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Poetry Lessons

The Sonnet for High School (part 2)

Use these student-written mentor texts inspired by Terrance Hayes Two weeks ago, I posted about a unique sonnet writing exercise inspired by poet Terrance Hayes that I tried with my junior-senior poetry class. Click here to read that post. This new exercise took repetition to an extreme degree, and in so doing, demonstrated the literary…

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The Sonnet for High School (part 1)

The power of repetition in Terrance Hayes’ “Sonnet” If you’ve ever worked with students and sonnets, you know how difficult writing a sonnet can be. In a word, it’s complicated. In fact, these little box-shaped poems offer all kinds of challenges for young writers (and their teachers–ha!). For example, when my British Literature students study…

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Ukrainian Poetry: Words for War

It goes without saying that students are also aware of the invasion. I even overheard students last week discussing the draft and how it works. However, I don’t want students to worry. I want them to instead feel fully informed.
Can poetry help students in this regard?

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Poetry Lesson: The Ode

If you’re needing an easy and fun poem form to explore with your students, definitely add the ode to your list of upcoming poem ideas. Discuss the form and its classical roots, but then shift the focus to the contemporary form so students can readily apply it to their experiences.

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Three poems for Veterans Day

Veterans Day is right around the corner. If you need a quick poetry activity to celebrate veterans and their special day, read about these easy ideas in this post. The ideas are simple and easily replicable right from the details here, but if you’d rather have a handout for students to use and teach from,…

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Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice

Metaphor Dice are excellent tools for inspiring evocative, poem-worthy ideas. The words set the stage for deeper, extended critical thinking. My poetry students loved them!

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Nine Poetry Ideas for High School

If there’s one thing poetry can give you it’s this: variety. I hope these poetry ideas will inspire you to try these within your own larger poetry unit, or simply as a refreshing creative writing activity.

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Poetry Lesson: The Cinquain

Two weeks ago, in my new high school poetry class, I introduced my students to the cinquain. These short, concise, and beautiful little poems were a hit and a success and, as I heard my students reciting their own cinquains, I knew I would have to fill you in on this poetry idea.

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My New High School Poetry Class

Four weeks into the new school year, my new poetry class is quickly becoming my FAVORITE class of the day. Here’s what we’ve done so far… but know that we are just getting started, so stay tuned. Read on…

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A New Poem Activity for The Wanderer

While our study of The Wanderer included some note-taking, reading the poem aloud, and completing a close-reading activity, I wanted us to go one step further to get more out of this beautiful verse. So when I read about something called the “Ubi sunt” motif present in The Wanderer, I took notice… especially when I considered how it might be a way for students to better connect personally to this poem.

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Back to School: Four Icebreaker Poems

Get to know your students with these poetry mentor texts School is starting soon in most locales of the United States and teachers are busy gearing up to find interesting. low-stakes ways to get students writing. Poetry is always a no-fail way to encourage students of all ages to get back in the swing of…

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“Where I’m From” Poems

I’ve updated one of my most popular ELA teaching posts! The Where I’m From poem is perfect for back to school. Every teacher I know raves about this poem. Find out all about it here PLUS find templates to help you get started on day one!

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Movie Captions and Text Create Unique Poems

When text passages from a novel mingle with captions or subtitles from its accompanying movie, interesting things happen. Here’s what I mean: I always watch movies with the subtitles on. It helps me catch every word of dialogue and also catch every nuance given through the sound effects.

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Teaching 9/11 Twenty Years Later

If you’re needing a round-up of resources for teaching 9/11, you’re in a good place. In this post, I’ve compiled links to all my 9/11-related articles. Hopefully, one of these will give you some ideas as you make plans to remember 9/11 in your classroom this year.

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The Dream of the Rood: a dream of a poem

Last fall, as I read and planned lessons for Beowulf, “The Wanderer,” and “The Seafarer,” I kept coming across “The Dream of the Rood.” It wasn’t included in our textbook, but since I kept reading about it (and it was included in my trusty Norton anthology, after all), I became more and more curious. Fast forward: my “Dream of the Rood” close reading activity is here!

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A Sept. 11 Artifacts Poetry Display

Personal 9/11 artifacts and acrostic poems recall the depth of human loss Today, I’m posting some photographs sent to me from a fellow high school teacher, Joe Wolf, who last week tried my “The Stories the Artifacts Tell” lesson plan featured in this 9/11 lesson post. Wolf teaches at Hollister High School in southwest Missouri…

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Headline Poetry Reimagined and Redefined

My high school students take headline poems to the next level Again this year, I chose to start the school year with headline poetry. Both my in-school students and those learning at home created headline poems with words and phrases found and clipped from with a variety of printed materials, magazines, newspapers, and even junk…

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Top Sept. 11 Resources and My 9/11 Poetry Lesson Plan

Plus a new 9/11 resource for distance learning I never thought I’d say this, but I’m going to scale down my September 11 lesson plans this year. My students usually spend a solid week or more reading and responding to survivor accounts, historical articles, and other texts. We often watch an accompanying video, such as…

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Where I’m From Poem Templates

Plus photos and links to help you plan Back-to-school is the perfect time for Where I’m From poems. I’ve decided to repost this article from last May to help you add this great activity to your opening days. Where I’m From poems from the author and poet George Ella Lyons… you just can’t write enough…

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Use this ‘Hamilton’ article to teach six poetic devices

Thank you, Wall Street Journal, for this amazing resource Buckle up, poetry lovers! This Wall Street Journal article, written by Joel Eastwood and Erik Hinton and published on June 6, promises to brighten your poetry lessons with some Broadway style. The article showcases the hip-hop/musical theater/American history mashup known as Hamilton, written and created by…

