The Last Children’s Literature Book I Read

“The classics.”

I get this definition the most when first asking students to define children’s literature. We all have that one book. THE story. Often we share this passion in a multi-generational gestalt. /That’s the essence of children’s literature. Each of us gets to define what counts as “literature” in the children’s book genre, and because of this no one has the right to define it for someone else. Yet through this chaos a consensus forms and we come to recognize the art of storytelling. Some stories will endure, most will be lost to time. Voices are amplified, and social practices are reinforced. Other voices are also lost to time. The canon that emerges from consensus reflects our society, good and bad.

That’s Children’s Literature

The last new book I read that fits my definition of children’s literature (and I read a lot of kids’ book) occurred at the SparkLab at the National Museum of American History. At the table they had a turn table, a mixing board with a few simple fades, and audio inputs for your own device.

Sitting there on the table. Overlooking the Deejay booth stood a copy of When the Beat Was Born.


The book tells the tale of DJ Kool Herc and the history of hip hop. The biography begins with Clive Campbell’s journey from Jamaica to the rise of hip hop in the Bronx. Laban Carrick Hill recreates history through vivid language. The images drawn by Theodore Taylor III bring the book to life while also capturing the Black Aesthetic.

The book was a lot better than the beats my kids dropped but the whole experience reminded me of how children’s literature should be taught: interest driven, production based, with a lot of awesome books standing by, pointing the way.


hacking in a suite at clarion
cc licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by Johan Nilsson

Last night David Quinn joined me for a hybrid Twitter chat and hack session. Basically we were building off of the web show featuring Julie Coiro  to explore using open annotation tools.

While the Twitter chat really only involved David, myself and Laura Gogia a group of learners joined us on on the #hacksession to create a code.

I always use a codebook when teach annotation. As these annotations become social the codebook evolves into a series of tags.

Our goal was to create an open codebook (click here for the doc) to be used once we start to do the #QuestionTheWeb activities with students.

I enjoy Twitter chats that go beyond the echochamber. Granted this works in small chats like #QuestionTheWeb (n=3) but doing open #hacksessions is a great way to give voice to educators and students.

We asked everyone to examine the “walks” they share and what it meant to name. Then we explored how naming influenced identity.

Molly Shields challenged us back. She felt our prompts suggested a separation of the text and world. So Molly threw three prompts at us:

  • Shouldn’t we say, rather, that texts actually make up our world?
  • In other words, how can an act of reading, writing, living not be part of the world?
  • Why is there an assumption that naming is apart from the world instead of the world itself, thus separating me from it?

A Confession

I decided to take up this challenge. Now I throw out this confession. I have no formal training in literary theory, semiotics, or linguistics. I have read the thinkings of a variety of perspectives including  Bakhtin, Kristeva, Kress, Chomsky. I have Googled Derrida.  These efforts were for enjoyment or to fill in gaps in my knowledge. So I am not as well versed as many involved in the #walkmyworld project.

In fact the genesis of  my deep explorations into this field was also the genesis of #walkmyworld. It started with Kristeva and intertextuality. Then  Sue Pet and I began to explore multimodal poetry through the lens of Rosenblatt’s Response Theory. We quickly found the focus on the “self” too constraining in the theoretical perspective. This drove us to Bakhtin’s notions of heteroglossia and chronotopes. Thus my reading into what I guess you call linguistic and literary philosophy began.

An interest and not a mastery. I am a mere novice, a padawan turning to Twitter and Google+ as my Master. So I wanted to try Molly’s challenge. This is the result:

I then decided to create a found poem from some of the annotations I made in the texts of literary philosophers. I went through my books both in print and pixel and pulled the quotes. I then rearranged them into a new poem. I could not think of a better way to illustrate the dialogism of online poetry:

polyvalent language
unfixed. There is
multidimensional spaces of
within a network
unity is variable
and relative
Truth is not born but a
separation of self and world
text is a tissue
is it found?

Image credit: Connections. MT-y.

