Tip #13: Lights Out! [Poetry Tips for Teachers]

Happy Poetry Friday!

Welcome to today’s tip in my month-long Poetry Tips for Teachers series.

Tip #13: Turn out the lights!

Turn out the lights to help students focus. When you remove visual input, students are often able to listen more carefully. Fewer distractions. Something unexpected and new. It can add a little more focus AND excitement to poetry time. Try listening to today’s audio clip both with and without the lights.

 

Flowerful Flood

This is from my book, What’s Inside? Poems to Explore the Park.

What's Inside

Now, here I am reading the poem. Remember to turn out the lights and see if it makes it a little easier for kids to absorb the dense, image-filled poem. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this if you experiment with lights-out poetry!
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And for more Poetry Friday fun, visit the artistic Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

 

40 Responses

  1. What a beautiful poem, Laura. Thank you for sharing it. Listening to you reading to it was special, too.
    Although your photo shows tulips, because I’ve been thinking of red poppies for remembrance (It’s almost ANZAC Day here in Australia) , your poem had an extra meaning for me, as I thought of fields of red poppies unfurling on the battle fields of old.

    1. Thank you, Sally! I was just writing recently about poppies, the fields of Flanders, and the Merci Train from France to America. I’m rereading my poem now with a slightly different mood–thanks for sharing!

  2. What a beautiful poem, Laura. Thank you for sharing it. Listening to you reading to it was special, too.
    Although your photo shows tulips, because I’ve been thinking of red poppies for remembrance (It’s almost ANZAC Day here in Australia) , your poem had an extra meaning for me, as I thought of fields of red poppies unfurling on the battle fields of old.

    1. Thank you, Sally! I was just writing recently about poppies, the fields of Flanders, and the Merci Train from France to America. I’m rereading my poem now with a slightly different mood–thanks for sharing!

  3. We do turn out the lights, often. It helps the focus in everything, I agree. Great tip, Laura. I love the poem, “flowerful floods”!

  4. We do turn out the lights, often. It helps the focus in everything, I agree. Great tip, Laura. I love the poem, “flowerful floods”!

  5. Love it! My 9th graders did choral reading of “The Highwayman.” After we’d practiced a few times, I turned off the lights, and they creeped themselves out! 🙂

    1. Fabulous! I bet that was awesome. And turning out the lights probably also makes kids less self-conscious about reading out loud…

  6. Love it! My 9th graders did choral reading of “The Highwayman.” After we’d practiced a few times, I turned off the lights, and they creeped themselves out! 🙂

    1. Fabulous! I bet that was awesome. And turning out the lights probably also makes kids less self-conscious about reading out loud…

  7. Hi, Laura. Your poem reminds me of the time my grandmother planted tulips that were such a dark red color, they were nearly black. I like the idea of turning the lights off when students are writing. I suspect more children than we realize are bothered by the constant hum of fluorescent lights in the classroom.

    1. Thanks, Laura. Tulips are my favorite flower–I’ve never seen any nearly black ones. How dramatic! And I hate that hum! I can actually write in almost any situation, but when the room goes quiet and just the lights are buzzing–ugh. For me, turning out the lights in class is like turning out the lights in yoga class. It lets each person focus more inward and not worry so much about external things, whether that’s buzzing lights, peers’ faces, the teacher’s expression, etc.

  8. Hi, Laura. Your poem reminds me of the time my grandmother planted tulips that were such a dark red color, they were nearly black. I like the idea of turning the lights off when students are writing. I suspect more children than we realize are bothered by the constant hum of fluorescent lights in the classroom.

    1. Thanks, Laura. Tulips are my favorite flower–I’ve never seen any nearly black ones. How dramatic! And I hate that hum! I can actually write in almost any situation, but when the room goes quiet and just the lights are buzzing–ugh. For me, turning out the lights in class is like turning out the lights in yoga class. It lets each person focus more inward and not worry so much about external things, whether that’s buzzing lights, peers’ faces, the teacher’s expression, etc.

  9. This is nice, Laura–such a great time of year for all the wonder. To go along wih lights out, there’s also “whisper.” We do it for drama when we read stories, but it works very well in poems too–as I’m sure you know!

    1. In the right situation, there’s nothing like a whisper to get the entire class’ attention. That tip will be coming before the end of the month:>) Thanks, Heidi. Your Ks are so lucky to have you sharing wonderful poetry with them!

  10. This is nice, Laura–such a great time of year for all the wonder. To go along wih lights out, there’s also “whisper.” We do it for drama when we read stories, but it works very well in poems too–as I’m sure you know!

    1. In the right situation, there’s nothing like a whisper to get the entire class’ attention. That tip will be coming before the end of the month:>) Thanks, Heidi. Your Ks are so lucky to have you sharing wonderful poetry with them!

  11. “Flowerful Floods” is such a great title. Have you been to the Biltmore House (Asheville, NC) in spring, with the zillions and zillions of tulips? Breathtaking…

    And a little special “lights-out” time is a great tactic in the classroom. Thanks for sharing all!

    1. No, I haven’t. Ooh, it sounds lovely, though. Just looked at pics. Wow. Those are amazing. Though I admit, I tend to love tulips more when they’re a bit less…organized than that. But still. Wow.

  12. “Flowerful Floods” is such a great title. Have you been to the Biltmore House (Asheville, NC) in spring, with the zillions and zillions of tulips? Breathtaking…

    And a little special “lights-out” time is a great tactic in the classroom. Thanks for sharing all!

    1. No, I haven’t. Ooh, it sounds lovely, though. Just looked at pics. Wow. Those are amazing. Though I admit, I tend to love tulips more when they’re a bit less…organized than that. But still. Wow.

  13. Love that last line -
    “as sunshine uncurls, unfurls each bloom”
    Reading the comments about tulips that were almost black sent me in search of a favorite picture book, Tulips by Jay O’Callahan.

    1. Thanks, Ramona–and I haven’t seen that one. I’ll have to search it out. Ooh, I just put it on my tbr list. Thank you!

  14. Love that last line -
    “as sunshine uncurls, unfurls each bloom”
    Reading the comments about tulips that were almost black sent me in search of a favorite picture book, Tulips by Jay O’Callahan.

    1. Thanks, Ramona–and I haven’t seen that one. I’ll have to search it out. Ooh, I just put it on my tbr list. Thank you!

  15. Oh, I can hardly wait to try this out with my kids next week! And this is the perfect poem, too, Laura — so filled with rich language and imagery.

  16. Oh, I can hardly wait to try this out with my kids next week! And this is the perfect poem, too, Laura — so filled with rich language and imagery.

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