Friday, May 24, 2013



Welcome to Poetry Friday.
Jama Rattigan is hosting the poetry smorgasboard over at Alphabet Soup

And me, well, in this age of Common Core, and all things "rigorous," I'm always looking for ways to provide a rich reading menu for students and teachers. My teacher buddies get sick of hearing me remind them about the importance of exposing children to multiple texts. And how many read alouds I think children need to hear every day (a minimum of five, in case you are wondering!). Along those lines,  I'm always looking for ways to help teachers infuse more poetry into their classrooms. I recently stumbled across a new book that has lots of possibilities.

SOMETHING FISHY by Barry Louis Polisar is a collection of ocean-animal-ish related poems. They're short, and rhyme-y, and generally a little funny. I think they'd be a perfect way to open an intermediate, or even middle school science lesson. 

Take Polisar's poem, "Amoeba."

"An amoeba is as basic as
An animal can get
With qualities suggesting
It could be a perfect pet…"

Yep, I'd definitely use it to open a seventh grade life science lesson on these organisms. 

I could open a lesson on food chains with "The Smallest Fish."
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Who's the smallest fish of all?

… You could measure this by weight,
But each fish is another's bait. 

Similarly, I could use Polisar's "Pot-Bellied Seahorse" or  "Horseshoe Crab" or "Jellyfish" in lessons on describing animals or animal reproduction. I can see myself reading these poems aloud, then asking students to choose an animal's unusual features and wrap them into a poem.

I could also see myself using SOMETHING FISHY in reading and writing workshops. "The Crocodile and the Gator" would be perfect for opening a lesson on comparative texts.

"A crocodile is long and sleek
And different from a gator;
Faster in the water,
His range is so much greater…"

Polisar's "Killer Whale" or "Baited" would be terrific for opening a lesson on author's message.

And if I wanted to talk about satire in a middle school English class, I might open with Polisar's "Another Pied Beauty," 

"Glory be for spot and bass;
For trout and slug and snail;
For fresh fish swimming in the lake;
For dolphin, shark, and whale…"

Look for SOMETHING FISHY. It's a fun new poetry book with lots of possibilities.


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

What a cool idea to open a science lesson with poetry.I will pass this along to my science colleagues, Carol.

jama said...

Some fabulous ideas here, Carol. Enjoyed all the excerpts you shared. I got to hear Barry in person many years ago. I have one of his books around here somewhere. Good to know he has a new one out!

Cathy Ballou Mealey said...

Great book cover! Love the expression on the worm - really says it all!

Karin Fisher-Golton said...

Thank you for introducing me to this poetry book--many charming poems about one of my favorite subjects. The amoeba one made me laugh out loud.

I'm glad for voices supporting the idea of older kids hearing poetry.

Mary Lee said...

Sounds like a must-have!

Bridget Magee said...

Oooh so fun! I'm going to look for this "Something Fishy" book! Thanks for introducing us to this collection. =)