April is National Poetry Month! I have a few tips for you that have worked so wonderfully over the years when introducing poetry to my classes.
Some students are natural writers and can jump write in when asked to write poetry.
Other students will stare at you like a lost puppy, suddenly develop a stomach ache, have to go to the bathroom, call their mom because they forgot their lunch, or just simply want to run and hide!
So, how can we get all our students writing poetry? How can we challenge those already eager writers while bringing those reluctant writers along?
There are 3 steps to how I introduce poetry that have always worked!
Step One: I read, read, read a ton of poetry to the class. I let them spend several days just listening and enjoying some great poetry as readers. Sometimes we share our opinions, questions, and thoughts about the poems. Other times, I just read for pure enjoyment.
I make sure to have at least three overflowing bins of poetry collection books of all varieties. I usually get these from the school library and my own collection. Here are some of my favorite poetry collections:
Each day after I read, read, read, I put the bins of poetry books in the middle of the carpet. I then tell the kids to choose one book that interests them and begin reading those poems independently. I make sure to have enough poetry books so that there is at least one per student and they have lots to choose from!
We repeat this process of reading poetry for several days. There is no pressure to begin writing poetry yet, just enjoying what has already been written!
Step Two: To transition kids from reading poetry for enjoyment into beginning to think about poetry as a writer we move into step two. During this stage I continue reading great poetry to the class. But, during their independent work time I have students copy poems they really enjoy.
They simply choose a poem that stands out to them as something special and copy it exactly as it is written.
By doing this for a few days, there is still no pressure on kids to come up with writing their own poems. Here are some great benefits to this step:
1. Every student can be successful at copying a poem
2. Students are building a level of enjoyment for poetry
3. It is a great assessment to see what types of poems each student is really interested in
4. It builds a great sense of community as students share their favorite poems after they are copied
5. It introduces the ideas of line breaks, spacing, and font changes in poetry
Step Three: After students have copied several of their favorite poems, ask them to choose their absolute favorite. Choose a class favorite from all the poems you have read. On a large chart paper, write a poem similar to your favorite. Ask the class to help you write the poem, inviting them to share their ideas with the class.
After the class poem is finished, instruct students to do the same thing with their favorite poem. Tell them there are no wrong answers and that they can be as creative as they would like. That’s what makes poetry so great!!
These three simple steps have saved my students from the pressures of having to instantly write poetry. They have also saved me a lot of headaches when trying to force students into writing poetry when they have no clue even where to begin!
I hope these tips will help you and your students during National Poetry Month!!
If you are interested in learning about the month-long common core poetry units of study I have created for both the reading and writing workshops, you can click on the links below.
Best wishes to you all!!