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Headline Poetry and Serendipity

It’s okay to go with the flow… or not Concrete Prayers Concrete prayers Repel, repel A doomed self-regard & remake common children into Hydrangea tides. When creating a headline poem, it’s okay and good to let the words find you. Another way to say it: don’t insist on finding the word you think you need.…

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A Mentor Text for Treasured Object Poems

“Poem to My Yellow Coat” by Lucille Clifton Last winter, I wrote a post about a fun, creative activity called Treasured Object poems. Click here for that link. In that post, I included three student-written poems that former students had written. One was about turquoise Converse shoes, another was about a piano, and another a…

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The Favorite Place Poem

Have students create content with a poem about their favorite place Many of my students are reading poetry. On Instagram. Okay, okay… I know. But whether or not you take verse found on Instagram seriously, poetry is experiencing a resurgence in popularity… thanks to social media, where many poets, including Rupi Kaur and others, gain…

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Try this poem to spark rich discussions in your classroom

“The Cold Within” by James Patrick Kinney Looking for a poem to generate a rich and engaging discussion with your students? I recently came across a post in one of the Facebook Groups I belong to. As I scanned the comments on a particular post, I learned about a poem called “The Cold Within” by…

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Headline poetry: capture 2020 with found words

2020 Tattle-Tale Truths Where have you been lately? Home cookies story hour A briefly noted breakthrough What are your symptoms? Untrue advice: A subtle silence A war of persuasion What tests should you expect? Action equities fire Next-level knowledge The might-have-been modern world A week ago, I started collecting about 100 words to make a…

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Headline poetry: At a loss for words? Let the words find you

Ever feel that words don’t exist to describe summer 2020? Ever feel as if words simply don’t exist to describe the summer of 2020? Here’s an idea: search through magazines, newspapers, mail, anything, and… let the words find you. I started this headline poem last night. I’m on step 1… searching and clipping. I have…

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Corona Virus Acrostic Poems Perk Up Distance Learning (updated 2021)

Students create acrostic poems to document Covid-19 My students learned at home from March 17 through May 14, 2020 when the school year officially ended. As part of their distance learning back then, I asked students to write a couple of paragraphs every other day or so for a “Life in the Time of Corona”…

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Robert Frost: Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Pandemic

The coronavirus and Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” Holed up at home at my dining room table, I’m continuing with my lesson planning as scheduled during our two-week school closing. After our recent Ernest Hemingway unit concluded last week, my plan was to introduce my juniors to Robert Frost. Lucky them. Frost’s poetry is poignant, honest,…

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Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Happy Friday Eve! This is a quick pic of Austin Kleon’s book,Steal Like An Artist. In this book, Kleon, the inventor of black-out poetry, discusses creativity, the values of unplugging from technology to create, and tips for producing more. He offers up some solid ideas that I found particularly helpful. Here are two: Don’t throw…

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Treasured Object Poems: A Favorite Poetry Activity for All Grades

In this post: Treasured Object Poems Mentor Texts and Lesson Tips Need a fun poetry activity to use with your students? One that will also hone their sensory language and revision skills? Show them how to write a short free-verse poem about an object they value. Paying tribute to a precious personal item encourages them…

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Sometimes Poetry Can Teach Better than I Can

Take word choice, for example Last December, when I read a student’s second draft of their Treasured Object poem and saw that it contained the word “get” four times, I thought Really? Get? Four times?  It surprised me because I thought I had taught not only sentence variety, but word variety as well. It’s good…

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Headline poetry for high school students

Watch older students create stunning expressions from everyday language This year, for the first three days of school, I again indulged in headline poetry with my students. It was a new activity for my new high school students and I was glad for that. (I’ve introduced headline poetry to middle schoolers in the past. Click…

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When Anxious, Depressed Students Stare into Space

Don’t assume they aren’t listening Last spring in my middle school language arts classes, I taught the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave for the eighth year. It’s the autobiography of Douglass, who was born into slavery. In his formative years, he experienced an epiphany: literacy equaled freedom. As a result,…

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“Where I’m From” Poems

My All-Time Favorite Poetry Activity (updated Aug. 2021) “Where I’m From” poems are perfect for going back to school! Read on to get acquainted with this awesome poem that every teacher I know raves about. Have you heard of George Ella Lyon? She’s an American writer and teacher from Kentucky who wrote a poem several…

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Headline Poetry is So Much Fun!

It’s already my favorite back-to-school activity For the first week of school, my seventh- and eighth-graders created poetry made up of words and phrases found in newspapers and magazines. I found the idea on NCTE’s website, which offers lesson plan ideas. I also accessed this site where I found this beautiful quote that captures, for…

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My Students Swept a National Poetry Contest!

Here’s a news release that I sent to a local newspaper. Kirbyville Middle School students swept the junior (grades 6-8) poetry division of the 2018 Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards, a national contest hosted by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Missoula, Mt. Read about the contest in this post. Joel R., a former eighth-grader…

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Back-to-school poetry: The Sometimes Poem from YA author Kate Messner

A back-to-school poem perfect for the first day (updated 8/21) “The Sometimes Poem” was one of my favorite ways to go back to school with my middle schoolers. I used this project for two years with sixth-graders and loved it both times before I changed jobs to my current high school position. The Sometimes Poem…

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Get Your Students Published ASAP

Three days in and students are revising submissions for a publisher. I decided not to discuss class rules on Wednesday, the first day of school, because who wants to hear class rules for eight different classes in one day? Instead, we jumped right into a writing contest hosted by Creative Communication (CC). The contest (read about…

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