Friday, June 01, 2012

Guest Post: Renée LaTulippe and No Water River

After posting a slew of video clips from spring presentations at conferences, it's perfect timing to feature a guest post by fellow blogger, Renée M. LaTulippe, of No Water River: A Video Poetry Resource for Teachers and Students. If you haven't checked her site out before, it's well worth it-- a unique and valuable contribution to sharing poetry with young people.

No Water River: A Video Poetry Resource for Teachers and Students

Renée writes...

Although I started my video blog No Water River as a personal playground for my own children’s poetry, it didn’t take long to realize that it could and should be a lot more than that. I started thinking about how much time even young kids spend on the computer and thought, Wouldn’t it be neat to put even more poetry in front of them so they can see it and hear it? That’s when I started asking other poets to join me and add their voices and poems to the project, which has since become a mission to create a vast online video library of children’s poets reading their own work.

Now that I’ve found the groove, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how teachers and students can use the NWR poetry video library in the classroom. Following are just a few ideas to get started.

Types of posts / Grade levels
• The contemporary poetry on the site is geared to younger kids from pre-K to elementary, though older kids will also enjoy many of the poems. Those videos feature simple readings by the poets in an outdoor setting. The posts also include written or video interviews with the poets and links to more information and extension activities.

• The new monthly Kids’ Classics series will include poems suitable for students from pre-K through high school, and will feature poets from A. A. Milne to Yeats. Many of those videos will be more performance oriented and delivered by various readers. The posts also include brief bios and links to more information about the poems and poets.

Language and literature appreciation. One of the goals of NWR is to instill the sense that poetry (and the poet!) is an approachable and friendly thing, not something to be feared or revered. Appreciation, then, could take the form of simply listening to and enjoying the poems and having informal conversations about how students relate or don’t relate to them. Sessions could eventually be enhanced with lessons on craft, literary devices, and the poet’s use of language, as well as with critiques on how the poet delivers the poem and discussions on where ideas for poems come from. For example, Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis’s reading of his poem “Mosquito” lends itself well to discussions about delivery and ideas: Click here.

• Writing. Use the poems as models for students’ own creative writing. For example, my poem “If I Were an Ocelot” and the poem “No Strings Attached” by Julie Larios lend themselves to the writing of “What if?” poems that are great for stretching the imagination and playing with language. In Julie’s case, she imagined what she would do if she were a kite: Click here.

Cross-curricular activities. Each poem is accompanied by links to possible extension activities that may cover everything from writing and research to math, science, and art. There are ample resources to design a single lesson or a whole unit around the poem and/or poet.

• Author study. All of the guest poet posts include a written or video interview with the poet and links to further information. Students can choose one poet from the poetry video library, watch the video, read the interview, research other works by the author, and present findings to the class.

• Oral interpretation. There’s no better way for students to experience a text and savor spoken language than by “setting a poem free” orally and physically through oral interpretation. Students should choose poems that are particularly rich in language and imagery and that tell a good story. Teach the basics of oral interpretation, encourage good diction and drama, and leave plenty of room for creativity and costumes! This activity works well individually or in pairs with poems for two voices. Celebrate by having students present their poems during an in-class Poetry Café.

For interpretation ideas, have students peruse the Kids’ Classics videos in the video library, such as my video for “Jabberwocky,” the first in the classics series: Click here.

Poetry videos. Creating a class poetry blog or online literary magazine is an excellent year-long class project. After studying the videos on NWR and practicing oral interpretation, students can design the “look” or theme of their videos and start filming their own poetry.

And this is just the beginning. As the library grows, I intend to keep refining the posts and offering more resources that will help parents, teachers, and librarians foster an early appreciation of poetry and enhance their teaching of this art form. I look forward to seeing you at NWR!

And thank you, Sylvia, for helping me spread the word about this project.

About Renée LaTulippe: A former English/theater/public speaking teacher and wannabe starlet, Renée is the editor at All About Learning Press, for whom she also co-authors pre-reading books and early readers, including Lizard Lou, a collection of rhymes old and new. She blogs on language and grammar at AALP (often under the guise of her alter ego, the Chipmunk of Doom), and composes poems for her own blog, No Water River. Renée holds a BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College, an MA in English Education from New York University, and a Ph.D. in… oh, wait, no, that’s it. She lives in Italy with her husband and twin toddler boys.

Thank you, Renée, for your post and for your innovative work. I love this new addition of videos as a teaching resource. It's a natural!

Be sure to join the Poetry Friday crew at Carol's Corner.
Happy June 1st, everyone!


Renee LaTulippe said...

Thanks for having me, Sylvia! Happy Poetry Friday!

Carol said...

Holy Cow! What a fabulous resource for teachers and parents to share with kids! Thank you for all the hard work of putting this together!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank YOU, Renee, for a great post and a great blog! And hi, Carol-- thanks for stopping by. I agree-- Renee has created something very special-- and useful. Spread the word...

Amy LV said...

I love No Water River. Renee's snickerviews crack me up every time, and I hope that she does lots more readings herself as her reading is fantastic. This is an invaluable resource, and I look forward to watching it grow. 'So glad that you featured it here! a.

Joanna said...

Have been an avid follower of No River Water these past few months since its inception. I think it is a wonderful fun and professional resource for teachers and parents! Great post! Thanks for highlighting Renée and her gifts here, Sylvia!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Hear, hear for Renee and No Water River! Such a great vision and already-wonderful resource. Thanks, Sylvia, for featuring today.

Cathy Mealey said...

Something I really love about NWR posts is having the text of the poem in print as well as the video presentation. It's a wonderful tool to give a child the opportunity to follow along with the text while listening to the poem.

Happy to help spread the word about the treasure trove at NWR. Thank you Renee and Sylvia!

Eric VanRaepenbusch said...

No Water River is an excellent resource. Renee, I love all the suggests on how it can be used for student learning.

Keep up the good work!

Renee LaTulippe said...

Thanks for the heartwarming show of support, everyone! I do need to do more to reach teachers, but I'll get there, one poet at a time...:)

Irene Latham said...

Renee's enthusiasm for poetry is refreshing! Thank you Sylvia for showcasing her wonderful site. We should have a poetry retreat with Renee in Italy! :)

Renee LaTulippe said...

Irene, you're brilliant! :)

Books4Learning said...

thanks for sharing this site. it looks like an excellent resource for parents and educators.

Dana Carey said...

I love NWR and Renée's poetry videos. Her rendition of JABBERWOCKY is fantastic and really needs to go viral!

Charles Waters said...

Recording children's poets performing their work on video is the future and Renee is way ahead of the curve. I can certainly see Renee having a treasure trove of children's poetry recording in the future. Thanks for featuring her Sylvia!