Tag Archives: Poetry

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National Poetry Month: Reading Poetry

“What the poem is about and how it explores that material is more important than the technical means it uses. Yet by focusing on those means, we can perhaps get closer to finding out why we felt what we felt. That process can deepen our reading, enhance it, complicate it.”

This quote from Accent on Meter: A Handbook for Readers of Poetry provides a great rationale for reading poetry. The following resources from ReadWriteThink.org provide opportunities for students to read and appreciate poetry.

Looking for poetry suggestions? Listen to the Grades K – 5 Podcast Episode “Playful Poetry Books to Share“. In this episode, host Emily Manning and guest Sylvia Vardell explore fun ways to read poetry with children. Older students can tune in to “Celebrating Poetry for Teens“. In honor of National Poetry Month in April, host Jennifer Buehler shares her recommendations of a variety of poetry books for teens.

Use the lesson plan “Poetry Portfolios: Using Poetry to Teach Reading” to teach your students about sentence structure, rhyming words, sight words, vocabulary, and print concepts using a weekly poem.

Students read various poems and explore why lines are broken where they are and how they affect rhythm, sound, meaning, and appearance in poetry in “What Makes Poetry? Exploring Line Breaks“.

Explore reading strategies using Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and other works. In this lesson plan, students read Poe’s works in both large- and small-group readings then conclude with a variety of projects.

Developing Aesthetic Criteria: Using Music to Move Beyond Like/Dislike with Poetry” assists students in developing the cognitive tool of criteria development for discussing the aesthetics of poetry and music.

Ease students’ fear of interpreting complex poetry by teaching them a strategy with which they determine patterns of imagery, diction, and figurative language in order to unlock meaning with the lesson plan “Thinking Inductively: A Close Reading of Seamus Heaney’s ‘Blackberry Picking’“.

How do you engage students in reading poetry?

Online Tools and Apps for Poetry

toolsApril is National Poetry Month! ReadWriteThink.org! As you’re planning poetry activities during this month (and beyond!) consider using these poetry-focused ReadWriteThink.org interactive tools and mobile apps.

The Acrostic Poems tool helps students learn about and write acrostic poems, a poetry form that uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word. Also available as a Mobile App. In this lesson plan,  students create acrostic poems using their names and the names of things that are important to them.

In the Diamante Poems tool or Mobile App, users can learn about and write diamante poems, which are diamond-shaped poems that use nouns, adjectives, and gerunds to describe either one central topic or two opposing topics (for example, night/day or winter/spring). Writing, revising, and publishing are just a few of the tasks students will complete in this lesson plan in order to take their cause-and-effect diamante poems from an idea to a reality.

Students can learn about and write haiku using this interactive tool that guides them through the writing process. There is a corresponding Mobile App. Using the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive, students summarize papers they have written using the traditional format of a haiku in this lesson plan.

The Letter Poem Creator provides an online model for the thought process involved in creating poems based upon a letter; then, students are invited to experiment with letter poems independently. In this lesson plan, students explore letter poems and experiment with writing letters as poems, using the placement of line breaks to enhance rhythm, sound, meaning, and appearance.

The Line Break Explorer explores the ways that poets choose line breaks in their writing. After viewing the demonstration, students are invited to experiment with line breaks themselves. They can learn more in “What Makes Poetry? Exploring Line Breaks“.

The Riddle Interactive outlines the characteristics of riddle poems and provides direct instruction on the prewriting and drafting process for writing original riddle poems. “What Am I? Teaching Poetry through Riddles” has students explore figurative language in poetry by reading and writing riddle poems.

Users learn about and write theme poems, a poem written within the shape of the subject of the poem using the Theme Poems tool or Mobile App. “Theme Poems: Writing Extraordinary Poems About Ordinary Objects” invites students to select a familiar object online, build a bank of words related to the object, and write theme poems that are printed and displayed in class.

Word Mover allows children and teens to create “found poetry” by choosing from word banks and existing famous works; additionally, users can add new words to create a piece of poetry by moving/manipulating the text. Additionally, there’s an App version. Use the Word Mover tool to play with word families and listen for rhyme, then sort real and nonsense words, alphabetize the words, and create a story or poem using the words in this activity.

