Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I admit that I have only learned that fact very recently! Apparently, the Academy of American Poets created this month-long celebration 1996 to spread the love of lyrical language!
I will also admit that I have never been a big fan of poetry. My exposure to it was limited to a few lines my own English Language Arts teachers threw at me as a student. As a student, it almost seemed like an obligatory nod to the art form to satisfy a state standard! Bless my ELA teachers! They were wonderful! I am just not convinced that their hearts were fully invested in teaching us how to read poems!
Later, when I myself became an English Language Arts teacher, it seemed that I was doomed to follow the same road as my predecessors: my heart wasn’t in poetry! I loved novels and writing and short stories–even grammar! But, ballads and verse and meter? Not my cup of tea!
Teaching Poetry a Better Way
However, before beginning my first poetry unit in my first year of teaching, I thought to myself, “Why should I continue the pattern of torturing yet another generation of middle school students as I put them through another poorly designed poetry unit? Did poetry have to be torturous? What if poetry could, in fact, be fun?
Thus began my quest to create exciting and meaningful poetry activities that invigorated students while teaching them the elements of poetry at the same time! I learned that poetry wasn’t inherently boring. Poetry brought language to life! Poetry could be incredibly funny! Reading a poem could be a beautiful experience and even move a reader to tears!
Was poetry sometimes more difficult to understand? Yes! But the work invested in understanding the layers of a poem resulted in huge payoff, making it all worth it!
FUN Poetry Unit
After years of teaching poetry and refining this unit several times, my “FUN Poetry Unit” is one of my all-time favorite units to teach my middle school students! It really is SO fun! I enjoy it! My students enjoy it! It’s a great couple of weeks for everyone!
The unit breaks down the elements of a poem for students. We begin with the very basics to ensure that all the students have the same basic understanding and knowledge. I’m talking defining terms like “line,” “rhyme scheme,” and “stanza.” Literally, the bare bones of poetry. Once it’s clear everyone is on the same footing, we can begin tackling more complex issues such as figurative language in all its varieties, imagery, etc. Then, we progress even further to poem analysis which is broken down in a way that ANY student can read and find the meaning of a poem.
If you just read that description and thought to yourself, “That sounds incredibly lame,” stay with me!! So what makes this poetry unit different than other dry units?
What Makes this Unit Different?
Firstly, I’ll start with the Slides Presentations. Each of these lessons includes fun Slides Presentation, all of which are highly visual. Each slide contains small chunks of information so students are not stuck reading long passages on plain white slides!
The pictures are engaging, interesting and diverse. I’ve provided examples full of tongue-in-cheek humor that will keep your students guessing what will come next!
Secondly, many of the lesson are accompanied by creative projects that are fun and exciting for students to complete! Students get hands-on practice writing with the various elements of poetry helping them completely grasp the concepts at hand. While they are fun, every activity reinforces the lesson’s objectives.
Not Just Entertainment
While my emphasis thus far has been on the fun and entertaining side of this unit, the best part is that, at least with my students, it does a great job actually teaching the students what they need to know about poetry! Each lesson builds on the previous lessons and students who complete the activities will emerge on the other side of this unit with a firm foundation of the elements of poetry. This unit also exposes students to many of the classic poems that are often included in traditional curriculum units, thus providing students with a well-rounded exposure to poetry.
Easy and Convenient for Teachers
From a teacher’s perspective and just like my other units, I’ve designed this unit to be so incredibly easy for you to teach! For nearly every lesson, all the preparation that is required of you is to make copies of the assignments and have your projector ready to go! The Slides Presentations guide you through the instruction and the activities. Buyers have told me that “even a sub” could easily teach these lessons!
Each lesson has a basic lesson outline included to allow you how I use these resources in my classroom. I’ve also included answer keys and grading rubrics to help you quickly review student work minimizing your work load! Also included are pre- and post-assessments allowing you to literally measure your students’ growth over the course of this unit!
Truly, I’ve designed this unit to be as teacher-friendly as possible! If you do happen to run into any problems or have questions, I am only an email away!
Whether you use these resources as a stand alone unit or add it to your already wonderful poetry activities, this unit will help you make this year’s National Poetry Month the best ever! Trust me, your students will thank you!!