As ELA teachers know, April begins poetry month. First, making poetry exciting in the middle school classroom is not easy, for both the teacher and the student. Teachers fret teaching poetry because many do not have a teaching method that is successful. Secondly, teachers are often met with groaning and whining from their students because they have the impression that poetry “is boring”. How do you make poetry exciting in the middle school classroom? In this blog post, I am going to give you some poetry teaching tricks, exciting and engaging poems for your middle school students, and suggestions on how to make poetry exciting in your middle school classroom.
Poetry Teaching Tips
When I was in college and studying English, I had one professor who taught us some really great ways to analyze poetry. He demystified that poetry is hard. Honestly, this is why I think middle school students groan about poetry. It’s not that they find it boring; it’s that they don’t know how to properly read or analyze the poetry. His poetry strategies are how I teach my own students to analyze poetry.
1. Read the poem twice. One reading of a poem is not enough to truly understand the meaning of a poem. Students should read the poem at least twice, and they should not stop at the end of line, but rather at the end punctuation. Our students want to stop at the end of the line, and they think this is the end of the sentence. Teaching your students to read through to the end punctuation will help them comprehend what the narrator is expressing. Reading to the end of the line makes the image or thought choppy.
2. If the poem is not already broken into stanzas, chunk the poem into sections. After each stanza or chunked sections, write a small summary or understanding in the margin of the poem.
3. Identify the setting of the poem. Knowing where the poem takes place is key to helping a student to understand the poem.
4. Identify the speaker. Kids tend to think the poet is narrating the poem. Teachers have to reiterate this to their students. Identifying the speaker, whether the narrator is male, female, old, young, or an object is significant to understanding the meaning behind the poem.
5. Write a small, short summary or interpretation of the poem. At the bottom of the poem page, have your students write a short summary of the interpretation of the poem. This will help to assess their understanding.
Side note-I like to have my students annotate for figurative language and imagery for the added understanding.
Poetry That WILL NOT Make Your Middle School Students Cringe
Engaging Poetry Activities to Try with Your Students
Are you in the hunt for some engaging poetry activities for your middle school students to have your students buy into poetry? Check out these ideas:
1.Try the Magnetic Poetry Website. When I was growing up, I had a set of Magnetic Poetry on my closet door, and I would move around the words to make poetic sentences. Now, students can “play” with words online. This may spark ideas for your students, and it is quite fun to play with!
2. Use song lyrics. Popular songs are perfect to excite students in poetry. Print out some of the popular songs your students are familiar with and you have the opportunity to show how song lyrics look just like poetry and technically read like poetry. This activity also gives teachers the opportunity to review figurative language and imagery in the songs. See my product below on how I teach my students to elaborate with song lyrics!
3. Try out a Poetry Scavenger Hunt. Here your students can hunt through a poem to find figurative language, imagery, and poetic devices. This activity has your students diving deep into the poem! Check out my Poetry Scavenger Hunt Activity below.
PRODUCTS DISCUSSED IN THIS POST
Have fun teaching your poetry unit. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!