Common Core Connections: The Power of Poetry
Poetry Connection 4: Fluency
Another poetry power is in building the foundational skill of fluency. Poetry can be deeply personal, for both the poet and the reader, providing a way for children to connect emotionally to universal feelings and experiences. As you work through your short-term unit or your year-long study of poetry, encourage students to find one or more poems that they might wish to share as a performance piece. Offer a Reader's Theater approach or memorization. Give them class time to practice, revisit how the craft and structure affects the way they read the poem aloud, and confer with them as they work on their delivery. Students can record their practice sessions using this tool and later critique their performance to improve upon it. Young students worried about the prospect of performing might enjoy Laura Montenegro’s picture book A Bird About to Sing, about a girl who “freezes” during a poetry reading but is encouraged by other poets in attendance. They assure her that “when the time is right, the bird begins to sing,” and she ends up reading her poem beautifully on the bus back home, to the cheers of those around her.
Older students might enjoy creating a multimedia poetry presentation. Use a site like Pixabay to find copyright-free images to accompany poems, either on paper or as a background on the interactive whiteboard during the recitation. Voicethread, reviewed here, is a tool that lends itself beautifully to a multimedia sharing of poetry, particularly if you are not able to host or parents cannot attend a “live” performance. Read the full review for other ways to use this in your classroom.
Memorizing and performing a poem for an audience can be very rewarding. Celebrate your students’ accomplishments! Send older students to lower grade classrooms to offer “poetry breaks” by reading a favorite poem to an eager audience.
Bring your community of readers and writers together and invite another class, the principal and other personnel, parents and friends. Create a coffeehouse atmosphere with small tables. Have students briefly explain to the audience their reason for choosing a particular poem and then sit back and enjoy the power of poetry!