Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? This month many will be celebrating poetry and in the US, but honestly don’t you think poetry should be used all year long? Why on earth would you save something that could be helping your students until school is almost out? So next year, keep this in mind, okay! Choose at least one great poem per week (preferably more) and give these ideas a try.
SHARE POETRY ORALLY
First, introduce the poem orally. Read it to your children with lots of expression pausing to discuss new vocabulary and images that your form. As we share poetry, it’s important to show the rhythm poems have (or the lack of rhythm). Poetry offers an opportunity to work on juicy vocabulary and demonstrate how words are specifically chosen to create an image.
USE REPEATED READING TO BUILD FLUENCY
Once students have listened to the poem, then it’s their turn to echo back the poem to you. Partner reading, choral reading, and echo reading are just a few options for practicing. All of these reading methods get us to the goal of repeated readings and fluency building.
POETRY READING BUILDS AUTOMATIC WORD RECOGNITION
Poetry offers the opportunity for building automaticity with sightword reading. Activities such as word hunts, I Spy, or highlighting tasks are fun and provide practice at word recognition which is especially important in first and second grades.
TEACH DECODING STRATEGIES, RHYME SCHEME, AND WORD PATTERNS
Like working with sightwords, students can also use similar techniques to work on phonics if the teacher has created the poem or carefully selected a poem that matches the needs of the students. Poetry, especially rhyming poetry,works well for decoding words with specific spelling patterns.
ADDRESS COMPREHENSION OF POEMS
Finally, state tests typically include several poems as part of the reading assessment, and by having consistent work with poetry, we help our students with comprehension too. Sometimes students focus on the sound of poetry, so it’s important to bring in comprehension skills too.
Well, now that I’ve convinced you to include poetry in your weekly routine, how about we look at resources that will help you get the job done.
Of all poets for children, I think Jack Prelutsky has to be my favorite with Kenn Nesbitt and Brod Bagert as close seconds. I think being with fourth and fifth graders for the past few years has influenced me just a little as these three poets write a LOT of poetry about school and kids. They know their audience, and they certainly write on topics that appeal to them, but the thing I love about their poems is that there is a story to them. You can really use their poems to discuss meaning, imagery, word choice, and so many concepts that we teach in the upper grades. Of course, Shel Silverstein is a classic poet too, and his published works certainly can fill a bookshelf. Which are your favorites?
In addition to poetry anthologies, teachers can write their own poems too, and I really encourage you to do so. I had so much fun creating the yearly poetry bundle in my store featured on the left, and I think the poems turned out pretty decent too. I had a specific plan in mind for my poems and how they were going to be used, and my audience was the classroom teacher since I was using them in my teaching. With them, I do the five ideas shared above. You might check out the collection which is discounted through tomorrow. (four sets for $15.00…160 pages of materials) Below, you’ll find a freebie that gives you an example of how each is set up.
As I prepared this post, I also went through some of the activities I’ve used with my students and a few that I think look really great. For starters, here is the Pinterest board I’ve developed for poetry resources. It is a growing board, so feel free to follow it or repin.