During National Poetry Month, join Elaine Robertson and young would-be lyricists from all over the world in the Poet's Corner. As a computer coordinator for Anderson's Creek Primary School in Warrandyte, Victoria, Australia, Robertson designed this project to allow students to express themselves creatively through writing a variety of poems.
"During the fortnight [two weeks], poems are e-mailed to me," she explained. "They are then collated into an anthology of children's writing and then sent back as file attachments to participating schools, so that children are able to read poems from around the world."
As part of the project, students write emotion, name, cinquain, diamante, and acrostic poems as well as octopoems. Every few weeks, the style changes and students focus on a new type of poetry writing.
Robertson is quick to point out that this is a project that anyone with even one computer and Internet connection can join, giving it great appeal to those who are still awaiting multiple connections. The Poet's Corner project is currently accepting registrations. You can e-mail Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to join.
Teach students about poetry from your own corner of the world with these activities!
Poetry reading. The Atlantic Monthly's Poetry Pages will get your students excited about becoming poets. Taken from material published in the magazine, the articles discuss poets, their work, and poetry itself. Have your students look into a work or a poet featured to spark their interest in writing. One of the unique aspects of this site is its assortment of audio recordings, which would make a fabulous introduction to a poetry reading in your classroom. Your students could use the recordings as examples and select a poem to share with the group.
Writing haiku. Because the Japanese poetry form called haiku is so short and typically focuses on common topics that are easily understood, it is very popular with students. The Haiku for People! Web site takes that a step further by claiming that haiku is for everyone! Make haiku "for" your students by sharing with them the writing guidelines you will find at this site. Have them follow the instructions to create their own haiku poems. After your students have drafted, edited, and revised their work, consider sending their original poems to the Webmaster for comment.
Many authors have homes on the Web, and poets are no exception. Use these pages to help your students understand poets as well as poetry.
Jack Prelutsky. If your students adore the works of Jack Prelutsky, such as The New Kid on the Block and Something Big Has Been Here, they can learn more about him and his books on the Net. Jack Prelutsky: Man of Many Talents is a great interview with the man himself, courtesy of the magazine Teaching K-8. Once a wedding singer and voice student, Prelutsky gave up a possible career as an opera performer when he heard Pavarotti and knew that he would never be the best. Thankfully, he didn't give up on finding an outlet for his creative talents, and we now have his terrific poetry books. Your class could create a project based on a Prelutsky poem, as third graders at South Knox Elementary in Monroe City, Indiana, did.
Shel Silverstein. Another clever and humorous poet loved by children is Shel Silverstein. The cartoon drawings he sketches to convey the message of each poem add to the joy of his books. Have your students examine the power of art as it relates to poetry by reading a few of Silverstein's poems and interpreting their corresponding illustrations. You may use Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, or another of his books. The official Shel Silverstein Web site has a useful classroom tool, the Shel Silverstein Classroom Poetry Kit.
William Shakespeare. You'll find a comprehensive collection of the poetry of the supreme bard at The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This site has his plays as well as his sonnets for your students to explore. In addition to the sonnets, other works of poetry included are "A Lover's Complaint," "The Rape of Lucrece," "Venus and Adonis," and "Funeral Elegy by W.S." Your students could study themes in the sonnets, such as love, or they might each choose a sonnet to interpret and discuss with the group.
If you are looking for ideas for working poetry into your curriculum, Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month All Year Long is an idea resource! The suggestions are so great that you'll wish you had thought of them yourself. Why not have your students travel through your school as poet minstrels, wrap up and give poems to each other as gifts, or keep poems in their pockets so they are always ready to share?
Another fine resource is the poetry units -- two volumes of them -- created by teachers at the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Poetry and Poetry in the Classroom: Incentive and Dramatization take you from beginning to end with lesson plans, examples, and poetry. All you need is a desire to teach your students about poetry, and you will find something here to help you succeed. There are even units specifically designed for students with special needs.
Still confused by poetry? Keep in mind the words of Carl Sandburg, "I've written some poetry I don't understand myself."
Looking for more resources for teaching poetry? Don't miss Education World's Poetry Month archive.Article by Cara Bafile