Consider yourself lucky. Damn lucky. I'm about to share with you my favorite Language Arts homework that I give occasionally to my 4th grade Learning Support classroom. Just like a general ed. classroom, my kids are all on different reading levels and are working on various aspects of reading- fluency, expression, paying attention to punctuation, etc.
**That's reminding me of something funny that happened in class today (have I mentioned my A.D.D.?) I have a student that is really working on stopping when there's a period. In the book we were reading today the sentences said something like "......and the paint was smeared all over. My grandfather showed me how to .....". Well, take out the period and you've got "And the paint was smeared all over my grandfather" a.k.a. HILARITY! No? Okay, back to HW.....**
I have developed a homework that -
- develops fluency skills
- encourages expression in reading
- includes a self-assessment component
- exposes students to different types of poems
- differentiates based on independent reading level
and most importantly.....
the kids LOVE.
It's based on the concept of an "Open Mic" night or a Poetry Slam. I told the kids that this is what all the awesome "adult hipsters" do in their free time. They get up on stage and read poems to an uber supportive audience...right? Totally.
So, I assign "Fluency Packet" as homework on a Monday or Tuesday night. The cover page of the packet indicates what they are to accomplish each night (with spot for parent to initial completion). The second page of the packet is the poem they are to read, and the third page is a self-assessment check-list. I had to pre-teach the self-assessment and explain what I wanted them to be listening for and working on for improvement.
On Friday of the week that we have Fluency Packet homework we do an "Open Mic" where I set up a back-drop on the SmartBoard using Smart Notebook, and use the projector light as a natural "spotlight". The other kids lounge on the floor with pillows, listen, and give compliments when each child is done. One girl in my class got so excited about it that she made a microphone at home out of a tennis ball, duct tape and some markers. Love it!
For the poems and back-drop, I try to pick a theme. Shel Silverstein poems are easy to start with because some are short, some are long (to differentiate) and most of them have funny pictures. I snap a picture of the illustration with my phone's camera and add it to a slide in the Notebook file w/ the poem's name for each child that goes up to read.
Now, the tricky part is finding poems. I have 8 students, so each time I do this I have to find 8 poems....that are somehow related.....that are appropriate for each child to read. I've used Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky's book I've Lost My Hippopotamus so far. Most of the internet searches I do for "poems for children" come back with silly or gross poems about hating school and picking noses. Ew.
If anyone out there in teacherland is reading this, PLEASE comment with some books or internet sources that you love for poems written for children.
I've attached the Fluency Packet as a Word document. For this particular packet, I used the Jack Prelutsky poems, but I did not let the students see the illustration that Prelutsky made to go w/ their poem until the day of the Open Mic. During their "performance", I put the author's illustration up on the SmartBoard next to the student's interpretation of what the illustration should be. Pretty cool to see what their brains came up with! Instead of making pictures as one night's assignment, I've also changed it to list 3 unfamiliar words that they found in their poems, and write a synonym. Feel free to edit to fit your needs :)