My writers and I have been taking this last week before school ends for holiday break to immerse ourselves in poetry during writers workshop. I haven't asked them or required them to write any (yet) . I know December needs to be about lots of choice as their excitement is heightened ( due to the season) and because we had just finished up a unit where I was specific about what their practice and final product needed. As the kids and began workshop, I talked with them about how poets read lots of poetry to become better writers. So we have been reading lots of poetry (and I just love to read it with them). We have read some of my favorites and some of their favorites (the girls in my room have been naturally drawn to a book of poetry called Nibble Nibble by Margaret Wise Brown). My favorite is April Rain Song by Langston Hughes.
As we read we notice and practice what we notice. Lucy Calkins in her Units of Study in Primary Writing features the poems by a young primary writer: Zoe. The poems Zoe has written seem to hit home with many of the writers in my class. Zoe's poem, The Pencil Sharpener, is a perfect place for us to begin noticing. After reading the poem aloud, the kids notice that they see something very different in their minds. We talk about the pictures that each one of us has in our minds and then record them on paper. Our first step to learning to becoming a poet is to imagine or make a picture in our mind. The kids begin a list of tools that will help us write like poets and this idea of imagining or envisioning is first. I take their pictures surrounding them around the text for Pencil Sharpener and we begin documenting how we are emerging as poets by posting our thoughts. During the week, we continue and document how poets think about things in new ways. Now, a few kids are trying poetry without being required to write it. Today we read a classmates poem about popcorn that used many sounds that helped us hear the poetry. I used her text with other mentor texts ( 3 short poems I read aloud that include invite the reader to hear what is happening )and it was powerful for that writer. The kids added that poets listen to things in new ways. One student began writing her own anthology today called My World. A few others have started to choose to write it. We will continue finding the poets inside of ourselves this week. It is a happy way to end December.