Bike in Kaohsiung(parking)-030

flickr photo shared by 謝一麟 Chiā,It-lîn under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Once again our friends from across the globe amaze us. In fact new poets, learners and readers join #walkmyworld every day. To this end we will no longer publish weekly challenges but will shift the focus to learning events. This will allow folks to step in and out of our burgeoning affinity space.

In the last learning event we asked you to think about what it means to name things, and to consider the power of what you name in the pics you share. We considered what Hass meant when he said, “naming things is a way of establishing your identity through one’s surroundings.”

Many turned to to the the poem “Meditation at Lagunitas.”

I was blown away by the work @dogtrax who created a poetic response. Alecia’s exploration of Lagunitas and blackberries captured what it meant to identify oneself through one’s surroundings. Molly Sheilds challenged my definition of what text means.
We even had Robert Hass reach out to a Kate Booth’s kindergarten class involved in the #walkmyworld project.

Next Learning Event

These are just a few of the amazing things to come out of the last learning event. We will continue to share Hass’s poetry over the next few learning events. We will post a poem and a prompt to spark your thinking.
We will not tell you how to respond. Some may just write a paragraph or two based on the prompts. Others may annotate the poem. I am sure @dogtrax will post a series of poems in response. Molly will issue me another challenge.
The goal is for you to focus on your thoughts, your works, your identities.

Letter to a Poet

A mockingbird leans
from the walnut, bellies,
riffling white, accomplishes

his perch upon the eaves.
I witnessed this act of grace
in blind California

in the January sun
where families bicycle on Saturday
and the mother with high cheekbones

and coffee-colored iridescent
hair curses her child
in the language of Pushkin–

John, I am dull from
thinking of your pain,
this mimic world

which make us stupid
with the totem griefs
we hope will give us

power to look at trees,
at stones, one brute to another
like poems on a page.

What can I say, my friend?
There are tricks of animal grace,
poems in the mind

we survive on. It isn’t much.
You are 4,000 miles away &
this world did not invite us

In your response explore some, all, or none of these prompts:
What words or phrases spoke to you and influence the overall meaning of the poem?
What does this poem suggest about human connections and isolation?
What does Hass suggest about the ways we are, and are not, part of the world?
How do your walks demonstrate a connection  or isolation to the natural world?
I just scrolled through the #walkmyworld feed. You have shared hundreds (264 to be exact) of tweets from across the globe.

Leanne, Ian, Sue, Kristy, and I are so excited that so many people have decided to get involved in project to examine poetry, multimodality, response and authorship. The craziest part of the project is we told you from the beginning we were not going to tell you what you were going to do.

Well now it is week four and it is time to begin the next phase. During weeks four, five, and six we will examine the work of Robert Hass, the catalyst of this project. I will will send out an update each weekend sharing the task. The goal is to expand our notion of collaborative authorship and our definition of texts.

So each week we will throw some fun curve balls as we discuss Hass’s work. Robert Hass is known for describing everyday events and objects in the simplest, yet most complicated way. He can take the smallest object as he walks his world and then masterfully add layers of meaning.

This skills creates a sense of beauty in his work that allows the reader to peer into multiple perspectives. It is as if the poem can contain many voices all coming through one narrator.

We want you to explore this phenomenon over the next weeks.

Your Task:

You will complete a two part poetry analysis

Part One

For our first week of poetry analysis we will keep it simple, in both authors and texts. All you have to do is select one of the three poems below and describe how Hass used everyday objects. Explore the connotative meaning of his description. Describe the many layers of thought and perspective. Okay, maybe not so simple is it?

You can do your description as a Google Doc, a blog post, or even a YouTube video (I can’t help myself. Not everyone is verbocentric). It can be an expository or poetic exploration. Just remember to share your analysis using the hashtag #walkmyworld.

