Poetry…the one genre that usually inspires a collective groan from my students, especially the boys! And sometimes, I just can’t blame them. As teachers, we often use boring poems that were written hundreds of years ago with vocabulary that no one uses anymore. Why do we do that??? There are SO MANY wonderful poets today who write poetry intended just for young students. As an elementary teacher-turned-librarian, I get giddy when April comes around because I know how fun poetry can be and how many opinions I can change during my poetry unit.
I always begin with a lesson on how freeing poetry can be…it’s an opportunity to write without having to follow rules! We all know how students love a chance to break the rules. I further explain by reminding them that when we write a sentence, we always begin with a capital, end with punctuation, and we must include a noun and verb. Our stories must have a beginning, middle, and end that flow together cohesively. Poems don’t HAVE to have any of these! I demonstrate by walking over the window, observing for a few moments, and then coming back to my anchor chart pad and writing a poem. I don’t say anything…I just write. Students are a little confused at first, but then it dawns on them that I really can just write the way I want to when I write poetry!
Of course, as we learn more about how to write different types of poetry, there are “rules” students must follow (such as how to write a haiku or a limerick), but I let them enjoy their freedom for as long as possible! Another freeing thing about the poem that I wrote is that the words do not have to rhyme. Oh the tears I have witnessed through the years over rhyming words! Some students LOVE to rhyme while others HATE it. There is room for all of us at the poetry table! Empower your students to write poetry by assuring them that their poems do not have to rhyme. You will be amazed by the change in the way they approach poetry writing!
I use this unit on the elements of poetry for most of my unit. I also spend a great deal of time reading poetry aloud to students, and allowing them time to explore different poets.
What are your favorite poetry resources? Thanks for stopping by and sharing!