Inviting Poetry Into Your Classroom by Christie Wyman
Any day is a good day to welcome poetry into our classrooms:
No matter the age of your students, weaving poetry into the fabric of your classroom life will bring joy to your teaching. You’ll see!
Worried about finding the time for a daily dose of poetry? Here are a few questions to ponder:
When during your school day, or school week, would it make sense to read and discuss poetry?
Could you start or end each day with a poem?
Could you read poetry in class every day? Once a week?
Could you bring poetry into your content areas?
Could you read poetry for your read aloud?
Poems are great teaching tools. Reading and listening to poetry supports and extends language and literacy development. Poetic mentor texts teach us about the structure and craft of writing, about perspective and point of view, as well as content knowledge.
A little advice when it comes to discussing poetry. Instead of explaining a poem, explore a poem with your students. After several readings by different voices, ask questions such as:
How does this poem make you feel?
What does this poem remind you of?
If you could make a picture or a movie of this poem, what would it look like?
What might inviting poetry into your classroom look like? Let’s explore a few options. Remember, we aren’t writing poetry yet, just reading it. Writing it will come later.
Building Your Classroom Library of Poetry Books
Building up a collection of poetic picture books, verse novels, and diverse anthologies is a perfect way to get started.
Some of my favorite poetic picture books include:
Thunder Underground by Jane Yolen
Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer
All The Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds
Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera
I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
What about a verse novel? This genre is HOT right now. A few suggestions to get you started include:
The Crossover Series by Kwame Alexander
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
If you decide to read individual poems, you’ll need a collection or anthology. A few suggestions are:
This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems From Around the World selected by Naomi Shihab Nye
A great resource for poetry to start your day with is Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the creators of the Poetry Friday Anthology Series
Want to support content areas? Try The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Science (K-5 Teacher/Librarian Edition) compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Celebrations compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
The Poetry of US: More than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States edited by J. Patrick Lewis
Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Your Invite to Write
Ready to do a little writing? This Invite to Write is a way for you to dive deeper into your poetry ponderings and your own writing. I encourage you to give these invitations a try!
In a notebook, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on the role poetry currently plays in your classroom. (Remember, it’s OK if it has no place yet!) If it doesn’t, perhaps you can write why it has yet to find a place in your classroom or teaching.
Next, write down some ideas for moving forward. Later on, you might turn your thoughts and ideas into the outline of an action plan.
While you ponder poetry’s role in your classroom, you might enjoy listening to the following podcasts.
Teaching Poetry in Times Like These (Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Off the Shelf series) -- 14:18-. A back-to-school episode.
To Teach Poetry, Part A and B (Brave New Teaching podcast) -- about 20:00 each.
Join me on this journey to welcome poetry into our classrooms! You'll find it's worth the trip.
Christie Wyman has been teaching kindergarten for over 20 years in Weston, MA. She is an avid poet, seeking inspiration for her poems from nature and the world around her. When not exploring a vernal pool or hiking a nearby mountain, you can find her notebooking and writing alongside other teacher-writers. You can connect with Christie on Twitter and on her blog, Wondering and Wondering.