I hate teaching poetry. I don’t like writing it and, with few exceptions, I don’t like to read it. I see the other English teachers at my school teaching huge poetry units where the kids put together anthologies and write a bunch of poems and I’m so jealous that they can do that. I teach English and I work in a state that will include poetry on the state exam so I have to spend a little time on it. Also, keep in mind I teach reluctant readers all of whom are on IEPs for disabilities having to do with reading and writing.
So this is what I do. First, I teach the basic figurative language-metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, and alliteration. We practice identifying these in poems and also in isolation. Sometimes I have the students make a poster illustrating some examples of one type of figurative language like these:
I made a graphic organizer that you can get for free here to analyze poems and we write paragraphs about poems based on this organizer. But the big project we do is the song lyric project. It’s pretty simple really. The kids bring in some song lyrics (school appropriate of course!) that they can pick out some examples of figurative language. Any song is going to have some sort of figurative language in it so any song will do. Then they fill out the graphic organizer for their song.
Then instead of writing another paragraph about their song, they put that information into a poster like these:
It’s a relatively independent project. I thought I would have a big issue with “school appropriate” lyrics but I really haven’t. The kids will try to push it when I present the project but when it comes to actually bringing in the lyrics, they’re usually fine. It’s also a good project for those weird weeks like the ones before vacations or with early releases where it can be hard to start anything new. Are there any other ideas for teaching poetry out there? Because I really do hate it!