Saturday, February 22, 2014

Three ways to move beyond "I'm going to tell you about..."

    When I taught seventh grade, I couldn't believe how many students used this phrase as a topic sentence. Was someone teaching this?

    Moving to fourth grade gave me a new perspective. As I worked with younger writers, I saw how "I'm going to tell you about..." develops, and why some teachers may let it slide now and then. Some young writers jump right into the details of a topic, without any introduction or preface.

   Writers with a stronger sense of audience awareness know that they have to do something to introduce the topic. "I'm going to tell you about" is then a logical way of beginning a paragraph. Like many young writers, this structure is terse and to the point. When it first appears in a student's writing, it represents a valid way to solve a problem. As a fourth grade teacher, I feel a grudging respect for what I despised so much in seventh grade.

  While I acknowledge the utility of "I'm going to tell you about," I know that I need to help students move forward. Here are three ways to help students move into more sophisticated expository writing.

1. Use writing frames
I love writing frames because they help students to see the language of academic writing. When students have to write to respond to reading, they often fall into an "I'm going to tell you about" pattern because they have trouble generating the abstract language they need. A writing frame can show students one way to enter a response.

Of course, the risk develops that students will see a writing frame as a simple "fill in the blanks" activity. When I introduced the frame to the right this past week, I had students read it aloud together, inserting the word "blank" at every blank. It was fun. Then we highlighted the topic sentence and talked about how it worked for the paragraph. (This activity is part of January homework and texts if you are interested.)

2. Write topic sentences together
  We are currently working on a month-long (decade-long? It sure feels like it with all of the snow days!) writing project. Students are designing their own island countries, and then writing an expository essay to describe it. So many different skills intersect in this project, from the art of creating the maps to the writing of the essay.

  Often, the writing of an essay becomes independent classwork or even (gasp!) homework. I never send writing home for homework. Sometimes students love to write and want to write at home, which is awesome. But the writing of topic sentences, especially for students in grades 4-7, is too important to send home. Students need lots of models and lots of support for this.

  I model the writing of a topic sentence with sample details. Here is one that we tried on Friday.

  I designed it so that the space for us to write our main idea is above the details. This matches the way that main ideas are usually at the beginnings of paragraphs.

  I read the details aloud to students, and then asked, "What do you think this says about the weather of Delphinium?" I asked students to work with partners to come up with one word to describe the weather--awesome, horrible, dreadful, bananas, delightful, and so forth.

  After this, I called on a few students to share. One said, "The country of Delphinium has interesting weather." This is a very basic topic sentence, but it is a step beyond "I'm going to tell you about.." The next student arranged ideas in a different order: "Delphinium's weather is pretty unusual." Having students come up with one word was very helpful.

  Some students have resisted this--"Isn't that an opinion? A teacher told me I shouldn't write opinions." I'm pretty sure that no teacher has ever said this. After all, writers take positions and then support those positions. A piece of writing that is only facts would be very dry indeed.

  ...And this process takes longer than you may ever dream possible. The more examples, the more opportunities to talk through details, the better. As we research Antarctica, students will use the same process to write about their research. Over time, the topic sentences break out of the "____ is interesting" mold and become more lively.

3. Showcase mentor texts
  Showcasing mentor texts also helps to speed up the process. Choosing texts, however, requires some care. Often the expository picture books that get published and publicized are the ones that mix up the traditional format. Where are the topic sentences? Where are the paragraphs? While these are great to read and share with students, some nice mid-level models are helpful too. The books of Franklyn M. Branley are excellent, as are articles from Ask and Muse.

   While sharing these texts, I like to talk about them in terms of problems and solutions. How did the author deal with the details? Where is the topic sentence in the paragraph? How does the author move from one paragraph to the next? After these discussions, students often start to experiment with their own topic sentences. By the end of fourth grade, a few of them are using pretty strong transitions between paragraphs, and using the topic sentence to move from one idea to the next.

Integrate all of these strategies
   All of these strategies can be used concurrently! Last week we created main ideas in the morning and wrote to a writing frame in the afternoon. Next week we'll look more at mentor texts while students will be creating their own main ideas. The more that students see and talk about main ideas and topic sentences, the more likely they will be to internalize this kind of structure and move beyond "I'm going to tell you about."

