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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Learning to Write Poetry
Learning to Write Poetry

HOW IT WORKS
The students are immersed in poetry from the onset of the school year through shared readings and read alouds, so they are already familiar with the genre. To launch this five-week program, the teacher shares different types of poetry with the class, so children understand that poems can be long or short, rhyming or non-rhyming, etc. The teacher models writing different kinds of poems in daily mini-lessons and gives students time to experiment. 

One activity is List Poems: students write  a poem by listing characteristics of a person, place, or object. A student who loves cats might make a list poem about that subject. One student wrote a list poem about the color green. Students learn that poets often make sketches before putting words on paper to help them think of the right words. They also learn that there are very few “rules” in poetry—a poem does not have to begin with a capital letter or end with a punctuation mark! Over time, students grow more comfortable writing and revising their work. They write many poems, but each child ultimately chooses one favorite to go into the class anthology, which is photocopied. Each student keeps a copy and one is added to the classroom library. 

THE STUDENTS
Every student in the class participates in all activities. Even the most challenged child can be successful in writing poetry. Publishing Poetry had a profound impact on two struggling this year. At the same time, accomplished writers can be challenged to write their own anthologies, to write like a mentor poet (perhaps Karla Buskins, Mary Ann Hoberman, or Jack Prelutsky), or to try formatting the text in a different way. Most mini-lessons and activities are taught to the whole class. However, the teacher can work with small groups of students who have common needs or strengths. 

THE STAFF 
Wendy Marks has been teaching first grade in New York City for three years. She has taught poetry each year and was fortunate to have a mentor from the Teachers College Writing Project work with her during her first year. She attended a Summer Writing Institute at Teachers College and, together with colleagues, worked alongside several staff developers from Teachers College. Currently, she is working on a second master’s degree in reading.

WHAT YOU NEED
For daily mini-lessons, basic supplies are needed: writing folders, paper, pencils, and crayons. The classroom must have an abundance of poetry books. One example of a book that a teacher can use is the  Random House Book of Poetry for Children compiled by Jack Prelutsk y. A computer and printer allows teachers and students to type finished poems. Students are proud to type their own words and discover different ways to form a t them. Other materials include different colored paper (to mount poems), Lucite picture frame boxes (to display students poems throughout the school), a laminating machine (to preserve poems), and one-inch binders (these become the class poetry binders that each student takes home at the end of the study). 

OVERALL VALUE 
Elementary students develop an appreciation for poetry and recognize the work poets put into their writing. They feel famous when their writing is displayed and shared with their families at a class publishing celebration. Finally, they keep a class poetry binder to read, reread, and have as a memento forever. Students can share their poetry with older or younger students, and create an anthology of selected poems to present at a school event or to read for their families or a local organization such as a senior center or hospital.

 

View the Curriculum Unit/Dissemination Packet

CURRICULUM AREAS
Language Arts
 Technology

GRADES
1 - 6

MORE INFORMATION

Wendy C. Marks
Greenwich Village School -
P.S. 41
116 West 11th Street
New York, NY 10011
Jmarks3@nyc.rr.com
Principal 
Lois Weiswasser

IMPACT II 
Catalog 2002-2003

 

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