Last night on #ntchat (New Teacher chat) we discussed resources and ideas to use for National Poetry Month.    During the chat, someone tweeted me a “ponder”:

I was taught a poet, then made 2 mimic. Valuable? Exposure was, not regurgitation. how to start? #ntchat ~@theHelpGroup

To which I replied:

I hear ya! There needs to be a balance to poetry instruction (as w/all arts) appreciation&creation #ntchat

It is true that many people and teachers spend time reading poems and then ask students to answer questions and to mimic them in some ways.  And that’s ok!  I am often reminded that modeling and mimicking is a step in the process to freedom in structure; improvisation.  I myself was like that.  Growing up I would create new lyrics to tunes I loved from the radio, I would change words in poems to fit my own situation and copy the writing style of my dad who would check an essay before I passed it in to my teacher.  But eventually, I found my own voice.

The same can be true with poetry, but there does need to be a balance.

This month, I started a poetry project with my students and it is two-fold for just that reason.  One part of it is to create their own poetry.  (I’ll talk more about that in another post.)  And the other part is to research, read and discover other poems and poets.

Each student was giving a list of activities that included everything from finding books on poets to copying a favorite poem to working with and mimicking a poem and reflecting on a poem or poet’s style.  I gave each student one of those blue “examination” books to use and transform into their very own poetry book as they complete the activities in it.  (They are also required to design a new cover for it.)

I have many poetry books in my classroom and we also have a great collection in the library, but don’t forget about the wonderful resources online.  Just the other day, my friend, Melissa Edwards posted yet another great collection of online resources, this time for poetry.  Please check it out.  It has great ones for teachers and students alike.

“Poetry in April” from Melissa Edwards

And here is one last idea I learned about last night on #ntchat: Poem In Your Pocket Day.  This year it is on April 14th.  It is a day where  you are encouraged to keep a favorite poem with you all day and share it with others.  This idea reminds me of a poem.  Keep A Poem In Your Pocket   by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

What a sweet idea that is!  And it’s easy to implement.  So, I will be adding that to my poetry appreciation part of this project for sure.

Poetry appreciation as with any art appreciation is important!  Part of our job as teachers is to expose students to great works and challenge them to discover their own personal connections to them.  That’s when they can really start to grow into their own creative beings.

Now go to: Poetry in Balance: Part 2 – Creation

April: Jazz and Poems
The Beauty of Improv