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Teaching Poetry Writing in 3 Easy Steps

Teaching Poetry Writing in 3 Easy Steps


Teaching your students poetry writing doesn’t have to be complicated. With three easy steps and a no-prep resource, you’ll be ready in no time!

Roses are red. 

Violets are blue. 

It’s only Tuesday, 

but we can make it through.

Writing poems is an excellent way to express emotion and creativity. I love it and have had many students who do as well.

But it’s a fact that not everyone loves writing poetry. Maybe it’s because they overthink it, second guess themselves, or lack the skills, but that’s where we come in.

Starting with a blank sheet of paper or screen can be daunting, so we must provide the right type and amount of support so students feel confident and have a positive experience. 

Truthfully, poems are a fantastic teaching tool. They allow us to teach reading and writing skills on a smaller scale which can take less time and seem less intimidating.

Let’s tackle teaching poetry writing head-on so you can start right away!

Step 1: Define poetry writing.

When planning lessons, we should always consider our students’ prior exposure and knowledge. Therefore, building and expanding on their previous definitions of poetry is a great place to start. 

So what is poetry? How do people define it?

Here are some commonly accepted ideas about poetry:

  • Poetry is a collection of words that express an emotion or idea.
  • Words in a poem are often chosen for their beauty and sound.
  • Poems typically use imagery, figurative language, and sound devices.
  • Poetry can be in a particular form, or it can be written in free verse.
  • Poets don’t always use correct grammar in their poems.

Side Note:  My students get a little too excited when they hear that last part and think they don’t need to edit their writing. *insert facepalm emoji*  I always have to explain that the incorrect grammar is for effect only, and yes, they still need to edit their writing.

Teaching Poetry Writing in 3 Easy Steps
Photo by Picjumbo

Step 2: Expose students to various types of poetry.

Students need to experience a variety of poem types. You never know which type a student might connect with. For example, some students like structure, while others prefer to write their thoughts freely.

When planning your poetry writing unit, choosing poems that are easy for students to understand and follow is essential. Poems that are structured but only have a few rules are easier for students to replicate than others.

Some poem types that are easy to start with include:

  1. Acrostic
  2. Rhyming couplet
  3. Clerihew
  4. Collom lune
  5. Haiku
  6. Tanka
  7. American cinquain
  8. Synonym diamante
  9. Antonym diamante
  10. Free verse

Free Poetry Terms List
Free Poetry Terms List for Grades 5-7

Step 3: Support students as they write.

As mentioned, a blank paper or screen can feel daunting for budding poets. We must support students throughout the writing process and encourage them so they build the confidence and skills they need to be successful independent writers.

You can support your students with poetry writing by providing them with the following:

  • Reference materials that have terms with definitions and examples
    • List of poetry terms with definitions
    • Examples of figurative language and sound devices
    • List of rules for dividing syllables with examples
  • Example poems that can be used as models
  • Graphic organizers for brainstorming and drafting
  • Scoring rubrics with criteria so they know what will be expected

Poetry Writing Unit on Google Slides
Poetry Writing Unit on Google Slides (grades 5-7)

Poetry Writing Resource

Maybe this all sounds wonderful, but you don’t have time to create an entire poetry unit with all the needed support. 

Well, you don’t have to! I have a no-prep  Poetry Writing Unit on Google Slides for grades 5-7

This digital resource includes ten poem types with a sample poem, a writing prompt, a brainstorming area, and a graphic organizer for each type. Additionally, the necessary reference materials and a scoring rubric are conveniently built right into the slideshow.

This unit is ideal for providing engaging activities before a break, during the final days of the quarter, or to break up test prep. It is also a great option for end-of-year instruction.

It’s a fact- not all students love poetry, but even your most resistant students can have a positive experience with it if they have the proper support. Students will feel more confident in their abilities and may even begin to enjoy writing poetry!

If you want additional engaging writing assignments, read Teaching Students How to Rock Email Etiquette.

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Jan's File Cabinet Intermediate and Middle School Language Arts

Hello there!

I’m Jan. I’m a pet mom, an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and a MASSIVE book hoarder. My philosophy of teaching is simple… start where students are and build them up with the right interventions at the right time. I enjoy making digital and printable resources for upper intermediate and middle school language arts.

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