Verseday: Concrete Poetry Picture Books

Verseday

Back in August, I did a post on resources to use when teaching LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech. I didn’t include my concrete poetry picture books because I knew it would be a post all on it’s own. Here are some of my favorite concrete poem picture books. I use some of these when teaching LOVE THAT DOG, but I also use them when teaching science concepts as well.

a poke in the i

A POKE IN THE I: A COLLECTION OF CONCRETE POEMS

Selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Candlewick, 2001

What I love about this book is that it’s a great introduction for concrete poetry. Janeczko gives a brief introduction to concrete poetry, but the collection itself is varied. Lots of different styles are represented. Combined with Raschka’s unique style of whimsical illustrations, this book is a must-have when introducing concrete poetry to all ages.

come to my party

COME TO MY PARTY: AND OTHER SHAPE POEMS

by Heidi B. Roemer

Illustrated by Hideko Takahashi

Henry Holt, 2004

I found this gem of a book at my local library. Separated by season, the kid-friendly poems and illustrations are ones that would be fun for kids to emulate. These poems combine the shape of concrete poetry with the rhythm and rhyme of structured poetry.

curious collection of cats

A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF CATS

by Betsy Franco

Illustrated by Michael Wertz

Tricycle Press, 2009

These fun poems about cats combined with Wertz’s fantastic illustrations really make for a stunning book. The words pop off the page, and readers will be amazed at how many poems Franco could write just about cats. This would be a fun book to pair with Bartoletti’s NOBODY’S NOSIER THAN A CAT or Creech’s HATE THAT CAT.

dazzling display

A DAZZLING DISPLAY OF DOGS

by Betsy Franco

Illustrated by Michael Wertz

Tricycle Press, 2011

Another amazing collection of concrete poems by Franco and Wertz. Both of their books would be great examples for readers on how small, everyday things make GREAT poetry. It would be also great to pair this book with Bartoletti’s NOBODY’S DIGGIER THAN A DOG or Creech’s LOVE THAT DOG.

flicker flash

FLICKER FLASH

by Joan Bransfield Graham

Illustrated by Nancy Davis

Houghton Mifflin, 1999

I’ve been using this book a long time in science with my electricity and Earth, Moon, Sun units. With poems about Edison’s lightbulb and Franklin’s kite experiment, I not only introduce students to great poetry, I’m also covering SOLs in science. One of my favorite things to do with this book is to use it as a mentor text to show young writers how you can take a science concept and create a poem out of it.

splish splash

SPLISH SPLASH

by Joan Bransfield Graham

Illustrated by Steve Scott

Ticknor  & Fields, 1994

These concrete poems are about all things water. Clouds, snow, ice, waterfalls and sprinklers are just some of the concepts behind these poems. With stellar word choice, these would also be great examples of how ordinary, everyday things can be made into poems.

What are your favorite concrete poetry picture books?

 

Onomatopoeia Palooza!

I am a contributor to this onomatopoeia resource. If you are a writer or a teacher of writing, I hope that you will find this helpful. It’s like an onomatopoeia encyclopedia. To download this onomatopoeia resource, click on the picture below.

Onomatopoeia Sounds Like…

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 7.14.20 PM

Other Onomatopoeia Resources:

Onomatopoeia Mentor Text Lesson Plan

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County Mentor Text Lesson Plan

 

Onomatopoeia Resource Contributor Websites:

Tanja Bauerle

Robyn Campbell

Sue Frye

Kristen Fulton

Christine Irvin

Elaine Kiely Kearns

Joanna Marple

Yvonne Mes

Teresa Robeson

Donna L. Sadd

Saba Taylor

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Pictures as Mentors

Tip:

Sometimes students need more than an author’s words to help them in their writing. Many students respond well to pictures. I know many primary teachers that start students out with drawing a picture first, then writing. This can work for older students too. Pictures can be mentors for writing.

1) Use a photo or painting as a prompt.

