Celebrating Poetry All Year

Adapted from a prior post for Getting Smart

In April we recognize National Poetry Month, which has become an annual celebration of poetry in the United States, which was first established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance and power of poetry in our lives and in the world. Poetry has the power to evoke emotions, boost imagination, and even challenge perspectives, which makes it a great medium for exploring new ideas, developing social awareness, and building literacy skills.

We can celebrate poetry throughout the year, not just during April. It is important to encourage students to read and write more and a great way to do that is to explore and write poetry. Whether teachers find content-related poems to read to students or have students boost writing and creativity skills and write their own poems, there are many resources to explore and ideas for sparking interest in the beauty of poetry.

Some Ideas to Explore

When I was in the seventh grade, we had to create a book of poetry that included a variety of poems we found and a few that we wrote. We also had to memorize two poems to recite in our class. I still have my yellow binder with the poems that I hand-wrote and pictures that I drew to illustrate the poem’s theme. I wrote two poems similar to some of the styles we learned about such as acrostic poems and haikus. I really enjoyed doing that project because it gave us a choice, I felt creative and it led me to love poetry!

More than just a month

To celebrate poetry all year long, encourage your students to write their own poems. Offer different prompts or themes or provide examples to guide students as they develop their critical thinking skills by analyzing and interpreting poems. In elementary or middle school, reading poems to students is also a beneficial way to explore language and creativity. Depending on the grade level you teach, you could also read poetry aloud together and engage in discussions about what you like about each poem or compare poetry styles. We can help students to build confidence and communication skills. In language classes, we can build cultural and social awareness skills by learning about different poets and styles of poetry.

Some middle school students may enjoy exploring different poetic forms and techniques. Encourage students to choose a type of poem to write such as haikus, sonnets, or maybe free verse. Something fun to do is a poetry slam. Poetry slams are a fun and exciting way to celebrate National Poetry Month. They give students the opportunity to perform their own poems in front of an audience (classmates) and can help build confidence and public speaking skills. Consider organizing a poetry slam at your school or even using tools like Flip for students to record a poetry slam. Depending on your students, you might break them into small groups so that they can collaborate and challenge each other and have fun in the process! Or divide students into groups and have them write a collaborative poem to share with classmates. Writing poetry together can be a fun and engaging way to encourage creativity and teamwork.

For older students, depending on the content area, choosing to learn about and explore the works of famous poets from different time periods and cultures can be very beneficial. In my Spanish class, we read poems throughout the year and learn about the culture and history connected to the poet and the content of the poem. Students could even participate in writing workshops or attend virtual lectures by poets.

In addition to ideas for the classroom, here are five resources to explore that offer activities, lesson plans, and many ideas for teachers and students.

  • Academy of American Poets is full of great resources for educators and families. Explore the site to find a variety of resources and a list of 30 ways to celebrate Poetry Month! On the site, explore Teach this poem to find ideas for students in grades K-12. It has lesson plans and shares 1 poem per week. You can also listen to the poems available on the site.
  • Listenwise offers a variety of activities for students to listen to podcasts and then engage in a variety of activities to share their learning. There are some great ideas to celebrate poetry this month!
  • Nearpod provides activities and content that can be used to create an interactive lesson or explore ready-to-run lessons to teach about poetry. Use the drag-and-drop feature to create magnetic poetry right in Nearpod. Also with Flocabulary, there are poetry lessons to get students up and moving. Students can use Lyric Lab to write their own poems!
  • Read, Write, Think for K-12 has lesson plans and libraries with resources for each grade band. One idea is to select students to be “Poets for a Day” and share their favorite poems or maybe they can write their own poems to share.
  • Verse By Verse uses AI to write a poem. You select up to 3 poets and the style, and a number of syllables and provide some input. It then generates a poem for you based on your selections.

Teachers can find a lot of resources from these sites and also look at the Poets.org website for more resources and activities. There are also some fun activities via the Bored Teachers site to engage students in movement and excitement for poetry.

Beyond just reading the poems, students can compare poems and debate about the styles or the meaning. Students can also read poems and then design art to reflect the poem’s message. There are so many ways to celebrate National Poetry Month throughout the year and develop a true appreciation for the beauty of poetry.

About the Author

Rachelle Dené Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, Speaker, and the Author of seven books about education and edtech. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915

I am available for PD sessions in-person and virtual on a variety of topics. Key focus areas are AI, ChatGPT, AR and VR, SEL and STEM.

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