-If you're looking for more on main ideas, you may like this: Main Ideas and Details in Nonfiction Text.
-This slideshow about Topics and Main Ideas can help students to understand topics and main ideas in reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Previewing science content with phenology

Phenology is the study of the seasons and the timing of different events that occur in the seasons. Over the past few years, I've dabbled in phenology with informal learning events--"When will we hear spring peepers? When will we see the first dandelion?"

 This year, though, I'm beginning to learn the value of phenology for finding out what kids already know--or think they know--and for building concept knowledge.

Take spring peepers. Today I just had to think about spring, so I showed students this quick little video and asked when they thought we would hear spring peepers. They all had varying levels of knowledge about these tiny frogs, from comments like, "Oh, so that's what they are!" to "Those things are so annoying!" to "I have never heard those in my life."

I told students the range of my personal observations of spring peepers--as early as the last week in February, during one of those warm years in the late 90s, to as late as the third week of March. And then I asked this simple question: What do you suppose the spring peepers are doing now?

Their answers showed me glimpses of their thinking as we stand on the brink of our animal adaptations unit. "Migrating?" one student guessed. "No, they couldn't migrate. They're too small," another student said. "Hibernating!" someone said, and this idea was met with nods and repeats. But then this led to another question: What tells the spring peepers when it's time to wake up? How do they all know to gather together?

These are the questions at the heart of phenology, and these are the questions that will guide us as we look at behavioral adaptations, seasonal changes, and their relationships. Thanks to our guessing game, I already know what words and ideas are present in the classroom, and what misconceptions students have. Students seem to be aware of migrating and hibernating, but they seem to equate migration with larger animals.

Take a look at the maps at Journey North for some other seasonal phenomena that you can track with your students. And if you're in the spring peeper's range--what's your guess for the first night of hearing spring peepers? (I guess March 25!)

If you have iPads, you may like this spring peeper activity for Activity Spot.

March 3 update: I've added March Homework, and there is an activity for comparing poems. One is this  charming little poem by Hilda Conkling, and one is about spring peepers.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Graphic Organizers for Representing Ideas

Now that students have an introduction to text features, they will have a real reason to use these text features to navigate text as we dive into texts about Antarctica. Over the next few weeks, students will be exploring topics, main ideas, details, and text features. And we'll be looking at these from two perspectives--that of writer, and that of reader. Cool!

Expository writing requires writers to sort ideas into categories. Instead of telling a story, writers think about topics and how the details related to those topics fit together. Expository writers take concrete details and dream up an abstract main idea.

This year, I'm trying out three different ways to help students visualize the sorting of ideas and topics.

In writing, students have created their own island countries and will be learning the basics of formal academic writing as they create essays about their countries. Here's the example that I made to show students:

I do love to play with fine point pens.

After students had spent 1,127 days creating their countries (I may be exaggerating--it was probably closer to 3. They loved it so much and they learned so much about landforms and capitalization), I introduced them to the outline. I started by projecting this example and asking them, "What do you notice?"
It was so interesting to listen to their responses. Like all intermediate readers, they wanted to first focus on content. I tried to move the discussion toward structure: "How is it put together? What rules do you think the writer followed?"

After some discussion, they started to recognize the Roman numerals, the use of letters, and the use of numbers. (Many of them also thought that it included complete sentences--more evidence that the concept of sentence is elusive.) After our discussion, students got to start their own outlines, with some heavy scaffolding:
Outlines have gone in and out of style over the last twenty years. Some writers find them stifling and useless. However, they are wonderfully adaptable. I am a very global and connective thinker, and I like the structure of an outline to finally capture my ideas and put them in a way that makes sense.

As students started their scaffolded outlines, they referred frequently to the word bank on the front of their pages, and even more frequently to the beautiful maps that they had created. The abstract term "Economy" that is Roman numeral III becomes beautifully concrete when matched with details--"I'll send chocolate to your country, and that will be my export, and you send iron and steel to mine. That will be my import."

Concept Maps
Later that afternoon, in reading class, we looked at another way to model ideas. After finishing our Text Features PPT students had a wonderful assortment of Antarctica books all around the room. I showed them how to quickly make the skeleton of the concept map:

...and then I gave them time to add to the organizer. I made it very open: "This is a way to keep track of some of the things that we learn about Antarctica. As you browse through the books and resources, try to find at least three details to add to the organizer."

