Skip to content

Revisions and Reflections

Revisions and Reflections are in GREEN.

How Do YOU Wokka-Wokka?
An Experience as Nonsense Poets


The broad and overarching goal of this lesson is to enable the participating 2nd graders to think of themselves as poets and giving them the agency and confidence to be creative and bold in their poetry writing. I realized that I had put this overarching goal without explaining the classroom ritual/routine that will enact it. I was very much struck by Gill Maimon calling her students “writers” and giving them this role to take ownership of. I want to designate my students as “poets” right off the bat so that they are taking pride and ownership of this poetry experience. Some specific goals include:
–    recognizing the base words from the nonsense words in the book
–    recognizing various rhyme patterns
–    realizing that you can make words rhyme by changing their endings, even if the word ends up being a nonsensical one
–    successfully engaging in group work to produce an original work of poetry
–    learning what it means to be supportive of fellow poets work as well as providing helpful comments so that they can better their work


This lesson will help to meet the current standards that this 2nd grade class is currently working on:
–    recognizing various base words and their suffix endings while separating the two
–    classroom reading theme of character traits when they create their own character and their descriptive qualities in their original Wokka-Wokka poems. Mainly because of time restrictions, we were not quite able to develop this issue. While descriptive character traits were ascribed to their wokka-wokka characters, the students were not able to develop their characters in a way that I would have preferred. A possible follow up activity could be having our poets write stories about their poetry subject, giving them a life, background story, etc.
–    Learning different forms of writing: poetry


–    How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
–    Index Cards of four different colors: (pink, blue, green and yellow) I wasn’t able to get multicolored cards, just regular white ones. I just had the poets number the cards so that they could differentiate them.
–    Pencils
–    Pre-made worksheets with a box for illustrations on top and lines for writing on the bottom

Classroom arrangement and management issues:

Because of my role within the classroom and the limited amount of time that I am able to spend at FACTS on a weekly basis, I will not be able to do this lesson plan with the whole class. Instead I plan on doing it with two smaller groups of six students whom I have been meeting with for guided reading weekly. Also because of time issues and other things that the classroom teachers had planned for the day, I was only able to meet with one of my guided reading groups. My group nonsense poets included: Julia, Eevee, Zoie, Siah, Truman and Mannuel. Because I will be doing this lesson plan during reading/writing “choice” time, the audio level is bit of a concern. In terms of space, because most of the children not in my group will be working at their tables, I am sure I will be able to take my group to the rug space that is in the front of the classroom. Instructor will hand out materials as needed to the poets.


1.The Hook: While showing the class the cover of the book and reading the title, How Do You Wokka-Wokka?, I will ask the poets which words they find unfamiliar. Assuming they say ‘Wokka-Wokka’, because all the other words are ones everyone in the class already recognizes, I will then pose the questions “what do you think ‘Wokka-Wokka’ means?” Hopefully they will use pictures cues or base their predictions on how the word sounds. Because this was my first time actually teaching a lesson, I suppose I should have established some of my personal rules about when to raise your hand, when you can just call out and other issues of respecting each other’s voices. I say this because after I posed this question there was just a lot of shouting and enthusiastic answers. While I appreciated the students’ enthusiasm for the lesson it ended up disrupting the other students who were doing stations and the classroom teacher and an individual student who were doing reading evaluations. I think that it would have been helpful for me to pre-empt the hook with letting the class know that others are working on different things around us and we need to be respectful of our classmates by keeping our voices soft. I would also ask the students to remember to raise their hands because that is the general classroom rule.
In terms of the responses to the actual hook, some of the students had really great answers and all six students who were in the group participated in their predictions. Julia, Eevee and Truman who are less vocal took some prompting from me but they also contributed. One of the more creative answers came from Mannuel who predicted that “Wokka-Wokka” meant “dancing around all crazy.” In the end, the students successfully used picture cues and how the word sounds to predict what this nonsense word means.

