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Poetry reading is a great explicit word analysis exercise!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Apr 18, 2012 10:49:00 AM

Celebrate National Reading Month with Explicit Word Analysis ActivitiesIt’s National Poetry Month! We celebrate it wholeheartedly, and can’t help but wonder why poetry is often overlooked in the elementary classroom as a way to teach a multitude of skills. We know that poems are excellent for practicing fluency, learning the different forms of rhyme, and understanding the genre.

Having students participate in poetry reading is also an effective way for teachers to teach explicit word analysis (EWA) skills. Explicit word analysis includes training in phonological awareness, phonics, and the alphabetic principle that letters represent sounds in a language. These core foundational skills are vital to emerging readers, allowing them to identify and read words with ease. EWA also helps prepare students for future, more difficult reading.

Consider this EWA exercise using the following poem by British children’s literature author James Reeves from the book 70 Wonderful Word Family Poems by Beth Handa and Jennifer Wilen:

Run a Little
Run a little this way, 
Run a little that!
Fine new feathers 
For a fine new hat.
A fine new hat
For a lady fair - 
Run round and turn about
And jump in the air.

Run a little this way,
Run a little that!
White silk ribbon
For a black silk cat.
A black silk cat
For the Lord mayor's wife
Run around and turn about 
And fly for your life!

There are many different ways teachers can use this poem to teach explicit word analysis skills. Here are a few good ones:

  • Copy the poem onto large, chart sized paper for the entire class to read together.  Used along with your students’ own personal copies, this large version allows for choral reading and word analysis.
  • Read the poem multiple times aloud to the class. Students should listen for any words with a specific sound (-at). If they hear a word with the identified sound have your students put their hands on their head each time they hear it during the reading, then raise their hand at the end of the reading to share.  Students can come up to the poem on the chart to underline the specific sound in that, hat, and cat.
  • As your students become more familiar with the poem, through repeated readings, they can increase their participation in the reading. You can have them point to their ears or clap when the targeted word is read.  
  • You can add the targeted words of that, cat, and hat to index cards to use for sight word practice. This is especially powerful when targeted words from previous poems are also included. The words can be used in a pocket chart or on a word wall as additional practice during a center or independent activity.

Outside of identifying the targeted sound of -at words, teachers can use this poem to teach and reinforce a variety of explicit word analysis skills.

  • On individual copies of the poem students can "mark" the paper to identify certain sounds, words, or phonemes. For example, you can have your students identify every word that contains the /l/ sound by underlining the word with a red pencil or marking the word with a highlighter. Next, they could circle every word with the /r/ sound with an orange pencil or use a different color highlighter to mark the word. Finally, the teacher can direct them to box all the words with a /t/ sound with a blue pencil or mark the words with a third color highlighter.
  • Students can use highlighting tape to identify rhyming words on a large, laminated copy of the poem.
  • Once you have completed using the poem in direct instruction it can be added to center or small group work. Your students will gain additional practice in fluency and word analysis based on individual need. This is an activity that can be easily differentiated to meet the needs of a variety of learners. 

We hope we’ve given you some good ways to celebrate National Poetry Month with your students. For more ideas and tips on infusing EWA into your classroom of eager readers, download our guide, today!

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Tags: teaching strategies, download, reading strategies, National Poetry Month, poetry

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