Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bio Poems - with art and photography thrown in.

One night a few weeks ago, I was trawling through Twitter when I came across a tweet from the principal of Auroa School in Taranaki, @macca24129, tweeting a link to a blog of one of the classes at his school.  He was celebrating some beautiful work done by Mrs Ericsson's class, Room 6.

So I went to have a look at this blog to see what Mr Chittenden was celebrating, and I was inspired.

So right at the outset, I would like to say thanks to Heath for tweeting out this blog, and thanks to Alidia for blogging some fantastic work and inspiring my class and I.

And here is how my class made this idea our own.  Firstly we got big pieces of A2 paper.  We folded them in half side to side, top to bottom, to find the centre point of the paper.  Then we ruled lines diagonally from one corner to another to make a big cross.

I asked the children to make big, bold patterns.  I said that we would be painting our backgrounds and that fiddly patterns would be difficult.  It is still amazing how many kids don't listen to that instruction though.

The day after I put out some very brightly coloured paint:  red, yellow, orange, light blue, light and dark green, purple, pink.  The children got to painting.  I asked them to paint the background to their patterns first so that any smaller bits could be painted 'in front'.  At the end of a couple of sessions this is what some had achieved:

I really love the bold bright colours and how each pattern is different.  You may notice one that is different in the photo above, a green and yellow painting with an orange starfish in the centre; this one was done by an ORS child, so looks a bit different.  He loves painting though, so this was another opportunity to include him in the mainstream class programme directly.

Meanwhile I was also working with my kids to write their Bio Poems.  When I first started teaching, oh so long ago, I bought a fantastic book of Poetry Patterns from the Scholastic Book Club that I have used ever since to teach poetry.  It has so many different types of poem in it.  I have blogged about some other poetry structures I have used from this book before including Sneaky Poetry and Walking Poetry.

Each week my class and I have a poem of the week.  So the other week our poem was Becky's Bio Poem from the Poetry Pattern book.

Each night the students take their Poetry Book home as part of their home reading and each day we look at a different aspect of the poem.  I have the poem up on the ActivBoard and they have their books.  The children use their copy in their books to complete the activities and I mirror it up on the ActivBoard and at times the children come up and use the ActivBoard too.

The first day we focused on the vocabulary that the children are not familiar with.  This is an opportunity for them to practice their dictionary search skills with a partner.  Our dictionaries are extremely well used in my class.  They are using their knowledge about alphabetical order, their skills in using guide words to help them locate a word, and then reading the definitions of the words they are searching for.

The next day we were looking for verbs.
The next day we looked at the lay out of the poem and some of the punctuation.  This was really about the choices the poet was making as they wrote.

And on this day I asked the children to identify all the words ending in 'y'.  This lead to a discussion on suffixes and prefixes.
During this week we also began writing our own version of the poem.  I also used the ActivBoard to demonstrate this.
After students had finished writing, they typed their poems up in an A3 Publisher document and printed out plain black and white copies.
In the meantime the children did some touching up of their backgrounds, adding paint to cover the white gaps and sharpening the edges with pastels.
The next step was for the students to take photos of each other.  I demonstrated using the camera as it is still a fairly new tool in our school, asking the children to take five photos of the person they were photographing, the first one being a photo looking upwards.  I then downloaded the photos and printed them out in black and white.  My first attempt the children and I decided that the photos had come out too small, so I printed them again.
We cut out the pictures and the sentences of the poems and glued them on.


These children are pretty stoked with the outcome and I love how much colour these posters are going to bring to my class.  I can barely wait for the parents to see them!!


  1. Hi Melanie, I love your artworks! I'm glad I have inspired someone to do some amazing artwork. It was a great idea to use paint and the colours have turned out so vibrant and clear. I especially love the extension of the poetry and the children taking photos of each other in different positions. Thank you, I have really enjoyed seeing these master pieces. Alidia

    1. Thank for your feedback Alidia. I have to say that what took me to your blog in the first place was Heath's praise of the idea and work done in your class. I really enjoyed seeing a principal celebrate a teacher and what they were doing in their class. It is important we celebrate not only the work and progress of our students, but the work and progress of our teachers as well. Keep up the good work. I'm enjoying your class blog. Melanie

  2. Kia ora, my daughter is in Alidia's class and I loved the artwork and poetry created using this process. It is vibrant and meaningful and everytime I read my daughter's bio poem I smile a lot. I loved seeing your class also create such a wonderful piece that gives your students an avenue to express themselves and be totally involved in the creating of their master pieces. I am putting my daughter's work away to share with her when she is older.
    Donna B (Auroa Parent)

    1. Kia ora Donna, thank you for your comment. It is always awesome to get feedback from parents about their child's work and to know they treasure it. I'm sure Alidia will take pleasure in your appreciation of your daughter's work to. I was so pleased to visit Alidia's class blog and be inspired. I showed my class Alidia's class blog to demonstrate what I wanted them to achieve. My class have really enjoyed creating their works, and the greatest pleasure is when the work has been hung up in the class. Our school's centenary is being held this weekend, and I hope that the people attending also get pleasure from the hard work the children have done (and their teacher stressed out about!).

  3. Good topic you shared here.