Common Core Connections: The Power of Poetry
Georgia Heard, poet and author of Poetry Lessons to meet the Common Core State Standards, reminds us that first and foremost we must read poetry for pleasure, for its aesthetic value. We must help students recognize how poetry helps us shape and understand thoughts and feelings, and help them to visualize what the writer intended.
Beyond simple appreciation, there is much for students to learn by immersing themselves in poetry, which is why (like stories, drama, and literature) poetry is a part of Common Core Anchor Standard 10, which addresses the range of reading. Through poetry, students experience playfulness with words and sounds, rhythm, rhyme, precise language, and devices such as figurative language, which transfers to other genres. Poetry can build empathy, and because it tends to be shorter than many texts that young readers encounter, it may prove less daunting when practicing comprehension strategies and other reading skills.
Like other forms of literature, poetry can be approached through a writer’s lens. Students can consider the poet’s purpose, organization, tone, and point of view.
Poetry is also a vehicle for building fluency. Students who connect with a poem and read, re-read, and perhaps even memorize it experience a sense of accomplishment as they build critical skills in listening and speaking.
Ideally, infusing poetry as a reading genre throughout the year is best. But if your situation doesn’t allow for this flexibility, you can still accomplish a great deal in a focused unit (perhaps during National Poetry Month) or as a weekly activity. A Poetry Pause at the end of the week could provide a pleasant change from the daily routine. Many writers, teachers, and bloggers participate in Poetry Fridays in the Kidlitosphere to share favorite poems and offer teaching tips and reviews of new poetry books. Visit Amy VanderWater’s Poem Farm site for ideas.