Tip #20: Mix It Up! [Poetry Tips for Teachers]

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

Tip #20: Mix it up!

I hear people advise teachers, “Just share poems you love!” I kind of disagree with that. I mean, of course, share the poems you love. But perhaps your poetry taste is very narrow. If you only share silly rhyming poems all year because they’re your favorite, that does students a disservice. So, yes, share poems you love, because your enthusiasm will help kids love them to. But make a conscious effort to share a broad variety of poetic moods, forms, lengths, genres, topics, etc. In fact, invite students to select poems that you will present. This ensures you’ll get a mix that reflects the taste of your students. I believe the goal is to expose kids to many types of poems in the hopes that students will find poems that they can connect to–poems that matter to them.

Here’s a poem that’s kind of sweet, so it’s pretty different from my usual poetry style. It’s from Gift Tag, a Kindle poetry anthology edited by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, who have gone on to create all the amazing Poetry Friday Anthologies, too! “We Are Woven” goes with the gift of potholders (remember making them on those fun plastic looms?).

we-are-woven

And here I am reading it aloud:
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4 Responses

  1. Terrific point and message here, Laura. I have found that variety is so important and worthwhile with poetry and kids (elementary is my age). By the way as I scanned this post (early am and all) I scrolled to the poem first and without knowing it was about a potholder, I kind of thought it was about a poem.….the only word that got me was “loop” and I went back to re-read, but…it really fits a poem. Words and lines and ideas that fit together and weave a “something”, an “almost anything”.…they dance and, there are no lonely lines in a poem and they stick tight once you learn to enjoy them so much you want to re-read them or you learn them by heart. I hope you are going to do “something” wonderful for your tips for teachers posts. They are really good!

    1. Thanks, Janet–and now I’m going to have to reread my poem as a poem about a poem! It’s funny how many poems about something wonderful, but that don’t name the specific something wonderful, I can usually read as being about poems or relationships–or both:>)

  2. Terrific point and message here, Laura. I have found that variety is so important and worthwhile with poetry and kids (elementary is my age). By the way as I scanned this post (early am and all) I scrolled to the poem first and without knowing it was about a potholder, I kind of thought it was about a poem.….the only word that got me was “loop” and I went back to re-read, but…it really fits a poem. Words and lines and ideas that fit together and weave a “something”, an “almost anything”.…they dance and, there are no lonely lines in a poem and they stick tight once you learn to enjoy them so much you want to re-read them or you learn them by heart. I hope you are going to do “something” wonderful for your tips for teachers posts. They are really good!

    1. Thanks, Janet–and now I’m going to have to reread my poem as a poem about a poem! It’s funny how many poems about something wonderful, but that don’t name the specific something wonderful, I can usually read as being about poems or relationships–or both:>)

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