In honor of Valentine’s Day and the Iditarod, my students and I worked together to write a special form of poetry called an ode. An ode is an exaggerated poem that celebrates something ordinary as extraordinary. They are great fun to write because they use figurative language, vivid verbs, expressive language, personification, and can be over-the-top and a little silly.
An ode does not have to rhyme, but some of my students decided to take up the challenge. We read some mentor text in Writer’s Workshop, and noticed that odes sometimes repeat phrases and have an over-the-top exaggerated voice. Our first ode was written from the point of view of a devoted musher to a husky.
We wrote another ode from the point of view of a fan of the race. How would we all feel if there was no Iditarod? Would huskies lose their joy? We had many giggles exaggerating our writing for this project.
We were inspired by our odes of gratitude for the Last Great Race on Earth®, so we decided to make our own compliment booklets to each other in honor of Valentine’s Day. Peter Cameron, an innovative educator in Ontario, Canada and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, has a wonderful blog called Mr. C’s SharesEase that is a great resource for teachers. He shared his friendship booklet idea, and I knew that would be a wonderful way to end our day.
Christine Hinkle, my friend and 4th grade teammate, created a blank 11 X 14 page of strips for each of our students to fill in with a compliment for someone else. This activity could be turned into an Iditarod-themed booklet very easily. Students could use Iditarod facts to write a compliment or a thank you note from a different point of view as a short formative assessment. How would a musher compliment his team? How would a husky dog compliment a dog bootie? The possibilities are endless!
Each year, Eanes Elementary School students bring in a decorated “mailbox” for our Valentine’s Day parties in the classroom. Boxes are lovingly decorated with creatively engineered openings for students to deliver cards. Many students save them and reuse them from kindergarten through 5th grade. It is a lovely tradition. Several of my students chose an Iditarod theme for their cards and treats this year!
And now…take a moment to see the Valentine’s Day fun in the 2016 Iditarod classroom this year as we delivered our notes and treats to our friend’s mailboxes:
Follow my journey this year as 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. We have partnered with Skype as a virtual field trip experience, and I will be sending recorded video messages daily along the trail to classrooms around the world. Sign up for a free Skype account first, and then join the “Iditarod Classroom Club” to follow along. Remember, you must have a Skype account first, or you only be in my club for 24 hours as a guest! Click the link below: