Teaching poetry is one of my favorite units every year. When I begin the poetry unit many students roll their eyes and fling their hands in the air while groaning. It is a very dramatic beginning and inside I am smirking because I know they will sing a different song soon. Normally, I begin with Billy Collins’s poem, “Introduction to Poetry”.
Of course, my rendition includes using props and staging, like having the poem actually tied to a chair and using a hose, just like in the poem. Students are hooked as soon as the hose is whirled. This may seem extreme, but I love poetry and want students to love it too.
Covid19 has challenged teachers across the world and I was stumped as to how to drag students into the poetry unit using virtual learning. Many of my students are anxious, and struggle to process the bizarre turn life has taken due to the virus. I began to look at poetry as a way for students to use language to work through the fears and questions weighing on their spirits.
Enter the “I Am” poem format. By offering students a simple template that each completes using phrases and emotions reflective of themselves, students were able to put emotions into words and images. The raw glimpses of emotions are compelling. Take a look at some of the results shared by my 6th graders. I am in awe. (You may have to refresh your page as it takes a moment to load such great work!)
Poetry is a low pressure, high result activity with ongoing benefits to the author and the reader. If you are interested in trying to write an “I Am” poem the I Am Poem Generator is a great starting place. Do you have a favorite poem to share? We would love to learn about your favorites in the comments.