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Graphic Organizer - Module 7 - Poetry

2 min read




Textual Evidence

-Julio Noboa Polanco

-Tupac Shakur

-Julio is comparing himself to an undesirable weed. Julio is communicating how he would much rather be true to both himself and his core values, even if this means he is ostracized or unaccepted by the majority.  

-Tupac is comparing himself to a rose that grows from concrete. Any plant that breaks through concrete can be interpreted creatively as heroic. But a rose, however, has great beauty and meaning. The rose is one of the most special and desired of all flowers. Therefore, Tupac is describing how in spite of his surroundings, he "broke through" the system, but not just as anyone, as someone with meaning and purpose.

-"I'd rather smell of musty, green stench

than of sweet, fragrant lilac.

If I could stand alone, strong and free,

I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed."

-"Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else ever cared.


The Metaphor

-Julio's poem resonated with me deeply. My mother has always taught me to speak and stand for what feels right within me, even if I am alone in these actions.

-I appreciated the the imagery in Tupac's poem. In spite of its shortness and simplicity, Tupac's words and how he structured the poem allowed me to see such a vivid image of a rose bursting through concrete with utter conviction and determination. The symbolism and meaning behind the poem are truly inspiring.

-Even though being alone in situation can be scary, "like an eagle, wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks," stand tall and proud and true to your heart, "If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed."

-No situation is entirely stagnant, no matter how difficult or persistent the struggle, or, greatness is not impossible, do not let the system deny or define you, "Proving nature's law is wrong it

learned to walk with out having feet."


Building Imagination - Module 7 - Readings Reaction

4 min read

I thought the readings for this module, Poetry Top 10: A Foolproof Formula for Teaching Poetry and Poetry is Like Directions for Your Imagination!, were both incredibly useful sources for educators to read through and implement whilst covering poetry and various forms of creative writing. Creative writing is one of the few subjects taught in educational settings wherein students can truly and freely express themselves, without being bounded by structural and academic expectations. That is what makes poetry so unique and beautiful. But because poetry is experienced differently amongst writers and audiences, it can be tricky as an educator to provide a foundational framework for students who have yet to encounter the subject. 

I enjoyed Mara Linaberger's list of precursory steps for delving into poetry as readers, writiers, and teachers of the subject. Her list,  "An Action Plan", is comprised of ten key steps that Linaberger encourages teachers to follow in order to become comfortable with reading, interpreting, writing, sharing, and finally, teaching poetry. In her first three steps, she asks educators to read great poetry, ask questions about said poetry, and then write an original piece. I thought these beginning steps were excellent ways to initiate the creative thought process. One of the most critical ingredients in creativity is inspiration. I think having students read a few pieces of poetry, famous or not, that form imagery with the use of figurative language and ooze meaning, symbolism, and emotion, could truly spark imaginitive ideas. While the ideas are flowing, the students can jot them down creatively within 5-10minutes and then share what they have written to classmates and peer edit. This exercise allows other students as well as the educator to see how each individual student was inspired or impacted by the pieces of poetry that were initially read. Additionally, this lesson allows for a comfortable and safe classroom environment, where everyone's work and ideas are appreciated and welcomed.

In Poetry is Like Directions for Your Imagination!, I think the author touched upon a great way someone could use poetry to enhance the use of a student's imagination within their written work. On pages 20-21, the author discussed how students were given opportunities to draw an illustration for a poem they read and to listen to poetry being read on audio tape. I thought these approaches to teaching poetry with young children were truly effective. Honing in on different learning modalities, such as the visual and tactile piece with the illustration approach and the auditory piece with the audio tape approach, is an excellent way to derive a further conceptual understanding of the poems being read. By having an early childhood student draw an illustration of a poem read in class, the child is able to make inferences about the piece that he/she may not have been able to make previously by simply reading it. This approach can be compared to the analytical processes a college student undergoes while he/she annotates a reading for a literature class; the student is able to further delve into the material in a way he/she can best understand it. Not only does drawing illustrations for poems and listening to audio tapes of poems help younger students better understand the writing, but it also helps increase imaginitive thinking. By simply creating a picture for a poem, a student's mind is working to put words into shapes, colors, and landscapes. 


