April Is of Course...Poetry Month! - Mandy Neal

April Is of Course…Poetry Month!

 

For the past four years I have entered my students’ poetry in Creative Communication’s Poetry Contest.  I really like this contest for a couple of reasons.  First, I like that it is not an all those who enter shall win.  I think that winning and losing is a part of life and this gives students an opportunity to put themselves out there.  They are excited to take the chance and even more excited when their poem is chosen.  I also like this contest, because it is not impossible for my students to be chosen.  Every year I have had students published in their anthology.
In the past, to prepare my students for entering the contest I have required my students to write specific poems, but after reflecting I changed my ways!  To introduce writing poetry, I read a number of poetry books.  Two of the books I chose were based on topic poetry.   Toasting Marshmallows:  Camping Poems and Little Dog Poems both by Kristine O’Connell George contain a collection of poems centered around a specific topic.  Love this idea by the way!
For each student, I put together a Poetry Handbook as a resource.  In the handbook, I included some of HeatherRenz’s examples from her Poetry Unit and I printed off poems from Poetry for Children (there are a lot of pop-ups on this site) to include.
There were two requirements that I had.  One was that all their poems had to be centered on one specific topic.  Second, they had to have a total of five poems.  These poems could be of any form, but had to be five different forms. 
When it came time for publishing our poems, students got creative.  They each got a file folder and access to a wide variety of scrapbook paper and stickers.  Here is what a couple of them came up with.  Not bad for saying, have at it!

 

As always, they were excited to share their published work.  We did a traveling author’s chair.  Before we began, they chose their two favorite poems that they would read to their classmates.  To start I appointed one person from each team to share.  They read their poems to their own team and stood up when they were finished.  This was my cue that they were ready to go on.  Once the reader from each team was standing, they rotated to the next team to follow the same steps.  This continued until each student was back at their home team.  At that point another student shared their poetry and the process started over.  
I liked the traveling author’s chair.  It was a nice change from the traditional author’s chair where a few students share while the rest of the class listens.  This gave all students an opportunity to share while having the attention of a small group.  The entire process took us about 30 minutes.  This is definitely not something that I would do every day but it was a great way to mix it up and get students moving while limiting the intimidation of “whole” class sharing.
 Creative Communication has extended their Spring deadline until April 19.  If you are interested, there is still time to enter and it is super easy!

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