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Parents & Teachers

10 Poetry Tips

10 General Thoughts About Using Poetry in the Classroom

Ted ScheuHere are my ten general suggestions for ‘doing’ poetry in elementary and middle school classrooms:

1.  Do what’s comfortable for you.

2.  Do poetry all year long, but especially do it early in the school year, so the lessons & tools of poetry can be used.

3.  If you do nothing else, read aloud a poem each day. It’s the most lovely gift you can give the kids daily. They can hear the music of the words wash over them and maybe be inspired to write a poem of their own during writing time. Maybe that read-aloud poem can be woven into the work of the day, or maybe not.

4.  Don’t over analyze a poem.  Instead ask, “What did you notice about that poem?”  Or, “What did that poem make you feel and think?”

5.  Keep models of poems (famous and not so famous) on your easel or walls, and poetry books on the shelves.

6.  Experiment reading and writing lots of different poetic forms–both rhymed and free verse.

7.  Be loose and creative, but don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel.  Many great teacher resources are available.  See the attached bibliography and links pages.

8.  Writing of first drafts needn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, but allow plenty of time for revision.

9.  Leave time for kids to share their work.  Celebrate all attempts.  Poetry’s looser rules allow all kids to succeed.

10.  Be sure the setting for sharing is safe and respectful.

11. Oops, I lied. Here’s an eleventh: Have fun!

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