April is for…Poetry Lovers

Since it is April…National Poetry Month…and since I am in the Poetry Challenge this week at Two Writing Teachers … I decided that for this resource Monday I would round up some of my favorite poetry resources….just a thought…Katie Wood Ray says…”to write a poem, you have to read 100 poems first”  I agree with her 100%.  Reading like a writer has been the number one thing that has helped me to become a better writer…so go for it…read a 100 poems and then write one for yourself!

Front Cover         Front Cover    

About 8 years ago I heard Georgia Heard Speak at a summer literacy institute for 3-5 teachers.  Her topic was Poetry and she walked us through her book called Awakening the Heart.  I love this book and use it every year when I teach my poetry unit in April.  She has another book that I love called, For the Good of the Earth and the Sun.  Both of these two books are enough to get you started writing poetry for yourself!


Here are two poetry anthologies that I use: 

Poems    Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky …the poems are written by Georgia 

Poems of Comfort   This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort  Georgia compiled these poems of comfort into one anthology in order to comfort children in Manhattan In September 2001!  This is a very powerful teaching tool…It will show your students how poems can evoke feelings.  It is a great anthology to read each year in honor of 9-11

Check out these PDF handouts from Georgia Heard: http://www.noycefdn.org/literacy/documents/PoetryTools10-23-04.pdf     http://www.arliteracymodel.com/pdf/conference/050919/georgia.pdf

Georgia Heard has recently teamed up with Lester Laminack to write a wonderful resource for K-2 teachers to use for teaching children how to read and write poetry.  It is called: Climb Inside a Poem: Reading and Writing Poetry Across the Year.  Georgia and Lester have stated, “It is not only possible but vital to weave poetry into the daily fabric of a school day by reading a variety of poems for a variety of purposes throughout the year.  We believe that children will fall in love with all kinds of poetry, if they have a chance to read or hear a variety of poems.”

Climb Inside a Poem

The lessons in this collection are well-organized and can be taught as a unit of study or throughout the year.  I agree with Lester and Georgia…exposure to poetry…will allow children to envision themselves as writers of poetry.  I didn’t get this resource until January at the Reading Recovery Conference…to bad I didn’t have it to start off the school year with!!

Happy Poetry Month 🙂


My Writing Mentors

 I have a few writing mentors that I admire…some for their professional works for teachers…and some are children’s authors.  Here are a few of my favorites:

ü      Katie Wood Ray and Lucy Calkins…they have both inspired me to use units of study.  The work that the kindergarten through second grade friends that I work with has shifted from being the work of K-2 students to being “WOW” work of K-2 students.

ü      Ralph Fletcher…I heard him speak the summer before I looped up to third grade with the second graders that I had just finished teaching…He spoke about his writer’s notebooks and why teachers need to be writers themselves if we were going to teach children how to write.  I took every word he spoke at that session and ran with it…writer’s notebooks…can’t live without them!

ü      Georgia Heard…She spoke at the same conference as Ralph…she talked about her writer’s notebooks too!  She shared her book Awakening the Heart…and I was hooked.  I had already seen myself as a poetry writer/reader…but I always wrote structured poems.  Georgia convinced me that I could…and can write free verse…and it is now my favorite way to write a poem.

ü      Lester Laminack…He came to my school and modeled instruction on reading aloud to children and writing workshop.  I fell in love with him the day I heard him read The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins…He helped me understand the need to use mentor text with our students so that the can envision themselves as writers…just like Lester!  In January he presented at the Reading Recovery conference in Virginia Beach, VA…He shared his book called Saturday’s and Teacakes and his new writing teacher resource called Cracking Open the Author’s Craft.  I had to buy it as soon as I left his session…and I am loving using it.

ü      Cynthia Rylant…I have never met her…but I feel like I know her because I read like a writer and I love her style of writing.  She is one of my favorite authors to study with K-2 children.  They really can envision themselves writing just like her and they can truly connect to her books.  One of my most favorite books by her is Missing May.  It is a chapter book for 4th grade up.  Oh…and I absolutely love the Cobblestone Cousins series!


There are many more…but my brain has stopped thinking for now…I will come back and add to this list…someday!!??




K.W.R. …the topic is writing…

~ Katie Wood Ray ~

I am really LoVinG using Katie Wood Ray’s works…she has become a wonderful mentor for me.  I have attended several workshops that she presented for literacy coaches and k-2 writing trainers for the district I work in…here are just a few of my favs…


Writing Workshop with Our Youngest WritersThis one is a must have for all K-2 teachers who use a workshop approach for teaching writing…the video companion that goes along with About the Authors is amazing…great for staff development or for enjoyment!  After watching the video you will truly reflect on your teaching practice and will understand WHY using the workshop approach beginning in kindergarten is very important for creating life long learners.


 Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom Wondrous Words…This one is probably my most favorite book by Katie…I have read it over and over and refer back to it often.  It is a great resource for teachers of writing…and for people who just love to write :o)  It is chalk full of craft techniques that writers use and it even list possible books and sample pieces that you can use to teaching the writer’s craft!


A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop This one is a great companion piece to use with Lucy Calkin’s units of study…the difference is…Lucy’s has the units pretty much mapped out for you…however in Katie’s book …she just shows you the possibilities.  Once you have used the scaffold of Lucy’s work and you know what a unit of study looks like and feels like you will be able to imagine the other possibilities that are out there for you…you will be Study Driven


Working Through the Hard Parts (And They're All Hard ... So…are you ready to learn more about the writing workshop…check out this book by Katie Wood Ray and Lester Laminak it is called: The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (And They’re All Hard…)