Katie’s Classroom: Acrostic Poems and Organs

This first week of school has been crazy so far and it’s only Wednesday!

Today in class we wrote acrostic poems, with the students using their first name and coming up with adjectives for each letter that describe themselves. I explained what an adjective was, and we went through many examples. Then I showed the students how to write an acrostic by writing your word vertically and writing in your adjectives. For example, cat:

C-urious

A-gile

T-errific

My students had to get their rough drafts approved by me and then they could do a *pretty* final draft where they could decorate by drawing pictures of things they liked or cutting out pictures from magazines I brought. All of my students grasped the assignment and the process of turning your name into a poem pretty well. I suggested to my students that if they were struggling to think of a word that started with a certain letter, they could ask me or their classmates, or use one of my dictionaries or thesauruses. Surprisingly, the students were very excited about the idea of using dictionaries and thesauruses.

Most of my students worked pretty hard on their poems. Of the activities I have tried so far this week, this has been my favorite (and probably most successful). That said, this activity did not come without a few road bumps.

The majority of my students speak English as their second language, with varying levels of skill. I’m still trying to determine what students can and can’t do. Our ESL students haven’t been pulled yet either, so that makes it extra challenging. I don’t know where the school draws the line between needing to be in ESL, and just needing more practice and exposure to English.

This led to my favorite moment of the day: students choosing words from their dictionary or thesaurus that started with the right letter, but without any idea what the word meant. I saw “vicious” and “bludgeon”, which students promptly changed when I explained what the word meant. I did some mental gymnastics to help kids turn the words they did want to use into words that were descriptive words (for example, “dabbing” became “dabber”). I had to tell every kid who had a Y or a Z in their name that they had about three options with those letters. And I told the kids with an X in their name to cheat and use it in the middle of a word after a kid came to me complaining that the only word for X is xylophone.

However, my favorite moment of “lost in translation” was when a student asked me to proofread her poem, and there, written very neatly for O, was the word “Organ”.

I love my students so much.

Katie and Cat