Tuesday / June 25

How to Grow a Poem: Tips on Teaching Poetry (and a Poem to Inspire!)

Read. Read. Read.

Students need to hear and read poems—lots of them: poems that rhyme; poems that make us clap our hands and dance to their rhythm; poems that paint vivid pictures; funny poems; poems that speak to all their feelings.

Take a poetry break during the school day. Stop the class and read a poem. Read poems and orchestrate brief performances, snapping fingers and clapping hands to the rhythm of a poem. After you’ve tilled the soil with reading lots of poems, invite students to write their own. They’ll have learned a lot from the poems they’ve read and listened to.

One of the easiest and most successful types of poems for students to write is the list poem. Students make a list of words or phrases from a topic they know well and then write an ending which can be a summation, a metaphor, or a repetition of a word on their list. For inspiration and examples read my anthology Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems (Roaring Brook Press).

Give poetry time to grow in your classroom. Trust that it will bloom!


How to Grow a Poem

by Georgia Heard


Cradle a seed in the palm of your hand.

When you plant it,

don’t dig a hole too shallow.

Keep it moist

but don’t drown it’s tender magic.

Give it space to thrive.

Dazzle it with light.

Allow time for it to root.

Suddenly, a fragile green sprout

will spring up out of the soil.

Watch over it,

but don’t tend too much.

Believe it will bloom.

You are a gardener at heart.


Happy Poetry Month!

Written by

Georgia Heard is a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. She received her MFA in Writing from Columbia University. Currently, she is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and in schools around the United States and the world.

She is the author of numerous books on writing including: Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School which was cited by Instructor Magazine as one of the “10 Books Every Teacher Should Read.” In addition, she has published several children’s poetry books including Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems.

Scholastic’s Teacher Magazine recently wrote about Georgia, “She is now the “go-to classroom poet…prized by kids and teachers alike.”
Visit her website or follow her on Twitter to connect!

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