The one about a dog {developing engaged poetry readers and writers}

It's all about a dog. I mean, how can you look in those eyes and not fall desperately in love? 

This is my fur baby, MacGyver, telling me not to work anymore and just snuggle.
Okay, but really, I'm here to tell you about another dog that I read about with my students every year and use him to get them hooked on poetry. 

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Sharon Creech's book Love That Dog is the perfect way to jump start a unit on poetry, especially in April, during National Poetry Month. It's funny, engaging, and really makes you feel all the emotions as you read about Jack and his dog.

I introduce my students slowly by creating this blown up version of the first page, and asking them to respond. We've been using whiteboard responses daily (idea from @miss5th on Instagram!) as a community builder. As soon as they walk through the door each morning, they look to see what's on the board and instantly start talking about it. The conversations I overhear are AMAZING. The discussion for this board was no exception. "Who's Jack?" "Why can't boys write poetry?" "Room 105- where's that?" "I don't want to what?" "I don't agree with Jack!" 

And check out those written responses! (Yes, there's one or two little stinkers who said they agreed with Jack and couldn't write poetry! Ha *cue evil teacher laugh*- just wait until later, friends!)

Now that I've gotten their attention, I show them the book and tell them how we're going to be listening to it in class. 

To prepare for our listening, I provide my kiddos with a couple things- 

  1. One book for each pair (so they can follow along visually, and also to refer back to later). If I can get one book per student, then I do that, but for this set, I have one for each pair. 
  2. Interactive tab books, that they help me prep with some quick cutting and stapling, with a little extra time to start to color the cover.
  3. A little dog-themed treat. I especially like using Scooby-Doo! Baked Graham Cracker Sticks, Cinnamon, 11-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6), because they're shaped liked bones and all of my students (even the ones with allergies and braces) can eat. If food doesn't work for you, check these cute dog paw erasers...or these pencils
    ...or these paw-shaped notepads...I almost bought all of them but then I remembered I'm not throwing a party, just getting them hooked ;)
Interactive tab book :)

Now we're in business! To listen, you can read it out loud, buy the audio book, or even borrow the audio book from the library! My library has it available so I can access it through our internet which is awesome-sauce. 

After we read Love that Dog and work through our interactive tab books, it's time to jump into writing poetry. We start off just like Jack did- imitating poetry. We create a poem modeled after his "Love that Dog," which is of course modeled after Walter Dean Myers's poem "Love that Boy." These are so fun to do!

Once we've written that first poem, it's time to start our Poetry Writing Unit. We dive into a variety of poetry- acrostic, cinquain, color poem, concrete (see that awesome star below!?!), creature alliteration, and more. By the end, even my students who thought they wouldn't like poetry usually love what they created. For more about writing poetry, check out this blog post.

For a free pre-writing activity for a poem, see this post.

What do you do in your classroom to celebrate National Poetry Month?

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