Poetry. It can be intimidating to teach. But it can also be amazing. If you’re staring down the barrel of national poetry month and feeling a little nervous about how to integrate poetry in approachable, engaging, creative ways in your classroom, here are some ideas for you!
#1 Screen “For Everyone”
Are you and your students already die-hard Jason Reynolds fans? I know I am! I’ve read Ghost, Patina, All American Boys, For Everyone, and Long Way Down, and every single one has been amazing. But did you know that For Everyone is also a video poem you can play for your students at the (free) click of a button? It’s true. Sometime in April, consider playing this video poem (or part of it) for your students and giving them a chance to write in response. Maybe they could even write a poem of their own, about their own dreams and their journey toward them.
#2 Try Blackout Poetry
Here’s the thing about blackout poetry, it’s one of those solid-gold rainbows in your back-pocket kind of strategies. It just seems to workout pretty much every time. So if you’re looking for an easy and creative way to start to slowly engage your students in poetic directions, blackout poetry is it! You can do a digital version or a paper version. Snag the free directions for paper poetry right here and if you need some digital text pages, you’ll find those right here.
#3 Watch Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” and do a one-pager activity
If you haven’t yet had the chance to introduce your students to Amanda Gorman, national poetry month would be a great time! Consider having students create one-pagers as they listen and then re-read the text to go deeper. Check out some beautiful examples of student work for this project from teacher Tracey LeFreniere, using my free one-pager templates.
Want to try it? Sign up below for these free one-pager templates, and you’ll also get my Friday emails full of creative ideas for class.
#4 Try “I am From” Poems
Once again, this is pretty much a definite winner. You are going to LOVE poetry month! “I am From” poems give students a super clear layout to follow, and you’ll be amazed at how much you learn about your students (and they learn about each other) through this fun poetry workshop.
Plus, there are a million fun ways to use the finished poems. You can create a collaborative display, a digital slideshow, a video montage, or use them as a springboard for personal performance pieces.
#5 Try a Poetry Slam (or Jam)
Performance poetry is the hook that will help many students become truly interested in poetry for the first time. There are so many wonderful performances out there waiting to be shown to your students! I like to introduce the concept of poetry slam by sharing engaging clips and then calling on students to judge them on a score of 1-10, for their own reasons. Then I call on a few students to share what their score was and why. They’re amazed when they realize a 10 for one viewer might be a 3 for someone else, and a lot of great conversation ensues. This is an easy rollout for me to engage the kids on the subject of poetry, and from there I weave together more spoken word clips, printed poetry to discuss and write about, mini lessons on poetry terms and concepts, creative workshops, and finally, our own poetry slam.
Check out the three clips below to see if you think they might help reel your students in to poetry. You can either play them and talk about them during April, or take it a step further and use them as a springboard for your own poetry slam (or Jam). You can find the full rundown on how I host class poetry slams (and I’ve hosted a lot now!) right here.
OK, ready to enjoy national poetry month? I hope you’ll find this activities approachable, engaging, and FUN to use in your classes during April (or any old time).
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