April is National Poetry Month and home to “Poem in my Pocket” day. This year, “Poem in my Pocket” will be celebrated on April 18th.
As a middle school English teacher, I always reserve March and April for my poetry unit. I feel spring is the perfect setting for in which to teach poetry.
I love springtime in the classroom. The weather is starting to warm. Extended recesses and outdoor lessons in the sunshine give us all something to look forward to.
Springtime can also be a tiring time as well. We are all limping along to spring break. The teachers and students are exhausted and running on fumes. Add in pandemic teaching and we are all especially lethargic this year.
Yet, my poetry unit is something that helped me trudge along with my students in tow. I teach grades 6-8, so we read a variety of poems, analyzed them, answered questions, and even wrote and illustrated our own poems.
Some poems that were especially popular among my middle schoolers were:
- Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
- Dear Basketball by Kobe Bryant
- I Wave Goodbye When Butterflies by Jack Prelutsky
- To The Thawing Wind by Robert Frost
- The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes
An especially favorite poetry activity we completed was to write our own “Dear _______,” poem to our passion, just like Kobe Bryant wrote to basketball. We learned so much about extended personification through this poem.
We also explored writing haikus, by combining five separate haikus into a 5-stanza poem. Students carried this even further when they illustrated their extended haikus.
We wrote humorous limericks and interesting cinquains. We also analyzed Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird,” and “Still I Rise,” all while learning more about the poet. We used “Still I Rise” to write our own poems about overcoming our own personal obstacles that we have to rise above.
We did a lot of “Coffee Shop” time during our writing. I turned on the twinkle lights and put on a coffee shop playlist on YouTube for an awesome poetry writing vibe. Also, I put our Virtual Coffee Shop up on the screen while the music played in the background, truly creating a “Coffee Shop” feel. My students loved it. We even snapped our fingers instead of clapping when we presented our poems before the class.
It’s been a great couple of weeks with our poetry unit. Oh, all most forgot, I kickstarted my poetry unit with this whimsical Spring Poetry Bulletin Board Kit my mom made for in-person and virtual teachers. It is definitely a pick me up to see this beauty in the classroom. Also loved how she caught each poem perfectly in the poetry posters too.
To show you how much we love this subject, we are making our poetry virtual library available designed by Tami, the elementary librarian, my mom. These poems are especially perfect for upper elementary to middle school. Please enjoy!