Monday, January 24, 2011

Poetry Journals: Making them matter (Introduction)

I started doing Poetry Journals quite a few years ago and like a great many others, it was just a poem/song/fingerplay on a sheet of paper that I put into a 3 prong folder and sent home, in hope that the parents would have their child work on it. My idea of work was clearly different from their idea of work. I am fairly certain that most parents just had their child leave the folder in their backpack or just practice saying it. My idea of working on it...have your child read it and track the print, find the sight words, practice sounding out simple words, practice reading with list would go on and on.

I did not do enough enough with them in my classroom. My expectations of the parents weren't too high, but lacked direction and focus. 

I have been working on re-doing my journals for the last four years. My poems/song/fingerplays, my sheets, my posters, my routines, and my homework are far from perfect but each year, I improve upon the process. I have made my classroom Poetry Journals matter in my classroom. My students love having a folder of poems that they can read with confidence beginning the first week. I think they also love going back to poems that we read during exciting times throughout the year.
  1. The first thing I had to do...I had to choose poems that I enjoy and that the students would enjoy. I had to throw out poems that lacked sight words, that were too long, and that no longer fit into themes that I enjoy doing in my room. This was difficult. I did not want to be completely different than my Kindergarten team, but the first year when I just did the same did not go well.
  2. I had to re-type the poems and make them cuter. I've got this thing, I really want things to be copied straight, to lack black edges, and to look like they all came from the same designer. One of my team members always said, "Shannon, you don't need to re-design the wheel." My reply then, now, and always, "You're right, but I do need to make it cuter." I am in the process of re-doing them again, LOL.
  3. I wrote out all my poems on sentence strips for a pocket chart. This has never felt right. First, my room is just not big enough for a bunch of pocket chart stands. It doesn't help that student's always seem to be tripping on them. Also, I was horrible about taking them down and putting the new ones up. Finally, the students wanted to be able to revisit older poems throughout the year. So, I began the process of creating posters. They are half sheets of poster board. All the poems are typed. They are in a basket on my large carpet area, so students always have access.
  4. I went through each poem and created a homework label. This was a bit of a pain, but parents need direction on what to do...and so do I!
  5. Routines, routines, routines! I established daily routines. 
  6. I am open to adding new things!
I plan on having a series of blogs devoted to Poetry Journals. I will share pictures of my posters, the sheets I currently send home, and my current homework labels. I will also include next years version of my Poetry Journals.

All of my Poetry Journals can now be found on TPT, as well.


  1. These are amazing!!!! I am loving your ideas, and the time that you have put into this has to be huge, so thank you so much for sharing!
    p.s. Love that you have to make them "cuter"!

  2. Quick you start these in January or do you do them all year long?

  3. Hi Michele,

    I start doing them the first day of school :)

  4. I LOVE your poetry journals! (I'm currently downloading everything onto my laptop to show my team!) I have been wanting to start a poetry center and poetry journals so badly- but had no idea where to begin and this helps me out so much! Thank you again for sharing all your amazing ideas! I'm literally downloading EVERYTHING! hehehe =) I have come across 2 or 3 that didn't have any text- like scribd didn't upload it right or something? IS that something I can fix? You are amazing! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  5. Hi Jessica,

    I am not sure what exactly the problem is, but I would be more than happy to work on a fix. Could you let me know which ones are not right?


  6. Hi! First of all I have to say your page is beyond amazing! I am a first year kindergarten teacher and this helps me so much!!

    I wanted to do a poetry notebook this year but they way I was doing it did not work out.

    Would you mind sharing a little more on your routine with these journals? Also, do you add a poem as your introduce it or do you have all poems in the notebook starting the first day? Also, does the homework page go in the notebook too? Sorry for all the questions!

  7. Thanks for your generosity! I love this idea!