Some poems I would introduce in my classroom would include:

  1. A Love Letter performed by Sarah Kay (spoken word)

  2. WhatIf by Shel Silverstein
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. Mirror by Sylvia Plath




Module 7 - Poetry - Dr. McVerry's Video Response

2 min read

  1. What are emotions and ideas shown in poetry?
    When I think of poetry, some emotions and ideas that immediately come to mind for me are the feelings produced by romantic love, heartbreak, unequal treatment,  mental illness, death/tragedy, and probably others. These emotions may include thrill, joy, utter despair, loneliness, anger, etc. Some ideas in poetry include  metaphorical comparisons (eg. comparing "love to a summer's day") and writing from different perspectives to draw on a larger meaning.

  2. What emotions or ideas make for bad poems?

I honestly cannot think of an emotion or idea that makes for a bad poem. The beautiful thing about poetry is that it caters to self-expression. Therefore,  the writer's personal ideas and feelings can not be identified as either correct or incorrect, good or bad. While I might not enjoy reading a poem about football, as an idea, I can still appreciate the writer's artistic license and expression within that license.

  1. Write a poem based on the picture

Convoluted warrior, too complex to follow.

You stand there tall, because you were told to.

With obedience as sharp as broken glass, often times, innocence cannot see all of the shards.

Your eyes are big

And your hands are small.

I hope this world is not one that hardens you.

I hope, one day, you may have a childhood;

That your worries may fit between the walls of a bathtub

And your dreams the walls of the universe.

I only wish we could speak about these terms

With alphabet-soup words,

Because that is what you deserve.


Never lose sight of your imagination, young friend.

Your eyes may be big

And your hands may be small,

But if you can outstretch the length of your arm to the sky

And pinch a cotton candy cloud between index finger and thumb,

I promise, if you truly believe,  you can taste the sweetness.


Dr. Seuss Activity

2 min read

How Would You Make the World a Better Place?

In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, the entire first grade of the school I assistant teach at came into our first grade classroom. Together, we sat on the carpet and read The Lorax. After we finished the story, we shared some thoughts with one another on how we could make our world a happier and healthier place, not just for us, but for everyone. Then, during Writer's Workshop, we passed out the yellow worksheets seen above to the students so they could each have the opportunity to express how they would like to make the world a better place. While the children were writing, the main teacher of the classroom and I called our students up, individually. My main teacher put together a mask that looked like the Lorax in the book by using gold glasses with the lenses popped out. She attached jagged, yellow, laminated construction paper to the top and bottom of the glasses to represent the Lorax's eyebrows and beard. We had each student put on the glasses and took a picture of them. Then, we printed out each photo and cut out the the the heads with the masks and glued their heads on to a small Lorax body cut-out. After the students finished the writing activity, they engaged in an art activity. We had them color in coffee filters with blue and green paint to represent the earth. After the coffee filter earths dried, my teacher and I glued the photos of the students as the Lorax on their earths. Ultimately, we hung up each earth and writing piece outside in our hallway for all of the school to see. We had such a fun-filled, creative, and mindful Dr. Seuss day! The kids loved the project and it was so interesting to read their thoughts on changing the world.


Module 5 - Reading Response

2 min read

     In module 5, Literature and Foundational Skills, I learned an immense amount of information relevant to what foundational skills are expected for earlychildhood students to learn and ultimately possess in both reading and writing. I think an important takeaway point from the  readings is to provide a thorough foundational instruction in literacy. This instruction is critical because it promotes phonological awareness skills, word recognition, fluency, and more opportunity for creating complex sentence structures, both communicated orally and written. 

     In Dr. McVerry's writing piece, Supporting Phonics Instruction with Children's Literature and Writing, he introduced an awesome tool for creating stories that have a phonics focus point, called Storyscape.  I thought the instructional video he provided with him and his kids gave me a really great understanding f how Storyscape can be used. After reading his piece and watching the video, I can definitely see myself using the tool with my first graders in the classroom to enhance their word recognition and phonics skills.

