The End of Poetry Month? Nah...Think "Poetry Year!"

Blog post featuring video:  Why we should include poetry writing in our classrooms all year.


     There are so many advantages to including poetry in our students’ lives and for augmenting the curriculum, I can’t imagine only thinking about it during poetry month.  I’ve seen how starting the year with poetry can free students to find their voices, explore new topics, and gain confidence in putting their pencils to paper. They like that poems can be very short yet powerful, as well as free of rules or formulas to follow.  One of my favorite aspects of poetry writing is when students surprise themselves by what they’ve written.  Experiencing this hooks writers.  More opportunity to write poetry means more opportunity for a wonderful writerly-life changing event like this to occur.  And, boy, do we celebrate those along with all the little lines and phrases that make up our poetry triumphs.

     A second grade student I had years ago was surprised by how her words coalesced after a brief poetry walk we took outside on the first day of really cold temperatures (see below).  She was delighted with the images she painted with her words and the students and I were equally so.  After this experience, she couldn’t stop experimenting with the genre the rest of the year.  I’m proud to say this has happened to many of my student-poets. 
Blog post featuring video:  Why we should include poetry writing in our classrooms all year.

 In the winter
I can see my breath
and if I blow hard enough
it goes beckoning over the hills
into the snow covered valleys.

     Now more than ever, given the major emphasis on academic writing in our schools, students need a place for poetry in their lives:  a place where they can freely experiment with words, thoughts, feelings.  If you’ve done enough poetry writing, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed how students can work through troubling or confusing times in their lives by mulling them through on paper.  Suzanne, a previous student of mine, had a sister who was very sick with cancer.  Naturally, taking care of her consumed all of the family members’ lives.  Sadly, the sister died during the school year.  Suzanne's mother came to me at the end of the year to tell me she felt Suzanne dealt with the trauma better than any of the other five children in the family.  She attributed this to all the writing she had done about her sister during the school year.  I’ve never forgotten this lesson.  Poetry is a reflective gift we can give students with benefits beyond what we might imagine. 

Blog post featuring video:  Why we should include poetry writing in our classrooms all year.

     Here is a link to a brief video which features my picture book ‘Stella:  Poet Extraordinaire.’  As you watch, note the many ways poetry is infused into students’ experiences all year long.  I’m planning to blog more about how poetry writing can be used to solidify learning across the curriculum, since I only mention this briefly in the video.  Stay tuned!

    Additionally, here is a link to a post I wrote awhile back about three ways to use poetry for three different purposes.  If you'd like a copy of the more detailed work I created, feel free to email me at and I'll be happy to send it.

As always, #happywriting!

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