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April 6, 2018

Literacy Enrichment – National Poetry Month Ideas

Welcome, awe-inspiring April!  You are my favorite month and here’s why:

  1. Despite severe winter fatigue this year, we keep the faith that spring will appear!
  2. Your showers bring May flowers.
  3.  You are National Poetry Month.

You don’t have to be a poetry super-fan like me or teach language arts to engage poetry in your classroom instruction. Poetry has the power to connect all of us – students and teachers alike – quickly and deeply. In celebration of April, surviving winter to welcoming spring, please allow me to offer some of National Poetry Month’s highlights from former 6th graders and me.

How to enjoy National Poetry Month:

  1. Identify one or two new poets you enjoy and read more of their poems. Then, of course, share this enthusiasm with your students. Start with one poem you like/remember, then find more poems and read a collection. One leads to another and soon you have a favorite to follow and share!
  2. Designate special days in April (or once/month throughout the year) for reading poetry books or collections. Gather poems on various topics and reading levels – be sure to include a wide range of topics such as sports, nature, science, math, animals, social issues, food, school, friends, family. (See #12 and discover poetry collections by Douglas Florian.)
  3. Engage students in poetry writing – invite them to “try out” a favorite poet’s style. (ReadLove That Dogby Sharon Creech for some narrative influence for this poetry-writing inspiration & style strategy.)
  4. ReadAll the Small Poems and Fourteen Moreby Valerie Worth – it’s an easy poem formula for all students to try and master! In just one day, week, or month, they can create their very own collection of small poems. Student artists often love to add drawings or illustrations to enhance the poem, but the word work itself is truly amazing to behold!  (Interested in my small poems formula and some visual examples?  Click on the downloadable link below!)
  5. Schedule a day to share favorite poems with a buddy class. This is powerful engagement for building relationships across grade levels!
  6. Ask students to write down their favorite poem and give it to somebody (another student or staff member) at school during National Poetry Month.
  7. Poem in Your Pocket–  mark your calendars for April 26th, 2018!  Click on the link for tons of ideas and poems to print. Decide on a fun way to share poems from your pocket with family and friends.
  8. Post poetry quotes on your whiteboard each day during the month. One line of imagery can create word sparks of inspiration and intrigue!
  9. Share bios and background about various poets to highlight the range of humans who choose to write poems.  (Did you know that famous poet William Carlos Williams was also a doctor?  Or Maya Angelou was a streetcar conductor in San Francisco?)
  10. Introduce a new poem each day in April – have partners do a shared reading for each one. Save the poems in a folder, then decide on a way to share these poems with others – in school or out in the community.
  11. Poetry Performance – plan an afternoon for students to recite a favorite poem – either an original or a favorite!  Invite guests to create an audience or videotape to share on your private class website for parents and relatives to enjoy near and far.
  12. Novels in verse – do you know about thisgenre?  Here are a few of my favs:
  13. Speaking of Jason Reynolds – check out this popular YA author in an interview withPBS NewsHour where he proclaims poetry as an entry-point for readers who struggle. He shares an amazing analogy and an original poem – you won’t ever forget!
  14. Douglas Florianis a prolific poet-artist. I’m asuper fan- you need to know his work!  

Onward, teachers – spring has arrived and you are going to make it!  Pop in some poetry to liven up your April classroom literacy.

If you’d like to try my “small poems” formula with your students, enter your email below to download a copy.


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