Spring and Poetry Are Just Around the Corner

Several months ago I offered to do a workshop on Teaching Poetry to English Language Learners in April.  April was far enough away that I felt I would have time to prepare for this event.  I haven’t officially been a teacher for over a year and a half now, since my retirement, so I am a little nervous.

So what am I nervous about?  Am I still relevant? Is what I have to say still relevant?  How will the younger teachers take to a retired teacher leading the workshop?  Do I  have the stamina to do this?  Will this be possible to do without recent classroom contact with kids?

I know this is all mostly nonsense.  You can’t have taught for twenty-two plus years and not be able to still teach.  At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

I’ve also been talking to myself about what it means to offer a workshop.  For me it means I have some experience I wish to share and I think there’s an audience for what I have to say.  I know that mainstream teachers are struggling with the demands of the Common Core, and in addition are now expected to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in their classrooms who have moved beyond Beginner English. I think I have some good ideas to offer them about effective strategies to use with ELLs.

Going through some random notes I’ve taken over the years, I was reminded that it’s helpful to create a mission statement for myself so I am clear about what I plan to do. After several weeks of ruminating about this  workshop, I now feel I finally have a focus. It is not just about teaching poetry to English Language Learners; it’s also about supporting the teachers struggling with this mandate.

I am a global thinker, I must first brainstorm for several weeks about everything tangential to the topic (teaching poetry to ELLs); then I know I must rein myself in.  That time has come.  So with a purpose in mind, I must now do the work of scaffolding the presentation.

Do you read poetry? Do you include teaching poetry in your curriculum? Do you enjoy teaching poetry? What are the challenges for you of teaching poetry to your students? I’d love to hear your thoughts….


8 thoughts on “Spring and Poetry Are Just Around the Corner”

  1. My class is full of students learning English. We recently had a 3 week poetry unit, full of reading, writing, listening, and speaking and we LOVED it. It is great for kids to play with language and gave us opportunities to share our thinking in smaller snippets.


  2. I like to use mentor texts…good poems that inspire kids to try something similar of their own. Jack Prelutsky could be a good place to start, but there are plenty of others. Check the poetry section of your library and check out as many as you can. I think it is important for the kids to get the rhythm and cadence of a poem so they know what it is you want them to write. Here I am assuming you want the to write poetry. I imagine and hope it is so.


  3. Barbara, you have the skills! You’ve got this! Poetry is so fun, particularly when you can get beyond the rhyming factor. Teachers love to get another perspective on a topic. You will support them with fresh ideas. Good luck in pulling it together!


    1. For younger children, especially, the first exposure to poetry is often songs. In our for-better-or-worse global culture, even non-English speakers have been exposed to English hits. I still enjoy listening to some of the old standards from the golden age of tin-pan-alley.


  4. Poetry is, sadly, the one area of literacy that I spend very little time.

    I wish I could take your workshop! I have no doubt in your relevance, your stamina, or your knowledge. Best of luck; I’m sure it will be great.


  5. I love poetry, and we set aside a part of our Thursdays on poetry – I think it really pulls kids in, and gives them a way to express themselves and find words that explain their thoughts and feelings. Powerful stuff!


  6. Barbara….I KNOW you will be wonderful! Have you checked out The Poetry Farm by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater? Her poems are wonderful! I know you love haiku and that would be fun to bring in, too……I think ways to connect subject area content to poetry might be helpful for teachers who are so overwhelmed (ME!)- it would be a seamless way to add more poetry and enrich content. Let’s talk more!!


    1. Hi Kathy! That’s exactly what I had in mind! Embedding poetry in whatever content area you are teaching is the way to go. That makes poetry more than just an April “activity” and it gives depth to the content area, allowing the student to express something personal about the content. I will check out the Poetry Farm. How did your workshop go? Fabulous…I expect. The Power Point was enough material for 2 or 3 presentations!


      Sent from my iPad


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