3 Quick Tips to Teaching Poetry

Poetry teaching tips for upper elementary

Poetry is always such an important part of my classroom.

The short form and rhythm of poetry help to engage struggling readers and increase their fluency.

The unintimidating length of poetry helps struggling writers to write an entire piece.

I even use poetry to challenge my readers and writers! 

And it is just plain fun to read and share poetry aloud in the classroom, especially if you find yourself short on time for reading aloud like I often do!

In my classroom, we read poetry every day, and we write a different type of poem each month. By the end of the year, each and every student has an amazing poetry portfolio that they are proud of. Teaching students different forms of poetry can be overwhelming without a plan. Following these quick tips will help you successfully bring poetry into your classroom and turn your students into poets!

Get Specific When Teaching!

To help students fully understand the type of poem that you are teaching, go beyond just the structure or pattern of the poem. Dive deep into the specific form of poetry by teaching students about its' origins and history, too. This will help to get students to truly understand the style of poetry you are asking them to write and it will help to get them invested in writing their own poetry, too.

Go one step further by tying in the poetry form that you are teaching your students about to the reading strategies that you practice during reading workshop. Grab examples of the poetry you are focusing on from your favorite poetry anthologies and get analyzing! Analyzing poetry helps readers to:

Not sure where to start? Grab this FREE student poetry reference page at the bottom of this post to help get started teaching different forms of poetry!

Free poetry student reference guide

Read, Read, and Read More Poetry!

Read a wide range of poetry in your classroom, but share specific examples of the form of poetry that you are teaching your students. If you are teaching students to write haikus, read aloud Dogku, an entire picture book written in haikus! Grab a poetry anthology from Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky and start marking up the pages with sticky notes of poems that align with the poetry lessons that you plan to teach so that you can share multiple meaningful examples with the class. 

I read poems each day, whether we are writing poetry or not. Since poems are usually short, you can read several in a day.  Grab a stack of poetry books and just share poems throughout the day. Try reading a few poems during these times throughout the day and you will be amazed at what a difference it makes in your students' poetry writing:

  • first thing in the morning
  • before dismissal
  • during snack
  • after recess {perfect to help kids to decompress}
  • any awkward five minutes you have throughout the day

Once you have been reading poems to your students each day, it will become a habit that both you and your students look forward to. Mix it up by inviting students to read aloud some of their favorite poems. This is one way to get students excited about poetry and increase their fluency too!

Teacher tip: With permission, make copies of your students' poetry writing to use as poetry models with next year's class!

Poetry read aloud books

Write Poetry as a Class

There is nothing more powerful than whole class modeled writing to really get students excited and involved in poetry writing. This is also a great way to involve and engage struggling writers.

Kick-off learning about a new type of poem by writing a poem in that style with your class. When I do this with students, we use books that we have read together as inspiration. If we are writing a bio poem, then we write a bio poem together as a class about one of our favorite characters.

When writing poetry with students start with brainstorming and go all the way through the writing process all the way to editing and revising. It is so important and helpful for students as poetry writers when they participate in the entire writing process. Be sure to:

  • brainstorm ideas and specific words you want to include in the poem
  • brainstorm topic-specific rhyming words {if the poem will rhyme} so you have a bank to pull from
  • write the poem, stopping to check, and make sure you followed the poetry form structure and pattern
  • reread the poem and check that the structure or pattern has been met
  • reread and discuss the mood you created through your writing
  • make changes as needed
  • proudly display your class writing

Teacher tip: Have fun writing poetry through round writing activities! Tell the students what type of poem they will be writing as a class. You begin writing the poem by writing the first line. Pass the paper around the room throughout the day until every student has written a line. These are so much fun and require careful thinking from the students. They must reread the poem, stay on topic, and follow the pattern. This activity is best suited for your class after you have written many poems together!

poetry activities for upper elementary kids

Poetry is so much fun to bring into the classroom! It can be easily weaved into your daily reading and writing units with these tips and will definitely yield high results. Your students will grow tremendously as readers and writers, build confidence, and develop a love of poetry, too! 

Are you teaching remotely and looking for teaching poetry ideas for remote or at-home learning? Try these ideas!

Looking for structured Poetry Lessons? Try these!

poetry writing for the year

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poetry lesson ideas for upper elementary

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