Although National Poetry Month is almost over, it doesn’t mean teachers need to stop teaching poetry! Truly, poetry can benefit instruction and provide pleasure for students all year round. Below are two ideas for how teachers can incorporate poetry into their classrooms while also meeting expectations of the Common Core Standards and preparing students for standardized testing.
1. Use Haiku
While students rarely write poems on standardized tests or in college English courses, they can use higher-level thinking to write poetry and demonstrate their understanding of prose selections. Haiku is an ideal form for this skill because students need to be concise in order to “capture” the most important ideas.
Here are strategies to implement this lesson:
1. As students read an assigned story or novel, have them record symbols, images, and motifs.
2. After they finish their reading, share sample Haiku poems and lead them in a discussion of the poems’ characteristics.
3. Direct students to review the text examples from their reading and identify recurring images, central ideas, and themes.
4. Encourage them to organize their words and thoughts into the 5-7-5 syllabic structure of a haiku poem.
5. Challenge them to defend the word choices and lines in their haiku poems with a literary analysis essay that incorporates text-based evidence from their reading.
2. Use Art
Visual learners, English language learners, and students with special needs may benefit from a different approach. Inspired by the Free Verse Project at Poets.org, this next activity engages students in reading, analyzing, and then visualizing a line of a poem.
1. First, students view featured images of poetry lines from Poets.org and Flickr.com.
2. Next, students search for favorite poems and explain their poetry choices in writing.
3. Then, students use their own creative techniques to produce images of their favorite lines of poetry. Here is an example using a student- generated poem:
4. Again, students compose short literary analysis essays in which they explain how their images express the meanings of the selected poems.
5. Finally, students display their original images and participate in a gallery walk.
Undoubtedly, with these ideas in a teacher’s toolbox, poetry instruction can be enjoyed any month of the school year!
Kim, the OCBeach Teacher, is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition. She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.