“Poetry is everywhere – it just needs editing.” –James Tate
I have had a heck of a time writing this week’s teaching tip. I had it planned out in my head (sort of) and had begun to collect resources to support teaching that centered around National Poetry Month. And then I wrote a first draft – it took me nearly 6 hours to write and reflected my ADD. And, as Rachel kindly and gently noted, “it was pretty long and maybe we needed to divide it into 3 parts.” In truth, it was not only long, but it was everywhere. And it needed a lot of editing. James Tate’s quote about poetry is making me feel a little bit better about it.
So this week’s teaching tip is #1 in a series about teaching poetry, with a focus on “go to” resources for your classroom (or at home) to plan at least a little bit ahead for a month of poetry everywhere. And parents? There are some poetry ideas in here for you as well!
April is the perfect time to celebrate American Poets and Poetry! It has been a long winter and celebrations are great ways to rejuvenate weary students and teachers. There are countless ways to celebrate: Collect and read poetry, respond to poetry in writing or art, write poetry or perform poetry. You can write to poets. You can make recordings of kids reading poetry.
Poetry is my favorite genre to teach: it teaches kids about good writing, the crucial importance of language, and how to read and think critically and carefully. Moreover, poetry gives kids the opportunity to reflect on the people they are and the world they inhabit, and to imagine the people they wish to be and the world they hope to create. Remember: Poetry is a worthwhile genre across the academic spectrum: Language Arts (reading and writing), STEM, Social Science and Performing Arts.
Click on the underlined links to check out these resources firsthand to create poetry units or to weave into previously planned lessons:
This is the place to go for poems, interdisciplinary lessons (many aligned with the common core standards) to teach poetry, and ideas for celebrating poetry in your school or classroom. Click on the “For Educators” menu to find tips for teaching poetry, poetry resources for teens, curriculum and lesson plans, great poems to teach, essays on teaching, and a teacher resources center. Check out The Listening Booth. Other highlights include:
- 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month: Tons of ideas to weave into your classroom or school or at home to celebrate poetry! Put poetry in an unexpected place! Write a letter to a poet!
- A POEM IN YOUR POCKET: Share a poem with everyone you meet on “National Poem in Your Pocket Day” which is Thursday, April 24, 2014. Select a poem or compose an original work and carry it with you in your pocket all day, sharing the poem and the fun of National Poetry Month wherever you go. The site has poems to download (.pdf format) ready to share in your classroom or school or with your friends and neighbors.
- The 2014 Poet-to-Poet Project: This is a special multimedia educational project for students in grades 3-12 to write poems in response to the poems of living poets (classrooms can watch YouTube videos of the poets reading and explaining the creation of their poem) and send them to the American Academy of Poets. Students have until April 30, 2014 to submit their poems. The American Academy of Poets worked with a curriculum specialist to design a series of standards – based lesson plans, with Science connections, together with activities and resources to support students who participate in this project:
- The Literature of War (Grades 10-12): Students develop a poetic vocabulary and pursue an examination of the effects of war on those involved in the fighting and those they leave behind, moving chronologically through time. The unit concludes by looking at the world’s most recent acts of war, the effects and ramifications of the events on and following September 11, through the reading of poems written since that date. As a culminating activity, students are asked to respond with a poem of their own that they illustrate with relevant images found on the web.
This is an awesome website with thousands of poems and short bios of poets. It is easily searchable for specifics. It also has a wide variety of resources with ideas for teaching poetry across the spectrum:
- The Learning Lab: Materials for teaching, reading, writing, reciting and learning about poetry.
- How to Read a Poem (A Primer)
- Record a Poem: The Foundation has created the Record-a-Poem group where it invites everyone to post audio recordings of their favorite poems. People can upload recordings they have on their computers, or use SoundCloud to upload audio files directly to the group using the Upload button here.
- Ten Poems to get you through Science Class this Year
- Do the Math!: Poetry is mathematics!
- Recommended Poems for Children by Lemony Snicket: A list of poems from a writer who knows and understands children. A fantastic and lengthy list for parents and teachers.
- Lunchbox poems: A wonderful resources for parents with poems to place beside the sandwich to remind kids you are thinking of them (with poems for Art Day, I had a fight with my friend yesterday, etc.).
- Mobile Poetry App: Encourage your students and/or their parents to download the Poetry Foundation’s mobile app which has hundreds of classic and contemporary poems.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The site has suggested lessons and class schedules.
Although the official contest is designed for high schoolers, the materials could be adapted for classroom use in younger grades. Here is a link to a downloadable .pdf of the 2014 Poetry Out Loud Teacher’s Guide.
A compendium of PBS features on contemporary poets and poetry that might be relevant to the previously planned lessons you are teaching in your classroom (a simple way to weave poetry celebration into your current instruction).
In particular, take a look at the project of the current Poet Laureate, Natasha Tretheway, called “Where Poetry Lives, “, which focuses on “issues that matter to Americans through the framework of poetry.” Some interesting pieces for parents and teachers alike that are certain to generate meaningful discussion.
A comprehensive list of resources and ideas for lesson plans and assessments focused on National Poetry Month.
This page contains teaching and learning materials using the poetry of the late, but forever beloved children’s poet Shel Silverstein. Who doesn’t love The Giving Tree? Here is a link to the downloadable .pdf of Shelebrate National Poetry Month 2012, which is representative of the engaging curriculum found on this website. Shel’s poems are accessible, meaningful and so much fun. Parents should might want to check out Shel’s website to access Shel’s poetry (samples), animations and activities and for a list of his poetry books.
Here are thirty, easy, quick and engaging ideas for ways to respond to and appreciate, create, and perform poetry, all with connections to the larger world. With links to specific teaching resources. Designed with teachers in mind!
I couldn’t leave this site off this list even though it seems to be a UK site. It contains a wealth of materials about poems, poets and the art of poetry, with online recordings of poets from around the world reading their own work. There is a menu of teacher resources with materials for teaching students at all ages starting at age 5, with ideas about how to incorporate listening into a lesson. It also houses “The Children’s Poetry Archive” which allows a search by “poetic form.” Here are some Tips for getting the best out of the Archive.
More next week!