Eric Curts on episode 300 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Eric Curts gives us five ways to use Google apps, extensions and tools to celebrate Poetry Month. From blackout poetry to rhymefinding extensions, learn about some tools you can use all year long in your language arts classes.
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5 Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e300
Date: April 27, 2018
Vicki: Today we’re talking with my “Mr. Google” friend Eric Curts. He knows everything about Google, but also we’re talking about poetry because April is Poetry Month.
So today we’re going to do five ways to celebrate Poetry Month.
Eric, what is our first way?
Eric: Yes, absolutely.
First thing I’m going to mention is that everything I’m going to share here can be found in a blog post I did recently at http://www.controlaltachieve.com/poetry. So you guys can find everything right there.
The very first one is Drag and Drop Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings.
Drag and Drop Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings
I think most of us are familiar with those magnetic poetry kits you can get. Well, this is a digital version of that. Basically, what I’ve done is I’ve used Google Drawings to put little text boxes on either side of the Google Drawing canvas.
On the left-hand side, there’s about a hundred Dolch words, just your normal words there.
I’ve got several of those in the blog post, and people can make copies of those, and the students can simply drag and drop those tiles over from the sides onto the canvas to make their poetry.
I’ve even had some folks make copies of these and then modify it with their own themed words — which is fantastic. I always encourage people to take the stuff and make changes to it.
Vicki: What age do you think these are perfect for?
Eric: You could definitely use these with your elementary students without a doubt. I don’t think there’s any upper limit to it.
The idea is that since the words that I chose are the Dolch words, the first about hundred or so are those words — those are definitely words that students are learning in K-1-2. You could definitely use this with your lower elementary students.
That way they can simply drag the words over and not have to worry about how to spell things. But if they want to go further, they sure can. They can double-click on any word and change it.
There are a few blank tiles so they can add their own words in as well. So it definitely scales up for upper elementary and for middle school kids as well.
Vicki: How fun! OK, what’s next?
Eric: The next one is Random Writing Prompt Generators with Google Sheets.
Random Writing Prompt Generators with Google Sheets
Sometimes that’s the hard thing, just getting started. What should I write a poem about?
So what I did was I used the “random” function inside of Google Sheets to create two different writing prompt generators.
The first one is text prompt generator. I took 2,000 adjectives and 1,000 nouns and put them in the Google Sheet. Every time you pull it up, it randomly puts the adjectives with the nouns and gives you 20 suggested writing prompts at a time. You can always refresh it and get 20 more.
If that doesn’t work for you, I did another one that is an Emoji Writing Prompt Generator. Again, I took hundreds and hundreds of emojis. It randomly puts them together — into either 2, 3, 4, or 5 emojis at a time, depending upon what you want.
Again, this can give that spark of creativity to the students to say, “Ahhh! I’m going to write a poem about something.” They can refresh this until they get three emojis that just hit them just right, and then they’ll use that for the foundation of their poem they’re going to write.
Vicki: Because as we know, sometimes if we just say, “Write something creative,” — OK, they really need help! (laughs)
Eric: That’s right!
Vicki: … spurring it forward… OK, what’s our third?
Eric: The next one is Blackout Poetry with Google Docs.
Blackout Poetry with Google Docs
Now a lot of people are familiar with Blackout Poetry in the analog version, where you take a page out of a magazine and a big black Sharpie marker and you cross out everything you don’t want. You leave behind just the words you want to make your poem.
Well, this is just a digital version of that using Google Docs.
Basically, it’s just a couple of quick tricks. You basically start by putting your text into the document that you’re going to share out with the students, or they can put their own text in there. Then you do three main things.
First of all, you turn the background of the Google Doc grey temporarily.
Then second, you use the highlighting tool to highlight the words you want in white, so they kind of pop out.
And then after you’ve highlighted the words you want to keep, you then change the background color a second time, but this time you change it to black. Everything else disappears except for the words you highlighted white.
Now you have Blackout Poetry done digitally.
