SHARING WITH PARENTS

Jennifer Hauck from the Frank Sokolowski School in Chelsea, MA sought to get parents involved with their children's poetry lessons. She wrote to us:

I have begun a process of personalized poetry notebooks with each student. In the past, students' poetry notebooks consisted only of the poems we learned in class. Now, children are encouraged to read poetry on their own during silent reading, library visits and at home. If a student finds a poem that is especially interesting to them, they mark it with a post-it and place the book in my mailbox. Every week, I copy these poems and the students include them in their notebooks. The students in my class truly love their notebooks and often tote them from school to home.

In an effort to increase poetry reading in the homes of my students, I began a home-poetry project with all of the children and parents in my room. During the first open house of the school year, I told parents that at least one poem would be sent home each week as a part of homework. I also made a great effort to include poems of other languages with English translations at least twice a month. Parents were encouraged to read the poem with their child, discuss it, and students were then asked to respond. About one month into the project, many parents began including their own responses. Following their lead, I began to include a place for adult responses on the homework. Although their response was not mandatory, I have consistently found that at least sixteen parents, in a class of twenty-two, have faithfully responded. Parents have also informed me during meetings or conferences that this poetry addition is their favorite part of homework each week. They have stated that they enjoy reading the poems with their entire family and discussing it together. Many children have said that their parents often act it out or try to memorize it.

Variation:

Elaine Magliaro from Malcolm Bell School in Marblehead, MA also wrote to us about bringing parents into the teaching of poetry.

In 1993, I undertook a poetry research project with my second grade class. I wanted to find out if parents and children could learn more about poetry, and each other, if they shared poetry. The children selected single author collections in January and, in May, poetry anthologies to read, to respond to in journals, to discuss in literature groups in class, and to take home to share with their parents for a week.

At home, the children read poems to their parents, parents read poems to their children, and children and parents discussed the poems they had read together. In May, I also asked the parents to fill out a questionnaire about the poetry research project. The response from parents was overwhelmingly positive. Some of the things parents commented on were the following:

  • They gained insight into their children-their sensitivities, their senses of humor, their reading abilities, their interest in different subject areas.

  • Sharing poetry with their children helped them to see better how their children think about things.
  • They learned their children were more insightful about what they read than the parents had previously thought.
  • The project encouraged their children's creativity.
  • They liked sharing feelings and exchanging ideas with their children.
  • They were happy to see poetry valued as a literary genre in school.
  • The children seemed to prefer poetry to fiction and nonfiction.
  • It was fun to share poetry with their children.
  • The project inspired their children to read and write poetry.
 
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