Teaching Poetry Strategies

how to teach poetry to elementary students

Poetry is THE most welcomed form of literature in my classroom! I love to use it to challenge top readers and writers and to also support struggling readers and writers. It is a great form of writing to use across the content areas, too. Don’t wait until National Poetry Month to incorporate poetry into your upper elementary classroom. 

Try these tried and true tips and tricks to bring poetry into your classroom every day to support your students.

I LOVE using poetry in the classroom! We read poetry each and every day. We practice reading fluency, reading comprehension, and partner reading dialogue with each poem. By reading a poem every day, I can ensure that my students have read an entire piece of literature and digested it through comprehension questions and meaningful discourse. Both high and low readers enjoy reading poetry, but it is especially engaging for reluctant and struggling readers. Click HERE to read 6 reasons why you should use poetry to engage your struggling readers and grab a FREE poetry close reading lesson, too!

Just as poetry can engage your most reluctant reader, it can also engage your most reluctant writer! Poetry is loved by all children. The rhythmic flow of prose is not only fun to read for students, but it is also seen as an attainable writing goal for students who do not enjoy writing or are overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire narrative or research project. Click HERE to read about 3 reasons why poetry is perfect to engage your struggling writers and grab a FREE poetry writing lesson, too!

Poetry is not only highly engaging for reading and writing lessons, and it is also the perfect form of literature to use as a read-aloud. With its short prose, you can fit in reading aloud many poems during a long read-aloud block of time. If you are short on time for reading aloud (which I always seem to be) you can read a few poems during transitions or down time. Click HERE to read about my favorite 8 poetry read aloud books that your students will love! Be sure to scoop up the FREE coordinating activities for each one, too!

Poetry is a great way to challenge students across the content areas and to use as a summative assessment to wrap up different reading units, too! I love using a simple acrostic poem in unique and challenging ways to increase student discourse and critical thinking, too! Click HERE to read 8 different ways you can bring acrostic poetry into your classroom to engage and challenge students of all levels.

Whether you are teaching remotely or in the classroom, this list of activities will surely engage your students AND help you save a lot of time planning! Click HERE to read how you can engage your young poets remotely or in person! 

Looking for quick poetry tips that are easy to implement in your classroom? this quick read is just what you need, and bonus there is a FREE poetry guide to help you teach a variety of poetry! Click HERE to read more!

You can also effortlessly bring poetry reading and writing into the content areas, too! Students love to write Bio Poems about famous people in history. It makes the perfect activity for President’s Day or during any history unit you teach. During science, students can write a diamante or haiku poem about a broad topic or even simply a content-specific vocabulary word! It is a great way to get reluctant students writing across the content areas.

Don’t let poetry go untaught until National Poetry Month!  Teach poetry all year long. Your students will reap its many benefits in reading, writing, and the content areas too!




3 Ways to Use Poetry to Engage Struggling Writers

poetry writing upper elementary

Motivating and engaging reluctant writers can be an uphill battle! 

Whether you are focusing on improving sentence structure, elaboration, and detail, or figurative language with your writers, poetry can help! I have found poetry to be a huge motivator and a successful tool to help reluctant writers do what we want them to do…write!

Writing poetry helps students succeed and build confidence at the same time.  Since poetry is often shorter than writing narratives, and because it can be written in one or two writing periods, poetry is seen as an attainable task for students who are often intimidated by writing. 

Using poetry to build writers' writing skills and strengthen their grasp of the writing process is a great way to build student confidence and increase their interest in writing, too!

Here are three reasons why you absolutely need to use poetry to engage your reluctant writers. 

poetry writing upper elementary classroom
Poetry often follows a pattern. It could be a poem with a rhyming scheme of AABB or ABAB, or it could be poem that follow a specific rule for each line like haikus, I Wish Poetry, or limericks. Whatever the pattern, whatever the rule, having clear cut directions of how to write is a great way to get reluctant writers writing! Often time the hardest part of writing for struggling writers is getting started. So many times we hear, "I don't know what to write," or "I don’t know how to begin." But when students have to follow clear set rules or patterns there is no guesswork on where to start. As with all good writing lessons, be sure to model each type of poetry writing you complete with your students. I also love using acrostic poetry to engage and challenge writers of all levels across the content areas. 

Teacher Tip: Create anchor charts for each of the different types of poems that you write. Include the pattern or rule, as well as a model of each type of poem. Be sure to save each anchor chart for students to reference as they write during the lesson and when they continue their poetry writing in their journals. Don't forget to read aloud poetry mentor texts to serve as models, too! 

poetry writing upper elementary classroom
What I especially love about teaching poetry writing is that it easily fits into any writing program. It can be taught as a unit at the beginning of the year and practiced all year long, or taught once a month with a different type of poem for each month's focus. No matter how it is taught, poetry writing is a great way to practice the writing process.  Since poetry is a short piece of writing, students are able to get through each step of the writing process in a short amount of time, building confidence and stamina as they complete each poetry task. Students can brainstorm a focused topic and rhyming words during pre-writing, write drafts and revise their work independently, work with an editing and revising checklist to make changes, and work with a peer partner to improve their writing and make additional changes as needed before publishing. If you hold teacher conferences during your writing block, poetry writing is a great way to discuss how to include figurative language and descriptive word choice in student writing. After taking the student's poetry piece successfully through the process students are ready to publish and celebrate their writing.  Grab a FREE poetry lesson and bulletin board display to try out these ideas at the bottom of this post.

Teacher Tip: Keep it going! Once you have practiced poetry writing and taking it through the process with your students, encourage them to keep a poetry journal to keep writing poetry. The success that comes with poetry writing will encourage students to not only continue writing poetry but other genres of writing, too!

poetry writing upper elementary Publishing, celebrating, and sharing student writing pieces is an exciting part of every writing project. I always look forward to each and every student sitting on the author's stool and sharing the writing that they worked so hard to complete. Many times, however, students are intimidated by reading their writing aloud to their peers. This could be because of the length of the writing piece, or insecurities about reading aloud. Completed poetry writing eliminates both concerns. Shorter pieces, often with flow and rhythm are much easier to read aloud and share. It also takes less time to share which is perfect for both reluctant writers and struggling readers.  Another bonus is that it would take less than one writing period to have all students share their writing pieces! Teacher win!

Teacher Tip: Save those poems! I love sharing student poetry writing on a bulletin board each month. I hold on to each poem that the students write in their writing portfolio. At the end of the school year, I compile all the different poems that they wrote throughout the year into a poetry book for them. It makes a great writing portfolio and memory maker from the year. 

When it comes to engaging reluctant writers, poetry is a must! 

Its short text and rhyming pattern draw students in while increasing their engagement and motivation. Don’t save poetry writing for National Poetry Month. Teach poetry writing throughout the year. It will give your reluctant writers a boost of confidence and success throughout the year.  After writing a few poems your students will be hooked and you will love their writing growth!

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