I discovered book spine poetry during the March Slice of Life Challenge and immediately fell in love with the simplicity and whimsical nature of this format. As I described in my slice, I shared my stack with a colleague and she wanted to have a go at this poetry writing format with her class, but she wanted to wait until later in the year.
Yesterday was the “later in the year” date. The classroom teacher had told me the students had earned a reward and they wanted to write all day long, so she thought this was a perfect time to break from their realistic fiction series books for a day and dive in with poetry.
I introduced the lesson by asking students to turn and talk, sharing what they recall about writing poetry. I leaned in so I could judge what I needed to reinforce before letting them compose their own poems. Today I reminded students that poems do not have to rhyme and that poems can be silly or serious. After clarifying these basic concepts we explored a few of the books pine poems that I found searching through google images. The students were hooked! I placed a tall stack of hard cover books (easier to see the spine) on each of the tables and said our celebratory “Off you go!”
The buzz in the room was exciting as they walked back to their tables to work with their new writing partner. Some students quickly stacked the books and made a poem. Others read over each title with care. I was very aware of how each student’s personality rose quickly to the top for this project, with some children creating wildly and others being very strategic and concrete. Many of the children approached this writing activity by simply stacking books and thinking they were done. When asked what they thought the poem was about, they eagerly went back to work arranging and rearranging. Others pushed themselves to think about creating a poem that made some sort of sense.
Once their poems were built, students were instructed to either take a photo or video of their stack to upload into their class SeeSaw account. Many of the students chose to record themselves reading their poem. They were so delighted that when it came time to stop to go to music class, they moaned, signaling their high level of engagement.
Book spine poetry was a great break for this group of students and charged them up to continue writing in new and fun formats.
How do you foster writing engagement?