I need some suggestions on topics that I can write poems about for second graders. Especially second grade boys. Reason? To help reading motivation.
The problem is that a lot of the boys in my second grade class that I help teach, is that they are the most unmotivated bunch I have ever had. Now the head teacher had all the kids list their favorite subjects that they are most interested in reading about and some of them have awful handwriting, I could not read some of what they had written. These poems were to be christmas gifts but found myself in a little rut. Any suggestions are appreciated.
A teacher wrote to me about "process writing," where kids who couldn't write their names were supposed to write essays. Is that what you are having to do? Call me eccentric, but I think this is silly.*
Step one is to make sure they know the alphabet and are learning to read. (It's not fair to say they are "unmotivated" if the real problem is that they have been allowed to be illiterate.)
Second step is to inundate them with lively poems, flashing rhymes, stunning stories, juvenile jokes, ANYTHING that puts a gleam in their eyes.
Encourage them to memorize any bits they seem to like.
When they have the concept--in their heads--of what a poem is, you could reasonably say, "Can you write a poem?"
*If you agree, you'll possibly enjoy "Reading Resources" (see link).
Try looking at poetry in your school library which is appealing to boys. Poets such as Shel Silverstein, Jack Prueletsky, etc. There's no reason you can't take a poem they like and just have them tweak it a bit to make it more original.
As for penmanship you are right! With the advent of computers penmanship went right down the drain. Take heart though that they will probably never have to do more than sign their own names when they get to be adults.
Read Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech, the story of a little boy whose teacher is introducing him to the poems of Robert Frost, William Blake, etc.. The student, Jack, thinks that boys cannot be poets. In the end he realizes he is wrong. This unit leads students in writing poems in the style of Jack's poems that are fashioned after famous poems. It is a fun unit, engaging for boys and girls alike.
Hope this isn't too late, but can be adapted to other "holidays." I use acrostic poems where the first letter of the first word of each line spells out the holiday:
Happy Holidays (Having fun/All night with/Presents and/Popcorn on the tree/Yule time is/Happiness/only/Love/Incredible/Dreams/and all of/Your family/Smiling) Arrange the poem vertically and let the kids decorate the page.
Hi! Just read your Q and I'm replying very late with my suggestion but here it is for future use; Writing Acrostic Poems are a fun way to get them to use their imagination and improve their writing skills at the same time. Topics you could use could be in tune with the season eg winter or spring, celebrations like Christmas or Easter or you could ask the class to name things that they love. Short-list the topics and assign each one to a group of 3 or 4 kids. It would be a great way to involve the whole class in the activity and kids would enjoy the activity at the same time. Hope this helps.