Using Poetry to Impact Fluency

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to incorporate and element of poetry to help my students.  I knew that the rhythm and rhyme of poetry was especially helpful to young readers when it came to improving fluency. But I struggled to find something that fit into our day as well as our nine week plans. I sat down to create something that would be useful for me and my whole team and fell in love with the results.

I wanted to create short poems that could be funny. Something that students would want to come back to read again. I also wanted a product that I could incorporate into small group instruction as well as reading stations/centers. The end result is three sets of activities for each poem. One poem for every week. 

We started each week with gluing our poems into our poetry notebooks. I asked students to circle the title. My students would pick a crayon and I would ask them to find words with _____. This depended 1) on the poem and words in it and 2) what skills my kids needed extra practice on. Sometimes we would highlight or underline short vowel words, long vowel words, single syllable, two syllable words. It's easy to differentiate here. For example, some students could be looking for the sight words the and for. Super simple.

I read the poem to the whole class. As the year goes on many students join in and read with me. Once the reading is finished students draw a picture to match the poem on the other side of the journal like you see below. I am really happy with this fine motor skill practice. It's another reference to use if you have concerns about fine motor skills as well.

During the week I have our poem written on large butcher paper and hanging up on a tall pocket, clothing rack because it's cheaper. Students read the poem together with a partner during station rotations and fill in the missing words. The extra practice with sight words and sounding out words that aren't familiar is much easier with a partner. My kids always felt so proud.

(Truth: I DO actually have pictures of this station in action....WHERE ARE THEY?! I've searched in Dropbox and my old computer. No clue. Maybe they'll appear after I publish this post! HA)

The last activity asks students to search for sight words and answer comprehension questions about the poem. I did this activity in small group. It was a great way to gauge where each student was at and it was another opportunity to hear them read. This was also a very simple way to get students to go back to look for information in what they have read. 

Fast forward to December and January. You know those reluctant readers you have? In December and January they suddenly "get" reading and become very excited about what they read. Many of my students would bring their poetry journals to their read to self stations to practice their reading. I also have the You Read to Me, I'll Read to You books and my students would sometime pair up to share reading the poem in that same style. 

I saw incredible progress throughout the year, but mostly I saw that my kiddos loved reading. Poetry is short so it helps those struggling and reluctant readers feel successful!

I have my entire poetry bundle on sale today during the TPT bonus day sale!

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