By LaVon Bridges
Butterflies are chips of color,
Pieces gently drifting
filtering through sunbeam prisms
singing silent beauty.
This exercise teaches bilingual and ESL students how to write a
paragraph within an imaginative context. The Butterfly exercise uses
color and form, highly visual elements, as ways to foster creative
expression and learning. See also the Rainbow Exercise, for using color
in teaching writing to bilingual and ESL students.
Introduction and Motivation
Read the above butterfly poem to the students. Discuss any
vocabulary they may not know. Talk about poetry and some of the
elements of poetry used in this piece. Then ask the students to read it
together as a group with you. When a student feels confident, he or she
may read it individually. Pass around the book Butterflies and Moths,
by Barbara Taylor, or any book with good photographs or illustrations
of butterflies. Each student should spend about thirty seconds looking
at the butterflies.
Instruct the students to draw a butterfly with four wing sections.
On the body, have them write, "I am." In each wing, the students should
write a sentence about themselves. They can then write a draft
paragraph, by writing out the four sentences in paragraph form. Each
student should then have an individual conference with the teacher for
discussion about editing the paragraph. When it comes time to write the
final draft of their paragraph, they can draw and decorate a butterfly
and copy the poem, too.
Reading may be evaluated from individual or group reading and
participation. Conference with each student for writing evaluation and
return papers to the student for correction. Consider publishing the
finished products by displaying in the room, making a class book, or
saving it for an individual portfolio or book.
Give students a worksheet that involves the vocabulary from the
poem. In addition, an exercise with excerpts from poetry, stories, and
non-fiction articles about butterflies to match with a list of genre
categories could be used.