Students can imagine what might happen or use a picture to inspire a story. It can be a jumping off point. THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK by Chris Van Allsburg is a great mysterious group of drawings to use for this. I even have the portfolio edition where the drawings that make up the book are all on large pieces of papers. Students can take them to their desks for a closer look.

mysteries of harris burdick

I also have several books of paintings by famous painters that I use. And with Google Images, your possibilities are almost endless.

2) Use a photo or painting as a tool for writing description.

Instead of a jumping off point, encourage students to write what they see in as much detail. Then you can talk about what is important to leave in, what could be left to the reader’s mind to imagine.

After students write their descriptions, have them read it out loud to writing buddies. The buddy draws what he sees in his mind as the writer is reading (without seeing the original picture). Can the listener visualize what the writer tried to convey? If not, then perhaps the writer needs to revise a little more.

You can also reverse this activity in the beginning. Read an excerpt from a book (a paragraph to no more than a page). Read it aloud, slowly, and more than once. Have students draw what they see in their mind (visualizing). Have students compare their pictures. You will be shocked at how similar they will be. They’ll be different styles, but if the writer has done their job, the students’ pictures will share many similarities. One of my favorite mentor texts for this is THE NIGHT FAIRY by Laura Amy Schlitz.

the night fairy

To transfer this to student writing, have students draw a picture of a something in their own story they need to describe–character, setting. Then after drawing, they can write their description. After writing, they can share it aloud with a buddy and have the buddy do the drawing of what he sees in his mind (like the activity above).

3) Use wordless picture books.

Sometimes, students struggle with the structure of a story. Using wordless or nearly wordless picture books is a great way to provide a story structure that students can put into words. I have a few dozen wordless picture books that students can choose from. Then, they write the story to go with the pictures. No one ever says, “I don’t know what to write.” In fact, these are usually some of their longest stories because they have a bit of support for detail and structure. It’s a great way to help struggling writers accomplish a piece.

wordless collage

Materials Needed:

* Books with paintings by famous painters

* Photographs

* Drawing paper

* THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK by Chris Van Allsburg

* THE NIGHT FAIRY by Laura Amy Schlitz

* Wordless Picture Books

 

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page

VerseDay: Resources to Use with LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech

love that dog

 

One of the highlights of my year is teaching LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech. My students love reading this book and discovering that they can write poetry too. Over the years, I’ve collected some favorite books that I use while teaching LOVE THAT DOG. The resources are listed in the order that I use them–in the order that Jack learns about them. As the poems from the famous poets appear in the book, I dig out these resources to help students understand Robert Frost, William Blake, and others a bit better.

love that dog audio

LOVE THAT DOG Audiobook

Performed by Scott Wolf

HarperChildren’s Audio

This is one of the books I do totally as a read aloud, but every student has a copy. But I don’t read it aloud. I let Scott Wolf do the reading. I first had this audiobook on cassette tape, then graduated to CD. His performance is fabulous, and we can pause it and talk about various poems and flip to the back to look at the originals.

 

william carlos williams poetry for young people

 

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (Poetry for Young People series)

Edited by Christopher MacGowan

Illustrated by Robert Crocket

Scholastic, 2004

This “Poetry for Young People” series is one that I recommend, and can be found often during April (Poetry Month) in Scholastic Book Club flyers. Each book, about a different famous poet, comes with a brief biography about the poet, and each poem features commentary/explanations and illustrations. I use this to show students the illustration of “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

A River of Words

A RIVER OF WORDS: THE STORY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

by Jen Bryant

Illsutrated by Melissa Sweet

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008.

I mentioned this book last week in my picture books about poets post. This is a phenomenal introduction to William Carlos Williams. The  illustrations, done on the pages of old books, are filled with words and make every page interesting to study. His poems are woven in the illustrations and typed on the end papers. The back matter includes a timeline of Williams’ life, an author’s note, an illustrator’s note, and a list of resources for further reading. I love reading this with students after we’ve read some of Williams’ poems.

stopping by woods illus susan jeffers

STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

by Robert Frost

Illustrated by Susan Jeffers

Scholastic, 1978

When I share “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” I always pull out this illustrated version. I got mine through Scholastic, but I’ve seen a hardcover version of this recently in Ollie’s. Most of the illustrations are black and white drawings. But Jeffers throws in a little color. It is stunning and really gave me a new appreciation of the poem, and it also brings the poem to life for young readers.

