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Where is Poetry? It’s Everywhere! {Guest Post by Betsy Hubbard}

I’m happy to host Betsy Hubbard today with some of her thoughts about poetry.

During one of my first memorable experiences with poetry I was asked to memorize a poem of my own choosing. MY CHOICE? What poems did I even know…I knew no poets. I went home anxious. When I told my mom she went to the bookshelf and we sat on the couch with a book of Robert Frost poems. There began a love for poetry. I chose The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. I remember the poems vivid images as I read it for the first time. I was inside each of his words. I was facing the choice of two equally laid roads. That feeling still exists every time I replay his stanzas in my head.

As a teacher of kindergarten students I have read poems and songs countless times. However, expressing my love of poetry and talking about meaning…well, kindergartners just wouldn’t understand, right? Two years ago I began to take a different road. I had started writing poetry for myself, exploring my inner poet. My love was rekindled to that moment when I connected to Robert Frost’s words. I thought poetry was a lost road less traveled, when in fact it was right in front of me. When I gave the opportunity for students to really dissect poetry and write their own, all of our eyes opened up to a new world; a journey toward beautiful words.

I worry about the myth that poetry no longer needs to have a life in the classroom. I believe it is still there even if our intentions ignore its presence. Poetry exists in our hearts. Poetry is often seen as a separate road, a “road not taken,” but I challenge this because as learners, teachers and people we think in poems that are not recognized. When your eyes gaze upon a morning sunrise, the twinkle in your squint is poetry. As you smell a spring flower on a cool April morning that is the scent of poetry. When you notice your life and all you are grateful for you are writing poetry. When we reach our darkest moments and turn our thoughts to that most pure emotion, our tears flow. That is poetry.

Many beautiful poets have shared messages of hope, sadness, and nature’s mysteries. Poems exist in the dusty shelf pile of books in your basement. Words wait in your neglected library of poetry anthologies. Poetry sleeps inside the latest greeting card shoved in that pile on your kitchen table. Poems breathe in every part of our lives and beg to be read. How will children gain the appreciation of poems if they are not shown the song lyrics from that Beatles song you love? When will you pull out that favorite poem from high school and share it with your students? How will they know and grow a love for poetry if we keep it boxed up?

Carve a moment where words can last and linger.  Place a poem on the projector or document camera for students to read as they transition into your classroom; turn and talk for a moment. Chart a poem for your little cherubs; share the story of those words for a moment. Start your day reading a poem–for just a moment–notice what it brings to your heart and the hearts of your students.

So when you come to “two roads diverged” and you must choose remind yourself that poetry is everywhere. It won’t matter which road you choose because poems will find you. The words live once you let them dance inside of you. Lay your heart on a line of poetry and encourage your students to do the same.  Sharing poetry will give you a lens into your students that you cannot get anywhere else. Put it on and look through to that mystery which is “the road not taken,” the soul of the poet.

Poetry Resources for YOUR Classroom

For High School Teachers:

A great resource is Poetry Out Loud. You can listen to poems, find poems, get lesson plans and even find guidelines for a poetry competition for 9-12 grade.

For Middle Grade Teachers:

If you want to dig in deeper to poetry with your students here is a great resource. Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades, 20 Poems and Activities That Meet the Common Core Standards and Cultivate a Passion for Poetry. It includes poems and lessons to peel apart the layers in which poetry is wrapped.

For Elementary School Teachers:

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm is not only good for all those who love reading poetry but a wonderful resource for teachers as well. Amy features original poems, highlights student poets and includes weekly lessons on reading and writing poetry.

 

Betsy Hubbard is a kindergarten and first grade teacher in the little town of Olivet, Michigan. She is a poetry advocate and hopes more educators will share their poetry appreciation with their students. Betsy is the creator of Chalk-A-Bration, a monthly celebration of poetry and poem illustrations using chalk.  She can be found at I Think in Poems, Teaching Young Writers and on twitter @Betsy_writes.

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poetry

23 thoughts on “Where is Poetry? It’s Everywhere! {Guest Post by Betsy Hubbard} Leave a comment

  1. Loving your post, Betsy, and all the wonderful comments. Poetry is alive and well in my classroom. We did our Chalkabration today and will share tomorrow. Thank you all for keeping poetry alive.

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  2. “…the twinkle in your squint is poetry…” Yes! Thank you, Betsy, for singing poetry’s song so sweetly here and on your blogs and with so many children. I thank you, too, for mentioning The Poem Farm.

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  3. Thank you so much Betsy for your post! (And Stacey and Ruth for bringing this to us!) I think we are kindred souls! I love how you have expressed what poetry can mean for children, for teachers and for everyone. I started making poetry the heart of my classroom in third grade about 10 years ago. Since then the children and I have had a complete love affair with poets and poetry. Even though I retired two years ago I still go back to my old school and “do poetry” with my friends’ classes. I am trying to get people to see what you know about the power of poetry in our lives. Inch by inch, I keep spreading poetry love without pressure and it works. My kids willingly and eagerly learn poems by heart and the joy of reciting is hard to describe. Then the power of poetry spreads into all areas of our classroom life. I wanted to mention the Poetry Friday Anthologies by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Also Penny Klosterman has great resources on her blog A Penny and her Jots (I think). I look forward to getting to know you better, Betsy! Love what you wrote, too, Linda Baie! I want to find out about Poetry Group! On FB I am Janet Clare.

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    • Thank you for the additional resources and your lovely comment. I think it is just wonderful that you go back and “do poetry.” What a real treasure for those students. They will always remember moments when we give them our time, and you clearly make time for children even in retirement.

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  4. A Passion for Poetry! What a wonderful story of becoming a poet and sharing the love. Reminds me that I didn’t get that love as a kid. Good thing I found it as an adult. 🙂
    What a wonderful road you share Betsy. I will share this as school kicks off
    Bonnie

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    • Isn’t it wonderful the things we can enjoy and become passionate about can happen at any stage in life? I love that you have found your inner love for poetry and writing…always love your posts.

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  5. You touched my heart, too, Betsy! I will share your post with those I work with, yet some still aren’t moving poetry into their classrooms, not because of the CC (we don’t do that), but I really believe because they’ve never had a good experience and find it hard to see how poetry can be important in all ages of students’ lives. I just had a letter from a former students who ended with “I still miss poetry group”. She has started a group in her high school & kept it going all the years (she’s a senior). I love “Lay your heart on a line of poetry and encourage your students to do the same.” These, and all your words, are lovely! Thanks for taking the time to share, and thanks Ruth and Stacey for hosting. Also, Poetry 180, is a terrific place for poems for older students, middle school and up!

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    • Oh Linda, you may not know this but you are such a big reason for my rekindled love of poetry. Every week I would see your poetry posts and it pushed me to do Poetry Friday. There is a piece of my heart that will always be touched by your grace and thoughtfulness in all you do. Your passion always shows through and fuels so many of us. Thank you Linda 🙂

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  6. “Poetry exists in our hearts,” you got that right! 🙂 Great thoughts to guide one through the year. Poetry can be found everywhere, all you have to do is look for it. Happy chalkabration tomorrow!

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  7. This is a fantastic reminder for all teachers Betsy. I think poetry often gets left out because of all the other demands and requirements. I believe you are right about the power of poetry in the classroom, even with the youngest of children. I’m already mentally planning my poetry use in the classroom this year. Thank you!

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