A Poetry Break: If I Were…

My students and I have been in the midst of testing season. My team and I weren’t sure what we would be able to accomplish in terms of the curriculum during this time. We decided to do some poetry lessons and exercises. I was asked to put together roughly three weeks of lessons and ideas that could be used for reading and writing. Currently, there is nothing written in our curriculum for poetry in third-grade. I was thrilled with the opportunity and thought my students would welcome the change. I was right.

In preparing for the three weeks, I visited some of my favorite poets and poetry websites. The Poem Farm immediately came to mind. I have been a fan of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for years now and love the work she does with students and teachers on her website. She offers a page on her site called Poetry Peeks. She features classrooms and the work they have done around poetry. As I wandered the page I found a third-grade classroom had done poems around the idea of being a cat for a day. I thought my third-graders would also love this idea.

It was wonderful to use The Poem Farm as a resource for student mentor texts as we read through the sample poems. We pondered different animals and talked about what we thought it would be like to live their life for a day. Students then brainstormed lists of activities, behaviors, and characteristics of their chosen animal. From there I gave them lined paper that had the words If I were a  _______ for just one day and off they went.

If I Were

Click each image to enlarge.

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We spent the next two days working through our poems with partners, revising and editing our work. This was just one of many poems my students wrote over the past few weeks. It was lovely to revisit this genre with students and feel reminded that it is important and fosters a creative process. I saw a lot of smiling in the midst of a what could have otherwise been a very stressful time.

I would encourage you to find the time, even if there doesn’t seem to be any, to visit some poetry lessons with your students. The Poem Farm offers several ideas and options for many grade-levels. I hope to visit poetry more often next year with a new crop of third-graders. It’s always challenging to find opportunities to modify curriculum calendars and schedules when it feels new but I am more confident that I will create space to foster more creativity with my writers when fall comes around.