It can be challenging to teach writing and keep students engaged. The most fun I’ve ever had teaching writing was when I incorporated poetry into my writing lessons. I saw a different attitude towards writing from my students when I taught poetry and writing. I also watched them grow in leaps and bounds as writers.
My First Experience Teaching Poetry in the Classroom
When I started teaching fourth grade, I was so lucky to come into a school that had poetry as part of its regular writing plan. It wasn’t so much of a curriculum as each teacher had created different poems that they would teach their class how to write.
At the end of the school year, every fourth-grade student was going to bind a book. The bookbinding wasn’t done by machine; the project was a big involved process. We gave them blocks of wood, a piercing tool, a needle, and thread to bind their books in a step-by-step process.
Our publishing process went beyond printing their finished work, it was a project that reflected how much the teachers valued poetry. At the end of the school year, students had an incredible poetry book filled with poems that showed how they grew as writers over the school year.
Poetry and Writing Can Change Your Classroom To
Every teacher wants their students to mature as writers. It’s a lot of hard work to write lessons, keep students engaged, get them to turn in a finished piece of writing, and then spend the time grading it. Poetry offers an easier way for students to learn how to writing.
I am going to explain the benefits of poetry in the classroom so that you will understand how incorporating poetry could help your students grow as writers like it has mine.
How Do Poetry and Writing Translate to Student Growth?
Poetry is writing but is often forgotten by state standards. Since we live in a standard-driven education system poetry is sadly often left out of the curriculum. This is unfortunate not only because I love poetry, but because I have seen my students bring the lessons they learn while writing poetry into the rest of their writing. Poetry makes required writing skills more accessible to all students.
Other Teachers Have Seen the Benefits of Poetry in the Classroom
There is an online conversation about how to include poetry in the classroom in meaningful ways. Every teacher has a different approach and idea about how to do it. Here are a couple of conversations I have read more than once. These articles offer more ways that poetry can be incorporated into my writing lessons.
I love hearing from other teachers who have changed the way they teach poetry and writing and saw student growth as a result.
5 Incredible Advantages of Poetry and Writing Taught Together
Your time is valuable,, so if you are goingto incorporate poetry into your writing curriculum,, you know what results your work can lead to. I am going to break down the advantages of teaching poetry that grow writers, make your life easier, and meet state standards.
1. Teaching Writing Process Through Poetry
The writing process is an important procedure for students to know so that their writing can shine. However, I often find that students do not know the writing process. Some teachers don’t teach it (beyond having a poster on the wall). Some teachers try so hard to teach the writing process in slow and methodical detail, but it is so much detail that students don’t understand the steps of the writing process.
When you teaching the writing process through poetry lessons students can grasp what the writing process is. The reason they can get a better understanding of the writing process is that it is not drawn out for several days or even weeks. They go through all the steps of the writing process in a day or two while writing poetry, which leads to a cohesive process, rather than them forgetting the steps between lessons.
Using poetry to teach the steps of the writing process allows students to see how they work together in a written piece. As a teacher I was given some curriculums that drew out the steps and lessons of writing and it drove me crazy. They broke down the steps so small that I lost track of where I was trying to lead the kids. Sometimes the “best” curriculums can be confusing. I find students learn the steps of the writing process better when I teach it through poetry, which is all of my poetry lessons follow the writing process.
2. Teaching Descriptive Language Through Poetry
We have already established that poetry is a shorter writing project. Since poetry is short it allows teachers to easily add a focus to the lesson. When I ask students to write an essay and then go through to add something like the descriptive language they get so overwhelmed. It’s scares them to try to add descriptive language.
Poetry on the other hand is a short writing project which students often finish quickly and are proud of. When I am working with students on their revisions I help them add descriptive language. They look at their short piece of writing and start to visualize how descriptive language changes the image they are writing about. It’s so different from trying to be descriptive in an essay or paragraph.
Most poetry requires descriptive language too. Haikus for example are all about using descriptive language. Traditionally haikus are about nature and that is a great place to start working on descriptive language. The modern haiku can be about anything, but descriptive language is still important. By having students write haikus they are going to be improving their descriptive language in a short, manageable and beautiful piece of writing.
3. Poems are a Short Writing Project
Yes, I know we have already talked about how poems are short. However, there are just so many advantages to having a short writing project. Have you ever been getting close to grades closing and realize your students have one or two writing grades? I know I have because essays take so long to write.
I hate having a grade on their report card that reflects one or two pieces of writing. I don’t think it’s a true reflection of my students’ work or me as their teacher. But there is only so much time in each grading period to finish a piece of writing. Poetry can be added to your lesson plans on short weeks, for holidays, or even at the end of the grading period. It gives your students more opportunities to show that they are capable writers and it’s easy for you to grade.
4. Writing You Can Grade Quickly
I love teaching writing, but I hate grading it. It takes forever and it’s usually painful because they are still learning how to write so it’s just not that good.
However, I love reading the poems my students have written. I can see so clearly how they are going to mature into strong writers when they turn in a finished poem. The best part is that because poems are short they don’t take me very long to grade. I can get one more writing grade into my grade book at the end of the grading period.
Using a rubric speeds up the grading process even more. I have customized a rubric for each of my poetry lessons so that it is familiar but specific to that poetry assignment.
5. Poetry Builds Confident Writers
I have had so many struggling writers come into my classroom in the fall. What teacher hasn’t? They have no confidence in their ability to write. They are reluctant to start and struggle through to the closing paragraph of every assignment. Their finished piece shows this lack of confidence.
As I write this we are preparing for the Olympics. I am a gymnast and follow the gymnastics competitions as close as my toddler will let me. One gymnast, Jordan Chiles, was about to quit gymnastics about three years ago. Then she changed gyms and coaches. Her new gym used a new approach and helped her gain confidence in what she could do. This year she has been on the leader board for all the competitions because of her confidence. The new coaches and new approach increased her confidence so that she is a shining star.
Are you ready to build confidence in your writers by teaching them writing through poetry? Poetry makes writing accessible for many different learning needs and builds our students up. They are proud of the incredible pieces they write, so proud that they are ready to start trying harder on the paragraphs and essays.
6. Bonus: Poetry is Fun and Funny to Write
Often writing lessons come off as dry and boring. There are so many silly kinds of poetry you can have your students write to get them hooked on poetry and writing. Rhyming poems and limericks are a great place to start if you want your students to start with funny poems.
I have always thought poetry is a lot more fun than writing a paragraph or essay too. They are fun to brainstorm, write and share. It’s awesome to have the whole class laughing as we share poems aloud.
Now You Know How Poetry in the Classroom Can Rock Your Writing Block
Poetry should still have an important place in our classrooms. Hopefully, you understand now, if you didn’t before, the value that poetry has to offer. There are so many writing standards that can be met through poetry and many benefits beyond that.
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