Teaching poetry is one of my absolute favorite things to teach. All unit long my students work so hard learning the different elements of poetry and how to turn those “tricks”of poetry into their own poetry masterpieces. At the end of the poetry unit we have a huge celebration and invite all the parents to our “Open Mic Poetry” event. Last Friday my class hosted this event and every year I am reminded why I love this event so much. The students shine as they get in front of the microphone and read their favorite poem they wrote from the entire unit. They learn how to publish the poem on googledocs, how to share it with me in their googledrive, and most importantly learn how to use their voice to celebrate their hard work. I create a stage at the front of the room complete with a microphone and a mic stand. Together we create a program and compile all our poems into a class anthology. We decorate the room like a cafe and I allow students to sign up in the order they would like to read their poem aloud. I make a big deal of the sign up to get the students excited and ease their nerves. This year I decided to combine the event with our book tasting we complete every quarter.
Everytime I host the Open Mic event in my classroom I like to reflect on how we got there and all the hard work my students did. Teaching poetry is not easy as we ask students to forget all punctuation rules they have learned throughout the year. I always start the unit with a poetry walk. Before the poetry walk we talk about imagery and how to visualize what we read.
How to successfully implement a poetry walk:
1. The teacher will tell the students that there are poems posted all over the room for the
students to read. The students will be instructed to look for the poems that will be in all
areas of the room, and that not more than one student should read one poem at a time.
The students should not be talking and move quietly and smartly around the room to the
different poems. All they should do in this first round is read. The students will walk around the room and read the poems for about ten to fifteen minutes.
2. The teacher will stop the students and ask them to gather on the carpet to discuss the
experience. The students will then go re-visit their favorite poems they already read with a pencil and circle, underline and write short notes of things they noticed or liked. The students should write their initials on their three favorite poems that they read.
3. The teacher will collect all the poems after the student have written their initials on them, and ask one of the names to read a couple of the most popular poems out loud. The
teacher will also read some of the comments made on the poems and the whole class will
respond to the poems. The teacher will ask the students if they see anything different while they listen to the poems. (Compare difference between hearing the poems out loud).
4. Then, the students will choose their favorite poems and copy the poem into their writer’s notebook. If more that one student picks the same poem, they will all gather around the poem and copy it together. The teacher can also assign poems to the students and give them one of their top three favorites.
5. The teacher will then review the visualizing element of poetry in detail again. The
students will be instructed to draw a picture in their writer’s notebook next to the poem of what they see when they read the poem. For students that finish their drawing, the teacher will write several response questions on the board for the students to answer in response to their favorite poem:
o How does the poem make you feel?
o Why is it your favorite poem?
o How does the poem connect to your own life or experiences?
The poetry walk is a great way to introduce poetry to students and expose them to many different topics that poetry can be written about. Throughout the year I collect different poems that I know I will want to use in the poetry walk. This could also be used as a celebration to culminate a poetry unit. Students could use their own poems and put them on display as a classroom poetry walk.
As always, I am so proud of all the poems my students wrote. I am always grateful for the parent support and feel humbled to know my student’s voices were heard.