Day 10: Poetry Thursdays

This March I’m “slicing” a piece of my teaching day every day in chronological order,11454297503_e27946e4ff_h sequentially.

Every year I take on something new in the classroom. Something to lift the level of our work. This year I wanted to explore poetry with students weekly. I knew there was so much to be gotten out of the study of poetry.  But I had concerns. Mainly, did I know how to teach poetry, so it was worth students’ time?

Not knowing led to me to inquiry, that meant learning with students. What do you notice and what do you wonder, what does this make you think, how does this relate to you questions has been how we ventured into poetry.

I committed to a poem a week. And excluding the occasional and predictable school interruptions, we’ve done it.

At the beginning of the year, reading a poem felt like we were stepping on the moon.
As I passed out this week’s poem, I heard ripples of yay!  And “I love poetry.”


Today, their notebooks are filled with poems, thoughts, and drawings. Reading a poem a week has allowed students to make connections and to be exposed to beautiful language. The benefits have accumulated indirectly. They richness sneaks up on you every once in a while and bam! Connections are made with a news article, a book, another poem. Poetry adds dimension and depth. It exposes ideas that longer texts hide.

This week’s selection was from the new Slyvia Vardell and Janet Wong collection, Here We Go.

From Blue Bucket

by Naomi Shihab Nye

What if, instead of war,
we shared our buckets
of wind and worry?
Tell me the story
you carry there,
steeping in old pain
and future hope,
rich with fragrant
savory spices,
ginger, turmeric,
tarragon, find me
a spoon in one
of your pockets,
even if we don’t
speak the same language…

you hold my bucket
a while, see what
the handle feels like,
and I hold yours,
or maybe both buckets
are empty and
we trade them forever…

Nye’s words inspired these student words:

We give each other buckets
and get to know each other.
Stories are in the buckets
it gets away from violence.
The bucket may be their
pain and suffering
and the hope to see
in another person,
instead of war.
Maybe it’s like memories of war.

She’s telling a story
of her future hope.
We don’t speak the same language,
but we are still connected.
We are not so different.
The spices are races
and buckets
are our life stories.
The spices are emotions
that people are telling
in their stories.

” trade them forever…”
makes me think they won’t forget each other
means to meet each other.
means sharing things others don’t have

We can make peace if
we share differences.
Your bucket is like a place
where you have all our feelings,
and if you share them,
people will understand
how you feel and we can hear each other.
“trade them forever…”
means you can picture
what it feels like to be the other person.
If you share your feelings today with others,
tomorrow you can build trust with everyone.

I thought poetry would bring meaning to our work. I had no idea.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read other slices here.

poetry-friday-1-1And for Poetry Friday Roundup, click here, to get to others on Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog Today’s Little Ditty.


16 thoughts on “Day 10: Poetry Thursdays

  1. Once again a super post that shows how powerful your actions are in creating a supportive learning environment that allows the students to soar with their learning.

  2. So important to follow your teaching heart and mind. Yes, add one more thing and you want to say, “But where?” And then you do. Just one poem a week. And see how rich this is for your students. A joyful gift for their lives! ❤

  3. I love hearing about your journey with poetry, Juieanne. I’ve thought that giving my students poetry was one of the things they would carry with them all their lives. Love “trade them forever…”

  4. This is so inspiring, Julieanne! Thanks to your wisdom and guidance, your students have embraced poetry and grown as readers, writers, and people! These words are so hopeful: “If you share your feelings today with others, tomorrow you can build trust with everyone.”

  5. Love your inquiry questions that led you and your students as you stepped onto the moon. “What do you notice and what do you wonder, what does this make you think, how does this relate to you …” And the drawing at the end of the post – a delightful response!

  6. This is such a good idea! I think it would help not only my students but also me enjoy and appreciate poetry more. I like the idea of spreading out some poetry love over the course of the whole year.

  7. I’m so happy you embraced poetry even though you weren’t sure yourself. I’m also happy to see you are using Here We Go, such a great resource, if I do say so myself. Naomi Shihab Nye has an amazing way of really making us think while at the same time being totally accessible. Loved being a fly on the wall to these responses.

  8. Love that you are covering poetry weekly throughout the year. I have a 3rd grade writer’s circle weekly throughout the year. We do about 8 weeks of poetry and just started the unit for this year. I wasn’t sure I could teach it either but I’ve done it for six years now and I alway love the poetry unit, as do the students. Rich language, indeed! Thanks for including some of your student work!

  9. I never liked poetry until I started going to TCRWP and learning how to enjoy poetry. They helped me to rereading to uncover more meaning. Also, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. You remind me to make poetry a routine in the classroom or else it might get squeezed out because of all the other great kinds of reading there are. Your student’s response reminded me how much they can understand when reading poetry. Finally, I had never read Naomi’s poem. Thanks for sharing it, too!

  10. Nye is so inspiring. As is Here We Go, such a good spark plug. No one knows it all about poetry. There is always another form, another rhythm, another broken rule, another point of view. I’m a big believer in just plunging in, being the poem.

  11. We don’t do the ‘notebooks’ thing in Australia much – or if folks do, I haven’t seen it. I’ve been wanting a way to introduce it… and you’ve shown me how. What a rich way to respond to poetry. Thank-you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s