I try to leave enough time at the end of the year for a poetry unit. I read a few “mentor” texts, and then I walk students through writing assignments that let them practice the poetry skills I’m highlighting. For example – we read Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem , and then we write poems that lend themselves to metaphoric language. Two poems we wrote in class this year were the “I Am” poem and the “memory” poem.
In my Specialty Center for the Arts 9th grade English classes, I like to include a bookmaking workshop and summative poetry reading as part of the unit. In addition to the writing assignments and mentor texts, I show the students a slide show with examples of art journals, collage & bookmaking ideas. Then I set aside a few days for bookmaking and poetry writing workshops.
The supplies I provide are simple … a variety of card stock covers, copy paper from the faculty workroom, heavy duty thread and needles to stitch a simple book.
Some students do just enough to get the grade they want, using the structured rubric I provide. But I encourage them to make the assignment their own … to have fun with it and make something they’ll want to keep.
Here are some of this year’s examples:
I can’t take credit for their creativity. But I LOVE this assignment. Looking at their books and reading their poetry … it really is a great way to close out the year.
Some of the best poems come from students who don’t consider themselves writers. This one is really simple. The student didn’t even consider it poetry … I think she thought it was a joke. It made me laugh, but it’s not a joke. Sometimes the best poetry really is simple.
And very soon, exams will be over and my room packed up. This summer – I plan to do some writing of my own. Can’t wait.