Poetry in Middle School?

Does anyone use Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons
by Nancie Atwell? I want to start introducing poetry and I think what I have seen of this book would help me make great Do-Nows (instead of DOL). However, I can not find a copy anywhere! I can’t afford to spend full-price on the Heinemann site, there are no copies at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and even Half.com is too expensive. But how do I know if it will work for me if I can’t page through it first?! This is what frustrates me about professional books.

So, does anyone have any experience with Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons by Nancie Atwell? How is it? Do you like it? Do you want to get rid of a cheap copy? 😉 Thanks!

11 Responses

  1. According to WorldCat, 67 libraries – at least – own a copy of this book. Ask your local library to Inter-Library Loan (ILL) it for you so you can look it over…

  2. Ok, how did I NOT think of that? I did check worldcat, but only one library in the state has it. For some reason, ILL didn’t cross my mind.

    I’ll definitely try that! Thanks!

  3. I have used it in middle school with 7th and 8th graders. I don’t know if it would work with Do-Nows, as the lessons could possibly go for 20 mins. or so. I do LOVE this book, though. And, I would be willing to sell it to you for half price (since you’re a middle school teacher!) and I can just purchase another one. Email me @ jhank623@comcast.net. or you can visit my website at http://ecclecticreader.blogspot.com/

  4. first, no, it can’t be purchased anywhere but from heinemann. this frustrated me too, but i bit the bullet and paid full price earlier in the summer.

    i had some experience with the book in my teaching classes, and plan on using it all year.

    i absolutely love this resource. i am a major poetry fan as it is, but that fact alone doesn’t always translate into knowing which poems are going to work great in the classroom. atwell does a great job of distilling some of the most appropriate and wonderful poems from a diverse group of fantastic poets. this resource, then, serves as a sort of starting point for delving into innumerable amounts of other poems based on the degree to which you and your students enjoy particular poets.

    i think the key to using any poem in an opening activity (or in instruction at large), for me, is making it relevant to what is being studied and to students’ lives. the atwell collection provides opportunities for both, as the poems are arranged thematically. she also provides, on the facing page of each poem, a short vignette of sorts where she includes what she says on the day students encounter the poem, and what issues she raises. i think this is an important part of what this book does, especially if poetry is out of your comfort zone.

    it is definitely worth the money, but i would see about getting it through the library first. then you can always copy it en masse.

  5. I asked for this book for Christmas after using and loving “Lessons that Change Writers”. It is an amazing resource, and definitely worth the money. I used it with my grade 7/8 classroom, and the students loved most of the poems she suggested. I also found that the book changed my own view about poetry. I didn’t really enjoy reading it – but she changed my perspective. Now, I adore poetry and seek out new works on my own. That’s something that definitely impacted my teaching, and my students!

  6. I got my administrator to buy it and Lessons that Change Writers for me last spring. I am especially excited to start using Naming the World. The tiny guide book and DVD that came with Naming the World are also great. Nothing helps me learn more than seeing an expert teacher in a class, doing her thing. I gathered a bunch (fifty- or so) of poems that *I* really love, to use as well, because as I read through the guide book I realized that my own passion for the poems was critical and only about 70 percent of the poems in Naming the World did I really like AND feel will be ok for my 6th graders. (But let’s be honest, that’s A LOT of poems, considering how fussy I can be….”

    Nancie’s students are seventh and eighth graders, so I’m interested to see how my slightly younger kids will do. Today I copied 8 poems for each day of our first two weeks…4 from NTW and 4 from my personal collection. I really like the elegant routine she uses and even though I’m a bit nervous about it, with the DVD showing her with her kids and the excellent little teacher guide book, I have enough confidence to dive right in. My goal: a poem every day. All year.

    If it would be helpful, I can scan and send you a copy of the table of contents….

  7. I don’t have it but I am planning to teach poetry as a year-long unit this year. I’ve done a lot of poetry with my students and it is always successful. There is something about poetry that allows all students to be successful no matter their reading/writing skills in other ways. So, thanks for letting me know about other great resources that may help me do a better job.

  8. It’s $65 at namingtheworld.com, and Amazon has it for $97.50.

  9. This has gotten me thinking…what is a Do Now? I am familiar w/DOL, but have not heard of this…can you help?

  10. Shelly-

    My team starts the day with a do-now, during homeroom. I am responsible for M/W and we usually use DOL. It’s just bell-ringer activity that the class does while we do lunch count, attendance, etc.

    I just can’t afford those prices, especially without seeing the resource first. But thanks!


    I would love to see the table of contents! Thank you so much!

    Hmm, give me another day or so to contemplate your offer. It’s very, very tempting. What price would you be looking for??

  11. It is an awesome resource. I bought this one last week along with Lessons That Change Writers, and Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle and Inside Writing by Donald Graves and Penny Kittle. One thing I do is go to Heinemann and Stenhouse and read the free pages and previews. Some of the chapters are few downloads, some are free pages, and some are just a little preview. I don’t know if it helps or not. http://www.debrennersmith.com

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