One of my favorite poems to assign during my poetry teaching unit is the epistolary poem. When students write their epistolary poems, they really open up, and I always learn so much about them. An epistolary poem is a poem written as a letter, and I introduce this assignment after teaching the basic elements of poetry and poetry analysis to my students. When I teach poetry, I use this Sticky Note Poetry Analysis unit.  Sticky Note Poetry Analysis To start this assignment, I like to begin by sharing Kobe Bryant’s epistolary poem Dear Basketball with my class. This poem is not only engaging, but it is also an excellent mentor text for the students to use when they begin writing their epistolary poem. Teaching the Epistolary Poem Day 1 On the first day of this activity, I share Kobe Bryant’s poem with the class. Before introducing the poem, I review imagery, structure, and apostrophe with students. We first watch the video of the poem. After students watch the video, I then have them re...
A great way to introduce writing and reading poetry to your students is through teaching a persona poetry unit. Persona poetry is when a poet makes the speaker of the poem someone other than the self. Popular persona poems often involve characters from popular culture, mythology, or history. Students tend to engage more in persona poetry because they recognize the characters and are excited to see them represented in a new format. It is smart for teachers to assign a persona poem as the first poetry assignment because it is usually easier for students to step into another person’s shoes than expressing their own personal experiences. Listed below are a few examples of persona poems and prompts students can work on relating to them: “Hulk Smash!” by Greg Santos - This is a humorous take on Hulk fraternizing in everyday life. You can have students analyze the use of syntax to convey Hulk’s personality. Students can write their own take on a superhero interacting in the human wor...
Teaching poetry is probably one of the hardest tasks as an English teacher. So many high school students come in with a negative preconception of poetry rooted from years of being taught to treat poems like dissections. It also doesn’t help that most of the poetry taught in school is decades old and therefore harder for students to make connections. Spoken word, a relatively new genre focused on oratory recitation, is poetry for the modern age. The performance element to the art form makes it easier for students to become engaged with the material. Most spoken word focuses on current issues which makes it more relevant. Students are also much more enthused to watch a video than to sit down and annotate a poem. However, it is important to teach poetry annotation also. Incorporating spoken word into your poetry curriculum might convert students into poetry lovers. Here are some videos to get your students started on spoken word and some exercises to kickstart students into thinking ...
Getting students engaged in a poetry unit can be a challenge. Here are some fun projects to incorporate in your classroom to help spark students’ creativity and boost their learning potential. Blackout Poetry Do you have old books or short stories collecting dust on the bookshelves of your classroom? Repurpose them into beautiful works of poetic art. To do this, give each student some colored markers and a page of text. Using the concepts they learn in class, have your students create a poem from the words that already exist on the page. Each student should read his or her page, scanning the text for significant words, phrases, or ideas that could be in a poem. Have them circle these words or short phrases, and on a separate sheet of paper, write them out in the order they appear in the text. Students should now be able to create a poem using these words they pulled out of the page. Remind them that the order the words appear in the text is how they must be in the poem they’re ...
April is National Poetry Month, and while it is essential to add in poetry throughout the entire school year, teachers usually place more emphasis on poetry during this Spring month. Here is a look at how I am getting ready to focus on poetry in my classroom. 1. Annotating Poetry One of the first lessons I teach my students is my Annotating Poetry Made Easy lesson. This mini-unit helps students learn how to read poetry and begins to help students establish a format for annotating poetry for analysis. In this mini unit, I use William Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and I include step-by-step annotating instruction that you can complete as a class. I always find it beneficial to annotate with students so that they can learn how to do it and increase their confidence in their annotating abilities. Annotating Poetry Made Easy 2. Analyzing Poetry Once my students have a solid foundation about how to read and annotate poetry, I then move on to teaching my st...
If there’s one genre that intimidates students, it is definitely poetry. Poetry, for some reason, can make students shrink with uncertainty, doubt, and fear before you even begin the unit. When I teach poetry in my classroom, I first like to introduce students to it by teaching them how to read and annotate poetry. By breaking this process down for students, it immediately becomes less intimidating. Once my students have a grasp on how to read poetry, I then throw them into the deep end with poetry analysis. When I teach analysis in my classroom, I use this poetry teaching unit that employs the acronym SWIFT to help students analyze one element at a time. SWIFT stands for Structure, Word choice, Imagery, Figurative language, and Theme and tone. Structure When students analyze the structure, I have them look at how the poem is organized. First, they take a look at it visually and note what they see. Then, I have them look a bit closer. They look at lines and stanzas a...
Reading poetry is one of the most valuable lessons in high school English classes. There is so much to learn from each poem, and each analysis adds value to both the current poem students are studying and to future poems. Here are five ways students can begin to analyze poetry. 1. Annotate the poem The best way for students to begin analyzing poetry is for them to make a note of the things they notice. Making use of the margins of the poem, students can take notes on the structure of the poem and various poetic devices they find. Students can also take note of the parts that interest them or the various elements that contribute to the theme. Annotating a poem allows the student to understand further precisely what the poem is saying, and it also forces students to take a deeper, closer look at the poem. My Annotating Poetry Made Easy lesson provides students with a systematic way to annotate poetry to make it more accessible to students. 2. Identify recurring devices and imag...
Incorporating pop culture in the classroom is an easy way for teachers to show students how much literature impacts the world around them and how relevant it is, no matter how old it may be. In this sense, the students can connect the new with the old, finding commonalities that interest them An easy way to bring pop culture into the classroom is through song lyrics. Song lyrics are essentially poems set to music, and as students will likely recognize any of the top twenty songs, they will better understand poetry through the lyrics. Here are nine examples of song and poem pairings to use in the classroom with your poetry analysis unit: 1. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare and “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran This is a good pairing of poem and song because of the similar romantic themes found throughout both. They both tell a love story that shows how humans have not changed over hundreds of years. Also, the literary device repetition is in both pieces. 2. “The Road Not Taken” by R...
Many students tend to be scared away from poetry. More often than not, students who believe that they either do not enjoy poetry or they don’t understand it dread the poetry unit in an English classroom. This is often due to improper teaching in previous classes. Students must learn how to take the appropriate approach to poetry while allowing themselves to enjoy and make personal connections with the piece. Here are five ways to make poetry fun and approachable in the classroom. 1. Taking the proper stance Readers should enjoy poetry. Students should not have to stress over proper interpretation while worrying about whether they understand it correctly. A poem should not be approached in the same way that students approach, say, a history textbook. Make sure your students know they are free to enjoy the poem without worrying about finding out the “true meaning.” Sign up for my poetry emails Subscribe to receive FREE poetry teaching resources! Thank you for subscribing...
“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” This saying has frequently been used to describe the month of March as harsh winter conditions give way to spring. While the proverb categorizes the month’s climate, it also sets the scene for two exciting poems to be used in the classroom: William Blake’s “The Lamb” and “The Tyger.” Here are five reasons students should read “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” in March. 1. An Introduction to William Blake As two of his most famous poems, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” can act as excellent tools to introduce students to one of Britain’s most iconic poets. Students will familiarize themselves with Blake’s writing style and learn to recognize some of his techniques. 2. Corresponding Poems William Blake is famous for writing two books of poetry: Song of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The two compilations of poetry are intended to show contrasting views of the human condition. “The Lamb” is from Songs of Innocence while “The Tyger” hails from Songs of Ex...