I'm approaching the switch to the Common Core Standards on a "need to know" basis. They aren't exactly giving me hives, but I'm on the apprehensive side of curious to find out how they'll impact the way I do business in my 4th grade classroom.
Georgia Heard's session at All Write, "Understanding the Core Standards: Reading Standards for Literature -- Poetry," seemed like a good place to dip my toes in. And the main message I got from this session? Good teaching is good teaching, no matter what labels they give us to name the pieces and parts.
Georgia started with the big lessons that poetry teaches -- lessons of language. Poetry is filled with figurative language, and with the language of heart and soul: rhythm and sound, compression and precision, images, and figures of speech. (And she showed us where all of these pieces and parts and labels can be found in the Common Core Standards.)
She named the questions we need to ask of poems we read and write:
- What makes this a poem?
- What is this poem about?
- What is the poet's message?
- What tools did the poet use to help show his/her meaning?
(The standards these questions address already exist in our state standards...nothing new here...)
And she showed us how, by living with and climbing inside one poem a week, students would build knowledge about poems for their "music" and for their "meaning" toolboxes for reading and writing poetry.
Monday: read the poem aloud. Make sure students can see the poem. Read it again. Turn and talk. What do you notice? What's it about?
Tuesday--Thursday: illustrate it, act it out, read it chorally, do quick-writes about the poem/off of the poem.
Friday: now that you love and understand the poem, dig into the craft tools the poet used. Talk about how the poem's built, how the poet uses compressed language (not ALL of the words another writer might use on the same topic).
Georgia's final message:
Don't forget that literature is heart work.