     I thought Phyllis Trachtenburg's piece, Using Children's Literature to Enhance Phonics Instruction, was extremely informational. The Whole-Part-Whole strategy resonated with my ideas on teaching literacy in the classroom. Additionally, I felt Whole-Part-Whole coincided with the concept of mini-lessons we learned about last week, in that, the teacher models the learning topic through guided practice and then reinforces the students by having them complete a similar task individually. I can see myself using the whole-part-whole approach with students who struggle with literacy in my future career as an earlychildhood educator. For example, I would read along and aloud a story with the students, then I would provide instruction on an important phonological skill in the literature, then I would go back to the reading, reread it, and have students identify and explain their understanding of that specific phonological skill being taught. 


Mini Lesson for First Grade - Module 4

1 min read

So I did my mini lesson for first grade on Table of Contents in nonfiction texts. Click here to view my presentation!


Module 4 - Annotations

1 min read

I decided to annotate two of the readings: Organizing for Effective Instruction: The Reading Workshop and Help! What is Wrong With These Literature Circles and How Can We Fix Them? 


Both of the readings contained information about effectively guiding literacy through the use of group work and how to ensure group time is spent productively and positively. I think the approaches and insight presented in both readings are valuable  and should be implemented in the classroom regularly. To read more about why I feel this way, look into my annotations!


Module 4 - Performance Task

5 min read

Mini - Lesson Playlist: The Good and The "Needs Improvement"

A Reaction

          I thoroughly enjoyed watching the series of videos McVerry set up for our EDU307 class to watch about mini-lessons in reader's workshop. I think I mainly appreciated seeing these videos because I already have pre-existing background knowledge on what great and effective mini-lessons look like; I observe them each and everyday at my job. The main first grade teacher in the classroom employs a lot of the wonderful strategies to engage the students that I took note of in the videos. In contrast, some of the other educators implemented their mini-lessons differently, in ways that I perceived as both good and not-so-good.

          I would like to first discuss a the video I truly appreciated. In the first video, Rick's Reading Workshop, I thought the educator did an excellent job with teaching a mini-lesson that fully engaged the students and helped them with their individual reading strategies. The lesson that which Rick discussed with his class prior to their independent reading was to be present in reading so that readers can easily create theories. Rick modeled his theory making by asking questions about the text and making inferences on the characters.  I thought his strategy of modeling metacognition in front of the students was excellent. In this, Rick displayed what thinking looks like aloud. This strategy was beneficial to students because it could help them formulate and better express their thoughts into developed sentences, questions, and ideas. Another aspect of Rick's Reading Workshop that I really appreciated was that he initiated discussion on the rug between students. He instructed students by saying, "Turn and talk to a partner about..." And with this, Rick went around to the discussing partners and observe the conversations. Then, Rick pulled the class back together to report back on some of the important ideas being discussed that he had heard. Lastly, I really loved how Rick constantly noted that his theory was changing to students and asked students if their theories had changed, too. I think this was a great way to let students know that we do not always have to be correct with our initial predictions. 

          Similarly to the first video, I thought the second video, "First Grade Mini-Lesson," exemplified an adequate mini-lesson about the book. The main teacher in this video and Rick contrasted in their teaching methods, and this could primarily be because Rick was teaching students older than first graders, and thus, the readers workshop was more thorough and concise. The first grader mini-lesson was simplified to ensure understanding amongst the young readers, but drove home an invaluable lesson in reading. I truly enjoyed how the main teacher discussed how fiction books have two stories: the "book story" or the story being told, and the "life story" or the central idea, theme, or lesson the book is relating to. I think the first grade teacher engaged students by describing the difference between good readers and GREAT readers. She told her students that good readers are easily able to identify the book story, i.e. the characters, setting, plot, events, etc., but, GREAT readers can understand what the book story is trying to tell us or how it makes us feel. The way she approached this conversation with her students truly pulled them in. She said, "Every time the author tells a story, the author is telling two stories. Did you just hear me?" And then, she repeated what she had said, so that the students embraced the concept. I think the words she used, like good readers vs. great readers, and the way she explained fiction texts was completely amazing. What child at the age of six DOESN'T want to be a great reader when told there are only two types, good and great? This makes reading something DESIRED. The idea of a great reader makes students WANT to read, and, more importantly, LOVE reading. 

