I want to start a poetry unit and I am not sure how to get my kids into it. Any ideas? I teach in an urban setting and my students are very difficult to motivate when it comes to writing... and reading for that matter.

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Hi.... hope this finds you well.....

I would suggest starting where they may be.....

for example........

Liberty Needs Glasses - Tupac

excuse me but lady liberty needs glasses
and so does mrs justice by her side
both the broads r blind as bats
stumbling thru the system
justice bumbed into mutulu and
trippin on geronimo pratt
but stepped right over oliver
and his crooked partner ronnie
justice stubbed her big toe on mandela
and liberty was misquoted by the indians
slavery was a learning phase
forgotten with out a verdict
while justice is on a rampage
4 endangered surviving black males
i mean really if anyone really valued life
and cared about the masses
theyd take em both 2 pen optical
and get 2 pair of glasses


In The Depths of Solitude

i exist in the depths of solitude
pondering my true goal
trying 2 find peace of mind
and still preserve my soul
constantly yearning 2 be accepted
and from all receive respect
never comprising but sometimes risky
and that is my only regret
a young heart with an old soul
how can there be peace
how can i be in the depths of solitude
when there r 2 inside of me
this duo within me causes
the perfect oppurtunity
2 learn and live twice as fast
as those who accept simplicity

Wonder what they are listening to and can you use it to start...

be well... mike
Awesome!! Thank you!!
You don't say what grade, so I'll let you link to my Poetry page and maybe you can find some they like: http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/language/index-Poetry.html

The poem "I'm Nobody" is a flash program with a touch of animation. There are two original poems on the page, Utter Nonsense (which could be a model for your kids to write the own Utter Nonsense), and Fearless. Illustrating their own Utter Nonsense could be fun. I only got the first verse illustrated. There are a number of poems by African-American poets in the collection, including the one by Phillis Wheatley to George Washington. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and How the Brought the News From Ghent to Aix are story poems. And, of course, you can have them tease ouf the words to some modern songs and see if it is poetic when written down and spoken. They could, like Phillis Wheatley, write poems to or about our new president and his family. Or about some local hero living or not. They could also write "concrete poems" - poems where the lines are arranged so it forms a picture of the subject of the poem.

Hope this gives you a good start.

Anne
Thank you! I teach at-risk 6th and 7th graders who are very low academically.
I have had good success introducing poetry to my class using the poem 'Jabberwocky' by Lewis Carroll. There are great resources on the web to support your teaching, including a muppets version on youtube. I usually start with a spelling test from the text - words like brillig, toves, gimble etc and I recite them in the context of the poem. Lots of literacy activities begin from here including working out the meanings of the words and whether they are nouns, adjectives etc. from the contextual clues and finding portmanteau words. We have great fun translating the poem in groups and then build our own poems, usually in pairs. Original poems from my students have included titles such as Shopperwocky, GetSmartawocky and Crickewocky. We have done claymations and also stop frame animations with pictures and plasticine. I also love teaching 'Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!' by Doctor Seuss which is great fun and has lots of nonsense verse. ( I like to think that my classroom is a bit diffendoofer too!)
Thank you!
Hi - I love Sharon Creech's book "Love that Dog" - it opens with "boys don't write poetry, girls do." It brings in Walter Dean Myers as a writer, along with Robert Frost and others. It's written like journal responses (if I remember correctly). Anyhow - I'd highly recommend it.
Hi there

A European perspective, maybe not appropriate for you, but why not? I have just finished a unit on the marvellous English-Jamaican poet Benjamin Zephaniah. A good role model for students who may be struggling at school - he's suffered from dyslexia all his life and so written his poetry in his head and learnt it by heart, even had a stint in prison at 13, but has finished up with several honorary doctorates and awards. A guy who loves reggae and looks awesome with his toothy grin and dreadlocks, has a really wicked sense of humour and practises what he preaches eg. being a vegan, making poems about animal rights, but human rights, too, and taking a stand against bullying, helping kids in South Africa etc. etc. The list goes on and on. Well, this was all about the person, but his poems are so funny, too. He's like a stand-up comedian on stage - just watch him perfom his poem 'Talking turkeys' on YouTube! My students loved trying to learn his poems by heart and then performing them, just like the poet himself.
Try starting with the music they listen to. Check out this unit plan I found: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/2905
I wrote an online poetry unit, What Rhymes With Squirrel, a few years ago, you might find something you can use. Let me know if any of the links are broken and I'll fix them for you.
I think you might want to consider checking this link out: http://www.hbo.com/defpoetry/
It has given many kids a voice that most never thought they had.
-joe

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