the dead poets

THE DEAD POETS CD

You want to make young kids love and laugh about William Blake? This CD is one that I found several years ago at a teachers’ conference. They sing poems by dead poets. The first one on the CD is a rendition of “The Tyger” by William Blake, which is one of the poems that Jack doesn’t understand in LOVE THAT DOG. It’s catchy and makes the kids dance to William Blake. What more could you want?

all the small poems and fourteen more

ALL THE SMALL POEMS AND FOURTEEN MORE

by Valerie Worth

Illustrated by Natalie Babbitt

FSG, 1994

This collection of small poems features all of the “small” poems mentioned by Jack in LOVE THAT DOG. Kids always beg me to read more of these small poems.

animal poems

ANIMAL POEMS

by Valerie Worth

Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Take some of Valerie Worth’s small poems, add Steve Jenkins amazing collages, and you get this beautiful collection in a picture book format. Even though Worth’s poems are extremely kid-friendly, this picture book makes them even more so.

poetry for young people robert frost

ROBERT FROST (Poetry for Young People Series)

Edited by Gary D. Schmidt

Illustrated by Henri Sorensen

Scholastic, 1994

This collection does not feature “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” but it does divide some of Frost’s poems up by season. It includes “The Pasture” which is mentioned by Jack in LOVE THAT DOG.

street music by adoff

STREET MUSIC: CITY POEMS

by Arnold Adoff

Illustrated by Karen Barbour

HarperCollins, 1995

This fabulous collection of city poems is out of print, but you might be lucky enough to find it at your library or at a used bookstore. It includes the poem “Street Music,” which Jack refers to the in the book and fourteen other city poems. This is a great book to look at when showing kids different forms of poetry because these poems don’t look like other poems they’ve read in LOVE THAT DOG. Adoff plays with space throughout these poems. Barbour’s loose paintings with bright colors bring these busy city poems to life. If you can snag a copy of this book, do it.

brown angels by myers

BROWN ANGELS: AN ALBUM OF PICTURES AND VERSE

by Walter Dean Myers

HarperCollins, 1993

The poem that inspired Jack’s “Love that Dog” poem is in this book. “Love That Boy” by Walter Dean Myers is in this book, in its entirety. Jack only writes one stanza, but Myers’ original poem has four. The poems in this collection are illustrated with actual photographs, both the author’s and borrowed from sources like the Library of Congress. The black and white photos are of African American children are absolutely beautiful.

Concrete Poetry

I realize I didn’t include the concrete poetry books I use with “My Yellow Dog,” Jack’s concrete poem. I have a whole collection of concrete poetry books that I use. It would be worth it to me to do a whole post on just those books.

Readers’ Theater

Check out this Readers’ Theater Version of LOVE THAT DOG featuring Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Creech, Avi, and Sarah Weeks. It’s always my culminating activity. Just like Jack, my students are amazed that these authors are REAL people.

Verseday

What have I missed? Do you have favorites that I didn’t list? I want to know what other resources you use when teaching LOVE THAT DOG! Tell me in the comments!

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Use Non-Book Resources

Tip:

Use examples from non-book sources like newspapers and magazines. I tend to focus a lot of my energy on fictional mentor texts. However, much of what students will have to write and read in their school career will be non-fiction. So I’m working on incorporating more non-fiction into my lessons.

 

1) Use sports articles for excellent word choice.

Article from the Roanoke Times

Article from the Roanoke Times

A non-fiction book might be intimidating to a reluctant reader, but a short sports article might be just the ticket to word choice mentors. In the sample above, I circled some really interesting word choices: oft-groaning, miscues, double play-producing, rawness.

I also started making a list of specific vocabulary pertaining to baseball. This would be a great example of specific word choice. This article couldn’t be describing anything BUT baseball.

If students are struggling with ideas for writing, have them write about a recent game they saw or played in. They can describe it, like a sports writer would write it. But they MUST include specific vocabulary.

