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Hooray! It’s May! Poetry Saves the Day!

Finally…it’s May and the end of the year.  State testing is over.  Field trips and special activities break up the school week. How do you keep students busy, have a little fun, and keep things educational?

My pick? Poetry!!

I use poetry to review grammar, parts of speech, capitalization, and punctuation.  I cover creative writing, imagery, and theme. All of this is done on the computer so I can review word processing skills and use of the internet.

Some of you (or your students) might not be poetry people.  Well, check out  Instant Poetry Forms.  I like the website because it provides interactive templates of some traditional poetry (like the cinquain and limerick). The site also has dozens of unique poetry forms.

I like to start with “I Can’t Write a Poem.”  I simply use my students’ complaints and grumbles when I enthusiastically announce, “Today we are starting poetry!!” (Insert sighs, groans, and moans here).

As they spout off the reasons why they hate poetry, I type their responses into the template (without letting them know what I am doing).  I then hit the button that says “Create My Instant “I Can’t Write a Poem” Poem Now” and show them the finished product on the SMARTBoard.

They usually get a good a laugh and and my biggest haters are tickled to see their own excuses on the board.

Actual poem created by my class on the first day of our poetry unit

Here are the 11 poem forms I have chosen for this year and the skills I will try to cover:

  1. All About Me – Good start to the unit, everyone likes to talk about themselves
  2. Color My World – This form requires a lot of brainstorming and imagery
  3. William Carlos Williams – Students review parts of speech is this Copy Change poem
  4. I’m in Charge of the World – Using supporting details
  5. I Used To…. – Compare and contrast their younger selves with their current self
  6. Diamond – Another review of parts of speech
  7. Limerick – Classic poetry form, story telling, and rhyme
  8. Lantern – Descriptive and synonyms
  9. Tanka – Descriptive and theme
  10. Nature Personified – Personification
  11. If (Emotion) Were a…. More review of imagery

To prepare for this unit, I use the Screen Capture Toolbar on SMARTNotebook and take pictures of the blank templates. I pass out copies for students to use for the rough draft.

I then introduce each poem, do some brainstorming as a group, and circulate while students work on their rough drafts.

Next, we  go to the computer lab to access the website. Students fill in the template and create their poem.  The program does the layout for them automatically.

To work on word processing skills, I have students copy and past their poem into Microsoft Word, change the font, size, color of text, and add clip art.  I make different requirements for each poem but I leave some room for creativity.

At the end of the unit, I compile some of their best poems and make a book for everyone.  This is one of my favorite projects of the year. For the most part,  the students love it too. In fact, most students choose additional templates and do extra poems.  The templates, the unique topics and forms, and the computer time make it easy and modern…even for the anti-poets.

Do you do a poetry unit in your classroom?
Do you have any helpful websites or apps?
Are you counting down to the last day yet?
(19 for me!)

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