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Katie Buss Writing Unit CI 476 April 25, 2014

Classrooms are a unique environment that overflows with variation with student academic level and demographics. I am currently working in a fourth grade classroom at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. There is an abundance of variation in the classroom. I have 17 students all together. However, during writing instruction I only have 14. The other students three are receiving ESL services, during writing instruction. Overall the classroom demographics consist of African American students. The students come from the local neighborhood and have tight knit relationships. A majority of the students come from a low socioeconomic status home. Unfortunately many of the students are struggling to complete grade level work. Below grade level students are receiving the necessary services to help bridge the academic gap amongst their peers. Writing curriculum is a significant influence on daily instruction. The poetry unit fits into the classroom curriculum in order to fulfill state standards of writing. I believe that poetry is a perfect aid to curriculum to give students the individuality and creativity about writing. After observing these students, I have found one of their difficulties in writing is to be expressive. They are more worried about following a specific format of a research paper, that now the students do not know how to use creativity in writing. They need to have a voice. I chose poetry because I wanted students to fall in love with poetry. I hated poetry as a student because of how it was presented. I want poetry to be a fulfilling ad positive experience for the students in my classroom.

The lessons for the writing unit were successful overall. The students in my class are at varying academic levels in their writing. The students range from second to fourth grade level. Each individual student has the opportunity to grow at his or her own level. My main objectives for the students is for them to grow as writers. In order to be a writer a student needs to be creative, innovative, and self-sufficient. Overall I saw that many of the students grew. They were hesitant to start, but they have begun to break the barriers as instruction continued. Unfortunately, in general, the biggest hurtle for my students is confidence. I must first build their confidence in writing poetry before I can expect students to use higher-order thinking. The students were aware of the objectives from the beginning of the unit. The objectives were clearly posted in the room for the students to reference during writing. I personally feel that my students met the objectives. All students learn and meet objectives through various pathways. The differentiation techniques in daily lessons helped the students better understand the material. The subjects of science and writing were happily integrated into one unique lesson. The integration helped students feel more comfortable writing. The students had the science background knowledge to give them the confidence to write a successful piece of literature. The science lesson was my favorite lesson to teach. The students made comments like This is poetry? This is so cool Can we do this during free writing with other shapes? Their verbal and nonverbal ownership of the writing process was wonderful to watch. The students were actively engaged. They got to use their own knowledge about the focused topic to make and individual piece. Generally the

students are afraid to take the leap of faith to make an original piece of work. It is hard for them to feel confident enough to depend on themselves. The student enthusiasm and ownership gave the ultimate confidence boost. The students were successful. They proved to me how hard work and dedication could help them create impressive pieces of poetry. The students were able to achieve that personal confidence to boost their writing skills. It was hard for them to use their creativity and background knowledge to write poems that have meaning. I was able to see student understanding more so during writing conferencing. Conferencing was a time where I talked with individual students or with a small group. I looked at the pre assessment and student work to determine if there was a small group of students who were struggling with the same skills, such as using description. Conferences with individuals mainly focused on what the students had thus far and where they were going next. I think poetry is more individualized than other forms of writing. I wanted the students to feel confident about their individuality and to form those positive thoughts. Conferences were overall really useful for the students. It gave them the extra helpful boost to help them focus on the current task. The next step for poetry would be to work on literary elements of poetry. Based on student responses and the pre assessment, the students need to be introduced to poetry elements such as onomatopoeia, metaphors, and alliteration. A majority of the students do not know these types of literary elements. To continue

my unit in upcoming lesson will be to more heavily focus on these concepts to give the students a deeper understanding of poetry. It is important to reflect on a series of lessons after implementing them in the classroom. Overall I think I did a good job. I really focused on giving students the confidence they need as a writer. Poetry is a very free type of writing style. Each area of poetry has its own guidelines, however the topics and focus of each poem can be vastly different. As a teacher, I have seen these students struggle to find their own voice in writing. The poetry activities gave them the opportunity to display their voice and personality. I want them to learn to love writing. I believe my goal has been accomplished through my teaching. However, there are ways I could improve my effectiveness. In order to a better educator, I need to make the lessons more focused. I need to be able to move through the writing unit more quickly. I should be more focused on the literary elements of poetry versus having a strong focus on boosting creativity and confidence. Those concepts can be taught together in lessons related to each other. However, I did access various degrees of this through my teaching. I taught different types of poetry that follows structural limitations. I think it is important to build students background knowledge this way and then give students the opportunity to improve old pieces of poetry with new learned poetry concepts like alliterations and onomatopoeia. I am excited to continue working with poetry in my classroom to find more growth and development of the students.

The writing unit was a wonderful experience for me. I had to use various teaching methods to ensure success of learners. The student enthusiasm and engagement of writing was an ultimate goal that I conquered. The unique variation of poetry gave the students the freedom and curiosity they needed to be risk takers in their learning. I am challenging the students to keep the same mind set and courage in other areas of writing.