 

2. Use headlines from newspapers and magazines for good titles and word play.

 

Headline from the Roanoke Times

Headline from the Roanoke Times

So many titles use good word play. I clipped these out of my local paper and the SCBWI Bulletin. Students can use interesting titles as mentors for word play in their own titles.

Headline from the Roanoke Times

Headline from the Roanoke Times

Column Title from SCBWI Bulletin

Column Title from SCBWI Bulletin

 

 3. Use comics for a fun exercise in dialogue.

I have used comics to teach students how to punctuation dialogue. We use the speech bubbles as what would go in the quotation marks. Then we practice adding dialogue tags and description using the pictures.

Conversely, you can white-out the speech bubbles to have students use the pictures to create their own dialogue.

 

4. Use weather columns to help students dig deeper in setting.

In a regional literature class I took this summer, we talked about weather in books. Kate Messner also featured a great weather blog post for Teachers Write. Use your local paper or you local news station’s website to see how weathermen describe the weather. Then students can use these images and words to help them write about weather in their own writing and create a more vivid setting.

 

Materials Needed:

* Newspapers

* Magazines

* News websites

* Highlighters or colored pens

 

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page

 

How do you use non-book resources as mentor texts?

VerseDay: Picture Books About Poets

Verseday

 

Picture Books About Poets

I love making poets accessible to young people. No single book does that better than Sharon Creech‘s LOVE THAT DOG. However, there are poems by famous poets that I love to use as mentor texts for my students. I love learning about the poets behind the poems, so today I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite picture books about poets. Some of them are straight biography, others are illustrated biographies, and still others worth mentioning are historical fiction based on famous poets.

 

Picture Book Biographies

 

Cool Melons

COOL MELONS–TURN TO FROGS! THE LIFE AND POEMS OF ISSA

Story and Haiku Translations by Matthew Gollub

Illustrations by Kazuko G. Stone

Lee & Low, 1998

Issa is one of the classic haiku poets, but even though he wrote beautiful haiku, he didn’t not have an easy life. His life was one fraught with sorrow, and at times, one that discouraged his writing. This is the story of his life interwoven with his haiku. The illustrations combine the haiku in the original Japanese with a painting depicting the image in the haiku. The back matter includes information about writing haiku and stories behind some of the original haiku. Students studying haiku will find this book full of examples of haiku and also the inspiring life of a poet. For more haiku books, see this annotated haiku list. For a lesson plan on teaching haiku, see this haiku mentor text lesson plan. 

davethepotter

DAVE THE POTTER: ARTIST, POET, SLAVE

by Laban Carrick Hill

illustrated by Bryan Collier

Little, Brown, 2010

I wasn’t sure if I should include this in poet biographies because this book doesn’t focus on Dave as a poet. The text focuses on his life as a potter. It isn’t until we get to the back matter that we get a glimpse of the poetry that Dave sometimes wrote on his pottery. But I wanted to put this in because it is a unique story, and the story of a slave writing poetry on pots is a part of history that needs to be told. The text itself is a poem, full of exquisite language. I admired the writing of this book so much that I want to use it as a mentor text with my students. The illustrations by Bryan Collier won a Caldecott Honor. This short glimpse into Dave’s life as a potter also gives us a sense of the importance of words. Highly recommended whether or not you are studying famous poets. This book deserves to be read.

Pablo Neruda

 

PABLO NERUDA: POET OF THE PEOPLE

by Monica Brown

Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Henry Holt, 2011

I first discovered Pablo Neruda through his poems ODES TO COMMON THINGS and I fell in love his poems about, well, common things. This picture book biography is very short, poetic, and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations that make words swirl around the page. Between the poetic words and the poetic illustrations, the reader will feel like they’ve basked in poetry. In very few words, Brown gives history of Neruda, which was actually not his given name. She also talks about his activism and the types of poems he wrote. An author’s note is included along with more resources about Neruda. Young children would enjoy this book, but also older students who study Neruda will find this book to be a poetic introduction to the poet’s life.

