Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Great resource for teaching poetry!

Last week I visited my mentor teacher's grade six class and met the students in his class for the first time! When I saw the kids and how smiley and awesome they were, I just got so excited and eager to start planning lessons for my practicum. The count down begins! 4 weeks until my first day :) I'm planning to visit the class one or two times a week once spring breaks is over (it's two weeks in our district) so that I can get a head start on getting to know the students.

When my mentor teacher and I discussed what subjects I should teach, we both agreed that poetry would be a good unit to work on. It also ties into a language arts assignment I have in once of my courses at the university, which requires me to create a unit consisting of three lessen with a writing, reading, and oral language focus in each lesson. In order to start planning, I've been reading through an amazing book which my professor has recommended to me. I'd like to share this highly practical resource with you, which I feel would benefit both new and experienced teachers.

The book is called Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by poet Georgia Heard. I'm sure many of you have heard of it, since it seems to be a quite famous book in the field of education. The book is divided into chapters which explore how to effectively teach different elements of poetry, such as "Making a Poetry Environment", "Reading Poetry", "Writing Poetry", "Crafting Poetry", and "Sharpening Our Outer and Inner Visions". I found that many of the ideas mentioned are easily adaptable to many of the grade levels in both elementary and middle school settings. What I really like about this book is its focus on teaching in a way that helps students open their hearts and develop personal relationships with the world they live in through poetry.

Here are some of the ideas that stood out for me:

  • The Heart Map

This is my favourite! Children start by each drawing a shape of a heart, and inside it illustrate important memories and things that they care deeply about. This activity is a great tool to help children develop ideas on different topics they can write on. An example of a heart map can be seen on the cover of the book. 

  • The Living Anthology Project

Students post poems in various areas of the school to create a learning environment where poetry becomes part of their daily lives, and hence more accessible. The students try to choose poems which relate to the specific location where it will be posted. (i.e. A poem about water, or waiting, would be posted beside the water fountain. )

  • Poems on Desks

As a way to introduce middle school students to poetry, the teacher tapes poems to the students desks while the students are out for lunch or recess. When the students come in, they are encouraged to silently walk around the class to read the poems on the desks and to sit down at a desk that has a poem which they like or are able to relate to.

*As an extension to this activity, I thought that it would be a good idea to have two or three copies of the same poem taped on different desks, so that once everyone has sat down the students who choose the same poem can get together and discuss their thoughts afterwards.

  • Six-room Image-poem

Students are instructed to take out a blank sheet of paper, and divide it into six squares. These squares will be labelled into the following categories: Image, Light, Sound, Questions, Feelings, Repeating Word(s). Students are encouraged to close their eyes, and visualize an image or a particular memory and write down the words you come up to describe each category. The author further notes that the number of these boxes can be adjusted according to the grade level. Moreover, she also states that students can rearrange or substitute the labels with other categories such as smell, voice, touch, ...etc

Needless to say, I've almost finished reading the book and it's FULL of post-its all over! I'm so excited to use some of the ideas for my poetry unit!


  1. Cool! I'm going to see if we have this book in the library. I'm loving these ideas - especially The Living Anthology Project.

    I bet you'll be hanging to take lessons. Come on these next four weeks!! (At least you're able to pop in and get a head start).

    Daydreams of a Student Teacher

    1. Yeah hopefully visiting the class and helping out beforehand will get me more emotionally prepared and less nervous. Were you nervous when you started your first practicum? Any advice on how to deal with that? I'm just trying to over-prepare myself and practice going through my lesson plan at home.

    2. Oh and I pinned your "Letters to Miss D" idea onto Pinterest! Hope that was OK :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I added you to the multi list.
    Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher

    1. Thanks Julie!
      I really appreciate that. When I find time I'll look through your categories and list of links to discover new blogs! I'm excited about the amount of blogs you have listed :)

  3. YAY Satya!
    You got a Follower box!
    I'm so glad I kept checking back.
    Now I am following you too!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Thanks Kim!
      Yeah I've finally figured out the different gadgets you can add :)
      Great to know that you're following me back :D


  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am now following you too!

    Light a Fire in Third Grade

  5. Sounds like you are going to have a lot of fun in your classroom! I also tagged you on my blog.
    The Crazy Adventures of a University Graduate
    The Crazy Adventures of Two Quilters