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Exploring Poetry Virtually at the Beginning of the School Year

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The following guest post, part of our “Teacher’s Corner” series, is by Rebecca Newland, a Fairfax County Public Schools Librarian and former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress.

The house of the trees and other poems by Ethelwyn Wetherald. Boston: Lamson, Wolffe, 1895.
The house of the trees and other poems by Ethelwyn Wetherald. Boston: Lamson, Wolffe, 1895.

Over the summer, it is possible you had the opportunity for professional development related to teaching online. You may have also explored creative methods and innovative ideas on your own. I revisited some of my previous posts to see if I could suggest modifications to engage your students with poetry in remote teaching situations.

Last spring, I wrote two posts specifically addressing bringing poetry to students virtually:

Other previous posts could be adapted to serve your needs while distance learning and teaching. I give several examples below.

Post: First Impressions: Poetry at the Beginning of the Year

This lesson idea needs little modification for a virtual environment. Some platforms allow for students to work in breakout rooms, but if this is not possible a discussion board where they can record impressions, thoughts, and feelings about the poems would work as well.

Take note of the comment on the original post. While some students explore poetry on their own, others do not. Those who do can be invited to share links or the text of poems they have read and liked. This can include works they have written. Those who do not can be offered specific poems or given resources like Poetry 180 to start them reading and discovering poetry.

Post: Reading Poetry in the Classroom: Bell Ringers
Post: Writing Poetry in the Classroom: Bell Ringers

Similar to the previous suggestion, many of these ideas are adaptable for online teaching and learning. When the activity calls for students to discuss in small groups or pairs, consider breakouts within the virtual platform. Students may also be comfortable using the chat feature or even turning on their microphones and cameras to interact with the whole group.

Post: Using the Poetry of Langston Hughes to Spark Discussion

If you are thinking about ways to engage students with poetry connected to current events, consider making adaptations to use these ideas in your virtual classroom or library. This may also offer an opportunity to collaborate with a social studies or history teacher.

How will you bring poetry to your students this year?