Last Thursday we had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Coelho (Poetry Joe) via Skype. As cool as it was that my students were talking with a published poet, the coolest thing was the fact that there was a person who was IN London, IN my classroom in Southern California.
We had just finished our district performance task on opinion writing and were getting ready to start a poetry unit, so this was a great way to kick it off! Poetry Joe had an entire lesson prepared in which he shared poems with my class and got them involved every step of the way. He was wonderful when it came to responding to questions my third graders thought of throughout the lesson; and even made up a poem on the spot for them! I could see the confidence levels rising in my classroom as he asked them questions, they got to share their ideas, and they participated in his poems. One of my students even came up with a monster poem (that rhymed) on the spot!
I was amazed by the amount of teamwork and support my students exhibited throughout the Skype session; from helping each other come up with ideas to waiting patiently and helping out when the internet connection failed (many times) they were fabulous, engaged, and awestruck!
After the Skype session I had my students do a quick write in which they could respond to the session with Poetry Joe in ANY (written) way they wanted too. Some chose to write sentences that rhymed, some wrote about their thoughts in response to the new things they learned, and some wrote poems! Everything that was written during our quick write time was thoughtful, creative, and deeper than anything my students had written before.
Being able to bring a poet in London to my classroom is one of the best experiences I have been able to provide my students this year. I quickly saw a shift in my students' thinking from thinking poetry was hard, awkward, and not fun to thinking poetry is easy, natural, and very fun! I even have a student who now plans on becoming a poet! This was just our first experience with Skype in the classroom, but now that I've seen the positive impact it had on my students we will most definitely be skyping with many more professionals throughout the year!