Poetry is one of my favorite writing units. I love to see the excitement on the student’s faces when they learn that poetry has no “rules”. One thing I like to stress to students is that when we write poetry we should be using “extraordinary” words. This always puzzles the students and they ask, but how do we “find” these words? I then explain to them that many times we already know these words and we just need to “collect” them. Or that we will need to “discover” these words as we become poets. To help get a better understanding of this I read “The Word Collector” by Peter H. Reynolds to my students.
In this story, Jerome collects words as he reads. He begins to notice words all around him and writes them down so he can remember them. I then explain to students that we will be doing what Jerome does in the story. I create an anchor chart that is titled “Our Word Collection” and hand out a blank piece of colored paper to students. I explain to them that during our poetry unit we will collect “extraordinary” words onto this anchor chart. Every day I begin our writing time by reading a few new poems. As I read these we notice how the authors describe things and if they use any “extraordinary” words we add them to our anchor chart. I also encourage students to find their own “extraordinary” words in their reading and conversations. The words they find they write on their individual “word collection” (piece of colored paper) that they keep in their writing folder. If students find words they are super excited about they can share from their word collection which allows us to hear even more “extraordinary” words! This documentation encourages students to think outside the box and be aware of the words we read and speak.