This is an example of how the magic and engagement come naturally from books and learning. The kids were excited. I had several copies of Animals Robert Scott Saw (snagged at a discount bookstore!), Antarctica, Scholastic's Penguins, Penguins by Gail Gibbons, maps of Antarctica (available here), Antarctic Seals, and of course the Antarctica booklets that I had prepared for the students.

I walked around to observe how students organized their details. No one made the connection to the outlines they had started in the morning, and that was okay at this point. "Mrs. Kissner! Do leopard seals eat penguins, or do they eat other seals?" a student asked. "How could you find out?" I asked back. "And where would you put that detail, once you have found it?"

One student found the Rigby Antarctic seals book and added to the animals section. (I didn't take photos of the student work, so I'm recreating it here.)  This may not seem like a big deal, but notice: The student recognized a sub-topic that fits into the larger topic of Animals. The student made an arrow to show this relationship, and then added the names of the seals below.

"I could put Robert Scott in Places," another student said. "Mrs. Kissner, how do you spell his name?"
"How could you find out?" I asked, in what was becoming a familiar question.
"From the book we read," she said. "Who has it?"
"I really have no idea," I admitted, and it's true: I am the least likely person to know where any possible object is located in my classroom, at any given time.

On the other side of the room, another student was using the Antarctica map to add to her graphic organizer. I quickly noticed something troubling about her work. Can you see it? What does this show about her thinking?

Another student turned to the Research Stations of Antarctica text in the Antarctica booklet. "The answers are all in here," he said confidently. I stayed by his desk to listen--answers? I was intrigued. "See," he said. "It's here in the headings. These are the research stations, and I can just copy them next to Places." And then he did exactly that--no lines, no arrows, just the names of the research stations. In this little exchange I learned so much--this kid knows text features, and he knows how to quickly get information from the text, but he could probably use some help with how best to represent this information.

Tree Map
Over the next few days we'll be adding to our organizers, and they will get incredibly messy as students start to see connections. Some will be happy with the mess while others will request a new sheet of paper. Still others will abandon this early concept map as we move on to our detailed research and they choose their own focused topic. When this happens, we'll move on to a third way to show ideas: the tree map.

But the tree map will have to wait about a week or two as we work through the outline and the concept map. For me, it will be wonderfully informative to watch students as they make connections and think about how to sort all of the details that they create and learn.

News and Notes
-I've finally put together an assortment of science articles into one bundle: Ecosystems Informational Text Set. This includes a number of articles that are currently scattered across different text sets, plus a few new pieces.

-If you're looking for a set of connected texts with questions and open-ended responses, try Under the Sea: Nonfiction Test Preparation. You'll find four texts about octopuses and cuttlefish, plus an activity in which you can synthesize information from all four texts. I loved writing this so much!

-I'm making my YouTube playlists public, in case you are interested. Here they are:

Cuttlefish and Octopus: To go with the Under the Sea texts
Reading Homework: To go along with my reading homework series (February and January)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Teaching Text Features

I had a great day at the Pete & C conference yesterday! It was such a lovely group. A conference in Hershey always has the plus side of great souvenirs to bring home--Scharffen-Berger tasting squares for the boys, dark Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for my husband. (And maybe a bag of those new Lancaster caramels for me...)

This year I decided to start our nonfiction unit with a quick look at text features. I feel as if text features are best learned through meaningful use instead of pointless practice. If you want to understand what is in a photograph, you will learn to take the time to read the caption. If you are sifting through pages of text to find particular details, you will learn to use the headings to get around. Therefore, I like to give a quick overview of the different text features and then use the words frequently over the next few weeks.

I created this PowerPoint several years ago to frame our initial discussion of text features. Notice that this focuses mostly on the recognition--it is meant to show students the vast array of different forms that these features can take. We'll dive into function more in our later conversations.

Text features from Emily Kissner

Students had their "Antarctica" booklets on their desks, as well as an assortment of other texts. (I just copy an assortment of articles on the topics into one handy booklet--this allows the students to have core readings at hand throughout the unit. I have the Antarctica texts that I've written in my various text structure packets, plus a few from Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears and Toolkit Texts.) And then we looked at the text features!