Part Two

Then think back to the images you have posted. The #WALKMYWORLD project is inspired by the life and work of Poet Laureate Robert Hass. We were inspired by the following critique of Field Guide, the first poetry collection by Hass:

Field Guide is a means of naming things, of establishing an identity through one’s surroundings, of translating the natural world into one’s private history. This is a lot to accomplish, yet Robert Hass manages it with clarity and compassion.” Hass confirmed his ability with Praise (1979), his second volume of poems, which won the William Carlos Williams Award. “In many ways,” Gander explained, “Praise addresses the problems implicit in the first book: Can the act of naming the world separate us from the world? How is it possible to bear grief, to accept death, and how can the spirit endure?”

Either on Twitter or in a blogpost address the following prompts:

In what ways are you establishing your own identity through your naming of things?

In your naming of things in the #WALKMYWORLD project, how are you sharing your own private history?

How does your naming and identification of your world separate you from the world?

The Poems

Letter to a Poet

Meditations at Lagunitas

The Seventh Night

image credit: Florianda. Walk in the Light


I have often wondered if the Common Core State Standards have a dead white guy bias. It seems that advocates of the common core continuously try to reinforce the idea that reading the classics is the solution to all educational issues. This applies to both nonfiction and fiction

In fact when Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, testifies in support of the Common Core one of the first things he mentions is that the Common Core requires the reading of our Founding Documents. If I would have known reading the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address were the highest priority in education I would have done it years ago.

I have come to see the bias in the CCSS based on the Fordham Institute recent report “Common Core in the Schools: A First Look at Reading Assignments.” I find thinly veiled ethnocentric beliefs in the suggested instructional approaches and in the suggested reading.

Bias in Instructional Approaches

Throughout the report on Common Core implementation is the idea that our educational woes are driven by a lack of content knowledge. In order to overcome systemic inequalities we just need to increase the cultural capiltal by focusing on knowledge and not the skills of what good readers do.

Let us ignore the research from the last thirty years and entertain this line of thinking:

The forward of the report states:

“In trying to improve reading comprehension, schools made a tragic mistake: they took time away from knowledge-building courses such as science and history to clear the decks for more time on reading skills and strategies. And the impact, particularly on our most disadvantaged students whose content and vocabulary gap is so great, has been devastating”

It assumes that strategy instruction is the root of our social woes. The only way to fix the achievement gap is with a heavy dose of dead white guy literature. Background knowledge and comprehension are linked. That is one of the most stable findings in educational research. The more knowledge you have the more you can comprehend. The more you can comprehend the more knowledge you gain. The pendulum may have swung too far towards instruction in disciplinary literacy strategies and comprehension strategy instruction but eliminating these in favor the Great Gatsby and Gettysburg Address will not serve children well.

Instead what we need to do is build in opportunities to read and write like historians and scientists into out content area classrooms. I am hopeful the CCSS will help move us in this direction. However, it cannot be about content alone.

According to Common Core supporters high quality dead white guy literature is also important for English Language Leaerners. In a recent speech to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Kathleen Porter-Magee, who wrote the forward to the report, spoke of the need of complex text for ELL learners. She gave an example of a leveled “Great Gatsby” text.

Porter Magee highlighted

In a “retold” version that is given to intermediate readers, that opening is boiled down to this:
“My name is Nick Carraway. I was born in a big city in the Middle West.”
Even more distressing is the version given to “beginning” readers:

My name is Nick. This is my friend. His name is Jay. Jay has a big house. See his house.

I agree with Porter-Magee that the beginning reading is not complex and does not allow for the intellectual capital of our second language learners to flourish. Yet if I am trying to teach a student who just arrived in this country to read English I would never use the full version of “Great Gatsby”. That seems even more inhumane.

The best approach is a bilingual education that would allow for translated or native works supported with beginning reading texts. Yet many states are openly hostile to bilingual education and even try to outlaw these approaches.

Giving a student who does not speak English the “Great Gatsby” will not end the achievement gap. It is silly to think so.

Bias Against Culturally Relevant and Young Adult Literature

Most gregarious in Appendix B is the list of recommended readings. What follows is a collection of books by dead white people about dead white people. In fact Appendix B states that the only selection criteria used was complexity, quality, and range. Representing the underrepresented with books about characters that actually look like the children we teach was not even considered! That is a national tragedy.

