Read and Understand Poetry

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Quite a few books on how to teach kids to write poetry come my way, but rarely have I seen one that actually teaches children how to understand and appreciate poetry! Each of the books in this series includes over 25 poems, grouped into sections by topic. In my sample of Grades 4-5 these are: family, unique word usage, action poems, occupations, the railroad, water, history and holidays. Each section includes 3-4 poems, each accompanied by two student pages and a teacher page. The teacher page for each poem includes teaching tips and topics to use before, during and after the poem reading. Often these feature suggestions for introducing topics or words, locating and discussing poetic devices used in the poem, or for pointing out formal English language "irregularities" that are often found in poems. The actual poem follows, printed in large font on an entire page accompanied by a black-and-white drawing. The poems themselves have been selected from a wide range of authors, both well-known and not-so well-known, modern and classic. Some poems and authors included in Grades 4-5 are: Walt Whitman ("I Hear America Singing" and "The Runaway Slave"), Francisco X. Alarcn ("My Grandma is Like a Flowering Cactus"), William Shakespeare ("Full Fathom Five"), Emma Lazarus ("The New Colossus"), Edward Lear (selections from his Book of Nonsense), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ("The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride" and "The Village Blacksmith"), Michael Burgess ("Lightning Jumpshot"), and many more. Two student workbook pages follow the poem, asking students to reflect on meanings in the poem and think about how language was used. The first page contains a series of multiple-choice questions that ask students to think about the poem itself and particular pieces of the poem. Questions might ask students to interpret what certain phrases in the poem mean, who is narrating the poem, how the people mentioned in the poem probably feel, and much more. The second student page focuses more on language skills, and analyzing language through the poem. For example, after "Jabberwocky", they must decide whether some of the nonsense words included in the poem are nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Other worksheets ask students for specific examples of language from the poem, and then challenge them to write their own similar poem, using their own words or phrases. A glossary of poetry terms, short biographies of the featured poets and an answer key are also included. Overall, I'm very impressed with this series and all the bases it covers. Not only is poetry read or shared aloud, but students also learn to understand and comprehend poetry (which is a little different than regular reading comprehension), and even develop an appreciation for the way poets use language and specific poetic devices in their creations. As a bonus, students are often given the opportunity to write their own poetry after studying the model poem, providing them with a much more well-rounded foundation to write from than a "here's what a limerick is - now write one" lesson. - Jess

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Read & Understand Poetry Gr. 2-3 Item #: 031788
Grades: 2-3
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Read & Understand Poetry Gr. 4-5 Item #: 031791
Grades: 4-5
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Read & Understand Poetry Gr. 5-6 Item #: 031790
Grades: 5-6
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Read & Understand Poetry Gr. 3-4 Item #: 031789
Grades: 3-4
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