Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Five-Senses Poems: Expanding Students' Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Jun 16, 2016 3:30:00 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What can teachers do when their students' writings have the bare bones of stories or paragraphs but not much else? How can educators encourage their students to expand their writing by adding more information? Simply instructing students to add interesting details to their writing will not help them understand how to incorporate such description. To assist students in expanding their writing, teachers may find a five-senses poem to be an appropriate place to start.

A “five-senses poem” is a non-rhyming poem that follows a certain format. Once the topic is determined, each of the five lines in the poem focuses on a particular characteristic of the topic using a different sense: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. You can download my reproducible poem template at the bottom of this page

Topic: ___________

It looks like _____________________.        

It sounds like ___________________.

It smells like ____________________.

It tastes like ____________________.

It feels like _____________________.

Modeling the development of a five-senses poem provides the initial support that many students require. Choosing familiar experiences as topics involves students in the thinking process, since many students have relevant background knowledge.

For instance, I have used the topic of recess to introduce five-senses poems to my elementary students. The topic has been successful because recess is an activity in which they all have personal experience, as shown below 

Recess

It looks like kids playing together.

It sounds like friends yelling to each other.

It smells like sweaty socks and shoes.

It tastes like dirt in my mouth.

It feels like my legs are tired from running.

Discussing additional possibilities for the senses as they relate to the topic can help students create their own versions of the poem. Subsequently, students can attempt other five-senses poems on topics such as birthdays, holidays, and seasons with teacher support, as appropriate. As students become proficient in using their senses to describe, they can be guided to include sensory description in their narratives, as well.

Once students have accessed their background knowledge to write five-senses poems about familiar topics, they can learn to use informational texts as resources to create fact-based poems. Depending upon their familiarity with the topic, they may be able to combine their prior knowledge with new information gathered from text, pictures, and discussions. Primary, ELL, special ed, and struggling students may be more dependent than other students on what they learn from teacher-led class discussions and pictures to supplement what they can read.

zoozoo-animal-world-bat.jpg

For example, when using the book Bat by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Animal World series, teachers can provide important information about bats' habitats through the talking points on the inside back cover of the book. The following five-senses poem could result from students' knowledge about bats, the text, and the talking points. 

A Bat’s Habitat

It looks like a dark cave.

It sounds like fluttering wings.

It smells like a rainy day.

It tastes like crunchy insects.

It feels like a safe place to sleep upside down.

After modeling and discussion, students could work individually or in pairs to choose animals to read about. Afterward, they could write and illustrate their own five-senses poems about the habitats for the animals they selected, using their texts for reference.

Later, teachers could guide students to use the research-based poems as the basis of paragraphs about the topic. Instead of writing only two or three sentences using their background knowledge or copying sentences from books, students could develop paragraphs using details from their five-senses poems. Consider the differences between the following paragraphs about bats:

Bats live in caves. The caves are dark. Bats fly a lot. 

Bats like to sleep in dark caves. On rainy days, many bats hang upside down in the caves. They fly around at night to find crunchy insects to eat. Then they rest. When the bats wake up, the noisy sound of their wings fill the caves. 

Students can practice reading and writing about chosen topics through five-senses poems. Learning to write five-senses poems can help students include descriptive details and expand their writing, whether they are working on narrative stories or informational paragraphs!

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Susan Weaver Jones has taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, Reading Recovery teacher, and literacy coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

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To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

New Call-to-Action     Comparing and Contrasting Packet

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Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Cinquain Poems: Transition to Expository Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Mar 3, 2016 3:36:54 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an ESL teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade as a Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery Teacher, and Literacy Coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

 

Teaching primary students how to read informational text is one thing. Teaching them how to write it is definitely something else! Then consider the challenge of working with intermediate students who struggle with writing or who are reluctant writers. What's a teacher to do?

With increasing emphasis on incorporating more expository text into literacy instruction, teachers may wonder how to best foster informational writing. Cinquain poems are one way to effectively link informational writing with description found in both narrative and expository writing.

Because cinquain poems do not rhyme and contain limited text within a specific format, they often appeal to students who prefer tasks with less writing. Cinquain poems are five-line poems that utilize different parts of speech, beginning with nouns. Though several variations exist, one version uses the following format. (Please see the reproducible cinquain template below.)

Noun
Adjective   Adjective
Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing
Descriptive phrase or short sentence
Synonym for noun

 For primary students who are not accustomed to using factual sources beyond themselves, the selection of nouns, adjectives, and verbs for the poems requires them to select key words that capture essential aspects of the subjects. Informational texts, such as Puffins by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Arctic Animal World Collection, can provide important information about unfamiliar topics when students lack sufficient background knowledge and need additional resources. 

Consider this cinquain, based on the text and talking points in the early reader, Puffins.

Puffin
Colorful   Hungry
Flapping   Flying   Swimming
Likes to paddle in the water
Sea parrot

 Initially, teachers can model the process of writing cinquain poems by using topics with which the students are familiar. Familiar topics allow students to use their collective background knowledge as they experience the line-by-line creation of group cinquains. Later, students can experiment with less familiar topics once they have appropriate resources from which to gather needed information, as well as experience with the cinquain format. 

Here is a cinquain based on another bird, the bald eagle. Most primary students probably know more about eagles than puffins, so books, such as Bald Eagle by Lee Waters from the Zoozoo Forest Animal World Collection, can add to their knowledge. The text and talking points at the back of the book provide needed information.

