English teacher confession: I use to avoid teaching poetry like meatloaf day in the cafeteria. Teaching poetry intimidated me because I never fully understood technical things like meter and assonance. I constantly worried that my interpretation of a poem was “wrong.” And because of the classical selections in my textbook, I found teaching poetry as boring as my students did learning it.
However, due to some influential educators, I have since changed my tone when it comes to teaching poetry. Poetry provides the perfect tool to diversify canonical curriculum, create rich text sets, practice creative writing, promote living authors, and so much more.
And the best part? Teaching poetry doesn’t have to be complicated, boring, or time-consuming. I have learned that a major positive of teaching poetry is that it can incorporated into your ELA curriculum easily and without disrupting an already packed pacing guide.
Here are ways to teach poetry by embedding it into your ELA curriculum:
Teaching Poetry using Digital Blackout Poetry with a Purpose
Blackout poetry is a fun and artistic expression that you have probably seen many times since both teachers and students love to show off their blackout poetry. However, you may not have thought of teaching this form of poetry within your curriculum or tried my smart tip for no stress or no mess blackout poetry!
Any time you want students to analyze a short story passage more closely and through different lenses, you can have students create a digital blackout poem using Google Slides, PowerPoint, or Canva. The reason you will most likely want to use digital blackout poetry rather than traditional blackout poetry is so that students can create multiple visuals for a single passage. For example, their first creation could highlight the mood of the passage and their second creation could highlight the tone. Or, students could create a one blackout poem of a passage through a Marxist lens and the next through a feminist lens. When you use digital (and editable!!) blackout poetry, the possibilities are endless!
My complete post on Blackout Poetry can be found here, and you can watch just the technical video here: Creating Digital Blackout Poetry Using Google Slides
By using digital blackout poetry, you can teach students to read passages for specific purposes such as finding mood, tone, or author’s craft while also creating visuals for how a passage can look very different depending on which close reading lens is used. You can find digital blackout poetry templates and directions here: Digital Poetry Activities for ANY text!
Teaching Poetry with a Setting or Symbolism Haiku
Haikus area fun type of poetry to teach because they are simplistic yet beautiful. They also help spark creativity and reinforce the rhythm of words. For these reasons, consider trading in a typical reading response in paragraph a format for that of a Haiku. For example, if you want your students to describe the setting of a story, have them read a mentor Haiku then ask them to write a Haiku that expresses the imagery found in the text. Or, if you want students to explain symbolism within a passage, ask that the explanation come in the form of a Haiku. See my image above for a quick example!
Teaching Poetry using Paint Chip Poetry with Purpose
Paint Chip Poetry is another popular poetry format because the colors and creativity come together so stunningly in classrooms! When teaching poetry in context, elevate your poetry lesson plans by assigning paint chip poetry with a purpose. One way to achieve this is to have students focus on color symbolism. For instance, students can think abstractly about a character to determine which color the character would be and then use the paint chip and paint names to write an analysis of the character.
You can find two other ways to use paint chip poetry with a purpose in this post: Paint Chip Poetry Without the Guilt + Literary Paint Names and you can download my Paint Chip Poetry Resource here: Digital Poetry Activities for ANY text.
Dr. Jenna Copper also has a paint chip tone writing lesson within our Virtual Keeping the Wonder. It was hit at our first ever workshop, and you can access the archives here: Virtual Keeping the Wonder
Teaching Poetry Using Limerick Lesson Response
Limericks are silly little poems that are fun to read and fun to write. This makes them the perfect tool to spice up a dry topic. Just like with the Haiku idea above, have students replace a typical written response with a limerick.
For instance, if you are teaching passive voice, show an example like this one I made up and then have students write their own to show understanding of passive and active voice.
Once there was a confused student of grammar
Over and over in passive voice he would yammer
The shamrock was worn around the clock
Not- around the clock, he wore the shamrock
Until his teacher drilled active voice in like a hammer
For another example, have students summarize something they have read into a limerick:
A magical book with a protagonist of Harry Potter
His quick-witted friend has a patronus of an otter
They form an army despite the evil cat lady
The ministry’s denial grows evermore shady
Until no-nose is exposed providing political fodder
Using Inclusive Poetry Pairings
The most important reason to start incorporating poetry throughout your curriculum is to better diversify your units. By including diverse poets, you are ensuring your students see a range of experts and creatives no matter what your unit of study. For example, I found several diverse authors to disrupt the normal white-male-centric winter texts. You can find those here: Diverse Christmas Short Story Pairings
Though I do have many more diverse author post planned, the best source for finding poetry pairings is to dig in and read more living poets.
Another replacement for a standard reading response is to have students create a Diamante Poem when you want them to compare and contrast. You read about this poetry strategy and see my examples over at Mud Ink and Teaching: Fresh Ideas for Teaching Poetry
I hope that this post has inspired you to teach poetry throughout the year so that you can foster creativity and inclusivity ! Let me know if you give these idea a try! Tag @BuildingBookLove . If you are looking for premade poetry resources, you will love this pack: Digital Poetry Activity Pairings For ANY Text!