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Daily Poetry Lesson Idea

I set aside 30 minutes each day for poetry. A typical lesson plan for junior high or middle school might be as follows:

  • Read the poem and have the students follow along as they listen to it for the first time.
  • Read or ask students to read the poem a second time. Students listen for words, phrases, or elements which catch their ear.
  • Students quietly take a few minutes to highlight or underline key words, phrases, or literary elements.
  • Students quietly share the key words, phrases, or literary elements with one or two classmates. Did they enjoy the poem? Why or why not? I ask them for specific responses. It sucks or was interesting needs support.
  • We come together and share. What stood out? What literary elements did the poet use and what did they add to the poem?
  • What were the literal and figurative messages of the poem?

Students are invited to share their favourite poems.  One student shared Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas and another Mr. Nobody by Walter de la Mare. I used the latter poem for a conversation about responsibility.

Students sometimes are reluctant to write poetry. I use Pablo Neruda’s Ode to My Socks as an example of a poem about a mundane object, a pair of socks, and how this poem transforms the socks with rich and vibrant language, similes, and metaphors into something quite extraordinary. A person needs to read or be read this poem to appreciate what makes socks worthy of an ode by a Nobel Prize winner and how everyday objects become subjects for poetry.

When we read The Road not Taken by Robert Frost, the students worked in triads and created collages about the themes they found in this classic poem. The end products were well thought out.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

3 responses »

  1. How do you manage to schedule in thirty minutes for poetry? I would love to implement this into my classrom; I’m just not sure how to find the time. (I also love your example poems.)

    Reply
    • I include it as a daily feature. Some days I am tempted, but so far I have resisted. I am just finishing a post about the poem we used today and the context under which it came to be chosen so I see it as an important part of the character education element. I am in a multi-grade setting (Grade 7, 8, and 9 combined in one classroom), so I can use it to allow cross grade interaction that does not always happen in the core subject instruction. I think there are two other things which help me overcome my temptation to postpone. First, I allow students choice. They can share their poetry. Some of our young writers have been brave and shared their poetry. Second, I challenge students to find the underlying meaning of the poem to them or some condition that surprises them. Today, I used Listening by William Stafford and asked the students for a time when listening is heightened. One of the boys said when people are blind their other senses become better. This is a young man who hunts so I expected him to say when he goes hunting he has to listen more carefully. It was a pleasant surprise to be surprised. You will also find the students will learn the literary elements much more easily through this method. One group of students is creating a jeopardy game for English Language Arts and wanted to know what that “hyper word” was meaning hyperbole.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Words for the Wise – Partie Deux « Teacher as Transformer

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