Poetry Friday in the Classroom

Today my class celebrated their first Poetry Friday!  As a part of their reader’s binder, they are responsible for choosing one poem a month and writing a paragraph explaining why they chose the poem. The paragraph may include connections to the poem, favorite lines, specific likes and dislikes, or almost anything else. The poem and the paragraph are kept in their reading binders and at the end of the year they will have 9 poems and explanations! The poems can be any published poem by any author they choose. They may be funny, sad, descriptive, modern, ancient, short, long, etc. (This assignment is adapted from Linda Rief).

Today the November poems were due. I have each student open their binder to the poem and then we have a “Poetry Museum”. The students drift around the classroom, stopping at each desk to read the poem their classmate chose for that month. It’s a great way to expose the class to new poems and poets and they really enjoy it! I also walk around the room (checking for completion and reading the poems), and I share my favorites with the class. After about 10 minutes, we come together as a class again and the students share their favorite poem (besides the one they chose!). It is a lot of fun and the students definitely enjoy it. Today I was told, more than once, “I used to think poetry was boring, but this is fun!”

I’m sure you are wondering what types of poems the students choose. Today we had poems from the following poets: Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelustky, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, and Billy Collins, to name a few. The poems ran the gamut from haikus, to sonnets, to concrete. Some poems rhymed and some did not. Some were one stanza and some were many more! Some poems were funny and some were serious. Some poems celebrated the winter season while others celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas. One poem was about turkeys and one was about dandelions. Each poem was completely different and each one introduced the students to something new and unexpected.

I love walking around and hearing my students compliment each other on their choice of poem. They talk about how funny this poem is or how they agree with what that poet is saying. They ask where other students found their poems and before I know, we are immersed in a world of poetry.

If you are able to, I highly suggest getting your class involved in an activity like this. There is nothing else like it, and the students don’t even realize how much they are learning. I am seeing it lay the seeds of a love of poetry in my class and I love it!