Bald eagle
Fast   Light
Soaring   Grabbing   Eating
Builds big nests
National bird

 Cinquain poems are stand-alone, end products that can be illustrated and shared. However, they also provide students with key concepts that can become the basis for informational paragraphs. Read the following paragraph, which is based on details about bald eagles from the cinquain.

A bald eagle is a bird. It flies very fast. It is light, not heavy.
It soars in the air and grabs fish to eat. It can build a really big nest.
The bald eagle is the national bird for the U.S.A.

 

Here is another example of an informational paragraph written from the key concepts used in the cinquain about puffins.

Puffins are birds with colorful beaks and legs. They like
to swim in the ocean. They can catch 10 fish at one time. When
they paddle, they look like they're flying in the water. Some people
call them "sea parrots."

 

Teacher-led discussions about key concepts access students' background information from their own experiences and other resources. Those discussions are crucial for students, so they can verbalize different possibilities for the cinquains and the paragraphs, prior to recording their chosen information. In the paragraphs, the students can elaborate upon the key concepts.

Students can enjoy writing cinquain poems as they focus on informational text. Then they can learn how to expand their writing into sentences and paragraphs by using the cinquain poems as basis for discussion prior to further composing. Because the cinquains help students transition from outside sources to their own written expression, they are less likely to plagiarize source materials. Students can creatively demonstrate what they have learned about informational topics through poetry and expository writing. Happy writing!

 

puffin.jpg         bald-eagle.jpg

 

  

cinquain-template-2-1.jpg

 

 ~~~

To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

New Call-to-Action     Cinquain Poems

 

 

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Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Classic Post: Why Is Teaching Poetry Important?

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Oct 29, 2015 3:30:00 PM

ITW-PC_Frog-150

This is a post on poetry and the Common Core that originally ran in March 2014. Check back frequently for more Common Core-related topics!

Today we're focusing on why it is important to teach poetry, introducing it to students in even the lowest grades. As the Common Core State Standards are implemented in more and more states, poetry becomes part of the curriculum beginning in kindergarten. Kindergarten students need to learn how to recognize poetry when they see it (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.5), and the best way to get them to that point is through lots of exposure!

Poetry can help children learn to read by developing pre-reading and reading skills. It can introduce new vocabulary, improve fluency through increased rhythm skills, and build phonetic knowledge through familiarity with rhyme.

Rhyming is an especially helpful aspect of poetry when it comes to learning to read. When students can recognize rhyming words (through activities that can be jumpstarted by poetry, such as creating lists of them), it improves their handle on which letters can correspond to which sounds, as well as which word "shapes" repeat in words that sound the same at the end. These skills become part of the basic framework off of which children learn to read.

ITW-PC_Tiger-150Poetry can also contribute to speaking and listening skills. Through reading poems aloud and hearing them read by others, students become more familiar with the cadence of the language. They naturally absorb the concepts of meter and beat, and tapping these things out also can be a fun way to incorporate physical learning.

Poems also tend to be shorter than most other types of written works, making them less daunting to read for struggling or easily intimidated students. Students who have never before finished reading something will be delighted to learn that they just read "a whole poem" by themselves!

Coming soon, we'll have poetry cards available as part of our Zoozoo Into the Wild series. This series currently contains three genres of books—fiction, informational, and wordless—with eight animals. There is one book from each genre for each animal. When the poetry cards are released, there will be a snippet of poetry on each card, with a card for one of each of the same animals. Pictured to the right are two sneak previews: the card for the frog, and the card for the tiger. Keep an eye out for these fun additions to your poetry collection!

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Topics: Poetry

Why Is Teaching Poetry Important?

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Mar 31, 2014 8:00:00 AM

ITW-PC_Frog-150We're focusing today on why it is important to teach poetry, introducing it to students in even the lowest grades. As the Common Core State Standards are implemented in more and more states, poetry becomes part of the curriculum beginning in kindergarten. Kindergarten students need to learn how to recognize poetry when they see it (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.5), and the best way to get them to that point is through lots of exposure!

Poetry can help children learn to read by developing pre-reading and reading skills. It can introduce new vocabulary, improve fluency through increased rhythm skills, and build phonetic knowledge through familiarity with rhyme.

Rhyming is an especially helpful aspect of poetry when it comes to learning to read. When students can recognize rhyming words (through activities that can be jumpstarted by poetry, such as creating lists of them), it improves their handle on which letters can correspond to which sounds, as well as which word "shapes" repeat in words that sound the same at the end. These skills become part of the basic framework off of which children learn to read.

ITW-PC_Tiger-150Poetry can also contribute to speaking and listening skills. Through reading poems aloud and hearing them read by others, students become more familiar with the cadence of the language. They naturally absorb the concepts of meter and beat, and tapping these things out also can be a fun way to incorporate physical learning.

Poems also tend to be shorter than most other types of written works, making them less daunting to read for struggling or easily intimidated students. Students who have never before finished reading something will be delighted to learn that they just read "a whole poem" by themselves!

Coming soon, we'll have poetry cards available as part of our Zoozoo Into the Wild series. This series currently contains three genres of books—fiction, informational, and wordless—with eight animals. There is one book from each genre for each animal. When the poetry cards are released, there will be a snippet of poetry on each card, with a card for one of each of the same animals. Pictured to the right are two sneak previews: the card for the frog, and the card for the tiger. Keep an eye out for these fun additions to your poetry collection!

Read More

Topics: Common Core, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Poetry

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