10 Super Simple Resources to Encourage a Love of Poetry
April is National Poetry Month.
I admit - poetry is not my thing.
In the classroom, I intentionally include poetry in my units because I believe in its benefits, but as a reader, poetry is not something I naturally gravitate towards. I think - rather, I know - my dislike came from my own experiences in the classroom where we were made to read dusty old examples of literature written by men long dead and then asked to analyze them. And I'm not talking about high school or even college here, friends. I had terrible experiences with poetry as a young girl and they scarred me enough to never want to choose them when I could make my own independent reading selections.
As a teacher, I've made conscious choices about the poetry and activities I use in the classroom to ensure my students don't suffer the same.
Perhaps you're approaching National Poetry month as an obligation, another box to check off your never-ending list, and just need a few ideas to get you through. Or maybe you love poetry and are looking for a few new resources to spice up your repertoire. Whatever the case, I've collected 10 resources that are sure to make your celebration of National Poetry month a success.
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10 Resources for National Poetry Month
1. Poets.org. This site is full of free poetry resources including full texts and collections, a poet's glossary, materials for teachers, and reading guides. Perfect for direct access to classic poetry from authors such as Maya Angelou and William Wadsworth.
2. The National Writing Project. Have you heard of this organization? I learned of them in 2010 and quickly applied to participate in their summer institute through our local chapter. Designed to develop leaders from educators of writing, it quickly accelerated my own skills in the field. In the years since, I've come to rely on their website full of resources about anything writing related. Their list of poetry resources will provide you with enough resources to read, write, create, share poetry for the entire month.
3. Poetry Foundation. Publisher of Poetry Magazine, this group's focus is to celebrate all things poetry while raising awareness to as many people as possible. Here you will find all sorts of poetry resources to use throughout the year - not just during National Poetry Month. There are links to poems and collections, podcasts and videos, as well as a page specifically for children's poetry.
4. ReadWriteThink. Several years ago, this site and I became best friends. I started a new job mid-year in a grade I had never taught before and was completely overwhelmed. Long before I knew TPT existed, this site was my go-to resource for help with lesson plans and resources. For poetry, they have several interactive tools, including this one that allows students to create their own Found Poetry. Remember years ago, when it was popular to create impromptu poetry using word magnets that were plastered all over your refrigerator? Well, this is an updated, tech version of that. You can also find tools for other types of poetry, such as acrostic, haiku, and diamante.
5. Need printable, high-interest poems right now? Look no further than PoetryTeachers.com. This site is full of relatable poems kids will love, such as "Excuses, Excuses, Excuses," "Food Fight," and "How to Torture Your Teacher." There's even a page full of poetry theatre.
6. ShelSilverstein.com. When I was a kid, I could spend hours reading Shel Silverstein poems. It was the one type of poetry I enjoyed and I always tried to choose just his books when asked to read poems in class. 30 years later, his books are still favorites among my own students.
The website is always a fabulous resource of activities and lessons that accompany his books, but there is a great section called "Event Kits" that is full of tools for special events, such as National Poetry Month. Here you can download a kit for this year as well as kits from 2009 - 2013.
7. EDSITEment's Exemplars. This site contains examples of exemplar works in poetry as listed in the CCSS. Each poem has a commentary and links to lesson plan helps such as Prezis, videos, and more.
8. Children's poetry books. Because of my own experiences, I've spent a great deal of time scouring libraries and the internet for quality poetry books. I'm my own litmus test - if I enjoy it, I'm almost positive the kids will too. And I'll admit that my position on poetry has improved over the years after reading some fantastic books from current authors. I started to make a list of these books, but as I was collecting titles I came across several lists already made. I've saved them all, plus a few more resources, on my Poetry Pinterest board.
9. Poetry and Figurative Language Mini-Unit. This is one of my own resources. It was created as an intervention resource for a group of students who desperately needed to improve their reading fluency. I wanted to be a little sneaky in my approach with these friends. After years of being pulled for extra help, they often identified themselves as "the low kids" (doesn't that break your heart?), and I didn't want our upcoming work together to be seen simply as one more attempt to remediate their shortcomings.
My personal preferences aside, I do believe poetry is one of the best resources for helping improve reading fluency. The texts are perfect - short, repetitive, and often incorporate rhyming. So when the time came to design these specific intervention lessons, I chose to combine repeated poetry readings with short lessons on figurative language.
Each day, we spent 20 - 30 minutes working together learning the term of the day, practicing how to use it, and then reading short poems back and forth with partners. I collected examples of single poems and books that were high interest and my little group ate it up. They felt special because only they received this inside "scoop" on figurative language before I began our full poetry unit with the whole class and because only they had access to this special collection of poetry books, which they previewed before the rest of the students.
When we began our whole class poetry unit in April, my group behaved like the "experts" rather than the ones always playing catch up. They recommended specific poems and books to their peers, which they were always reticent to do before. This experience changed my approach to intervention as a whole from then on.
10. Poetry and Figurative Language Posters. I'll leave you with another one of my resources, but this one is FREE! These posters coordinate with my Poetry and Figurative Language Mini-unit. I used them in two ways. First, I printed full size copies to post while introducing each term and its definition. Then, I reduced the posters and made each student his own set. We glued each term page on the left side of our notebooks and our annotated examples on the right. Students referred to the terms and examples throughout our study and later during our whole class poetry unit.
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