6 Activities to Kick Off Poetry Month

6 Activities for Poetry Month


Espresso Shot: 6 Activities to Kick Off Poetry Month

It's National Poetry Month and we here at the Coffee Shop would love to share some of our favorite activities that you can incorporate into your poetry unit or use throughout the month. 

Tracee Orman: I love to show students that poetry is not and should not be as painful and daunting as they may think. I start out by using short, easy-to-read poems that students can digest easily. (Poems by William Carlos Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Carl Sandburg are favorites.) Then we slowly work up to more complex poems. Along the way I have them try out writing parody poems in the same format as the poems we read. Incorporating the reading and writing breaks up the unit and makes it more fun. You can download a guided presentation with handouts here: Guided Poetry Presentation & Handouts

Nouvelle ELA: I LOVE poetry and I really look forward to celebrating it in April, but I also have a lot of students out on vacation or band trips or whatnot. Here is an Independent Poetry Analysis that you can send home with kids or use as a sub plan. It’s available in paper and digital, so you can even use it for hybrid and remote learning.

Presto Plans: One of my favorite ways to have students respond to poetry is with a Poetry One-Pager. This activity gets students to present their interpretation of a poem onto a single piece of paper using both text and illustrations. At the heart of this artistic exercise are the elements of strong literary analysis. The result is a colorful, enlightening product that will give you further insight into your students’ perception of any given poem.  I always provide a framework and templates for those students who need extra support, but also give more freedom to those who are stronger with poetry analysis.  You can learn all about how I approach poetry one pagers by clicking here

The Daring English Teacher: I love teaching poetry, but I find that sometimes students (and teachers) can be a little intimidated by words in verse. That is why I love my Sticky Note Poetry Analysis teaching resource. Not only is this unit engaging and hands-on because it incorporates sticky notes, but it is also a fool-proof way to teach poetry! This poetry unit makes teaching poetry a breeze! It includes step-by-step analysis instruction and multiple activities that can be used with any poem.

Room 213

Students often need a little more nudging when it comes to poetry, but I find that once you get them engaged, they actually enjoy it. So, I’ve come up with quite a few ways to lead them into it, including poetry bingo, scavenger hunts, and challenges. You can read more about these on my blog post, 5 Ways to Make Poetry Fun and Accessible.

Addie WilliamsToo often students (and teachers) are intimidated by a poetry unit, but I think it’s the perfect time to have fun with language and words.  One of the most effective ways I’ve found to start off with poetry is to have students write a poem all about their pet peeve.  It’s fun, non-threatening, and is sure to get students talking!  Here’s a link to the Pet Peeve Poetry activity to get started right away… everything is included. I love to read what they come up with and students love to share their pet peeves with each other. 

We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Poetry Month with your students! Share your favorite activities with us on social media! Find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Tips for Teaching Students to Show Evidence From the Text

Tips for Teaching Students to Show Evidence from the Text

Tips for Teaching Students to Show Evidence From the Text

By Tracee Orman

Do your students struggle with showing evidence from the text while responding to questions?

Even though this skill is introduced in elementary (the first reading anchor standard in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) requires students to read the text closely, make logical inferences, and cite textual evidence to support those conclusions), it is still a skill that needs to be reinforced and practiced each year in secondary school.

Of course, before you teach it, it’s important to let students know why it’s such an essential critical-thinking skill. We are preparing students for the real world in secondary education. And in the real world, future employers, future clients, future partners are all going to require “evidence” to support a conclusion. Practicing this skill will help develop their ability to question information, decipher fact from opinion, draw conclusions, and cite evidence.

But this skill doesn’t need to be practiced solely in a research unit. You can have your students practice it often while reading a novel, short story, or short nonfiction article. Here are some tips:

• Be consistent in asking for evidence from the text with your text-based questions. Students will only respond with text evidence if you demand it every time.

• Think quality over quantity for questions. Are you just asking a number of questions to assign busy work or do you truly want students to practice a higher-level skill when answering a question? It’s perfectly OK to only have one, two, or maybe three questions maximum for follow-up after a chapter in a book or an article. If your questions do not require students to read the text closely, are they really necessary?

• Require evidence even in opinion-based questions. It’s great for students to have opinions about things happening in the text–that’s what helps them make connections. But remember to still require evidence from the text when they share their opinion. 

