflies! By Julie Brinckloe
When I was young, my family would always take summer road trips to Iowa to visit my grandparents. One of my fondest memories of those times is delighting in watching the fireflies and trying to capture them (we don’t have fireflies in Colorado). This book is a great way to share a bit of myself with my students AND talk about personal narratives!

5.  My Big Dog by Janet Stevens
Another book that lets my class in on a little part of me! The cat in this book looks (and ACTS) just like my kitty and the interaction with the dog seems eerily similar to what we went through when we brought him home as a puppy (yikes!). I am a sucker for a happy ending and this book delivers!
Ok, folks! There you have it! Five wonderful picture books we couldn’t live without in my classroom! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to go link up with Lindsey, share your treasured books and find some new ones. Happy reading!

Nichole 🙂