Poetry Unit

Gathering & Nurturing Ideas

As with many genre studies, we devote 5-7 days of our poetry unit to generating and nurturing ideas. In this stage, we want to teach students to see and think about the world as poets do, practicing these strategies in their writers’ notebooks.

During the immersion stage, students tend to make many observations about what poems are about— often surprised to discover that poems can be about anything. As we begin transitioning to thinking about the poems we might write ourselves, we want to remind students that all writers, including poets, write about the things that are important to them—experiences that move them, memories that linger in their minds, situations that perplex them, etc. The notebook strategies that we teach during these 5-7 days of idea generating and nurturing (like the “heart map” exercise pictured here and described in files below) should help students tap into their own “poem worthy” life material.

heart map

Refer to the poetry unit curriculum outline for more ideas about what you might teach during these days.

Below we showcase one mini-lesson by visiting scholar Katherine Bomer. She demonstrates how she converts a prose entry from her notebook into a poem. This strategy can be very helpful for reluctant poets, as it allows them to write in a more comfortable paragraph/prose form in their notebook first before thinking about the same topic as a poem.

 Teacher Try-It:

Go to the school courtyard, your backyard, a park or the mall. Sit quietly for at least 10 minutes and record your observations using all of your senses (hear, see, smell, feel and taste). How does this place make you feel? What does it remind you of? Are there connections you can make to other experiences/memories in your life?


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