Why Poetry?

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For years I had used poetry to teach everything from the content areas to grammar to literary devices to literary elements to….well, you name it. Then I discovered Nancie Atwell’s book Naming the World. She has copyright permission on all the poems as well as ideas for mini-lessons to go with each. The poems lend themselves to a more mature audience — seventh, eighth, or ninth graders. I highly recommend!

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Writing

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Writing is the one subject I taught throughout my career. I started as a second grade teacher and made my way through the grades up to eighth grade. I adored teaching it because I learned so much about my students through their writing and felt like I got to know them so well! Early on in my career I felt ill-equipped to teach literacy, so I found myself getting a degree in Language and Literacy. This was one of the best career decisions I made. In my early years I tried hard to model my classroom after gurus such as Nancie Atwell and Lucy Calkins. As with many of us, grammar was the ongoing struggle — until I attended a training by a teacher by the name of Jeff Anderson. If you haven’t read his books or attended one of his trainings, his simple ideas for integrating grammar instruction into the context of writing workshop are amazing. My students didn’t even realize they were learning grammar. It’s inductive, integrated, and appropriate — everything that constructivist, integrated instruction should be.

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