Tips for Teaching Poetry

Tips for Teaching Poetry from
Here are a number of creative and inexpensive suggestions for making poetry a more important part of school life during April and throughout the year.


These tips were developed with the help of the Dodge Poetry Festival, the National Council of Teachers of English, and Teachers & Writers Collaborative.



  • Meet with other teachers and local poets to talk about how to teach poetry to young people.
  • Talk with your school librarian about ordering books and creating a poetry book display.
  • Order a poetry anthology or other poetry books for your class.
  • Attend poetry readings in your community.
  • Contact your state arts council or your local literary center.
  • Reread some favorite poems.
  • Post favorite poems in faculty and staff lounges.
  • Write at least one poem before beginning a unit on poetry.
  • Visit to access audio or video archival material for use in the classroom or a special school-wide assembly.



  • Begin each class with a poem by a different poet.
  • Read a poem over the public address system each morning.
  • Ask students to memorize poems and then recite them from memory.
  • Read poems aloud to your students.
  • Organize a student poetry reading the local library or bookstore.
  • Organize a Skype poetry reading where your students can interact with students from another part of the country or world.
  • Organize a field trip to a local nursing home and have students read poems to the elderly.
  • Ask each student to create his or her own anthology of favorite poems.
  • Introduce a new poetic form each week and give examples of poems that use—or reinvent—the form.
  • Have your students read and discuss the poem featured on the National Poetry Month poster.



  • Publish student poetry in your school newspaper or magazine, or on your website.
  • Publish a special anthology of student poems.
  • Create a school poem and ask each student to contribute one line.
  • Give students a list of words and ask them to create a poem using those words.
  • Invite students to write poems in response to their favorite poems (or to news stories, songs, TV shows, or artworks).
  • Encourage students to write in the voice of someone else—a parent, friend, or teacher.
  • Have your students discuss several works by a specific poet by comparing and contrasting his/her poems.
  • Hold poetry workshops where students discuss one another’s work.
  • Have your students write short poems, put them in balloons, and set them free.
  • Have students write a poem in the style of a particular poet.
  • Create and send poetry greeting cards to celebrate National Poetry Month.
  • Have students write to their mayor to encourage an official National Poetry Month proclamation. For advice, visit
  • Challenge students to create a poetry notebook and write one poem per day for every day in April.


Other Activities

  • Participate in Poem In Your Pocket Day with your class. For tips,
  • Film students reading their own poems or poems by others; encourage them to share the recordings with parents and friends. Create a YouTube channel for your class and have parents sign permission slips to allow you to post the videos on YouTube.
  • Have students give an oral report on the poet of their choice performing as the poet herself. Have the student recite some of the poet’s work.
  • Plan a field trip to a local poetry site (a poet’s former home, gravesite, etc.)
  • Invite local poets to your school for readings, workshops, or discussions, or ask poets from different parts of the country to talk to your class via Skype.
  • Have your class vote on 5 poems to hand out in the cafeteria.
  • Decorate the classroom or the school with illustrated poems and pictures of poets.
  • Hold a poetry exchange day with poems wrapped as gifts.
  • Encourage your local newspaper to sponsor a contest for student poets.
  • Organize a poetry contest for teachers and administrators and select students to act as judges.



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