Each year, during the month of April, the Academy of American Poets hosts National Poetry Month. It's a month-long celebration of the art and beauty of poetry and the role it plays in American literature. Here are some ways you can bring the celebration into your classroom!
Idea #1: Read a Poem
There are lots of great poetry sources out there, but one that's especially good this month is straight from Poets.org. By visiting the site, you can sign up to receive a poem in your email inbox every day during the month of April. The poems vary in theme and level, but are probably most appropriate for middle and high school readers. For elementary age students, have fun exploring the poetry of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky at their websites. Both have lots of colorfully animated poems and activities to explore.
For interesting visual poems, check out the Graphic Poetry site. The combination of striking photography with free-verse poems is something that might inspire your students to create their own!
Idea #2 Write a Poem
Get your students involved in writing poetry with tools and resources from across the web. A good starting point is from the National Council of Teachers of English with their Read•Write•Think online activities and interactive tools. Students can write an Acrostic Poem, Diamante, or even create a Shape Poem with support and guidance right on the site. When students are ready to write independently, send them to the Poetry Rhyming Dictionary and Thesaurus to help them brainstorm for rhyming words.
Idea #3 Share a Poem
This year, Thursday, April 30 is "Poetry in Your Pocket Day" where poetry enthusiasts are encouraged to carry a poem with them to share with others. Have students select a favorite poem and then create bookmarks or postcards to share with others that day. For the Poetry in Your Pocket celebration a few years ago, my students and I designed stickers with lines from their favorite poems. Students then traded stickers with others all day until they had a collection of stickers and a list of new poems to read!
Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky formed the Favorite Poetry Project in 1997 to help others share the poems they love. By visiting the site you can see Americans from all walks of life on video as they read or recite the poems they love best. For even more poetry reading pleasure, check out the audio library on the Poets.org website where they've collected over 300 author interviews and poetry readings.
At my school, our Creative Writing students are getting into the poetry mania by writing and publishing their best poetry in video form. Travis Brown, Creative Writing teacher, worked with his students to select the best poetry from their portfolios and then had students work in teams to develop visual interpretations. Every week this month they'll publish an new example of their work. Check out their first entry, titled Time, on our school podcast channel.
For more ideas on teaching with poetry, check out the Scholastic Poetry site where you can participate in poetry workshops with renowned authors as well as find lesson plans and activities to make every day of April into poetic perfection!