As an ESL Teacher, I often co-teach with classroom teachers. Earlier this week I was in a third grade class with the book Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur as a mentor text. Of course those smart third graders knew that Spring is the season we are entering (we’re only days away from Spring Break!) and enthusiastically called out that alphabet means ABCs. They weren’t so sure about acrostic but I told them I was sure they would figure it out as we read the book and that I would ask them about it at the end. We read the book cover to cover just enjoying the author’s beautiful language and the brilliant linoleum-cut illustrations by Leslie Evans. And at the end they were full of thoughts of Spring, and they understood how acrostic poetry is written. We made a list of the ABC of Spring words from the book. Later (my time was up and I moved on to my next class) they added words of their own. Their teacher recorded them on an anchor chart. As I was leaving, though, in a quick side conversation (which she made sure the students didn’t hear) she said she thought the writing might be really hard for the students. Still, she continued on with the lesson and guided the students to chose a word and start writing.
Today I was back in the classroom. Most of the students had written their acrostics, typed them on Google Classroom so their teacher could print them on a Spring-yellow paper, and created an illustration- only a few were still working on the illustrations. So they were ready and even eager to share their poems. Their teacher was happy and smiling and kept saying, “I really didn’t have to help them with this,” and “I just can’t believe all the ideas they came up with,” and “I can’t wait to put these up on the bulletin board in the hall.”
She gave each poet the choice to read or not. The first few gave in to stage fright but soon students were jumping up to read, and when given a second chance, most of the ones who had been nervous stepped up to read. They even used the microphone, and nobody mumbled. It was easy to give a sincere and specific compliment to each poet. It was poetry joy, and we all felt it- magical.