How did we create the fuss? Easily, actually. First I read a bunch of fun, kid-friendly, accessible poems aloud (see resources below). Then, I had the students fold a blank piece of paper into three sections (two sections in kinder and first). They were asked to record one word--that's right--just one word, in each box (each word represented a topic they might write about--again, see below). Then, I modeled taking one of my words and doing a "brain dump;" writing any words or phrases that came to mind when thinking of this topic. I had the students do the same. Finally, I thought-aloud, as I transformed my brain-dump notes into a 'poem' (actually, something poem-ish...thanks, Peter Reynolds!) in the easiest way possible, just writing them in a list form down the page, repeating some, adding words to others, playing with the white space, then reading and rereading.
I turned the students' loose, walked around celebrating their efforts, repeating words I saw, having students go forward to share their ideas and poems-in-process on the document camera. Easy lesson plan...the modeling and celebrating is key. And...it worked in every classroom. I have mounds and mounds of poems to type up and several entries waiting to be submitted to our school newspaper the Tiger Times! Hooray for Poetry Month!
Books I used:
Had students record a topic about play in their first box.
We enjoyed the poem "In My Desk" by Jane Yolen. Students recorded a topic beginning with "In my..." or "On my..." in their second brainstorming box.
They were asked to come up with a free choice topic for their third box.
I could share several examples, but here's just one, from one of our first grade ESL students. He really liked Singer's poem "Jump!" which inspired this:
I can jump
I jump 100 times!
And 100 slaps!