Just say the word "poetry" and an instant groan can be heard in many classrooms. Poetry is difficult for many students. However, the love/hate relationship usually depends on the student and his or her attitude towards poetry.
Make poetry easy and fun by giving students choices to write a poem for class. The menu you provide for them can include a list of poetry topics, poetry formats and poetry devices.
Poem Topic Choices
Students like having choices because they like to have some control. However, giving them an option to write any kind of poem usually makes them feel overwhelmed. If you tell students that they can choose anything as a topic, many will sit and look at a blank piece of paper for the whole class period.
Start by giving them big ideas and subtopics. They can, of course, come up with something on their own, or they can choose from a list of poetry topics. Some examples for a list are as follows:
Sports: baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, basketball, dodgeball, archery, track, cross country, swimming, etc
Hobbies: sewing, collecting, video games, model airplanes, crosswords, computers, scrapbooking, etc.
Outdoor Activities: camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, rock climbing, waterskiing, snowskiing, etc.
Food: chocolate, fast food, pizza, gourmet, desserts, steak, etc
Seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer
Weather: snow, rain, sunshine, wind, storms, etc.
Relationships: friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, etc.
Music: rock, rap, country, pop, alternative, hard rock, easy listening, etc.
Students can choose from a wide variety of formats or types of poetry. The teacher will need to decide the length and complexity of the poem. Some choices are as follows:
Shape Poetry: concrete poems, diamonte, acrostic, etc.
Syllable Count Poetry: haiku, tanka, senru, limerick, etc.
Stanza Size: couplets, tersest, quatrains, sestets, etc.
Rhyme Pattern: ABABAB, ABCABC, AABBCC
Literary Elements or Poetry Devices
After students have chosen a topic and a format for the poem, they should select one or two poetry devices to use in the poem.
Metaphors: a comparison of two unlikely things
Similes: a comparison of two unlikely things using like or as
Alliteration: repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words
Consonance: repetition of consonants in any word in the lines of poetry
Personification: where an object takes on human-like characteristics
Onomatopoeia: words that make a sound, like beep, snap, chug
Student Choices for Writing Easy Poetry
Once students have chosen a topic, a format and a literary device or two, they can begin writing their poems. If students are unfamiliar with a structure or poetry device, you can do a mini-lesson on it. Most of the poetry formats and devices have links to lessons to help in creating easy poetry.
Most students will be able to easily write a poem for class. Some might even like it. You can post your students' best poems in the comment section of this lesson.