            I thought the middle school poetry workshop needed improvement. Unlike the other educators, this educator was not as engaging. She did not seem excited about the learning material. If I were a student in her class, I might feel bored and disengaged with the lesson. Learning should always be enjoyable. Who is to say that reading and writing cannot be as fun as it is in elementary school in middle and high school? I remember in my seventh grade English class, my teacher instructed the class to analyze the lyrics of a popular rap song. First, we listened to the song as a class. Then, we broke down each line, and each word within each line to finally figure out the true meaning of the song, as well as major themes relating to culture, gender, etc. Because the material was relatable, the class was completely engaged. I was twelve at the time and I am twenty, now. Eight years later, that lesson and the ideas I took away from it STILL stick with me. I think if the educator made the lesson material more relevant and interesting, the learning process would benefit immensely. 


Module 3 - Reactions to the Readings

3 min read

Module Three: Literacies and Worldviews


Pretty exciting stuff here, right?


      First things first, I LOVED the readings for Module three. I thought all four readings were super informative and engaging. But most of all, I think they truly touched upon a few, critical points that educators should always be cognizant of, but oftent times, are not. One idea I felt was present throughout each of the readings was the concept of teaching in a less structured manner, and a more personable manner. In other words, what works for one student will not work for all students. It is utterly important to recognize that each student learns differently, and this variation in learning may be reflective of the student's identity, background, or the ways in which he/she was brought up. 

       Dr. McVerry asked for us to identify a couple of examples that display complex literacy practiced that are not commonly used in the classroom in the readings and to elaborate on said practices. One central approach to using a complex and EFFECTIVE literacy approach is teaching texts to children that MATTER. In Engaging African American Males in Reading, Alfred W. Tatum writes in length about using texts in the classroom that are meaningful to students, specifically African American males, based on their literacy needs. Tatum identified these literacy needs as texts that are relevant to students on a social, emotional, cultural, and academic level. After incorporating texts relevant to African American male students' literacy needs, Tatum expressed the need for a responsive classroom approach, in that, the environment in which students are learning in must be open, accepting, and supportive of students' social-emotional competencies. This classroom climate can elicit a more positive environment for students wherein they do not feel the pressures of achievement that may hinder their overall academic performance. Instead, students feel comfortable and productive, open discussion can occur. In addition to the positive learning space, Tatum also discussed including texts with a "positive life trajectory", providing useful and personal information students can relate to and use throughout life as they journey through their own hardships and triumphs. 

       Piggy-backing off of this idea about including texts in our curricula that matter, I felt Valerie Strauss did an excellent job at exposing the injustices of CCSS required books to minority students. In her article, How Common Core's Recommended Books Fail Children of Color, she discusses how the learning material in most CCSS required texts is not relevant to students that are not white because the central characters and ideas supported in these texts pertain to white people. The question that which Strauss poses is, "How can our students of minority best learn if they cannot relate?" Strauss discussed her own, effective approaches to teaching literacy in a diverse manner. She expanded her classroom library to include books that were culturally diverse. Ultimately, the students that were grateful for this diverse book collection were not merely those who could identify with the characters based on cultural backgrounds, but also the white students, because their knowledge on diversity was expanded. Teaching perspective is a wonderful thing.

       With perspective, there's a slight change in ideas, preferences, and attitudes. And with this, comes acceptance. Educators should aspire to creating a positive learning environment that which adheres to acceptance, diversity, love, and respect. 


Module 3 - Annotations of Two Readings

1 min read

Hi all! 

For Module 3, I annotated the readings, Rationale for doing queer work in schoolL dissertation excerpt, and, How Common Core's Books Fail Children of Color. Both readings resonated with me. I thought there were several, valuable takeaway points that were critical to understanding the importance of ensuring equality in education as well as teaching with a Kid's First approach. It is so important to be cognizant of who your students are and how this may affect their learning. And more importantly, making an active effort to find tools that will best support their learning. 


Click this link here to view my annotations for the readings!