With each feature, I asked students, "What do you notice?" Intermediate readers have trouble separating topic from structure. At first, they focused on the words of the titles. With some guiding questions, they started to make some bigger generalizations:
-Titles are usually at the top of a page
-Titles have fancy writing
-Titles are usually big

From titles we moved on to looking at headings. Kids made the generalizations much more quickly with these:
-Headings are in bold print
-Sometimes they are in boxes
-They are usually short
-They show us topics (Some students couldn't produce the word "topic", but instead called it "what we're going to read about next". Good to know!)

My timer went off as we were concluding our discussion of headings, and I tried to wrap things up so that we could move on to class. But one student had her hand up. She urgently wanted to share! But was it related to headings? With some students, you can never be sure. It was with some hesitation that I asked, "Do you have something else to tell us about headings?"

"I wanted to say that titles are only in one place in the text, but you see headings throughout the text," she said.

Wow! Leave it to students to always surprise me with their thinking. What a neat observation, and a pretty nifty use of throughout.

Our next order of business was to introduce the reading homework for the week, which was an advertisement for an Antarctic cruise. I introduced the homework with this real advertisement:

I asked students, "What kind of text is this? What is it trying to get you to do?" We discussed the persuasive nature of the video and how the authors put together the message.

 I ended by showing students the website for the cruise company. "What text features do we see on this website? How are they different from the features that you saw in your Antarctica booklets?" I was curious to see how students would transfer what we had just talked about in traditional texts to a digital text.

I noticed that there was a lot of variation in what students called the various digital features--menus, places to click on, arrows down. However, they did manage to figure out how one would find the price of an Antarctic cruise. (And the price is just as breathtaking as the scenery...)  Students ended by partner reading the homework text, getting new vocabulary words for the week, and reading words with the teachers.

So tomorrow--have to squeeze in one more teaching day before the big storm!--we'll finish looking at the text features of bold print, italic print, photos, captions, and illustrations. Learning how these text features function in a text, however, will be the work of the next month.

(Assuming we have school.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Building Online Reading Comprehension

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Online Reading Comprehension

I decided to jump outside my comfort zone and tackle a topic that has intrigued me for years--online reading comprehension. What do students understand of what they read online? How do their reading strategies differ? As classroom teachers, how can we best support students?

The new lines of research in this area are fascinating and filled with ideas to consider. Basically, the main points can be summarized like this:

-Online reading comprehension is different from offline reading comprehension, in ways that we still don't understand entirely;

-Methods for teaching offline reading comprehension don't always transfer well to online reading comprehension;

-Students don't always transfer what they know and can do in social situations to academic reading situations;

-Collaborative learning activities are especially helpful for online reading comprehension, as students learn new tech skills readily from each other.

I'll be presenting about online reading comprehension at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference...stop by and check it out!

Resources for learning more:

Research in Learning Technology: Online journal with enough articles to keep you reading and thinking for weeks!

Literacy Beat blog: This post explains how to frame digital reading as inquiry.

Jill Castek's site: Lots of resources and journal articles related to online reading.

CAST Strategy Tutor: An online tool to support reading.

Looking at the interplay between online and offline reading comprehension: A 2009 presentation by Julie Coiro.

ORCA: A presentation about the Online Reading Comprehension Assessment, to be released at some point in the future.

New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension and Research: A presentation by Dr. Donald Leu.

Texts for Digital Think-Alouds and Multimodal Activities

Cornell Feeder Watch Cam: Lots of visual images to discuss and explore.

MV Fram Expedition Blog: A blog of a ship's journey to Antarctica. Many students are unfamiliar with the backwards chronology of a blog.

Frolyc: Create your own multimodal activities and publish them to student iPads.

Bearne et al. 2007. Castek, Jill, L. Zawilinski, J. G. McVerry, W. I. O'Byrne, and D. Leu. (2008). The new literacies of online reading comprehension.
Brumberger, Eva. (2011). Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: An Examination of the Millenial Learner. Journal of Visual Literacy.
Dobson, Teresa, and J. Willinsky. 2009. Digital Literacy. In D. Olson and N. Torrance (Eds), Cambridge Handbook on Literacy.

