Fifth Grade Celebrates Poetry Month

Saint Anselm student Jocelyn Britton has been interning in the Fifth Grade at Saint Benedict this semester. Last week, Ms. Britton created a “Poetry Carousel” activity to launch the students into their new Language Arts unit on poetry. Below is her reflection of the activity (copies of the poems are available here): 

In the poetry carousel activity, the students walked around the classroom with a partner to read different types of poetry and make observations. The conversations I listened to were absolutely incredible.

photo 3I had fifth graders reading a Shakespearean sonnet and trying to make sense of it. One pair of students opened a dictionary without any encouragement so that they could understand what the Bard was writing about.

Language proved to be not much of a barrier despite the nonsense words in Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” Hearing students discover the meaning of the words through context clues was just as satisfying as it was with “Sonnet 15.”

We also explored “I, too” by Langston Hughes which sparked conversations about slavery and civil rights, allowing students to bring in their prior knowledge.

Students discussed what hope means to them after reading “‘Hope’ is a thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson.

The students had fun reading “SMART” by Shel Silverstein, a poem in which a boy trades his money for a nonequivalent amount of coins because 3 dimes is “more” than 2 quarters. This led to discussions on how more isn’t always better.

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost was interpreted by the students and connected to different decisions the students have made. These are just some of the poems and types of conversations I heard.

The fifth graders are the reason the lesson was so rewarding. I chose each poem purposely, but they took the activity to a level I not only didn’t expect, but also one I didn’t know could exist. Hearing them voice their opinions, bring in prior knowledge, and relate the poems to their lives has already started to inspire me as a future teacher.

Saint Benedict Academy is thankful for the rich partnership it has enjoyed with many dimensions of Saint Anselm College since our founding in 1889 – from teaching interns and service learners to photographers, after-school volunteers, and, of course, our relationship with the monastic community at Saint Anselm Abbey.