Teaching Students to Annotate Poetry

I have to admit - I was never a fan of poetry. In the words of my students, I just didn't "get it." That all changed my junior year of high school. I had what in most of my classmates' minds was the toughest teacher in the school. She certainly wasn't "warm and fuzzy," but she pushed us and challenged us. I fell in love with poetry in her class because she was able to open my mind to it. Sign of a great teacher.

When I told my students that we will complete a unit on poetry this year, there were groans aplenty. That just wouldn't do for me - so I worked to create a poetry unit that they would be excited about.

We started out reading a lot of funny poems (Shel Silverstein was a favorite), but we also read a lot of classic poems by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes. The Langston Hughes poems worked SO well since we were studying the Harlem Renaissance in social studies. Cross-curriculum instruction at its best!

I taught them the parts of a poem and rhyme schemes, and we had poetry readings - snaps and all! Lots of fun was had by all, but I just wanted them to go a little deeper.

Since I only fell in love with poetry once I was able to fully understand it, I had to teach my students to do the same. Cue annotation. 

I think as teachers of elementary students, we are often a little apprehensive to introduce concepts like "annotation" because they are still young and you just never know how students will perceive a difficult concepts. They ALWAYS manage to surprise me!

To teach annotation, I introduced the poem, The Wind Began to Rock the Grass by Emily Dickinson. The students read the poem to themselves, and then I read it out loud to them. Of course, when I asked them what they thought the poem was about - many were unsure. I told them that we are going to annotate the poem, gave them the definition, and then we dived right in.

I read the poem stanza by stanza again, but this time we defined words, asked questions, and made comments on the left hand side. On the right side of each stanza, we wrote a one sentence summary. As we defined words, we talked through the words and used context clues. It's amazing how intuitive fifth graders are. They can always figure out the meaning of a word (even though they don't always believe in themselves).

We worked through the first three stanzas together, and then I let them complete the last two on their own. As you may guess, they excitement began to build as the poem drew to a close. The light bulbs went off, the choirs began to sing, the end of the tunnel was in sight...you get the idea. Students were SO EXCITED about the fact that they now understood the poem so clearly! This certainly ended up being one of those "it worked!" lessons.

Here is another example with the poem, A Bird Came Down by Emily Dickinson. 

The next day, I asked students to work in partners and gave them a new poem to annotate. I was very impressed with their work, and they were able to see the purpose of annotation and understand why it helps them become better readers and writers. I learned a good lesson too: start annotation at the beginning of the year! :)

I use a PowerPoint Lesson and Interactive Notes to teach this entire unit. The lesson teaches students how to annotate slide by slide!

Happy Teaching!

How to Secure PowerPoint Presentations

Welcome to my first blog post ever! I am just a little bit excited! 

Quick background on PowerPoint presentations - I LOVE teaching with them! I add pictures, videos, and website links to mine in order to keep kids engaged in my lesson. 

When I started selling some of my lessons on TPT though, well....I ran into a dilemma. The presentations are not easy to secure. 

I can hear a few teacher friends now: all you have to do is save the lesson as a show! Unfortunately, a simple "save as" overrides that. Same goes with "read only."

So what is a TPTer to do?

Here is what I have been doing. Not sure it's the best way, but it makes sense to me! 

1. Before I begin a presentation, I insert a background that I like and then add my copyright to the bottom. 

2. Then, "save as" and click on JPEG. This will save the slide as JPEG images. 

3. You can then re-insert this JPEG images as the presentation's background. This way, your copyright appears on all the slides. Even if the purchaser wants to insert another slide into your presentation, your logo will still appear. I was pretty proud of myself for thinking of that all on my own(!)

4. Go ahead and create your lesson now!

5. Once your lesson is complete, you will need to save the ENTIRE presentation as PNG files. Simply click on "save as" and then "save as type" and choose PNG. 
PNG files are higher resolution and look much better than JPEG images. 

6. Before you do anything else, you will also want to click on "save as" and save this entire presentation as the original. You will have two copies: the original (which you will be able to edit) and the TPT version (which is not editable). 

7. Now I insert as many blank slides as I need. If you have 30 slides in your presentation, insert 30 blank slides. I like to do this in the same presentation instead of a new file because I already saved the background with my copyright info on it (see step number 3). 

8. Now, go to design: format background: insert picture from file, and choose your first PNG image. This will insert the image as the background of each slide which protects the image from editing. 

9. Here are my two images. The first slide is editable, and the second slide is not. 

10. After all of the slides are complete, I delete the originals and "save as" a TPT version. 

There may be a faster or easier way in the future, but for now, I'm sticking with this! 

Here is the final lesson {with scaffolded notes):