Paul Hankins's Reviews > Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud

Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud by Sylvia M. Vardell
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Just in time for back to school.

Each year, I ask my 11th graders to list ten poets. By the time we have exhausted Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss and a short list of traditional poets shared in classrooms, we are collectively-stuck. If we gave a score out of ten possible answers, many students would score a six. . .or a D. A D in poetry/poet recognition.

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have done so much over the years to make poetry readily-accessible to the classroom teacher and the readers in the room.

With GREAT MORNING, they bring the same gift of daily poetry to the the administrators and thought leaders of the building. Packaged in a way that suggests sharing during the morning annoucements (after all, don't we make time for tater tots). Introductory material in the book make a strong case for building leaders to share poetry with students and to be the figures leading this effort.

Performance tips for reading poetry are most concise and make it possible for even the most wary of reading poetry aloud can do this (think. . .if it is difficult for us, what does it look like for younger readers).

There's so much to celebrate in this new anthology, I wish I could put a copy on the desk of every administrator with whom I have a connection.

Poems listed by Topics specific to the life of a school year.
Extensions to Take 5 activities.
Introductory Poems. Community Building Poems. Funny Poems. Course-Specific Poems.
Poems that follow the arc of the life of a school year.

Resources, resources, resources which include a list of poetry publications, people, blogs, and a glossary of terms that the administrator is bringing to the microphone or the camera each day the poems are shared with the students in the building. This anthology is the quiet answer to the question, "What is one small think we can do to boost literacy in our building this year that would not be cost-prohibitive?"

Each poem in the anthology is anchored by an introduction to the subject and theme of the poem and ties it back to something that might be happening in the building the moment (Did You Know?). In this regard, the early poems are about establishing routines, and returning forms, and introducing key figures in the support services of the school (I really like the personalized introduction to the school nurse which invites insertion of the school nurse's name into the poem).

Each poem also has a follow up that invites the person sharing the poem to have a natural segue back into the announcements for the morning. Vardell and Wong call this "Follow Up."

In order to invite students to dive deeper into poetry, each poem of the day has a "Connect" piece found in the back of the book that students can access themselves or teachers might use as a springboard for shares in the classroom after the announcements.

One of my favorites that appear early on in the book is Janet Wong's "Report Cards" which invites and encourages students to think about what report cards look like and say about us by way of feedback. The "Did You Know?" for this poem is a history and word origin of the word, "grade" which builds in vocabulary to a share that would take no longer than a minute or two. Mary Lee Hahn's "Compliment Chain" is the extension, or "Connect" piece for this poem encouraging student-to-student compliments which could not only buffer the marks received for the period but provide opportunity for community building within the classroom.

Kenn Nesbitt's "New Year is Here" invites an opportunity for students who are coming back from their separate breaks to celebrate together. The bonus of this piece is, again, the "Did You Know?" which features commentary on how other countries observe and celebrate their own "new" year.

Vardell and Wong have brought together a diverse list of poets and poetic voices. Introductions to poets like Joseph Bruchac might be the opportunity to lead young readers to his picture books and works for middle grade and young adult readers. Bruchac's "Your Teacher" is a celebration of the people in the building who are going to spend the day and the year with the students. The nice thing about the position of this poem is that it is not listed in proximity to National Teacher Day (though a coin insert at the top of the page makes this recommendation, administrators).

Each of the day-to-day poems listed have the feature, "Poetry Plus" which makes it easy for administrators to perhaps list a poem and on their desk top calendar.

If you know Vardell and Wong's books; you know you want this book. If you want to boost literacy and poetry appreciation in your building while introducing your young readers to the poets they may read in school, this is your book.

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Reading Progress

July 28, 2018 – Started Reading
July 28, 2018 – Shelved
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: can-t-miss-read-aloud
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: celebration-of-teaching-teachers
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: children-s-poetry
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: choose-kind-title
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: conflict-resolution-title
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: early-reader-funny
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: elementary-reader-ready
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: friends-in-the-business
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: funny
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: generate-and-foster-creativity
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: janet-wong-title
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: ladders-to-classic-poetry-and-poets
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: mr-hankins-says-don-t-miss
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-celebration-of-childhood
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-celebration-of-play
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-celebration-of-teachers
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-holiday-season-theme
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-ladder-to-longer-works
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-middle-grade
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-multiple-voices
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-school-subject
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry-science
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: professional-text
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: professional-literacy-k-12
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: professional-text-approach
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: professional-text-reading
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: professional-text-teaching
July 28, 2018 – Shelved as: vardell-and-wong
July 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

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