“Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement.”
~ Christopher Fry ~
Every month, I lead our school’s Language Arts Committee meeting. The purpose of this committee is to promote the language arts and ensure that our teaching is based on the latest research. I usually begin the meetings sharing news from our state Department of Education, upcoming conferences and workshops, and information gathered at conferences I’ve attended. Teachers share lessons they’ve had success with and examples of student work. We always have snacks and these meetings are a nice way for teachers to learn about what’s happening at other grade levels.
I spent much of my afternoon planning tomorrow’s meeting. Since National Poetry Month is just a few days away, I will be sharing poetry resources and have a poetry activity planned. Here’s a preview of what’s on the agenda.
- Poem in Your Pocket Day is on Thursday, April 24th this year. We’ll actually be in school on this day. For several years, this day has been during our April break.
- Poet-to-Poet Project is “a multimedia educational project that invites young people in grades 3-12 to write poems in response to those shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.” The resources for this project are incredible: videos of the poets reading their poems, lesson plans, and more. Students can submit their original poems to poets.org for possible publication on the website in May.
- Book spine poems are a form of found poetry and are a fun way to ease into poetry. You can read about the basic steps at Kenn Nesbitt’s, our current Children’s Poet Laureate, website, Poetry4kids.com.
- Poetry Tag Time is an e-book of 30 original poems for children compiled in 2011 by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. A veritable who’s who in children’s poets contributed a poem after being “tagged” by the previous poet. Each poem is connected in some way. I participated in an activity very similar to this several years ago during an online Children’s Literature class, but it was called a poetry “merry-go-round.” The professor posted the first poem, then a student had to post a poem that linked to the original, and so on. I really enjoyed reading the different ways people connected to the poems, and read many wonderful poems I might never have seen. I asked everyone to bring a poem tomorrow so we can play Poetry Tag.
- Thinking about Poetry Tag reminded me of a incredible project Linda Rief shared at NCTE last November. At the beginning of the year, Rief’s students created Heart Maps, an idea from Georgia Heard’s amazing book, Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School. Rief’s students then read volumes of poetry, gathering poems that spoke to them and exemplified an area of their heart map. Students copied these poems out by hand, and gathered them into a “Heart Book.” Vicki Vinton shared a description of this project on her blog, To Make a Prairie.
This seems like a lot to cover in the 40 minutes or so we have for our meeting! My hope is that everyone leaves the meeting with a collection of poems and at least one new idea to try during National Poetry Month. What are your plans for National Poetry Month?