April may be the cruelest month, according to the great American poet T.S. Eliot, but it can also be the silliest, saddest, funniest, most profound and amazingly playful month, thanks to National Poetry Month.
People learn a lot by teaching so this Pencil Tip gives students (no matter their age) the chance to share a poem with others (and in the process, to learn more about it and poetry in general).
1. Tell students that each day in April will begin with a poem and that each student will have a chance to share and talk about a favorite poem. Assign days.
2. Ask students to look over poetry books and to write down the titles of 3 poems they like by 3 different poets (this will prevent them from choosing the first poem they come to and give them a chance to compare different poems and become more familiar with different poets).
3. Take them to the school library and let them choose poetry books, develop a poetry table or nook in the classroom, encourage them to search for poems at home.
4. In addition to choosing/sharing a favorite poem, students should write down (1) why they chose this poem, (2) what they notice about its form/shape, rhymes, or sounds, (3) what words seem especially interesting or vivid, (4) what feeling the poem gives them, and (5) the author and (optional) the year it may have been written or published.
5. On the first day of April, model the process by reading aloud your favorite poem, talking about each of the five things above, and reading it a second time before sitting down. Make this a poem that’s truly special to you so that students can see that poems can connect to/help articulate deep feelings.
The sharing each day only takes about 5 minutes, but students will attend carefully to what their peers have chosen and why. This 5-minute daily poem/share will open them up to language and its possibilities in new ways.
Helpful Poetry Resources: The Poetry Friday Anthology (both the K-5 and 6-8 editions), compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong; The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Anthology, selected by Jack Prelutsky; Hallowilloween by Calef Brown; Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems by Georgia Heard; Pumpkin Butterfly by Heidi Mordhorst; Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman; and Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.