Tip#19: Let kids chime in! [Plus a guest post for rhyming writers]

First of all, writer friends, I have a guest post up at Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo series. I shared an excerpt from the book Lisa Bullard and I wrote together, Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way. Take a peek if you’re interested!

And teacher friends, welcome to today’s tip in my month-long Poetry Tips for Teachers series.

Tip #19: Let kids chime in!

On the second read-through of a poem, let kids help you read it. This could be on the spot, by just asking for a volunteer to alternate lines with you or something. Or students could sign up to help read the next day’s poem, giving them a day to practice. Individual kids can help read, obviously, or you can have the entire class ring out. A poem that has a refrain or repeated lines works really well for this. Read the poem through once, just to enjoy it. Then, when you read it again, ask students to speak the word or line whenever you give the signal.

For the villanelle below, since there are two repeated lines, I’d likely chat with the class about the significance and mood of the two lines. When kids are saying a poem or line out loud, and they need to give it the right mood, the word choice and voice of the poet suddenly make much more sense to them! And then I’d split the class in half (or create 2 small groups of 3–4 volunteers each). I’d read the non-repeated lines, and group #1 would read “My friends do not have names. They’re fierce and free,” and group #2 would read “Thanksgiving drains the darkness out of me.” There’s no wrong way to do this. Play around with different possibilities!

Fierce

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