Celebrate National Poetry Month with these resources to help you teach students how to read, write, and share poems.
Welcome to the classroom component of the Academy of American Poets 2017 National Poetry Month education project, Dear Poet. The following unit incorporates multimedia and classroom activities to encourage students to explore and interact with poetry by first writing letters to important historical poets as practice for writing letters to the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors, a group that represents poetry in America at its best.
While this unit may be most appropriate for middle and high school students, it can be easily adapted for younger students as well. You can use the activities one right after the other, or separate them, as you integrate poetry with other areas of study throughout National Poetry Month. The activities are designed to reach diverse learners through multiple entry points and can be modified further for your particular students.
Aligned with the Common Core Standards, these activities address the three literacy areas of Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening.
- Identify poets whose poetic voices speak to them
- Select one of these poets and his or her poem to consider more deeply
- Provide verbal explanation or evidence about why they have chosen this poem and poet to their peers
- Write a letter to a poet whose voice speaks to them
- State why the poem spoke to them
- Ask questions about the poem and how it was written
- Use an opening, body, and conclusion in their letter
- Employ proper writing conventions
- Gain a greater understanding of what makes a writer's voice unique
- Synthesize multiple perspectives in order to create a shared understanding
- Write formal letters to poets who are present Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets using:
- Evidence that students have read a poem written by the Chancellor
- Questions for the poet about the poem and their voice as a writer
- Proper format and writing conventions
Submitting Letters to the Academy of American Poets
We encourage you to submit your students' letters to the Chancellors for possible publication on Poets.org in May 2017. Send all letters via post or email by April 30, 2017. Please include each student's first name, the student's grade level, the name of your school, and the poet that inspired his or her letter.
The Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901
New York, NY 10038
Literature Common Core Standards Addressed in These Activities
Reading, Craft and Structure:
Writing, Production and Distribution of Writing:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4 and 5
Speaking and Listening, Comprehension and Collaboration:
In the first lesson from Dear Poet: A Unit Plan for National Poetry Month, students identify poets whose poetic voices speak to them and select one of these poets and a poem to consider more deeply.
3–5, 6–8, 9–12
In this lesson from Dear Poet: A Unit Plan for National Poetry Month, students explore the voice of poets and then write an informal letter to a poet asking about how a poem was written.
3–5, 6–8, 9–12
After reading poems by contemporary poets, students discuss what makes a writer's voice unique in this lesson from Dear Poet: A Unit Plan for National Poetry Month.
3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Students will write a letter to a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets asking about a poem and the poet's voice in the final lesson of Dear Poet: A Unit Plan for National Poetry Month.