Monday, July 28, 2014


Giggle Poetry: Book Review

I am a huge fan of humor in the classroom (reminder there's still 5 days to submit your blog for the ELT Blog Carnival on humor). I think that getting students to laugh lowers their inhibitions and makes them feel more comfortable. In addition to making class a happier place to be it also allows students to participate more.

I am also a fan of poetry. I like the dream flag project because it encourages students to participate in more figurative thinking, not worry so much about rules, and get interested in other parts of English (other than just short stories and novels).

Giggle Poetry Reading Lessons is a great book for teachers of hesitant learners (especially readers). It introduces new vocabulary in a fun way, and encourages fluency by having students present their poems in front of the class. Many of the poems also encourage motions and movement, making this a TPR expereince.

Approximately the first 10% of the book is helping teachers (or parents) learn how to navigate the book. It goes over studies (why they developed the book), methods (how they encourage the book to be used in class) and examples. You can (clearly) ignore this part if you just want the poems, but the content is pretty solid and helps you understand how you may best use the poems in your class.
Keep them smiling while reading!

Then, we have thirty-four different poems. Quite a few of these I like enough to use with my high school students! Several I didn't like at all (but I can see how students would), and the vast majority I found perfect for middle school or elementary students.

To give you an idea of the topics of poems here are some of the titles: Dirty Socks, What I found in my Desk, Bad Hair Day Rap, Ish!, Someone's Toes Are in My Nose, and How to Torture your Teacher.

The poems are usually 1-2 pages and divided into stanzas. Next to the poem there is often direction as to the desired motions or intonations (e.g. "Act stern. Wage your finger.") While the poems are fairly basic in terms of vocabulary there are some cases where rather advanced words are used. If you are dealing with EFL students, you may like to scaffold more than the book does. An alternative is to substitute advanced words with cognates or more basic synonyms. Most of the poems are written with a rhyme or meter that makes memorizing and reading them easier than a standard text.

After each poem the book provides a lesson plan. As with all prefabricated lesson plans, I suggest you make many adaptations to best suit your class. These ideas area great start! The objective for each poem;s lesson plan is more or less the same, "Objective: The student will read text fluenty, with attention to pace and expression and with a high level of accuracy, as a means of comprehending the text."

Then it walks you through the five steps they suggest you follow:
  1. First activate background knowledge. The book provides sample questions to ask students to get them thinking of the topic. In an EFL environment some visuals would probably be helpful too!
  2. Skim/Scan. Usually they advise students to underline any words they may don-t know without looking at the context or situation. There are other great skimming and scanning activities you could use here.
  3. Modeled Reading. Usually this is set up for the teacher to read (and it gives guidance on how it should be read), but you could do this in many other ways as well.
  4. Guided Reading. Students are given the chance to look at vocabulary, inference,  and practice reading as a class (echo reading and choral reading) or in pairs (buddy reading)
  5. Finally students are given time to read on their own during Independent Reading.
  6. The last step is to have a student present (the book emphasizes to encourage them heavilily and focus on their successes rather than failures).
Personally, I feel that after the third poem this lesson plan structure is BORING! It has a great structure, but repeating it again and again isn't very fun to read. Don't be afraid to vary it for your class. Use the skeleton but adapt the activities, or do your own thing!

After the poems, at the end of the book, there are rubrics and suggested assessment methods. Again, feel free to adapt these as needed to keep your class interesting and best suit your students needs. This is by far the best book I have read all year, and I suggest you look into purchasing it yourself. To read more about Giggle Poetry you can check out their website.


  1. Do you think this could be used in Middle School ESL or is it more suitable for younger children?

  2. Honestly I think that older students (even as high as high school) may enjoy this! I wouldn't do it as the book was written at that point though. I would have a week or so of poetry where each student (or small groups) work on the poems and have a final talent show at the end. If your class has the right atmosphere and students realize that are supposed to / allowed to be silly, this can really help them get out of their shells and not be afraid to practice.


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