A River of Words

A RIVER OF WORDS: The Story of William Carlos Williams 

by Jen Bryant

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008

I use this book when I teach LOVE THAT DOG because William Carlos Williams is one of the featured poets. This biography starts with Willie’s childhood love of nature all the way through his adulthood when he was a doctor scribbling poems on prescription pads. This is a phenomenal introduction to William Carlos Williams. The  illustrations, done on the pages of old books, are filled with words and make every page interesting to study. His poems are woven in the illustrations and typed on the end papers. The back matter includes a timeline of Williams’ life, an author’s note, an illustrator’s note, and a list of resources for further reading. This is a must-have book for teachers who teach LOVE THAT DOG and anyone else who is interested in sharing William Carlos Williams with their students.

Pablo Neruda

TO GO SINGING THROUGH THE WORLD: THE CHILDHOOD OF PABLO NERUDA

Written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

Frances Foster Books, 2006

I debated about including this in the longer illustrated books section, but decided to keep it here in the picture book category. It is a traditional length page-wise, even though the text is lengthy. One of the things I truly love about this book is that Ray uses Neruda’s own language–his descriptions and poetry–and weaves them seamlessly into the story that she tells about his life. The final effect is a beautiful story, even though his life was isolated. Neruda was secluded, misunderstood, and shy. It took a mentor, Gabriela Mistral, to encourage him and give him confidence in his work. The illustrations create the setting of his childhood, Chile, and make it seem mystical and a perfect one to inspire such a poet. The back matter  includes an author’s note, more biographical information, and a timeline. While this book would not be as accessible to the young elementary students because of it’s length, upper elementary and middle school students would appreciate the story of this young poet.

Longer Illustrated Biographies

The books mentioned above are truly picture book biographies, meant to be read and shared in a shorter amount of time. The next ones I will mention don’t fit in the picture book category, even though they look like them. They are much longer texts but very much worth reading.

a voice of her own phillis wheatley

 

A VOICE OF HER OWN: THE STORY OF PHILLIS WHEATLEY, SLAVE POET

by Kathryn Lasky

illustrated by Paul Lee

Candlewick Press, 2003

This book looks like a picture book and has illustrations much like a picture book, but the text is lengthy and separated into sections or short chapters. It begins with her voyage from Africa and being sold in Boston as a slave. Lasky tells her story with such beautiful sensory language. Because Phillis could write, she was different than an ordinary slave and not really accepted in the slave or white communities. However, her poetry still amazed and was published. I highly recommend this book for teachers to read this inspirational story to their students.

William Shakespeare and the Glob

 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE & THE GLOBE

Written and illustrated by Aliki

HarperCollins, 1999

Broken into acts and scenes, like one of Shakespeare’s plays, Aliki details Shakespeare’s life from childhood to the opening of the Globe playhouse. Aliki’s illustrations break up the text and really show what the setting, the homes, and even the people looked like during Shakespeare’s time. She even includes maps and diagrams. This really makes the late 1500s-early 1600s accessible to young people who might not have any background for that time period. While the focus is more on the Globe playhouse, this part of the poet’s life is important and interesting and gives younger students (and probably some older students) the opportunity to get into Shakespeare’s world.

Historical Fiction

As I began taking books about poets off of my shelf, I realized they didn’t really fit into neat categories. The ones I detail below aren’t true biographies. They have a bit of a unique twist to them, mostly historical fiction. But they are still worth mentioning when highlighting picture books about poets.

emily

 

EMILY

by Michael Bedard

Pictures by Barbara Cooney

Delacorte Press, 1992

Emily Dickinson wrote a poem about the “angels” that lived next door. Bedard’s book is an imagined encounter with a young girl and Emily Dickinson. Bedard does highlight facts from Emily Dickinson’s life. It includes an afterword explaining some of the facts behind the story, and it also includes the poem that inspired the little girl’s point of view.

emily dickinson

 

EMILY DICKINSON’S LETTERS TO THE WORLD

Story and pictures by Jeanette Winter

Frances Foster Books, 2002

This tiny book is like a gift book. The short beginning is told from Emily Dickinson’s sister’s point of view after Emily’s death. She reflects on what others thought about her sister and then her discovery of hundreds of poems. The rest of the book contains poems of Dickinson’s illustrated by Winter. There is a short author’s note at the back. This would be a good introduction to Emily’s poems for young people or even as a gift book for an adult who loves Dickinson’s poetry.

