Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fun Poetry Activities That Even High Schoolers and Middle Schoolers Love

It has been my experience that most secondary students don't enjoy poetry. Sure, there are a select few of the artsy types that get into it, but most students are not fans. To be honest, I'm not a huge poetry fan either, so I can relate. Here are some fun poetry activities that even I (and my uninterested students) really love. 

1. Storybird and Lark by Storybird app- I've been using Storybird for years and tell everyone I know about how amazing this site is. It's a FREE place to publish stories using pre-ready illustrations.  When we do Shakespeare's sonnets, I assign each group one sonnet, and they turn it into a simplified version for children using a set of illustrations provided by Storybird. This results in my not having to teach each sonnet one by one and students actually enjoying the challenge of figuring it out on their own. #teacherwin 

Here is an example from a Sonnet 130 "My Misteress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun" book: 
(click to enlarge)

Lark by Storybird is new and SO ADDICTING. It's an app (if you are using an iPad search under the "for iPhone only apps" but it will still work on an iPad) that like the full site has tons of illustrations provided. But unlike the full site, it randomly provided a word bank in which you can drag the words of your choice onto the illustration to make a poem. For example, here is one I created to represent my mood after counting how many days are left before summer break ;) 

 2. Turning a boring piece of text into a poem. No matter what novel or short story you are reading, there's probably that one passage where the author seems to ramble on with a description or show off with extra flowery language. While reading To Build a Fire, I found a full page that of snowy, cold landscape description that I knew would be just perfect for a blackout activity. The assignment was to black out words from the passage so that the remaining words would represent the mood of the story. I told my students that they could do theirs digitally or on paper (I just make copies of the text). Surprisingly, all but one chose paper. Although I got the impression that they regretted this decision because if you mess up with markers and paper then there's no fixing it.

If you want to see how to do these digitally, read this post here: Technology-Based Poetry Stations 

3. Poetry Mad Libs- Before reading a poem, give students a version of it in Mad Libs format. Have students come up with certain nouns, adjectives, and verbs to fill in the blanks. Then students can read the original poem and platform in to discuss word choice.

 (Sonnet 130) William Shakespeare1564 - 1616

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the (noun) _________;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be (noun)_______, black (noun)_______ grow on her head.
I have seen roses (verb)______________, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress (adj)__________.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That (noun)_________ hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she (verb)_________ on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as (adj)__________
     As any she belied with false compare.

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