What 2nd Graders Know:
Nurturing poetic experts in the classroom


  I've had the good fortune to work with the great 2nd grade team at Washington Elementary for three consecutive years. This spring (2011), we tried some new things, all which used books as springboards.
  • The jazz poems below were inspired by Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and Azucar by Ivar Da Coll, a great book about Salsa singer Celia Cruz. After we read the books we listened to jazz and cuban salsa music and students engaged in the challenging task of pulling sounds, feelings and dreams out of the music!
  • Later, we encouraged the children to personify milkshakes, doors and hockey pucks and tell us what these fascinating subjects know, as suggested by teacher Regina Saul.
  • We also made poem-pictures which I hope you'll check out.
  • And--LISTEN to the poets from Ms. Thompson's room brag about their amazing bodies. (Here's the recording from last year, when the students read "I remember" lines.
  • Finally, we used the brilliant The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown (suggested by teacher Jesse Blachowicz) as a fun assessment at the end of the unit. Children brainstormed then prioritized essential or fun things about poetry. Here's what Miguel said about poetry:

The Important Thing about Poetry

The important thing about poetry is that is makes me excited.

It is so radical like TV
It's like magic at the tip of your sharp pencil.
You can express your feelings.

But the important thing about poetry is that it makes me excited.



Sweet Music, by Evan   What the Hockey Puck Knows by Sam  
Azucar! by Cecilia   What the Door Knows by Karlo  
The Jazzy Groove by Mycah   What the Milkshake Knows by Josh  
Oh Yeah, by Alex      
Los Recuerdos de Celia y Tito por Jair      


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