grass sandals

GRASS SANDALS: THE TRAVELS OF BASHO

by Dawnine Spivak

Illustrated by Demi

This is another celebration of a historic haiku master’s life. Much of Basho’s travels through Japan are highlighted. What makes this historical fiction, in my mind, is that Basho’s thoughts and dialogue is written in this book. I suspect they are imagined thoughts and dialogue, though this wasn’t made clear in the author’s note. Additionally, the author did note that some of the travels were combined for this book, so it is not an accurate biographical retelling. However, it does give the reader a sense of his travels and the things he saw and wrote about. The essence of the book is that he noticed the small, everyday happenings and wrote haiku about them. Basho’s haiku are interspersed on the pages. The illustrations are done in ink with Oriental brushes and it looks like they are on mulberry paper. If  you want to introduce another historic haiku poet to students, this is another excellent text to explore.

Love to Langston

 

LOVE TO LANGSTON

by Tony Medina

Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Lee & Low, 2002

This tribute to Langston Hughes is told in poems. Medina brings the live of Langston Hughes to the reader through poetry imagined through the voice of Hughes. While not straight biography, students will enjoy the accessibility to Hughes’ life that Medina’s poetry brings. The poems themselves are full of amazing word choice, historical context, and emotions that ground us to Hughes. The back of the book gives historical context to each poem. This would be a great mentor text to help students create a poem from the viewpoint of a famous person. The acrylic paintings by Christie also enhance the emotions of his life.

Visiting Langston

VISITING LANGSTON

by Willie Perdomo

Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Henry Holt, 2002

I’ve always been in awe of Bryan Collier’s illustrations, and this book is no exception. His watercolor and collage techniques manage to set the scene for the time of Langston Hughes in a way that makes it feel real and tangible. The text is one poem told from the viewpoint of a little girl whose Daddy is a friend of Langston Hughes. It’s told through her viewpoint as she sees Langston and anticipates seeing him, like she does often. While this is not a biography, we do get a glimpse into Hughes’ life through details the little girl shares and we get more of a glimpse into his world through Collier’s illustrations. This would be a great companion book to LOVE TO LANGSTON and I often use them together when I teach text-to-text connections.

What Have I Missed?

I’m always on the lookout for good picture books about poets. So, what have I missed. What are your favorites? I want to find more!

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Poetry Stations

Tip

One of my favorite units that I did with my class last year was on poetry using Tamera Will Wissinger’s GONE FISHING as a mentor text. But I also incorporated many other mentor texts in this unit as well. I created poetry stations for different forms of poetry. I laminated texts for kids to write on, I had cards with directions, and I included multiple mentor text examples for each form. I also had some way for them to try out the poetic for fun. Kids tried out all of the forms, but then got to choose their favorites to revise and share.

Poetry Station using poems for multiple voices

Poetry Station using poems for multiple voices

To save space, I organized all of the materials needed for each station into zip top baggies that included the directions, the mentor texts, and whatever other materials they might need for writing their own.

Poetry Station in a Bag

Poetry Station in a Bag

Students really enjoyed the poetry station in a bag. I want to expand this next year to prose. Maybe different revision techniques in a bag? Different ways to experiment with word choice in a bag?

You name it, you could bag it.

I’d love to know your ideas for writing stations in a bag! Share them in the comments!

Materials Needed:

* Zip top baggies

* Copy of lesson plan to get list of mentor texts and poetic form ideas 

Link to a Lesson Plan:

 Poetry Stations using GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Make a Chart

Tip

When I’m introducing a mentor text to students for the first time, we talk together about the things we admire about the writing. One way to do this is by making a chart. It gives us a chance to color-code phrases or words and talk about it in a smaller space. Students could also do something similar in their writer’s notebooks. However, if they’ve never done it before, it’s great to have an anchor chart for them to refer to.

