Poetry Unit


In this poetry unit, as with all genre studies, we devote 2-3 days to immersion in the genre. That is, we expose students to a wide variety of poems.

We focus on free verse and non-rhyming poems since these will deeply expand students’ understanding of poetry. We include poems whose meanings feel easy for our students to grasp, some that feel “just right” for our students and some that will challenge our students’ thinking.

As noted in the introduction, we make an effort to include poems in their original publication form so students can see the ways in which they may encounter poetry in the world—in anthologies (those containing poetry only as well as those containing a variety of genres); chapbooks (many poems by the same poet); stand-alone poems that may appear in magazines, literary journals or other publications; and even oral performances of poems.

Because poems are intended to be read aloud—and many are short—we look for ways to incorporate our own readings and audio or video recordings of readings outside of the the daily mini-lesson for the duration of this unit of study. For example, we might open every writing workshop with a reading of a poem or tuck poems into transition periods and “wait times” throughout the day.

In the files below you will find a list of recommended poetry texts (which includes sources for audio/video recordings of poems) and a sample “poetry packet” created by one teacher. These are intended to help you start your collection of poems for immersion. You will want to expand and diversify your collection each year.

We suggest keeping a chart of “noticings” as you begin to explore poetry. Here is a sample compiled by one classroom over the course of several days:


Teacher Try-It:

As you study this online module, we ask that you try some strategies and exercises that you will ask your students to do. This will help you get ready to teach the unit and will put material in your writer’s notebook to use as a teaching tool in mini-lessons and conferences.

Gather some poems that you love (refer to some of the sources in our “Recommended Poetry Texts” document at the bottom of this page). Make a list of things you notice about poems/poetry in your writer’s notebook as you read and re-read your favorite poems.


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