The authors of the report note that the appendix is not a suggested reading list, but they then go on to judge reading programs using the same list. So programs that use contemporary and culturally relevant literature would score low.

For example the report states that,

As a result, classic literature has, in many classrooms, been replaced by popular teen novels (often made into movies) such as The Hunger Games and Twilight. Indeed, the former, according to Renaissance Learning (more below), became the most widely read book in grades 9-12 following its theatrical release in 2012

It goes on to say:

Similarly, research published in 2009 by Renaissance Learning (the company that produces the “Accelerated Reader” program) found that “Ten of the top 16 most frequently read books by the 1,500 students in the top ten percent of reading achievement in grades 9-12 in the database for the 2008-2009 academic year were contemporary young adult fantasies.”

To say modern fantasy has no place in the reading programs of today’s high school is a travesty. The character development and conflicts are often quite complex and more than make up for some inadaquete readability scale. After all, if the students  choosing to read modern fantasy are in the top percent of reading ability there must be an instructional value.

This bias towards dead white guy literature is actually inherent in the anchor standards of the Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.9 Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.

The only required documents students have to read are: our founding documents, Shakespeare, and dated dead white guy novels.

How to fight for Culturally Relevant and Young Adult Literature.

Be informed. The Text Complexity Triangle contains Quantitative, Qualitative and Reader and Task. The report mentions readability (quantitative) 14 times. The other two corners of the triangle were quickly dropped. If you want to argue that culturally relevant or modern fantasy are complex text use the other two corners of the triangle to your advantage.

Know the research. Get involved. Follow the work of leading African American, Hispanic, or literacy scholars who advance the field of culturally responsive curriculum.

Do what is right. Our students need to read about characters that look like they do. They need stories with conflicts that reflect the realities of their lives. Include these in your program. Fight against those who say the woes of our urban youth are caused by a lack of dead white guy literature.

I support the Common Core State Standards. I believe the anchor standards (not grade level expectations) provide a holistic approach to educating well prepared and well rounded students. I just want a better Appendix B.


It saddens me when I walk into classrooms and see prewriting taught using some perfunctory graphic organizer that every student must complete. We send the message that creating new ideas requires a formulaic approach. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Prewriting, like writing in general, has as many methods as their are writers. Instead of one specific strategy we need to build in multiple opportunities for our students  to explore meaning making within a community of writers.

My Reflections

In a previous post I documented the complexity of my own prewriting process. I decided to once again collect artifacts of my work and then reflect on my own thinking.



I took a picture of my process that emerged when writing yesterday’s post on Affinity Spaces. It started with me grabbing a pice of scrap paper and jotting down a few ideas. There was no real organization just a chain of thoughts.


I then went to wikipedia to do a quick crosscheck of my facts. I am not one of those educators who thinks to ban Wikipedia. Instead I embrace it. I go to wikipedia for quick fact checks and to look for primary sources.



This lead me to the work cited page and I realized, “DUH, you own this book (or at least the rights to it).” So I grabbed my iPad and went and scanned Gee’s 11 principles of affinity spaces.


After a quick refresh of Gee’s writingI returned to my original scrap paper ideas. It was time to organize my thoughts in my final step of prewriting. During this step I thought about the organization of ideas. I also considered how my organization affected my design choices. This last step is a critical process for multimodal composition. One must consider how design can enhance rather than detract for your ideas. For me this was a matter of determining my heading levels throughout the post.


My Thoughts on Pre-Writing

So much more happened to generate my post than what the picture captures. I have long joked that I do my best writing when walking the dogs. How can we teach and model that to writers? Prewriting for me is an embodied cultural experience. I pace. i chug coffee. I may even throw stuff. Can I hang that poster in my room? “Good writers throw things?”

Yet when you walk into most classrooms, especially at the elementary level (too many writing practices are assumed in secondary education), you do not see writers struggling with ideas or trying to create new meaning. All too often they just complete the district wide graphic organizer.

