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Found Poetry with Kwame Alexander's BOOKED

Dear Kim (and friends!!),

Our students are nearing the finish line (teachers too.) A quick sprint to the end is all that we have left.

At our school, the students literally speak in terms of "finish lines", "touchdowns", and "goals". Not because of the annual field day, but because of the new reading program. The final unit in the American Reading Company's curriculum is SPORTS FICTION.

No SPORTS FICTION unit would be complete without a poem from Mr. Kwame Alexander. But, what Kwame book to discuss? CROSSOVER? BOOKED? THE PLAYBOOK?

Since many students are shin guard-deep in soccer right now, I picked BOOKED. In this verse novel, Kwame Alexander uses a variety of poetry styles to bring his main character, Nick Hall, to life. Nick is obsessed with soccer. When he becomes sidelined, books are his new game.

The lesson:

After reading from the book, we "borrowed" one poem and used it as a seed for our own poetry. Students were able to highlight up to three words per stanza. They then cut the words from the copied poem and maneuvered the words to make their own. Manipulating words in this manner is called found poetry, and it is a favorite way to get kids engaged in writing poems.

I then offered a selection of additional poems from a wide range of sports. The students could work to apply the same rules:

1. Read the poem all the way through.
2. Reread and highlight up to 3 words per stanza.
3. Cut out the highlighted words.
4. Rearrange into a new poem.
*You can use any punctuation you wish.
*You can add up to 3 words of your own within the poem. (I fudged on this when a child had an idea that was too good to stick to the "only 3 extra words" rule!)

One student's poem reads:

I know soccer
The green grass
The ball
I know soccer!

Have you found a poem lately? I am sure one is waiting for you in the pages of BOOKED by Kwame Alexander.

Much love!

P.S. Speaking of poems, and classrooms, and teachers... If you know a teacher who might be interested in our On the Bookshelf workshop at the Highlights Foundation, please pass the information along. Teachers can earn up to 3 credits and bring home a bag full of books. (Bonus: you'll get to see me!!)


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