Vicki: What fun! OK, what’s our fourth?
Eric: The fourth thing are poetry templates.
Again, sometimes it’s helpful to give a little structure.
Now this could be for students who are struggling with writing a poem and they need something to guide them through.
Or it could also be on the other end. If you’ve got a student who is very successful with their writing, but needs to be challenged to be creative and fit it within a certain structure.
So I’ve got a couple of these templates.
One is the standard Haiku template, which is going to be your 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. This is a Google Drawing template, where there are boxes for each of the syllables for them to put them in. But as a fun little twist, I also have an image in the background that the students can change to match whatever their poem is about.
The second template I have is what I call a Pi Poem template. Now this one’s in Google Sheets. That’s Pi as in P-I, the mathematical number pi. And the way it works is that you’re trying to write a poem where each word corresponds in length to each of the digits in Pi.
So the first word of the poem is three letters long. Then the next word is one letter long. Then the next one is four letters long. This is a template created in Google Sheets that will guide the students through that as they try to write a Pi Poem.
Vicki: Oh fun! And you’re pulling math together, aren’t you?
Vicki: Fun! OK, what’s our last one?
Eric: The final one is an add-on that you can use in Google Docs called Rhyme Finder.
Google Docs Add-On called Rhyme Finder
With all of the activities we’ve been looking at here so far, what if a student gets into them and still is stuck and is still struggling to come up with, “What’s a good rhyme for this word?”
Well, there’s an add-on for Google Docs called Rhyme Finder. All you have to do is open up the add-on, highlight any word in your document, and Rhyme Finder will then find for you all of the rhyming words and list how many syllables they have, just to give you an inspiration if you’re getting stuck when you are trying to create that poem.
Vicki: You know, I’ve been writing poetry since I was very young. And yes, we’re using all these tools, but do we still want to share poetry and help capture just the beauty that poetry is?
Eric: Absolutely. And when you talk about sharing, don’t forget that with everything we’ve been talking about here with creating these, the final products can be shared.
If it’s Google Drawings, they can download it as an image, and that image can be put on your class blog or emailed out. Or if it’s using the Google Docs Blackout Poetry, that final document can be shared with the regular share button, or again, it can be published to the web.
And that’s the thing. Once these are being created, and they’re being done in a digital format, I would absolutely encourage people to share what the students have created, and let it go beyond the classroom to a broader, more authentic audience.
Vicki: Yes! Because you know… poetry can be so much about the power of the perfect word. It’s such an activity that helps kids understand just the meaning, and even selecting the perfect word, you know?
Eric: Absolutely. Those who appreciate poetry, when you do take a look at the blog post, I actually wrote a poem for the blog post. I’ll leave that up to people to go check that out.
Again, it’s at http://www.controlaltachieve.com/poetry where you’ll find all five of these activities and tools, linked in with the descriptions on how to use each one of them and links to get copies of all the templates I mentioned.
For the introduction for this, I figured, “Hey, I can’t write a post about poetry if I don’t write a poem.”
So I know just what you mean. I struggled and labored over that poem (laughs) to get it just right. But it introduces the blog post and kicks that off in a fun way.
Vicki: So, remarkable educators, Eric Curts is such a valuable resource. I know he is for me in my classroom.
I know that you’ll get in there and enjoy and celebrate Poetry Month and publish it when you’re done!
Eric: Absolutely. Thank you so much!
Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio as submitted
Eric has been in education for 25 years, and is currently serving as a Technology Integration Specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium in Canton, Ohio where he oversees Google Apps for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as online learning and other technology integration initiatives.
Eric is an authorized Google Education Trainer and a Google Certified Innovator and provides Google Apps training to schools, organizations, and conferences throughout Ohio and across the country.
He is a co-leader of the Ohio Google Educator Group (GEG) at tiny.cc/geg-ohio and runs the award-winning blog www.ControlAltAchieve.com where all of his Google Apps and edtech resources can be found. Eric is married with four children.
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