I began class the other day by telling my students that I was going to be giving them a gift. There was an excited murmur. What was it? Pencils? Candy? Nope. Poetry. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I ordered a book from Scholastic called Post This Poem that is a collection of poems and pieces of poems on sticky note paper. I had been putting the poems up in the hallway trophy case, as a secret poetry project for our wing of the school, but now decided that since the art teacher needed the display case and since I had many poems left, I would give the rest of the poems away to my sixth graders.
I went through the room, passing out poems to every student. It may not have been pencils or candy (which we don’t give out anyway), but they were pretty excited about getting a poem (some were excited because of the color paper but you take excitement where you can get it, right?). “What’d you get?” they were asking. I gave them a few minutes to peruse the poems, and then I asked, “Anyone want to read theirs?”
I was expecting maybe one or two students to volunteer. I was therefore pleasantly surprised as more than three-quarters of each of my classes wanted to read their poems out loud. I also shared poems from the collection. They stumbled on some difficult vocabulary, and the Olde English in some of the poems tied their tongues up knots, and the lines and stanzas didn’t always flow the way it would with practice. Still, that didn’t matter. Wordsworth, Dickinson, Whitman, Rossetti, Tennyson and more joined us in the room that day as they read the words, and the rest of us listened, silently, to some of the most famous poems in the English canon.
It was a nice way to wrap up our poetry unit, and it was one of those lessons that started as a spur of the moment — “Let’s get rid of these poems” — and maybe touched a few students with the poetry bug.
Peace (in the poems),
PS — I still have not had any luck finding a link to the Post This Poem book online. I’ll need to grab the IBSN number off of it.