Henry, Laurie, J. Castek, W.I. O’Byrne, and L. Zawalinski (2012). Using Peer Collaboration to Support Reading, Writing, and Communication: An Empowerment Model for Struggling Readers. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 28.

Hinrichsen, Juliet, and A. Coombs. 2013. The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology, v. 21.
Littlejohn, A., Beetham, H., and McGill, L. 2012. Learning at the digital frontier: a review of digital literacies in theory and practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28:6.
Malloy, Jacquelynn, J. Castek, and D. Leu. 2010. Silent Reading and Online Reading Comprehension. In Revisiting Silent Reading: New Directions for Teachers and Researchers, E. Hiebert and D. Reutzel, eds.
Walsh, Maureen. 2010. Multimodal Literacy: What Does It Mean for Classroom Practice? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 33:3.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Literacy Centers as Pre-Assessment

"Mrs. Kissner, I know the pattern! We have a two-hour delay, and then we have off. We have a two-hour delay, and then off."

And this student was right--that has been the pattern this week! I haven't been able to accomplish much teaching because of the weather. Yesterday, during what should have been my fluency intervention, I was digging a drainage canal in front of my house:

It was like building the biggest sand castle moat ever, and it was hugely satisfying to see the water start to run down to the storm drain instead of pooling in front of my driveway. I have always loved standing in slush and yesterday's slush was about the best ever.

All of these odd days left today's reading class as a finish-up and catch-up day. Some students were still working on their poetry assessment and others were completing their Comparing Poems projects. I needed something for the students who were finished with everything. I didn't want to have them work on their other ongoing projects, as the noise level would quickly escalate.

So I decided to pull down my nonfiction literacy center activities and use them as pre-assessment instead of independent practice. I created these over several years, and slowly added sets to my box. There are two versions of a paragraph match in which students match paragraphs to text structures. A retelling center directs students to read a short text about an animal life cycle and then retell the text with pictures; a main idea center has students arrange sentences from paragraphs in an order that makes sense.

Here's what I found: Using the center activities to find out what my students already know was incredibly effective. The informal nature of the activities made students much more willing to talk to me about their thinking than they would have been if they had been taking a traditional pretest. "What does this word mean?" one student asked, pointing to chronological. "Are these paragraphs or poems?" asked an ELL student. "I don't think I've learned about text structure before," said another. I love to overhear these questions--they mean that the kids are actively thinking about what they are reading and are searching for meaning.

Using the centers before instruction increased the overall level of engagement. Although I expected the activities to only take about 20 minutes, students kept coming back for more. "I want to try the water park one!" or, passing an envelope from one to another, "You'll love this one!" Best of all, I now know what kinds of knowledge students are bringing with them to the nonfiction unit that we will start tomorrow.

Or maybe not tomorrow. After all, there is a pattern.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spelling, Handwriting, and Daily Sentences

Interesting post about spelling and handwriting by J. Richard Gentry:

5 reasons to teach spelling, handwriting in the new year

It pairs nicely with this article by Steve Graham, published in 2010:

Want to Improve Children's Writing? Don't Neglect Their Handwriting

Now...some back story on handwriting so that everyone remembers the way things used to be in the 1980s and early 1990s. We spent 20 minutes every day on handwriting when I was in elementary school. This handwriting instruction was focused entirely on single letters. I remember vividly learning each cursive letter in second grade, and hoping to be the one chosen to write a letter on the chalkboard. In third grade we had more of the same for handwriting, but only one real writing composition activity in the entire year (a report about a robot...)

Clearly we don't want to go back to this kind of handwriting instruction. But I think we can merge handwriting with sentence composition. Here is one of the daily sentence lessons that I've made for this year. You can see it has lots going on--students are unscrambling the sentences and recopying them with correct punctuation. The sentences are all focused on a theme for the week (anemones!) which was augmented with video clips that we watched at arrival and dismissal.

 The sentence writing area has a dashed midline, which really helps fourth grade writers to make the transition to smaller writing lines. Even at this point in the year I am still talking with students about the relative spacing of their "g"s and lower case "y"s. (Just this week a student said to me, "Hey Mrs. Kissner, look at my g's. Aren't they better?") No one is going to the board to write letters, of course--these conversations happen within the context of the sentence tasks. Each week's practice lessons end with a paragraph writing task with the same dashed lines.