Some Take Aways

After thinking about how i work through multimodal composition I had a few thoughts I wanted to share.

Writing is an Embodied Cultural Practice

I know I have discussed this idea before but it is worth reiterating. We cannot look to writing as a set of discrete skills. Instead writing is best taught when we use student writing to build both their sense of identity and agency. First students need to see themselves as writers. Writers who grapple with ideas like every other person who has put thought to paper. Students also need to find agency in their words in order to understand that their meaning has power that can affect their lives and the lives of others.

In terms of pre-writing this embodied teaching would require students to interact with a community of writers with varying expertise. They could share their reflections on generating ideas with the class or with other writers on

Teachers also need to share with students to understand that their are multiple pathways to knowledge when pre-writing. Instead of demonstrating one graphic organizer include mini-lessons on multiple graphic organizers for multiple purposes. Let students choose and reflect on a system that works best for them. this could include formal outlines, bulleted outlines, Venn diagrams, concept maps, expository pillars, Vee diagrams, etc.

Pre-Writing and Multiple Source Reading can not Be Separated

Expository writing is a dialogical conversations with the texts we read. One of the major shifts (or better practices as I prefer to call them) is the use of sources when writing. This of course means that educators can not draw a false line between reading and writing during inquiry learning.

In my example above I first recalled information I have come across in the work of others discussing JPG’s affinity spaces (Black, Schraeder, Brown, etc) and from reading the primary source. I used Wikipedia as a secondary source. I then returned to my book. The act of prewriting was in itself an act of synthesis and of multiple source reading.

Screencasting Alone can not Capture the Complexity of Multimodal Composition

For my dissertation I watched hundreds of hours of video as students completed internet inquiry tasks. During my time at the New Literacies Research Lab I did the same. In all of the research the students had to finish with some sort of multimodal composition.  For my dissertation this involved posting a response to a discussion board (the post did not use academic discourse not multimodal design…but more on that later).

The point is I tried to capture the synthesis of ideas just by recording screens. Based on my reflection above this violated basic ecological validity. It isn’t how I synthesize and plan writing when reading multiple sources online.

At the very least an study looking at prewriting and multimodal composition must allow for and document any paper based notes. I would say the same goes for any assessment that attempts to score students synthesis of readinr or their prewriting.

In all honesty because writing is an embodied cultural practice it would take much more to document pre-writing when planning for multimodal composition (or any writing actually). For example I could forsee an ethnography of bloggers that requires video of the workspace; collection of all artifacts, paper and pixel based; reflective blog posts or journals by the bloggers discussing their decisions in the creation of both copy and design.

Then maybe we can capture the complexity of pre-writing. Then maybe we would know exactly how many writers throw stuff.

Related Posts


I have gotten more than a few offers from districts to develop Close Reading rubrics. I refuse.

Close reading is a strategy that allows us to interpret a text based on a specific purpose. It is a method and not an outcome. Therefore I believe (my opinion alone) those trying to sell close reading rubrics might as well be selling snake oil.

You do not measure close reading. That would be like measuring a specific tweak to a golf swing. In the end you do not care about the frequency and fidelity of the method. You want more yardage. That is your evidence that the intervention worked.


The easiest way to look for evidence of close reading is to model and teach students to annotate text for different purposes. Teachers can easily quantify and measure the frequencies and types of annotation. So you can examine how they annotate texts. You can have students return to the same text and annotate for different purposes.

Text Discussion

Another way to check for understanding through close reading is through text based talk. This is harder to assess than text annotation as multiple conversations occur at once in the classroom. As a teacher you are looking for evidence of text based inferences. However this is easier to assess and rubrics could be developed for online forums. Basically teachers need to look for evidence that students are returning to the text, using complex vocabulary, respond to prompts about author’s craft.

If you want to assess close reading beyond annotation you must have students create a product with the information they read.

Short Answer Responses

Short answer responses that focus on looking for evidence of the CCSS will work. Students who are better trained as close reading (text annotation on their part) and text dependent questioning (by the teacher or small group forums) should prove better. For this I would just use sample rubrics from the Smarter Balance Pilot items.

