Resources That Bring Poetry to Life

By Mary Blow on January 18, 2011
  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

 

Nothing makes me happier than coming across a good resource, a one-stop gold mine. In this post, I am sharing my favorite poetry resources with hopes that it will save you precious time. The resources are used by teachers to design interactive lessons and by students in designing poetry projects or presentation: acting out poems, imitating poems, writing poems, and collecting favorite poems or lines to keep in a journal.

Nothing makes me happier than coming across a good resource, a one-stop gold mine. In this post, I am sharing my favorite poetry resources with hopes that it will save you precious time. The resources are used by teachers to design interactive lessons and by students in designing poetry projects or presentation: acting out poems, imitating poems, writing poems, and collecting favorite poems or lines to keep in a journal.

 

 
Magnetic_poetry_001 Setting Up the Classroom

Immerse your students in poetry and celebrate their accomplishments by displaying posters on the wall. My students' examples of figurative language are being turned into mini posters for our classroom wall using Microsoft PowerPoint. A colleague of mine, Dianna Keys, also gave me the idea of posting a set of poetry magnets on a whiteboard so the students could create poems and leave them behind for their peers to read. Poetry books are on display around the classroom as well. I created four poetry resource booklists on Scholastic’s Book Wizard, sorting resources into categories for your convenience:

  1. Poems That Make You Giggle
  2. Poetry Anthologies
  3. Popular Poetry for Tweens
  4. Introduction to Classical Poetry

A poetry glossary, "What’s in a Poem?" is useful for defining poetic terms and literary techniques. I chunk poems into figurative poems, sound poems, and narrative poems when introducing each concept. Classifying the poems reinforces student comprehension of new vocabulary. Creating a poetry scavenger hunt using these terms engages students in an activity that reinforces retention of vocabulary.

 

Anna Figuratively Speaking

Figurative language is a challenge. If students interpret the poems literally, they often miss the meaning of the poem. I begin by identifying figurative language, explaining why it is figurative language, and then I provide an interpretation of figurative language and have them create original poems using it. The metaphor to the right was written by one of my 6th grade students. It was turned into a poster using Microsoft PowerPoint. The following poems are excellent for teaching figurative language:

Whenever possible I utilize images or video clips to exemplify a vocabulary word. Students are encouraged to do the same when they make presentations. A visual is extremely powerful in helping students retain new knoweldge. This week, in an attempt to explain personification, I played a video clip of the scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) in which the Ents, the forest trees, aid in the attack on Isengard. Then I asked my students to explain the ways in which the trees were personified. They discussed physical appearance, emotions, and actions.

 

Hip hop poetry Sounds of Poetry

Don't underestimate the power of music. My kids learn how to spell onomatopoeia by spelling to the Oscar Meyer Bologna coommercial jingle. In my last post, “Hooked on Poetry,” I discussed how to foster a connection between poetry and lyrics to hook students on poetry. My new resource this year is Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, which includes one of my favorite poems, “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. I also discovered Flocabulary: Hip-Hop in the Classroom, a Web site that offers free hip-hop songs and videos for teachers.  A lot of the resources on this site complement those in Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics. I absolutely love the rap video "The Pit and the Pendulum" based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem and "Let Freedom Ring," which is based on Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, "I Have a Dream." Free lesson plans are also posted for teachers. The hip-hop genre connects to middle school students because many of the topics engage students. Among other things, hip-hop resources are great for teaching rhythm.

Below are a few poems that I use to teach other sound devices such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, and rhyme:

  • "Grandpa’s Clock" by Alice F. Green
  • "Vacuum Cleaner" by Ethel Jacobson
  • "Pompous Mr. Pumpkin" by Elsie Melchert Fowler
  • "Lawn Mower" by Dorothy Baruch
  • Three witches excerpt from MacBeth by William Shakespeare
  • "Dancing Dolphins" by Paul McCann

When teaching sound devices, I download and attach sound clips to images. For example, I attached the sound of a vacuum cleaner to the image of a vacuum cleaner in “Lawn Mower.” It emphasizes the onomatopoeia in the poem. You can do this in PowerPoint or interactive whiteboard (IWB) software. In either case, when the image is clicked, the sound plays. I did this for many of the poems listed above. To find these files online, I used the keywords “household sounds + MP3 free download.” You can find almost any sound by changing the keyword. Below are some royalty free resources:

Another fabulous sound resource is online poetry readings. Students are alert when you tell them that we are going to hear the poet read their own poems. Listen to Kristine O’Connell George read some of her poems and Billy Collins, ex-poet laureate of the United States, read his poems. Billy Collins' Web site, Poetry 180, posts a poem for every day of the school year. Poets.org has over 400 audio clips of their popular poems published in the “Listening Booth.” Poetry Out Loud offers a collection of audio poems including “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost, which has gained popularity with middle school students since the release of the New Moon movie from the Twilight Saga. In the movie clip, Bella recites Robert Frost’s poem. Showing the video clip illustrates how to read poetry slowly. Students love to create an audio or video recording of themselves reading their poem. Why not use the poets to model how it is done?

I have a few poetry books that came with audio CDs. I import my CDs into iTunes and link to these files to objects when I design SMART Board lessons. 

Narrative or Epic Poems

Poem_book I like using the following poems to integrate state test review. Last year, in our NYS Assessment, a nonfiction article was paired with a nonfiction poem. My students had to answer 2 short answer responses and an extended response. Narrative poems can be used as a read-aloud, mimicing the oral tradition of using rhythm and rhym in oral storytelling, or multiple choice practice. If a poem is too long, I use an excerpt. 

I also have one resource for nonfiction content area poems, Teaching Content Subjects Using Poetry (Scholastic). I am looking for nonfiction poetry to pair with genres in my thematic unit. If you have a good nonfiction poem resource that integrates with other content areas, please let me know.

What are your favorite poetry resources? Please feel free to share below.

Comments

Hunter,

Thank you for the poem resource. This is an inspirational resource that inspires student writing. Enjoy your summer! ~Mary

A great collection of contemporary poems by teens can be found on Family Friend Poems http://www.familyfriendpoems.com

Joey,

I checked soundjig out and it is fabulous. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely mark it as a favorite. ~Happy Poetry Month, Mary

If you are looking for an excellent resource for free sound effects and loops you may want to visit www.soundjig.com

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