Sunday, July 6, 2014

No Worksheets Required!

Would you like to implement an easy to prepare, no-fuss, but lots of fun weekly activity in your K-2 classroom? Try starting a Poem of the Week.  You can address an amazing variety of objectives with a minimum of copies or teacher preparation. No worksheets are required!

Implementing a Poem of the Week in Your Classroom

Where to find poems:
When I first started with Poem of the Week, I used this resource:
This book includes great poems for use in the primary classroom.
They are great for tying in with word study.

A Poem a Day
As I became more comfortable with using poetry in my classroom, I began adding poems from other resources.            

I also find poems through online searches and, of course, on Teachers Pay Teachers.  When I can't find what I need, I write my own.

If you need a poem to get you started, you can download a sample from my newest product here. To purchase some of my poems, you can visit my TPT store:

Once you start collecting poems, organize them in a binder. You'll be able to reuse poems from year to year, making for even less preparation time!

How to choose a poem:  
Think about your curriculum and your classroom needs. I try to make sure my poem of the week will help me to address more than one goal.  I use poems to address social issues in the classroom as well as to teach concepts and skills. I've found poems that connect to math, science, social studies, and of course, phonics and other reading skills.

Scheduling your Poem of the Week time:
Schedule a Poem of the Week time at a consistent time each day. I usually like to schedule the activities at the beginning of our literacy time.  You'll need to plan on about 15 - 20 minutes for the day you introduce the poem and read it for the first time. For the rest of the week, plan on about 5 - 10 minutes per day, depending on the activity.

Organizing the Student Poems:
Students will store poems in a 3-pronged folder or a 1 inch binder.  I prefer the binder as students seem to find this easier to manage.  I have used the folders however, and they work well, too. Have your students personalize the binder or folder by making a cover entitled: My Poetry Folder (or another title of your choosing).

Each student will need his/her own copy of each week's poem.  Use a 3-hole punch immediately after copying the poems to make it easy for students to add to their notebooks. 

Optional: You can add a Table of Contents page at the beginning of the notebook to help students organize and find the poems.

How to use the poem throughout the week:

Day 1:  Introduce the poem and discuss its meaning.

  • Project the poem on an interactive whiteboard, make a transparency and use the overhead projector, or make sure students have their own copy of the poem.
  • Read the poem to your students as they follow along.
  • Ask students to talk about what the poem means to them. This can be done whole group or as a “Turn and Talk” with a partner. Briefly discuss any unfamiliar vocabulary. Encourage students to make connections with their own lives or books they have read. 
  • Ask students to join you as you read the poem a second and, if desired, a third time. Have students add the poem to their poetry binder.
Day 2 – 5: Choose one area of focus for rereading each day.
Focus on Comprehension:
Choose a comprehension strategy to reinforce such as visualizing, retelling, or making connections.  Hold a guided discussion after rereading the poem. You may choose to have a follow-up activity involving a written response (text-to-self connection) or illustration (visualization).
Focus on Vocabulary:
Introduce or discuss unfamiliar vocabulary. Model using context clues to figure out definitions.  Have students write or illustrate definitions in their reading response notebooks.
Focus on Phonemic Awareness/Phonics:
Look for rhyming words or alliteration.  Have students highlight words on their copy of the poem using highlighters or highlighter tape.  Generate additional words that fit the rule and write them on the board or an anchor chart. 
Focus on Fluency:
Emphasize reading with rhythm, expression, or feeling. Experiment with different rhythms or emotions.  Be silly and read the poem in a whisper voice, squeaky voice, monster voice, robot voice, etc.  After doing so, reread the poem with appropriate fluency.
Choral read: Everyone reads the poem together after teacher gives a signal such as, “Ready, set, read.”

Echo read: Teacher models reading each line or stanza. Students echo the teacher’s phrasing and rhythm as they read their own copies of the poem.

Continue the learning
After students have worked with the poem all week, they are very familiar with it. This makes it a great resource for a poetry center activity or for fluency practice.  My students even enjoy rereading the poems during their Reader's Workshop time.  

School-Home Connection
Once a month, have students bring home the poetry notebook to share with their families.  I place a parent letter at the front of the notebook and ask parents to respond to their child's reading using a simple form. Students enjoy reading the poems to their families and showing off how much they've learned!

You can download free copies of a Table of Contents form, a sample Parent letter, a Parent Response Form, a center response form, a writing response form, and an original poem to get you started by clicking here.

Recently, I asked some colleagues to review my latest product, A Kind and Caring Classroom: Poems of the Week That Promote Good Character. While my colleagues were complimentary, some of them asked if I was planning to include "activity sheets" to go with the poems. Since I try to limit the number of worksheets I use, I wanted to write this post to explain how I use Poems of the Week in my classroom. I hope it inspires you to give it a try with your students.


  1. Nice post. I love using poems in the classrooms as well. Thank you for the freebies. :)

    1. You're welcome! Thank you for your kind comment.