Debates, Argumentation, Informational Writing

Another way to measure if students have integrated the process of closed reading into their reading is to examine their writing products. This is where the content portion of your rubric is to critical to your success in argumentative writing. You want teachers develop criteria so students who are able to focus on key vocabulary, claims and evidence, and authors craft out perform students who do not.


These are just my thoughts. Close Reading, like much of the CCSS, cannot be taught in isolation. It isn’t a product of learning but it is the process of reading that college and career ready students use. There are some close reading rubrics floating around the web. I wouldn’t trust most of them. In fact many of these rubrics just have students evaluating key ideas, authors craft, etc within a writing assignment.

I think you are better served by:
Teaching teachers to model and assess text annotation.
Teaching teachers to model, offer guided practice in text dependent questioning techniques.
Using online forums based on text dependent prompts (rubrics could be developed for these).
Using building wide writing rubrics so students who engage in close reading with sources out perform students who do not.
Encouraging teachers to develop performance assessments that will demonstrate evidence of close reading.

I know this may not be the answer you were looking for. It would have been easy to post links to some of the bad rubrics. Yet I believe rubrics are for measuring products and close reading is a process that leads to students developing better products.


Last night during the combined #engchat and #sschat some folks were asking m about how I use collaborative case studies to improve argumentative writing. Since my original post was deleted I thought I would try to recreate it.

First I am a huge fan of collaborative writing to support argumentative writing. Not because it is backed by empirical research (it is see Writing Next ) but because I know it works.

Increases Strategy Exchange
I am a firm believer that teaching isn’t about learning new strategies to read and write but it is a matter of building in opportunities for emerging reader and writers to exchange Just in Time strategies embedded in literacy practices. Collaborative writing allows for in-depth discussion, meaningful revision, and thoughtful composition over time.

More Efficient and Effective Assessment

Collaborative writing also eases the assessment burden on teachers. Much of my teaching is online and managing hundreds of post while reading twenty essays is daunting. Having students write in groups of 4-5 reduces my load.

The assessment is also more meaningful. I can look for growth not simply in the final product but using the comments on a wiki or GDocs I can see students growth through the process of writing.They leave comments to each other and I can look at these comments to see if student “X” understands supporting details.

New tools also allow for greater accountability. As teachers who have assigned group projects we have all had the pushy parent proclaiming their child was the only productive member of the group. Using the revision history we can show students how we track the work load.

Real Life Experience
We are all now familiar with the adage, “In the real world it is collaboration in schools it is cheating.” Last night during #engsschat folks, who had spent time in actual writing careers, commented that my description of collaborative case study reminded them of editorial meetings. If we are going to prepare students to write themselves into the world we need to build in opportunities for collaboration.

How it Works
I begin by giving my students a controversial issue or inquiry question such as is “Google Making us Dumber?” Then I give them multiple sources to consider such as the Cspan book talk  with Mark Bauerlein and Neil Howe debating “The Millennials: The Dumbest Generation or the Next Great Generation?”
Then in groups they decide how they will read the sources and compose a document. They then start composing on a wiki or gDocs.
I then sit back and watch the writing process unfold:
After taking collaborative notes the students plan their essay:
Then they draft and revise:
Finally they publish a piece:
Overall it is very effectice and I encourage everyone interested in supporting argumentative writing to give it a try.

As a sixth grade teacher I pushed the boundaries of technology integration. You know the type of teacher. They come in early and sign out the computer labs months in advance, they spend hours on building teachers websites, and they integrate digital texts into the literacy curriculum. The first two units I taught that focused on digital literacies centered around mythology and poetry. I just found it so rewarding to juxtapose the worlds’ oldest genres on emerging texts. This week I share ten ideas to integrate poetry and technology.

Too often teachers view poetry as unit of study. Its a two week assignment that has to be done. Often students are even worse. They view poetry with disdain, loathing, and fear. As an educational community we must share the idea that poetry is a text for life, not a unit of study. Technology provides an avenue for such an understanding.