Trying to manage everything that we need to teach is really, really hard. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something! But combining sentence composition activities with handwriting practice is an efficient way to help students grow as writers.

Interested in trying it? The daily sentence activities are in a folder over on Google Drive. Email me with your Gmail account and I will add you to the permissions:


Monday, February 3, 2014

Sentence Combining

I really love using sentence composition activities as teaching tools for writing and grammar. This year, most of my grammar instruction has come from sentence modeling, sentence imitating, and sentence combining--and I really am seeing the carry over into writing.

In a few weeks, we're going to start on some more difficult sentence combining. Sentence combining is a great strategy for improving grammar and writing. (For more on sentence combining read this article by Bruce Saddler and Kristie Asaro-Saddler.) I took advantage of the snow day to create a PowerPoint to introduce sentence combining:

You may notice that there are many water pictures in this presentation. I'm dreaming of summer! Also there are lots of wading birds--mostly because they are the most obliging birds and will stay still long enough for me to take a picture of them.

-February Homework is up and running! I made over the old Winter Homework texts and added an advertisement and a myth...Theseus and the Minotaur.
-Here is a link to my playlist of videos that go along with the homework texts. I'm hearing from teachers that they are using the texts for small group instruction or intervention as well as homework...that's great feedback.
-Right now I'm working on having my cake and eating it too: Making a social studies United States regions unit that is also differentiated fluency instruction. Is anyone else interested in such a thing?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comparing Poems: An Invitation to Close Reading

  I am finally wrapping up poetry. In November, I foolishly thought that I could squeeze the unit into the fourteen days between Thanksgiving. Hahahahahah! Between days off for school and extra time to let ideas percolate, the unit has stretched into thirty days. I don't regret it. Looking back, I don't see any lessons that were blind alleys or unproductive tangents.

  Our culminating activity is a little project to compare poems. Over the years I have collected a decent collection of poetry books for my classroom, augmented by strategic bookroom purchases. (All of the books can be found on my Figurative Language Pinterest board.) My dream was for students to dive into the books and read a variety of poems by different authors.

Step 1: Read at least 5 poems from 2 different books

Step 2: Choose two poems to compare
After students read and explored the poems, they had to choose two to compare. Luckily a grandparent volunteer was in the room with me on this day to help! We ran back and forth to the copier to make copies of the selected poems so that students could trade books around and still keep the poems they wanted. (Why make copies? If I had had students write out the copies by hand, some would have tried to find the shortest poems possible. Life in fourth grade.)

Step 3: Use a chart to compare the poems
Fourth graders really need some guidance in comparing poems. This chart helps students to focus on some key criteria to consider.

As students worked, I went around the room...partly to answer questions, and partly to read all of the great poems! Students did find some neat parallels. "Takeout" in Pieces and "Regurgitate" in Antarctic Antics share a topic, while another student found that "Spring Wind" in The Great Frog Race compares nicely with "Windy Nights" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The best part, of course, is how the activity led students to ask questions and really consider aspects of the poems. Of course, I didn't answer all of the questions for students; in most cases, we went back to the poem together to try to think through them.
-Do you think this is a simile?
-Is this poem saying what I think it's saying?
-What is the theme of this poem?

...and my favorite question:
-What is an artichoke, anyway?

Getting fourth graders to slow down and really read a poem carefully is not an easy task. In this activity, the act of comparing led students to dive deeply into the poems. How are they different? How are they similar?

Step 4: Write a paragraph to compare the poems
We've written several of these paragraphs together, and I've given students feedback on their work so far. I used the feedback only process instead of feedback + grade, underlining great topic sentences, marking transition words ("Use these words again! They really help the reader to see how ideas connect!"), and circling specific text details. Some students asked to get their previous paragraphs from their folders so that they could refer to them as they wrote again.

Step 5: Create an illustration that shows aspects of both poems
Students are really excited about this step, and are thinking through their illustrations with care. This seems quite easy, but depending on the poems, it can be more tricky. Students are really looking forward to this step and keep coming up to me to show me all of the details they've included.

July 2014 Update
-You can find an iPad activity for students to use to compare poems here.
-This Frolyc activity invites readers to compare three texts: a poem, a video, and an informational text.