• Use sentence stems. I always like to post sentence stems (or sentence starters) for students while they are reading and responding to the text. It definitely helps students who are struggling to begin and/or complete their responses. 

Sentence stems

• Model sample responses. In addition to sentence stems, students need examples so they know what your expectations are. If you are comfortable using a strategy such as ACE, RACE, or RACES (restate the question, answer the question, cite the source, explain your response, summarize your answer), then by all means use it. I personally don’t use RACE or RACES in high school; instead, I allow students to simply answer the question, then support it with evidence from the text. I find this to be easier when transitioning to research writing to avoid wordiness, but you should use whatever works best for you and your students.

Text Evidence sample response

If you need fun nonfiction articles to practice this skill with students, you can download this FREE Show Evidence from the Text resource. If you want additional practice passages that can also be used in Google Classroom or other online platforms, you can download the full version HERE.

Show Evidence From the Text

For additional resources and help, check out these blog posts from Room 213:

Teaching Research Skills: Active Learning

Teaching the Process of Literary Analysis

Thanks for reading!

LGBTQ+ Novels for Your Classroom Library

Here at The Secondary English Coffee Shop we believe teachers should do all they can to help students feel welcome, safe, and accepted in their classrooms.
One way to do that is to fill your shelves with books where students can see themselves represented, and this week's espresso shot is all about books that can do that for our LGBTQ+ students.
Here are some recommendations that will help these teens feel seen, heard, and included in our classrooms - and our content. 

Nouvelle ELA

The Princess and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: This charming graphic novel introduces us to Prince Sebastian and his trusted friend Frances. Frances is a talented young dressmaker who longs to become famous, but she is forced to keep her identity secret because her client, Lady Crystallia is really Prince Sebastian in disguise! This book explores gender identity, friendship, and loyalty. Its whimsical drawings and fairytale vibes make this a truly touching read for any age. Check out more LGBTQ+ book recommendations for middle school and high school at my blog.

Cemetery Boys,
by Aiden Thomas, tells the story of 16 year-old Yadrieal, a transgender male, who is struggling to be accepted in his family and is simultaneously caught in a mystery surrounding his cousin's murder. It is such a unique book that will appeal to so many students. It's a mix of paranormal romance, fantasy, and suspense. But it especially delves into the Latinx culture with themes of LGBTQ+ acceptance, colonization, deportation, and racism. Recommended for teens 14+

All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M Johnson is a gripping book that includes a series of essays following Johnson's journey growing up as a queer Black man in Virginia. In addition to describing Johnson's own experience, it directly addresses Black queer boys who may not have someone in their life with similar experiences.

ROOM 213
You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson, tells the story of Liz Lighty, who has never felt like she fit in her prom-obsessed town. She has her hopes pinned on a music scholarship that will help her escape, but when it doesn’t come through, she is convinced to compete for prom queen and the scholarship that comes with it. In order to do so, she has to put herself in a spotlight she doesn’t want. She feels anxious and unworthy, and to make matters worse, she falls for the competition. The best part about this book is that it’s not about being queer or coming out - it’s a fun story that just so happens to have a queer main character. Our LGBTQ+ students need to have books to read that normalize who they are, rather than making it being an obstacle a character has to overcome.

The Daring English Teacher

David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy is a story about a gay high school sophomore named Paul who attends a school like no other. In this love story, Paul meets Noah, a boy who is new to the school, and Paul immediately is attracted to him. However, teenage relationship drama ensues when Paul’s ex-boyfriend wants him back, and now Paul needs to decide if he wants Noah or his ex. Readers will enjoy the fun romance, teenage love drama, and idyllic setting this book has to offer.

Addie Williams

Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel. Ari and Dante are complete opposites, but when the two meet at the swimming pool, they find a way to connect and their connection builds into a strong friendship. As the two grow closer, they must come to terms with their own identities and face the truth about their relationship. This book deals with issues of mental health, families, racial & ethnic identity, and LGBTQ+ topics. It is well-loved in my classroom library.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson tells the story of twins, Noah and Jude. The plot is told from both of their perspectives at different points in their life. The twins go from inseparable early in life to not speaking in only a few years. We learn about the challenges that each face that bring them to this point. The early years are narrated by Noah and focus on his love and obsession with Brian and the emotions he faces in losing his first love. The later years are narrated by Jude and highlights the challenges she faces in dealing with love, loss, failure, and guilt. The book shares the journey of the siblings finding their way back to each other.

Happy Reading!

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