I’ve been sharing poems the past couple of weeks from What’s Inside? Poems to Explore the Park. I’ll be officially announcing the book later this week, but first, I want to introduce the fantastic educator who has written classroom activities to go with my poems.
When I first conceived of putting out a series of my poetry collections specifically for teachers, I knew I wanted teachers involved in the process. I visit a fair number of schools and have a sister who’s a 1st-grade teacher, but I’m not in the trenches. So I wanted super creative educators who could read my poems and then share ideas that other teachers could use to expand the experience across other content areas. In looking for different educators to write activities for 30 Painless Classroom Poems, I considered lots of things: classroom experience, involvement in educational organizations and committees, an online presence, and, most importantly, an ability to create varied, fresh ways for teachers to use my poems in the classroom. I hit the jackpot with Ed! When I read the activities that he came up with, I was jumping around with excitement! And on a side note, I even got to meet Ed in person at ALA when he attended a Poetry Blast! Now, I’d like to introduce you to him.
From graduate students to kindergarten students, Ed Spicer is an educator with a wide variety of experiences during the last two decades. He spends most of his time with his first-grade students, but he also loves his high school book group, with whom he has worked for the last 14 years. Spicer has served on the Caldecott award committee, the Printz award committee, and many other committees with the American Library Association. He is a Cool Teacher winner in Michigan. Spicer writes a young adult book review column for the Michigan Reading Journal, and he has also published dozens of curriculum guides for Penguin, Random House, and Houghton Mifflin.
Friend him on Facebook: facebook.com/spicyreads
Follow him on Twitter: @spicyreads
Visit his website: www.spicyreads.org/
Addendum from Laura Purdie Salas: Ed Spicer was too modest to bring this up, but here’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to have him agree to write activities for What’s Inside.
In the Acknowledgements for her wonderful novel in verse Words with Wings, poet Nikki Grimes wrote: “I save my most heartfelt thanks for teacher Ed Spicer, who served as model for the teacher in my story. Ed regularly honors and nurtures the daydreamers who pass through his classroom by allowing them time to dream, and to capture their daydreams on paper. That was an inspiration to me and helped in the shaping of this story. It only seemed fitting to name my character after him. Thanks, Mr. Spicer!”
Here are just two of the 16 wonderful activities he contributed to What’s Inside? Poems to Explore the Park. Some relate to specific poems, while others are about close observation and making predictions (two skills at the heart of reading–and writing–the poems in this collection!):
- Take a jigsaw puzzle and remove one piece from the center. Have students look carefully at the pieces surrounding the missing piece. Ask students to generate a list of attributes that predict what will be on the missing piece. What colors? What shapes? To extend this activity for older students, remove all of the pieces except one and have students try to predict the subject of the puzzle. Add a piece or two at a time until the majority of students can figure out what is inside of the puzzle! Have students make the same list of attributes, revising as you continue. Obviously, a puzzle featuring things found at a park or outside in your area is best.
- Obviously making sure that students do not have any dietary restrictions first, blindfold students and feed them various foods that have a surprise in the middle (a peanut M&M, a chocolate-covered cherry, an ice cube with a blueberry in the middle, etc.). Have students attempt to predict what is inside. Solicit parents to make really creative and unusual pairings, perhaps even choosing items that are often served at park picnics.
I love these! The activities are an invaluable component of What’s Inside? Poems to Explore the Park. I’m thrilled that educators will be able to use his terrific ideas to expand and extend sharing my poems with their students.