The one about teaching poetry all year

Teaching Poetry All Year Long, Image: Book sitting open outside with a flower
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Poetry is to reading and writing what fractions are to math. Hear me out. So many teachers and students freak out just seeing the word. Everyone wants to be finished as quickly as possible. Some teachers even avoid the topic all year. Okay, so that’s more poetry because it’s hard to avoid the entire topic of fractions in math.

Not only do I LOVE poetry, but I think you should be exposing kids to it all year long. Why? That’s what I’m here to explain!

  1. Multiple exposures to a topic help to increase understanding. As teachers, we know this. How many times and different ways do we repeat something? Research shows people need to be exposed to an idea 10-20 times before they demonstrate understanding. Will throwing in poetry one time during April (National Poetry Month) work? Nope. Teaching poetry needs to be a year long process.
  2. Remember that standard? As early as second grade, students are supposed to be able to describe words & phrases in a poem. By fifth grade, they should be able to determine the theme of a poem. If teachers are neglecting poetry year after year, our students will be in high school English classes, unsure what they’re reading. Not only that, but it might be a missed opportunity for someone to adore poetry. You never know if you’re going to be teaching the next Amanda Gorman! (She’s a favorite role model to share!)
  3. Poetry is fabulous for figurative language! Figurative language can be SO fun. Similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, imagery, and more. One great use of poetry is to use it to teach some of those figurative language pieces. Poetry is often short enough so students can focus on finding and interpreting the figurative language, rather than sifting through a larger novel.
  4. Kids love writing poetry. Really. I’m not kidding. Once they learn about how open-ended poetry can be (free verse or concrete/shape come to mind!), they get so excited to write about whatever they want, however they want. It’s a fun way to encourage creative writing in a new way.
  5. Poetry is the perfect counterpoint for writing paragraphs. I don’t know about you, but many of my students struggle with creating paragraphs and understanding what makes a paragraph, or even a sentence. Poetry works as a fabulous comparison so students can look at their writing and see the difference.

Now that you believe me, you’re probably wondering what you can use to get started.

Here are two resources that might help:

Poetry Elements Introduction print and digital resource

This print/digital resource is a helpful introduction to poetry, and allows students to compare poetry & prose.

Best Part of Me Descriptive writing unit

This writing project uses the book Best Part of Me which includes both poetry and prose. Students compare the two and then choose how to write their own version.

Check out all other poetry units in my store here.

Here are some additional blog posts that may help:

I hope those are helpful! Looking for more? Sign up for my email list and I’ll be sending poetry and other upper elementary ideas your way! This link will get you a free set of community building morning messages! 🙂

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