Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting EVERY Student Writing Poetry!

Hello again friends,

I hope everyone has had a chance to enjoy some time off for spring break and is not suffering too much through state testing!  I wanted to talk today about something much more fun than standardized testing...POETRY!

I absolutely LOVE teaching and writing poetry.  It is magical for me when every student realizes that they are all poets that have something important to contribute to this word.  I am going to share the way I get all my fifth graders started writing and enjoying poetry.  Like every class, there are those students who start writing a million ideas in a million different directions.  Then there are those who have no ideas and spend 30 minutes finding anything and everything to distract themselves from attempting to write poetry because it's just not easy.

There is a way to bring both these extreme types of learners together and have everyone else in between successful as well.  The way I introduce writing poetry is to NOTICE really great poetry as readers.  We begin by exploring lots and lots of different poetry anthologies that interest students. 

 Here are the steps I take:

1. I read several different poems I enjoy to the class, sharing my thinking about each poem.  I often talk about my emotions, connections, and experiences with the text.  I also discuss the author's use of language and the way in which he/she put the words on the page.  This modeling is a critical first stage in showing students examples of what readers should be thinking about when analyzing poetry.

 Here are some of my favorite collections of poems!


2. I lay out bins of poetry books and tell students that today they are going to spend some time enjoying poetry as a reader.  I ask them to choose a book to read and then pick one poem that really stood out to them while reading and copy it into their poetry anthologies (blank bound cardstock paper).  They MUST copy it EXACTLY as it appears in the book.  This helps students think about line breaks and spacing in poetry.  They even copy any illustrations!!


 3. At the end of class I ask students to share the poem they copied with a partner. Then I have them talk about why they chose that poem.

That's it!  We repeat these steps over the course of several days until I feel students have been exposed to enough poetry that they are comfortable enough to try writing their own.  That is when we move into writing a poem about a poem.  We look back at all the poems we have copied and try to write our own that is similar to one of our favorite poems.

I have found this way to introduce poetry really fun and succesful for every student.  Plus, it gives me great insight into what types of poetry my students enjoy reading.  We keep an anchor chart of all the things we notice about poetry and add to it each day.  This chart is extremely useful when students transition into writing their own poetry.

If you would like to learn more about the process of reading, thinking about, and finally writing poetry, you can visit my TpT store, where I have a month-long Poetry and Figurative Language Unit of Study for the reading and writing workshops.  The units have identical lessons, but are broken into individual grade levels so that all 40 lessons can be attached to the grade-specific Common Core State Standards.  Click on the pictures below and you can download the FREE preview to see the first four days worth of lessons! 

ENJOY 20% off these Units of Study (April 8-9)!!  Click on the descriptions below!

 Thank you all for reading and I hope you and your students are enjoying some time exploring poetry in your classroom!


Follow me on Pinterest
Visit my TpT Store
Check out my Blog



  1. Thanks for sharing! I'm teaching poetry to my 5th graders for the 1st time EVER!! I'm loving it and hoping they are, too. It's amazing how I've been able to notice how creative some of them are. Hasn't been obvious with our paragraph writing! :)


  2. I love this post! In my opinion, there is nothing better than teaching poetry. Thanks for sharing some new ideas! I always look forward to your posts, Jen. :)


Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Blogging tips