Literacy Teaching Tips 1


It practically goes without saying that you need to read a wide variety of literature aloud to your students (exercising your full “think aloud” powers).  I said it anyway, just in case you are one of the many teachers who has trouble finding time for this critical activity; it’s nice, I think, to be reminded of its importance!

Poetry – all kinds of poetry – can easily be shared daily.  By the time you get to the end of the week, your students can be familiar with five new poems and/or poets!  You can find just about any poem you want on the Internet, but I couldn’t possibly have taught for over 30 years without at least one great anthology on my desk – for quick and easy access.  I have actually worn out three copies of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

It has several useful indexes, including one to look up poems by subject; this is perfect for connecting to topics of discussion or study.  The poems in this particular anthology were selected by the ever-popular (and remarkably prolific) Jack Prelutsky.  You will probably recognize the illustration style of the one and only (poet himself) Arnold Lobel.



 Invite your students to write poetry on a regular basis.  (This is a very different thing from requiring them to produce a poem in a particular format).  Since you will have been sharing all kinds of poems with them, they will have lots of ideas about possible formats and the kinds of subjects poets often choose; they will be ready to put their own thoughts and feelings into a format that suits them.  (This sounds a lot like using mentor texts, right?)

To paraphrase my young teacher friend, Brooke, “Boredom is not an option.”  We often ask kids to read or draw if they have extra time; let’s add writing (especially poetry) to that list.  The CCSS don’t specifically require poetry writing, but you can see how easy it would be to work toward the standard provided below by writing a poem based (like mine) on personal experience. 

Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

The main thing about poetry is that it is an economy of language – in most cases you will want to use no extra words beyond those needed to convey the thought or feeling, keeping rhythm in mind.  I often use the title to convey part of the message.