Poetry lessons are my favorite part of teaching writing, but in many classrooms, poetry is forgotten. There are so many other parts of ELA and writing to teach that it can seem difficult to fit in or intimidating to teach. It can be easy for teachers to incorporate poetry during the entire school year. Poetry lessons bring value to every classroom.
The First Poetry Lessons I Taught
I started teaching poetry regularly when I was a paraprofessional in a 4th-grade classroom. The 4th-grade team had made a point to incorporate poetry throughout the year for several years. At the end of the year, every student would bind a poetry book the old fashion way. The students wrote great poems over the year, but the benefits were far greater than the final product.
Bringing Poetry Lessons With Me
Teaching poetry was something I brought with me to several other schools. I had seen the benefits of it and I knew it was valuable, but often forgotten since there is so much pressure on teachers to complete so many other tasks. But poetry can be a part of teaching the writing skills students need. We can do both once we plan just a little bit.
What are Poetry Lessons and Their Benefits?
Poetry is when a writer shares their honest thoughts and feelings with the reader in various formats. This is a vague definition because there are so many forms of poetry that with different rules and there is poetry with no rules. The core of poetry is that the author is honest and truthful about their thoughts and feelings. Here are a few of the benefits of teaching poetry lessons.
Poetry Lessons Build Social/Emotional Skills
Poetry helps students to think about how they feel and connect with the world. It’s a different kind of thinking than other types of writing. Students can build social and emotional skills by studying and writing poetry. Honesty and truth poetry requires involves a lot of self-reflection and empathy. Along with writing our students can gain some needed social and emotional skills
Poetry Lessons are Short
Most poetry lessons are short which is amazing. Short lessons mean that you can fit them in during a short week, testing week, or holiday. Sometimes we don’t want to start a new unit right before a break, but we can teach a poetry lesson and have students finish the assignment in a day or two.
Short lessons are less intimidating to our students too. Long lessons that end in long essay can be challenging for students to complete. It’s nice to give students a break with a short lesson that’s easier but will still teach them a lot.
Poetry Lessons Build Confidence
Struggling writers hate long assignments because they are intimidating, and the students feel like they will fail before they even start. Every writer can produce great poetry with a little bit of work. Struggling writers find poetry to be more accessible because it’s short so they put more work into it and do well. When students start to build writing success by writing poetry, they become open to other types of writing. It helps them gain the confidence they need to become writers.
Poetry Lessons are Easy to Grade
Poetry lessons are short which means that you don’t have to spend as much time reading pages and pages of writing. You get to finish grading faster and your students get their work back quicker. Just because grading takes you a lot less time it doesn’t mean your students are learning less.
Poetry Lessons Teach Other Writing Skills
Teachers can decide what lesson they want to teach with poetry and then pick a form of poetry to match. There are so many skills our students can gain through poetry. The best part is it helps our students focus on one of their learning goals better because there is less going on.
Poetry Lessons Can Be Seasonal
As students get older, we tend to step away from seasons and holidays but these students still love and value the seasons and holidays. We don’t need to spend as much time discussing and teaching about them with upper elementary students, but we can celebrate them with poetry. Holidays are great times for poetry lessons because our students are less focused which means teaching writing skills through short lessons is a great option.
Articles About Poetry Lessons
Picking Poetry Lessons for Your Classroom
Poetry is a genre of writing that is huge because there are so many different forms of it. Some forms have many rules, and some forms have no rules. Every teacher can use poetry throughout the year. In school, it’s great to introduce our students to several formats because each can serve a different purpose and teach different lessons. It’s just a matter of finding some forms of poetry that work for you.
Alternatively, I like to think about what skills I want to teach my students and pick a poetry lesson that will support those writing skills. We can help our students focus on specific skills with poetry.
Here are a few forms of poetry I love to teach my students. My TpT store is full of poetry lessons including all these forms.
Identity Poetry Lessons
A huge part of poetry is letting students self-reflect and honestly share their feelings. Identity poems allow students to explore who they are through poetry. This isn’t exactly a form of poetry, but more of a topic. I have several different formats for identity poems that I use with my students. What always amazes me is that even though I lay out the format and provide examples for my students they have trouble figuring out how to talk about themselves. Identity poetry lessons are a great way to help students build social and emotional skills.
Haiku Poetry Lessons
Haiku poetry is fast and simple with a long history. Haikus are 3 line poems that pay special attention to syllables. The syllable pattern per each line is 5-7-5. Traditionally haikus were written about nature, but now people write haikus about anything. I think it’s good to have students do both. I use haikus to teach my students about conciseness, writing about one specific moment, and descriptive language
Ode Poetry Lessons
If you need poetry to glorify or give praise to something then odes are where it’s at. Think about writing poems about kids’ favorite things, presents, or vacations. There are three types of odes, but I tend to go with the simplest type of ode. Decide what topic you want your students to write about. Then students create stanzas in their poems, rhyming is optional. I ask my students to use their stanzas like paragraphs, so each stanza gets into specific details about the main topic. What a great way to practice organization without writing a full paper.
Rhyming Poetry Lessons
Rhyming poetry is when I love to let my students get silly. Sometimes we write more serious rhyming poems, but rhyming is fun, so I like to make these poems fun. Most of my rhyming poems use stanzas and are about silly topics like a Class Talent Show. Students can practice descriptive language, character creation, and organization in rhyming poetry.
Cinquain Poetry Lessons
A cinquain is a five-line poem that originated in France. The first and last lines are the topic of the poem are synonyms for each other. The other lines consist of adjects, participle verbs, and descriptive sentence. This form of poetry allows you to teach about the parts of speech, descriptive language, and being concise.
Onomatopoeia Poetry Lessons
Onomatopoeias are sound words, which means the word’s pronunciation and spelling reflect each other. Animal noises like meow and action sounds like bang or pop are onomatopoeias. Bringing onomatopoeias into writing can make it more realistic and engaging. Practicing incorporating onomatopoeias into writing through poetry can help your students understand it better. I have several onomatopoeia lessons in my TpT store, but my favorite is my Halloween Onomatopoeia lesson.
Acrostic Poetry Lessons
Acrostic poetry is fun, simple, and overused in schools. Did you know there is a more mature way to teach acrostic poetry? That’s what all my acrostic poetry lessons do. Students have a specific topic and they need to provide more detail and description about the topic. The lines are more complex and give greater room for creativity. Acrostic poetry is a great way to practice connecting ideas because there are specific letters that must be used, but they should still make sense.
Poetry Lessons All Year Long
Poetry is a powerful and simple way to help our students become better writers. We can help them grow their confidence and writing skills with short assignments that are easy to complete and easy to grade. We don’t need to lose teaching time to holidays and short weeks. We can just teach the writing skills they need differently. Let’s bring poetry back into our classrooms, more often so that our students can learn from this unique form of writing.
Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry
I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing. Here is an entire lesson for FREE. My Our School Poem guides students by using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.