Teaching Poetry

It really is my favorite writing unit. For me the key words are “freedom” and “choice”.  We expose kids to lots of types of poetry, give them lots of inspiration, and challenge them to be thoughtfully experimental.  They explore the many tools in a poet’s toolbox and put them to good use. 
Our big question is “Why is there poetry?”  What can the poet do that is different from other writers? What must the poet do that is similar to other writers? 
Our guiding questions are:
How can we use the form of verse to express thoughts in an imaginative way? 
How can we use language to communicate feelings and create images?
How can use figures of speech and symbols to extend the meaning of a poem?
Here is our poetry board with favorite poems alongside connected objects and illustrations. 
We also read Spinning Through the Universe by Helen Frost out loud and together. It’s a brilliant book on so many levels. It seems to be out of print but it’s worth searching for. We found a bunch of library copies. The ups and downs of a fiction class are told from a variety of perspectives using a wide range of poetic patterns and forms. My students become invested in the stories and fascinated by all of the secrets the poems beg them to discover. 

Not all of my students come in loving poetry, but I try to change their minds. Best of all is when the ones who love poetry write a verse just for them:

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