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10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in Your Classroom

Posted by Deanna Zaucha on March 31, 2016

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets inaugurated the month of April as National Poetry Month. To celebrate 20 years of acknowledging poetry across the nation, the Academy has put together a list of 30 ways to celebrate poets in schools, libraries, and more.

To help narrow down the best ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month, we took our favorite 10 from the list of 30 and shared how to integrate them into your own classrooms!

1. Read a Poem-a-Day
This digital poetry series is a great way to start class each morning during National Poetry Month. Whether you log in to the site each day or sign-up via email, each weekday post has exclusive commentary by the poets! This is a great way to introduce your students to different types of poetry and hear them the way they were meant to be heard when written.

2. Take a field trip to a poetry event near you
Simply filtering by your state, zip code, or type of event, you can quickly find poetry event listings that suit your classroom needs. Between conferences, festivals, writing programs, or just poetry-friendly bookstores, we bet you can find something for a field trip in your budget!

3. Order a free poster to display it in your classroom
If you want to show your support for National Poetry Month, but are very busy preparing for high stakes testing – never fear, this list has something for everyone! Request a poster from the Academy of American Poets and proudly display this year’s poster, which features poetry by some of the nation’s best poets.

4. Sign up for Teach this Poem
If sharing a poem each day is a bit too much of a commitment, you may want to register for Teach This Poem. This syndicated series provides one poem a week, right to your email, with resources and activities to quickly bring them into your classroom. The Academy’s Educator in Residence, Madeleine Fuchs Holzer has curated the series for any teacher eager to participate.

5. Create a crafts project using poetry
Try making a fun project out of this special month to tap into the creative side of you and your students. For example, take a line of poetry to create a Mother’s Day card, or focus on a particular poet to make a day out of researching and learning about their poetry, and possibly create their favorite food to keep your students engaged.

6. Memorize a poem
Some of your favorite novels or movies often have characters who can quote their favorite poems to help them teach a lesson or sway the leading lady. Wouldn’t it be great to give that gift to your students (and yourself)? This is a great activity that can last all month, giving your class specific time each week to practice. There are some apps that can communicate with your learning management systems to make it a gradable assignment to help towards other goals you may have for your students this month.

7. Construct a lesson around “Why Poetry Matters” in the United States
Poetry is an art form that often has to defend itself to why it is still relevant. And while writing a beautiful poem and sending it in the mail might be an act of the past, try positioning poetry in a language your students can understand: social media. Between Instagram posts, meaningful captions, and music for their YouTube or Snapchat videos, poetry can mean something more to your students. Try including these quantitative stats to really drive home how important poetry is to their education and their lives.

8. Encourage students to participate in Poem in Your Pocket
Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016 is on April 21st. To participate, pick a poem in the beginning of the month for your students to carry around with them in their pockets. Ask them to share their poem with other students, family members, and friends. Then, on April 21st you can have students get in groups or in front of the class to talk about their experiences sharing their poem. Be sure to share with the rest of the poetry community on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem!

9. Join the Dear Poet Project
We decided to save the best for second to last! The Dear Poet Project is a big way to get active during National Poetry Month. Essentially the project asks students K-12 to watch videos of the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors read and discuss one of their poems, then asks them to write their selected poet a letter in response to their poem. If you send their letter by April 30, 2016, your student has the chance to be featured on Poets.org and have the author write back! Best of all, the Academy has put together a lesson plan that allows you to incorporate this competition into your curriculum’s standards. This is a great project with great incentives for you and your students to get excited about poetry.

10. Share this blog post with other educators!
You’ve already learned so much about how you can incorporate National Poetry Month into your classroom this year, so why would you keep it to yourself?

Share this blog post with colleagues and friends to really spread the message that poetry matters! Here are some quick links for sharing:

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Topics: Education Trends, K-12 Education

Deanna Zaucha

Written by Deanna Zaucha

Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Specialist at Chalkable, and also manages their social media presence. In her free time, she can be found on the dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with the latest trends in education, marketing, and technology. Read more from Deanna on Twitter.