Monday, April 16, 2012

Painting Pictures and Inferring with Poetry & a Differentiated Immigrant Lesson

As we continue to learn more and more about poetry, we continue to add more and more to our anchor chart!

Last week, I read the book Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher as a mentor text for the idea that poetry paints pictures with words. I created a Thoughtful Log prompt sheet to help students expand this idea in their Thoughtful Logs. I pulled two stanzas from the book and asked students to draw the picture that came into their mind when they read the stanzas. Here are some of their visual reflections! (Note: Require kids to use colored pencils and encourage them to blend colors and use the shading techniques they've hopefully learned in art class. I think the blending really helped to capture the beauty in the kids' pictures.)

On a different day last week, we also discussed that when you read poetry, you will often need to INFER to understand the poem at a deeper level. I modeled this by first analyzing clues in a poem:
 I highlighted the clues that helped me infer who the author was writing to in this poem and recorded my thoughts. As the poem went on, I got a clearer and clearer picture in my head! A hamster!

For guided practice, I gave students a different poem and had students highlight the clues that helped them infer the topic of the poem.
 Students also were encouraged to record their inferences as they read so I could see evidence of their inferences changing over time.
 Then I had students draw a picture of what they believed the topic of the poem was. If students truly paid attention to ALL of the clues, they would have drawn a group of baby bunnies like these students did:

Some students thought the topic was baby mice...

 But if they had truly read and thought about all of the clues, the 'ears in a tangle' clue is what truly helps to clarify the topic of the poem.

After our lesson, I challenged students to write a poem in which the audience would need to infer what the topic is just based on the clues. Here were some of their poems. Can you infer the topic?
This student even played with the shape of his words (which was something we had anchored on our poetry anchor chart earlier last week too!):
 This student wrote clues to describe a character from the Warriors series (which many kids in my class are obsessed with, by the way!):

Last week we also started writing color poems to continue practicing the idea that when we write poetry, we want to appeal to our audience's senses and require them to infer! I modeled this by selecting a color and recording nouns for things we see, taste, feel, smell, and hear that are associated with that color. (Eventually we will delete the color name when we revise and publish, but for now, it help kids stay in the frame of mind of the color they selected.)
Students then selected a color of their own. I encouraged basic colors only (since it's hard to come up with a lot of ideas for mauve or lime green, etc.!) When students got to the part of their pre-writing sheet where it asked them to record feelings associated with their colors, students referred to their Thoughtful Logs where we had recorded ideas from Dr. Seuss' Many Colored Days mentor text. It was a great resource to link students with their prior learning!

Here are a few samples after day one:
Today during Writer's Workshop, I modeled how to revise our initial ideas by adding descriptive adjectives before our nouns and extending each idea into a phrase.
Tomorrow we will conference with our peers, and on Wednesday we will publish in the computer lab!
In Social Studies last week, we read the story The Whispering Cloth by Peggy Dietz Shea to discuss the emigration of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
I used this slide to explain the historical context for the story. (And yes, I noticed I spelled 'clothes' instead of 'cloths' in the last sentence! ARGH!)

I had students glue the following chart into their Thoughtful Logs. In a previous lesson, I had modeled for students how to record facts from a text and respond, and students completed a chart similar to this one for guided practice. To continue on with the gradual release of responsibility, I didn't record anything while reading this book. Instead, students were responsible for pulling out and recording important information and responding as we read together.
Here are some of the great responses students recorded during our lesson:

Today in Social Studies, I handed out leveled readers to all my students. Four immigrant groups were featured in the readers: Mexican, Irish, Chinese, and German-Jewish. What's great about these readers is that they are organized identically but their content and complexity are different. You can see in the group below, one student is reading about the Irish, another is reading about German-Jewish immigrants, another is reading about the Chinese, and the fourth student is reading about Mexican immigrants! (Thank you, National Geographic, for designing readers this way!)
All students read pgs. 6 - 9 in their readers and made a graphic organizer in their Thoughtful Logs to record all the reasons their immigrant group left their homeland. Students were told they would be responsible for teaching their peers about their immigrant group so it was important to organize their information to help them remember.

After students read their pages and created their organizers, I had them get in 'immigrant-alike' groups to compare their information and either add to or revise their graphic organizers based on their discussion of their immigrant group. These students discussed why Chinese immigrants left their homeland.

These students discussed Mexican immigrants' reasons for leaving Mexico.

These students discussed why German-Jewish immigrants left Germany.

And I worked in a more guided setting to discuss reasons Irish immigrants wanted to leave Ireland.

Then I put students in 'immigrant-different' groups. Students were in groups of 4, with each of the 4 immigrant groups represented within the group. First, students color-coded their own group's reasons for leaving. This student used green to indicate all the reasons the Irish left their homeland.

Through discussion, students added reasons to their notes using the matching color for each immigrant group based on what they learned from one another.

Here you can see this student indicates the German-Jewish immigrants reasons for leaving Germany using blue. In green, she added what she learned from her peer about Irish immigrants. New reasons were added to the page and check marks were placed next to reasons that could be categorized for more than one group!
 Through differentiation, note-taking, and social discourse, students were in charge of their own learning with each other. Tomorrow we will explore the challenges immigrants faced, using a similar format!


  1. Thank you so much your fabulous lessons and photographs of teacher and student work. This blog has been very helpful showing real life examples of teacher and student work .

    1. Glad it is a helpful resource for you! That's the whole point. :) Examples are always helpful for me, too. I learn much more quickly that way!

  2. This is great! Where did you get the readers?