Monday, April 25, 2016

Using Poetry to Keep the Peace

My school is in the midst of "testing season" and luckily it's also National Poetry Month!  I say luckily because poetry is perfect for this time of year since it lends itself fairly easily to "keeping the peace".  

With testing, kids are off their regular routines, they're tired of sitting and are beginning to feel that the year is over even though there's a little more than a month to go!  This all leads to general have a plan!

My plan is to use poetry!  You can find a poem to suit any subject  by visiting but my absolute favorite book to use as an anchor is Love that Dog by Sharon Creech.

It's the story of Jack, a student who doesn't like poetry because boys don't write poetry - girls do.  He discovers that poetry isn't quite what he thought and is actually pretty cool.  That makes this book so relatable and relevant for our Middle Schoolers!  Plus there are many other poems referred to (and included) in the book from some other great poets like William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost and William Blake.  

Once I get them hooked on Love That Dog, we try to imitate the famous poems.  I always go first.

One of my big priorities is to create community and I call our class a "tribe".  Some students buy into this right away and some don't fully "get it" until they read this poem.  Then they all know that what I have been saying all year is true:  I care about them.

This is so important in the last days of school because we need to keep that connection strong to keep the peace; The peace in the classroom and the peace in our students' minds that sometimes is disturbed with thoughts of the changes that summer brings.

After I share my poem, it's their turn.  They love things that are personal and relevant and this gives them a voice.  You might ask students to share their poems out loud or simply post them.  Sharing them makes them valuable and helps students get things "off their chests".  Before you know it, you will have a community of poets!

Not only that, but as students begin to enjoy writing poems, you may consider having them make small books of their poetry as an end of year memory book.

Hope this gives you some ideas to keep the peace!  I'd love for you to share yours in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I'm interested in incorporating Love that Dog with my 6th order copies of the book for each student to use, or do you use it as a read-aloud? Thanks for your great ideas! :)

    1. I have done both. When I read aloud, I really try to get into the voice of the main character which really grabs their attention. I think I prefer reading aloud just to make it different. :) Thanks so much for your comment and kindness!