2. Body of the Lesson:
1) With their predictions in mind, I will go into reading the story, preempting them to listen carefully for words that they don’t recognize. For this part of the lesson, I asked the students to look out for words that they did not recognize but I did not tell them to keep it inside their heads instead of calling them out. Their interruptions stalled the flow of the story and consequently the rhyme so I had to ask the students to keep the nonsense words in their heads for later and started the stores over again.
2) After the story is read out loud all the way through, I will ask the students what they now think Wokka-Wokka means since they have now heard the entire story. Most of them proclaimed “we were right!”
3) The meaning of Wokka-Wokka can actually be up for interpretation by the students. As long as they get the idea that it is describing a type of movement, similar to walking (running, dancing, or just moving along in general), they should be able to successfully interpret the other unfamiliar words of the book. I think that this aspect may have been a bit confusing for the poets. It took a little time to get across to them that this word can be interpreted in various ways and that there is no one right answer. While this idea took more time than I anticipated, I think it was a good thing to go over because it expanded their concepts of creativity and how not only words, but meanings can be manipulated and shaped.
4) As a whole group we will pull out several other unfamiliar words which we will label as “nonsense” words and attempt to make “sense” of them using prior knowledge of base words. Most of the students didn’t remember most of the nonsense words they had recognized by the time we finished the book so we had to go back as a group and look for some nonsense words.
5) After we have deciphered several nonsense words, I will ask the students what part of the word they see is different from the “real” word they are representing. After they have recognized the nonsense suffixes, I will then ask the students why they think the author switched the endings. The students came up with answers that were true (and that also reflected concepts I had introduced), but I had not expected. They answered that the author wanted to be a silly creative nonsense poet as they were today. After they had said this I had realized I had not explained the connection between rhymes and poems.
6) If they have trouble with this, I will reread a section of the book, heavily emphasizing the rhyming so that they will be able to hear how the endings of these nonsense words rhyme. When I emphasized the rhyming in the book the students made the connection on their own without me having to explain anything, which I thought was a great moment of student discovery.
7) While I will try and have our poets thinking about rhyme, I will ask them to move them to the back part of their brains to hold on to for later. I will then pose the central question of the lesson: How do YOU wokka-wokka? Now, after having taught the lesson, I feel that it would have been helpful to consistently remind the students of this central question throughout the lesson rather than introducing it and then having it pop back up in the middle of the lesson. It took the students a while to switch gears and I feel that they wouldn’t have had to if I kept the question How do YOU wokka-wokka?, a central focus.
8) I will then hand out four index cards to each students, each index card a different color. I will then ask the students to brainstorm about an object. I will pose various categories that they could explore, such as animals, the weather, etc. The one requirement is that they encompass some sort of movement. They will write down their on the pink index card their object. Again, I did not get the colorful cards so I just had the students number the blank white cards.
Initially I wanted the students to work together in pairs but I realized that it would be better to stay in a small group given the classroom arrangement and what the other students were doing in the class. In terms of thinking about an object, the students had a difficult time thinking about an object. I could tell that they thought I was expecting a particular thing, again a “right” answer, so it took a while for them to release their creative side. Zoie picked a cat, Siah, a pair of sneakers, Eevee, water and Julia, a bird. I believe that each object represented the student in some way. Mannuel and Truman ran into a small conflict because they both wanted to the same pokemon. I asked them to choose something else since they both waned to do it, and while Truman seemed to have no problem, Mannuel got angry. I felt that I was at a point in the lesson where I could not leave the group and speak to Mannuel individually so I asked him if there was a different pokemon that he had in mind. At first, he refused to speak to me, but I just decided to patiently wait for him, and so did the rest of the group. After Mannuel realized that we were waiting on him he answered that he did have a second choice in mine. I asked him if he was okay with settling for his second choice if Truman did the same, and Mannuel agreed so we were able to move on. Truman and Mannuel both choice to do a different pokemon.

9) While asking the poets to picture their object in their minds, I will ask them to pick a describing characteristic to write on their blue card. (card number two). Julia chose to describe her bird’s color (blue). Mannuel chose to describe his pokemon’s size. Truman chose the strength of his pokemon. Eeeve chose the water’s temperature, Zoie’s her cat’s color and Siah also chose to describe the color of his sneakers.
While they did this there was a lot of peer-to-peer interaction and interactions between me and individual students. While they came to me with advice about what they should write, I tried to limit my help because I wanted them to be as creative as possible. Instead of answering them straight on, I chose to ask them guiding questions so that they could come to what they wanted to write about, rather than what they thought I expected.

