5 Poetry Activities Students Love

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Getting secondary students to read and write poetry (and enjoy it) can be difficult. If you're a teacher like me who doesn't love poetry as much as, well, pretty much anything else, you have to get creative. I know my students deserve my best teaching, and I can't give that to them if I'm not passionate about the topic myself. So. I've gathered some tools that engage students in meaningful (but fun!) writing and discussion. Keep reading as I reveal the poetry activities my students love the most.

1. NONFICTION-INSPIRED POETRY

I enjoy shape poetry, but sometimes I want to challenge my high school students more. Since concrete poetry is something that interests them, I incorporate a twist off of concrete and found poetry, which is called the crot. You can read all about how to teach students to write a crot poem here.

I always ask my students to write their crot poetry based off of nonfiction source inspiration. In that way, students are creatively writing informative research texts. Writing a crot requires critical thinking and true reflection upon the theme and main points expressed in the original source(s). Students are asked to consider symbolism, art, and white space as they mold their snippets of thought and research into an inspiring piece of poetry.

2. TEXTING COUPLETS

Just to get students thinking about rhythm and rhyme, I ask them to write texting couplets. This assignment appeals to teens because - as we all know - text messaging is a language with which they are very comfortable. Asking students to write poetry? Meh. Ask them to write text messages in the form of poetry? Now we're talking.

With this task, students are writing text messages back and forth in the form of poetic couplets. I encourage them to make it sound like a conversation between friends. It's fun both to model and to watch.

3. COLLAGE POETRY

Collage poetry is another activity my students enjoy. I ask them to cut out words from magazines. Afterward, they compile their words together with a small group. After studying their stash, students create a collaborative collage poem using the words they cut out. I allow them to use images and encourage creativity. Analytical thinking about where to place the words and why to put them there is key. We focus on developing themes.

4. FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE GAME

Poetry is full of figurative language. To get students brainstorming before writing their own or analyzing the author's style of an existing poem, we play Figurative Language Truth or Dare. This game encourages my students to view poetry and figurative language as fun, enticing, and thoughtful.

After playing truth or dare to refresh their memories about common poetic language, students feel more confident when asked to close read a passage, looking specifically at how the poet uses literary devices to develop his or her ideas and style.

5. PICTURE-INSPIRED POETRY

My students always produce their best work when they use images to energize their writing. In this post, you can read about thirteen different ways to use pictures to inspire students to write poetry. Wordless picture books, old family photographs, political cartoons, famous paintings, and even hashtags can scaffold the poetry writing process by appealing to students' interests first. If you'd like to try having your students write picture-based poetry but don't know where to start, you can download this free picture-based poetry resource to get started.

If you feel overwhelmed, under-qualified, or disengaged at the thought of teaching poetry, don't worry. Poetry hasn't always been a highlight of my school year. Since I've begun incorporating more differentiated, engaging elements, my unit has become more meaningful and rewarding. Try some of these activities with your students, and tell us about your own go-to approaches for teaching poetry in the comments.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melissa is the creator of Reading and Writing Haven and a collaborative blogger on Teachwriting.org

An English teacher for over a decade, Melissa is an avid reader and writer, and she loves sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow educators. Melissa use her degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as her Reading Specialist certification to ponder today’s educational issues while developing resources to help teachers, students, and parents make learning more relevant, meaningful, and engaging.

When she's not teaching, Melissa lives for drinking a good cup of coffee, loving on her family, working out, and contemplating the structure of a sentence as well as how she can lead her students to deeper reading comprehension (Melissa's true nerdy passions). 

Visit Melissa on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter for English teacher camaraderie and practical, engaging teaching ideas.