Online Communities
The first place to start is to include a discussion board or classroom blog in your poetry units. In my classroom the poetry discussion page received the most monthly when compared to my other webpages.

In a class forum you can create different threads for specific genres of poetry. For example have a page for antithesis, haikus, etc. You can also create a spot for collaborative poems where students add a line at a time. Teachers will quickly discover the threads developing a life of their own.

On a classroom blog emphasize the growing voice of poets. Have each student create a poetry blog, or a page on their blog specifically for poetry. The young poets can add poems and others can offer feedback and advice using the comment features.

Poetry Mash Ups
Students will find mash-Ups, or the idea of taking content from many places as the ingredients in a new recipe, as a perfect tool for developing an appreciation of poetry. Using PowerPoint, Imovie, or Moviemaker kids can easily take an entire poem, a specific stanza, or even a word and create a new work. For example students could select a poem by a canonical author and then rearrange the words with images and movies found online. Then using one of the tools online create a digital mash up.

Twitter Poems
I never tried this as a teacher, but follow some wonderful Twitter poets. Having students try to write a poem in 140 characters or less is a great way to teach students that the power of words often resides in both their scarcity and in the silence between stanzas. First (bacause Twitter is blocked in most schools) print out some great examples. Simply search for #twitpoems or #twitterpoems. Then model with the class writing a poem. Finally give students a chance. For an extra challenge try writing Twiakus!

Lyric Hunt
teachers have used song lyrics for poetry instruction for years. The Internet, however, has given access to unlimited titles and allows students to find texts that interest them. Song lyrics are a great way to teach poetic devices and reinforce Internet searching skills. Simply challenge students to find examples of poetic devices in the lyrics of their favortie songs.

Found Poems with Google News
So many teachers bemoan our cut and paste culture. I say when it comes to poetry why fight it. Use Google News and the idea of found poems to teach students both poetry and the use of specialized search engines. Students can search out specific topics, take words from the headlines, and create found poems.

Respond to Poetry with Images
This lesson is always a hit with teachers (for materials visit our NCTE presentation. Basically you have students circle words in a poem that affect the meaning. Then they search the Internet looking for images that capture that meaning. Finally they arrange images on a tableau to represent the meaning. This is a great lesson that not only focuses on poetry, but also introduces the idea of design affecting meaning.

Xtranormal Slam
The folks at xtranormal proudly say if you can type you can make a movie. I always thought it would be fun to do an animated poetry slam. Students could write poems, then have their characters challenge each other in a virtual poetry slam. Xtranormal really makes it that easy. If you can type you can create a wonderful movie.

Multimedia Metaphor Poems
This is another lesson that students love (for materials visit our NCTE presentation). Basically students create an extended metaphor poem and use both words and images to share their poems. I found, when teaching this lesson, that often it is the images that drive the words, and not words driving images. It was a great way to introduce the idea of design literacy.

Internet Inquiry
Internet can also serve as a tool that establishes a community of poets that links to the bards of the past. Another learning activity that highlights the efficacy of the Internet as a text for traditional content while building offline and online reading comprehension is a comparison of poets and their work. Students can build online reading comprehension strategies while developing an understanding that poets and their writing are products of their time and environment. For example, a teacher could assign two somewhat contemporary poets such as Langston Hughes and Robert Frost and contrast the role urbanization had in their work. Hughes captures the jazz beats and tribulations of urban migration, and Frost writes in a style that resembles the windy roads he traveled to escape the city and recapture rural America. Students could search for works by these two authors, and synthesize their critique with information found on biography pages and history pages of the early twentieth century.

Doink Poems
The final technolgy and poetry activity I share today involves a great tool I was introduced to at NCTE. Doink is a wonderful collaborative tool for sharing, uploading, and using animations. Like xtranomral it is easy to use, but has many applicatio0ns. One of my favorites is creating illustrated poetry projects that involve animations created by others. Your students will love thins.