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Lesson Design

A Lesson for Empowering Creative Poets:

What:
The reading and writing activities that have occurred in the 2nd grade classroom I am in is often highly structured around independent reading and structured topics of experience writing. The students will often be posed a question where they are required to give an opinion or write about an experience. A large portion of the time block is also allocated to spelling. The students are currently working on such skills as recognizing base words and suffixes, the number of syllables in each word and adjectives. This lesson plan centered around the book How Do You Wokka-Wokka by Elizabeth Bluemle, reinforces the various spelling skills and word identifying themes currently going on in the classroom. It also encourages students to demonstrate various critical reading skills that they practice during sustained or independent reading, now with one another and as a group. Most importantly, this lesson aims to present poetry, creative writing and peer collaboration in a creative way that calls for much imagination and student agency and ownership of their writing.

How:

This lesson will be based on How Do You Wokka-Wokka, a book that includes semi-nonsense words in the form of a rhyming beat that is reminiscent of poetry. The instructor will first read the story aloud to the group of the students, showing them the descriptive pictures and allowing for a clear sense of rhythm while reading the story. As a group, we will pull out a variety of “nonsense” words, starting with wokka-wokka. In a group setting, I plan on having the kids come up with what the nonsense word actually means and looking at the different ways they are spelled as well as how the students determined that “wokka-wokka” means “to walk.” In this case, they have similar sounds and we can determine that walking is what the narrator is talking about through various context and picture cues. If we focus on the spelling and the sound of the nonsense word in comparison to the “real” word that it is representing, they will be able to take it to the next step in creating their own nonsense words. Introducing the various poetry themes and components like the nonsense words, rhyming and alliteration will be presented through a text-to-self activity. I plan on giving the students each four index cards, each one a different color. I will pose them the question: How do YOU wokka-wokka? On the pink card they will describe the thing that they wokka wokka like. It can be an animal, a vehicle of transportation, an element, etc. On the second note card (the yellow one) they have to describe a physical characteristic of the thing they wokka-wokka like. It can be a color, size, etc. On the third card, (green) they will choose to describe what their object smells like or sounds like. And finally on the fourth card (blue) they will choose a describing word that relates to the way their object moves. As a group, I will show the students how we can turn the real words the children wrote on their index cards into rhyming nonsense words. Either using examples from the book, or ones that I come up with myself, I will write out the various “real” words on the board. Then right underneath the question “How Do You Wokka-Wokka?”, I will demonstrate the various ways you can change the endings of your “real” words so they rhyme with wokka-wokka and become nonsense words. I could possibly show them various rhyming patterns and how to incorporate alliteration. After demonstrating the various strategies and ways in which you can go about making familiar words into nonsense words and then nonsense words into poetry, I plan to have the “nonsense poets” pair up and help one another construct a short wokka-wokka poem with their words and descriptions written on their index cards. After the students have finished doing so, I plan to have a few volunteers, or whoever has a flare for public speaking, come up to the front of the classroom and perform their nonsense poems; incorporating visual movement and dance into their reading aloud of their poem.

Why:

Last month the 2nd graders had the opportunity to do a short creative writing unit on Halloween. They came up with their own stories, which they illustrated and later read to their classmates and other teachers during a book party. They really enjoyed all aspects of the unit and have been asking to do more creative writing. Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to expose them to a new kind of literature in a fun and silly way that is still able to resonate with many of the themes within the classroom as well as the school. The 2nd grade community, like most of FACTS, strongly emphasizes the idea of unity and togetherness. Although cultural and ethnic diversity is a big part of the school culture, this idea would present the idea of individual diversity. Everyone will probably come up with a different object that they wokka wokka like, and to be able to see the various inspirations of their fellow students would be a cool experience for the students. The reinforcing of the skills they are learning is another important aspect of this lesson so that it seems coherent with the other things they are doing. The ideas that are presented in this lesson, such as alliteration, changing the endings of words etc. also emphasize and support the current lessons going on in writing and reading at FACTS. For example, the students are currently learning about base words and recognizing the added suffixes for them. Since many of the nonsense words that are used in the book, often just ad a nonsense suffix to the base word; I think that this would be a helpful activity for the students in identifying and being able to manipulate base words. Most importantly, I want to give my students more agency in their writing and work. I want to call them “poets” like Gill Maimon calls are students “writers” to really encourage them to be silly, fun and creative because works like that are both valid and valuable.

This lesson is based on the book “How Do You Wokka-Wokka?” by Elizabeth Bluemle. Click on the picture below to find out more about the book and how to purchase it!

Click HERE for the lesson plan!

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