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.