It’s not enough to just notice the word choices made by the authors of these books. Students need to realize that they need to be highly selective about their own word choices in their writing. But they also need to realize that word choice is not something that always comes on a first draft. Sometimes writers will be inspired by certain words or know they want to use certain ones from the beginning, but usually it takes a few drafts to select just the right words, the really specific, vivid, stellar word choices that end up in the final story.

After studying the mentor text, students can take a look at their own drafts, find a word or two that aren’t very specific or vivid. Then they can spend time just brainstorming and word hunting for a good replacement.

 

Samples:

Word Choice Chart from NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS

Word Choice Chart from NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS

 

Vivid Verb Chart from OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW

Vivid Verb Chart from OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW

 

 Materials Needed:

* Chart paper

* Several different colored markers

* Mentor Text

 

Links to Mentor Text Lesson Plans on Word Choice

* NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS by Jeri Chase Ferris, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

* OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

 

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Haiku Magnets

Tip: Make Haiku Magnets

I love writing haiku with my students. One of the tricky parts about writing haiku is getting to them to be highly selective with their word choice. I ban words like cool, awesome, great, fun. But sometimes it’s hard to for them to know what kind of words are examples of good word choice. So, we borrow from haiku. I took my collection of haiku books. Then I typed up the words from the haiku one by one and mixed them up.

I got this idea from the poetry refrigerator magnets, but I didn’t want to pay money for something that I wasn’t sure would be perfect for haiku in elementary school. I also wanted to have multiple sets. So I made my own.

Haiku Fridge Magnets Screenshot

Click on the image to download the PDF to print your own haiku magnets.

I made multiple copies, laminated them, cut them out, and put magnets on the back. Now my students can create their own haiku using really, really good words.

Haiku magnets scattered

A few notes:

* You don’t have to magnetize them. Just having them laminated and cut apart works well on the floor or on desks. But if you want to make it a literacy workstation, I recommend magnetizing them and letting students work at filing cabinet.

* Students may have difficulty using ONLY the magnets. They may not have the exact word they are looking for. Instead, have them use these as a resource. They can use these as a word bank to help them and insert some of their own words as well.

haiku on filing cabinet

 

Materials Needed:

* Copies of the haiku magnet sheet

* Laminating film

* Magnets (optional)

* Zip top bags or baskets for each set of magnets

 

Lesson Plan

If you want to know more about how to use haiku as a mentor text for writing, check out these resources:

Haiku Writing Mentor Text Lesson Plan using STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK

Haiku Annotated Book List

 

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page

Mentor Text Tip Tuesday: Laminate the Text

I’m starting a new summer series for teachers called “Mentor Text Tip Tuesdays.” These will be practical tips on using mentor texts in the classroom. If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been posting mentor text lesson plans. I hope these tips will help you visualize how easy it is to use mentor texts in the classroom. If you want more information on mentor texts, please read through this introduction.

Tip: Laminate the Text

Just reading a text is often not enough for a young writer (or an old writer) to really learn from the text. Writing on it, or interacting with the text, can help the young writer really glean new writing skills. However, we don’t want kids to write in the books because we want to use them from year to year, or because we borrowed them from the library.

Try photocopying the page or paragraph you want to use. Laminate it. Then provide overhead projector markers (Vis A Vis) for students to write with.

Excerpt from GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger

Excerpt from GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger

In this example, I circled the rhyming words that formed couplets, boxed vivid verbs, and wrote other specific words in red. This was a sample at looking at word choice. I located all of them at once, but you might have students only look for one of these things at a time.

When students are finished with the text, they can squirt the laminated paper with a bit of water from a squirt bottle, and wipe it clean with a tissue or paper towel.

Materials Needed:

* Text to photocopy and laminate

* Vis a Vis Markers

* Squirt water bottle

* Tissues or paper towels

Lesson Plan

Gone Fishing

I used GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger in this example. For more ways to use this book as a mentor text, see my full lesson plan that includes poetry stations.

 

More Mentor Texts

* Follow my mentor text Pinterest board.

* Mentor Text Tip Page

* Mentor Text Lesson Plan Page