​Do you have other ideas to share? We’d love to know how you use our tools and apps!

2016 National Poetry Month

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-LogoEach year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world! It’s a time when millions of readers mark poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives. NCTE is proud to be a supporter of National Poetry Month.

There are six main aims for National Poetry Month. Here they are, along with associated NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org resources.

  1. Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.
    Middle school students can explore how our senses provide powerful tools for literary analysis and comprehension with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Color of Silence: Sensory Imagery in Pat Mora’s Poem ‘Echoes’“. The lesson is an extension of activities included in the NCTE book Living Voices: Multicultural Poetry in the Middle School Classroom.
  2. Encourage the reading of poems.
    NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. Another Jar of Tiny Stars collects poems by winners of this award.
  3. Assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms.
    In Getting the Knack, authors Stephen Dunning and William Stafford offer 20 exercises covering different types or phases of poetry writing. The authors’ humor and nonacademic style will appeal to experienced and novice poets of all ages. Read the chapter on “Found & Headline Poems“. See similar lesson plans from ReadWriteThink.org.
  4. Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media.
    360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing describes an approach to teaching critical literacy that has students investigate texts through a full spectrum of learning modalities, harnessing the excitement of performance, imitation, creative writing, and argument/debate activities to become more powerful thinkers, readers, and writers. View the sample chapter online to read more about poetry as a means into academic writing. Learn more with these ReadWriteThink.org poetry lesson plans from the author.
  5. Encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books.
    NCTE Notable Poetry Books list 16 outstanding poetry collections to offer children and teens—not just this month, but throughout the year and across the curriculum. Use these books, and create connections with books from previous Notable Lists (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011) to create even more poetry joy!
  6. Encourage support for poets and poetry.
    View videos and learn about the winners of the NCTE Poetry Award through the NCTE Poets Spotlight Series.

Looking for more fun to celebrate poetry? Check out NCTE’s Poetry Tournament idea: create a basketball tournament-pairing chart using poetry and determine a final winner by reading the poems. Locate 64 poems and pair them off, just like basketball teams. Read two poems each day and let the students vote on the “winner.” Keep going until you have a final four and the final winner!

An Invitation

The following poem, added to our Arts of Language Collection, was submitted by Belgrade High School writing coach Aaron Yost, who says it “represents how I often feel about the ELA teacher’s project.”


Woman walking through a book, a way to think about poetry opening doors.An Invitation

I placed a door
alone on a hill
and invited you through.

There was no sense
of coming or going
when you stepped around

but, suddenly, we were
together in the same grass,
the door’s other side now

visible to us both, its paint
peeling away the grain
underneath. Where are

the hinges? you asked.
It was the wrong question
but I didn’t walk away.



Art-Full Research Practices

One of the top submissions to date for the NCTE Arts of Language Collection:

Altered book image submitted by Jane Baskwill (www.janebaskwill.com) You can view her reflection on the piece here: http://blogs.ncte.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Arts-of-Language_NCTE_Baskwill.docx

Art-Full Research Practices
by Jane Baskwill

Below is an excerpt from an altered book that was created from my research, Altered Pens, Altered Lives: Women Sustaining Writing in Rural Nova Scotia (Baskwill, 2013), as an artefact-of-documentation. The process resulted in a visual re-presentation and record of the research; a living journal of researcher-as-artist and of the intersection of the women participants’ writing lives. The following poetic re-presentation from the altered book captures the importance of writing to the participants as a refuge, a safe-harbour, a means of celebration, exploration, documentation and thoughtful introspection over a life-span:

Altered Lives
Our lives have been altered by the winds and rains of experience,
Shaped by the sea and the shore,
Battered by events beyond our control,
Marked by the many mysteries life holds, both explainable and not;
And so we come to write,
Out of the letters of our childhood we have grown from innocence to awakening,
We have found our voices in the silence of the forest,
The turmoil of the ocean,
The whisper of the garden;
Fortified by the strength of home and hearth,
Fed by the lifeblood of place and purpose,
We are driven by the need to be heard,
To speak our minds from our hearts,
For family and friends,
But mostly,
For ourselves.