Lesson Plan: Rhyme and Rhythm in Poetry


I’ve started a recent unit on poetry with my class. I’m not a poet, and I’m not a poetry fan (I don’t hate it, but I’m a prose gal), so this makes it harder for me to teach than many other parts of the curriculum. One resource that’s been invaluable is Poets.org, which, I got from the redoubtable Larry Ferlazzo. Some resources I found are worth sharing so I thought I’d do that. The lesson doesn’t go in the narrative order that I came up with it, but there you have it.

Small Thing Big Idea: How Jump Rope Got Its Rhythm 

This popped up in my Facebook feed, which I guess is an argument in favor of the algorithm, because I wouldn’t have found it otherwise. It’s about the culture of jumprope/handclap rhymes, and their influence on rap music, etc. I wanted them to appreciate the rhymes they already know, and also it emphasizes beat, etc. My only beef is that it’s a Facebook video, which is really problematic to show in school, etc. I had to hook up my phone to the projector. Not everyone has the tech chops to do that.

We then watched the video for Double Dutch Bus, to show an early rap song with clear influences from playground rhymes.

Maya Angelou – Harlem Hopscotch | Genius

Next up, we looked at this phenomenal dance video based on Maya Angelou’s “Harlem Hopscotch”. Once again, it’s a poem/lyric based on playground rhyme.

Gwendolyn Brooks – Poet | Academy of American Poets

Finally we went to Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” which while not her best, or deepest, fits in well with the rest as a short example of rhythm and rhyme. We talked about syllables/beats, etc.

There are loads of other resources available Poets.org, which I’ll be using as the unit progresses.
Photo Credit: “Hopscotch” by Skip on Flickr

Bad Hair Day


It’s winter time. It’s cold — okay, not for anyone outside California and Florida, but still — I’m wearing hats in the morning. Lovely knitted hats that I’ve made. This results in a lot of “bad hair days”. I keep a comb, but my follicles, they want to be free! The other day it came in handy…

Read the rest of this entry »

Classroom Update #7



While there is much talk about increases in diagnoses of psychological maladies around attention issues and autism among school age students, I’m experiencing a bubble of depression problems in my classroom, that is starting to be troubling. I’m going to stick to generalities so as not to breach privacy, etc. What I will say is that when I first brought it up to a co-worker, they posited something about entitlement and expectations, and I had to share some of the very real stressors these kids are experiencing; a family death, a family health crisis, and a case with hints of family violence in the history. How serious is this? Serious enough that I’ve had concerns about physical safety, and I’ll leave it at that.

But given the high levels of family stress, poverty, etc. that so many of our children live in at this time, I really can’t be surprised. The scary part is that I’m not even in a high poverty school. We have a school psychologist and nurse in one day a week, solely to do assessments related to special education. There is no counselor, social worker, etc. to work with the over 500 students in my school. Lord knows, we could use it.

Image credit: Depression on Flickr

Classroom Update #6


Ballot Box for Alameda County

As you know I blog about politics because my attitude is that you can ignore politics as a teacher, but that does not mean politics will ignore you. In the classroom, I try to use culturally relevant materials and to approach lessons from that point of view.

Normally, teaching fifth grade in an “open” presidential election year would be great. We learn about U.S. history, we’ve just finished the Revolutionary War period, and are into the founding of our nation. I haven’t even tried to talk about the current election with the kids yet. Instead, I’m trying to build a base in a couple of areas.

1. The fundamental ideas that the nation was built on, but;
Not turning that into a “worship” of the documents;
2. Things that didn’t work out, and didn’t get worked out until later and then MUCH later;
3. Spending some time with Franklin’s statements about the Constitution and it’s various imperfections. Read the rest of this entry »

Classroom Update #5: Have you read a good book lately?


give me five! (CC)
Howdy, long time, no write. I apologize, but life has been happening and that leads to less writing. Can you tell I’ve been teaching cause and effect lately? I’m doing Colonial American history with the class, and that will be the topic of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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