10) We will then think about what our object sounds like. It can be how they speak, or sounds that are associated with them, or a sound they make when interacting with another object. They will then write down the sound of their object on the green card. (card number three). The sounds that the poets came up with were really great and they asked a little less for my help this time around. Zoie and Julia chose the traditional sounds for their animals, “tweet” and “meow”. Truman also knew what his pokemon sounded like based on the TV show. Mannuel was struck with a dilemma because his pokemon did not talk, so he chose to describe two ways that his pokemon moved around because that seemed to be a stronger characteristic for his poetry subject. So for card number three, Mannuel chose to put “creep” because “he creeps around.” Eevee had a hard time choosing which sounds to use because she realized that water could make a variety of different sounds. I told her it was okay to choose more than two but she ended up choosing a favorite: drip-drip. Siah decided that he needed to experiement with his own shoes to decide which sound to choose so after he asked me if he could walk around on the tile floor in the hallway from a couple of seconds, he went outside and came back declaring that he had chosen squeak squeak.
11) The final card, the yellow card will be the crux of the question how do YOU wokka-wokka? I will ask the poets to think about how their object moves and then write down that particular movement on their fourth card. The level of noise and talk amongst each other had diminished a significant amount by the time we got to the last card and the students surprisingly got right to their cards after I had told them what to think about for the last card. I think that this showed a real agency and ownership as poets that had grown in the students in a very short amount of time. Siah chose the up and down movement of his sneakers, and Eeevee the sliding of the water down a rain gutter. Julia chose two descriptive words that linked together; the flapping of a bird’s wings and then it flying. Manuel chose to describe his pokemon’s unique skill of teleportation. Truman also wanted to put fly, but after he had seen that Julia put fly he promptly chose glide. Zoie had her own specific cat in mind when she chose describe her poetry subject as slow and fast because sometimes her cat feels lazy and slow and sometimes when she get excited she runs around very fast.
12) After all the poets have their cards organized with their ideas written on them, I will ask them to get into pairs to help each other construct their very own wokka-wokka poem. If the students get confused with the structuring and the wording that they should use, I will open up the wokka-wokka book to a page that has a good example and have the students refer back to the book for help. I definitely believe that a pre-mini lesson on poetry, its various structures and rhyming patters would definitely have been helpful. I found that just using the book as an example did not help frame how the students should format and write their poems. I decided to forego partner work and continue to work in a small group. I decided that the best way to present the format and wording would be by modeling. So I had the students come up with an object for myself and together we did the four cards writing the object, descriptive quality, sound and movement. I then proceeded to write out my poem on a large piece of paper so that they all could see. The students seemed to know that this was modeling without me having to say so and did the same for their poems. They had a bit of trouble how much of their base word to keep when transforming their real word into a nonsense word, but I referred them to one another and the book for help. In the end the students came up with really nonsense words and consequently really amazing poems.
13) With premade sheets that has a top section for illustration and lines for the poem under it, the students will write out their poems. After I have read over their poems privately I will okay the next step for illustrations.
14) The final step of the lesson plan will be performances of the wokka-wokka poems. Each student will have their chance in front of their group to read their poems out loud with interpretative motions if they wish. By this point, we had just a little bit of time left. Because Siah seemed to be the only one enthusiastic about sharing his poem and performing his poem, he performed his, we clapped for him and ended the lesson there.

If I had better organized time, I would have loved to do compliment sheets and peer review of each other poems. This would have been a great first draft that they would later edit and create into a final draft.

The biggest lesson as a teacher that I have taken away from this experience is that nothing really goes to plan and you can never predict every detail. I think that I was nervous as a firs time teacher and really wanted to take control so that the kids would see me a legitimate teacher. However I realized that my own self-consciousness did not benefit the students’ learning in any way so when it became more student guided, the lesson became richer for both the young poets and myself. I had a really great time teaching this lesson but I do realize the limitations that I had and how the situation would have been different had I been working with a different group of students or even the whole class.

Assessment of goals/objectives listed above:

Assessing the first goal of enabling students to feel confident in their poetry and their own creative energy will probably be the hardest to do. Perhaps the assessment of this goal is best done over time but I also believe immediate signs of confidence would be in their presentations and how they share their work with one another. In terms of recognizing base words, patterns of rhyming and how to manipulate the suffix of words, the students’ final product will be the basis of assessment. However I will also take into account how students individually participate in the group setting. But because I know that there are a few shy students in my groups, I will pay close attention to how they work on their individual poems to see if they have understood the themes and concepts that were introduced. While the students work in groups, I will visit each one, observing from a distance so that I can see how the students interact with one another in peer to peer creative work. Through their work I will also make note of the language that they use with one another and if it is encouraging to one another as poets working together.

Anticipating student responses’ and your possible responses:

There is a possibility that the students will not find the activity interesting, it being a Friday morning when they are tired from a week of school and looking forward to the weekend. However I hope that this is something different enough that the students who are participating will take an interest in it. If they do not, I plan on using my own wokka-wokka poem, reading it out loud to them and allowing myself to be a bit silly so that they will look at this activity as something they want to do as creative poets and not as something mandatory they have to do as students.

In terms of management issues, I do not really anticipate any because I have worked with this group of students before. They are usually well behaved during guided reading time and get along with one another and with me great. I think the one person that I end up paying a bit more attention to is one boy, Siah, who’s energy and talkativeness usually gets him in trouble. However I am hoping that this lesson will let him channel his energy into something productive.


The group that I anticipate working with have different strengths and skills in terms of readers and writers. The class as a whole have had a lot of help practice with peer editing and working in mixed skills groups so I am hoping that they will be able to aid on each other so that finishing the lesson is not an individual task but a group effort. Also, because poetry is a new concept and no one is an experienced poet I am not quite sure what to anticipate.


view pictures of the students working on their poems and their original wokka-wokka poems HERE!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: