I begin class with the students completing a short gallery walk activity. I have posters on each of the tables with a different heading on each. Each heading is a specific style/format of a poem, such as Haiku and Sonnet, for example. I give the groups 5 minutes to write down everything they know about the randomly assigned poem style. Each group then hangs their poster on the wall to be used as a reference for the class period as the students begin to work writing their own original poems. I read the information from each aloud to the class, with my own commentary on what is there. I do this to make sure the information included is accurate, since it will be utilized as a resource during the writing process.
Once we have reviewed the poster information, I introduce the activity the students will be working on for the next two class periods. I begin by passing out the Poem Writing Tic-Tac-Toe Project Sheet sheet. I then review the information included.
On the sheet is a Tic Tac Toe board, filled in with poetry formats. I share with the students that they may select any three formats, as long as they are all in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. I then share with the students that one of the poems will be selected for performance in our class poetry slam taking place after the two class periods of writing are done. This builds in some added accountability and pressure for the students to do their best work and not simply throw things together.
I give the students the next 30 minutes to make their selections and begin planning and creating their three poems. As they are working, I make my way throughout the room to make myself more available to them in case questions arise. This also allows me to review their efforts and selections. I try to include a good variety of poems in our class poetry slam, otherwise it would not be very engaging for anyone, so it is important that I provide a gentle nudge for some of the students as they are making their selections. I never force a student into a selection, I simply present pros and cons for each of the possible selections. I am working to make sure the overall Poetry Slam is engaging and successful as well as setting each individual student up for success.
To conclude the class period, I ask the students to write down the following information on a sticky note and hang it on one of the posters we created in class:
I have the students include their names on the sticky note just in case they have a concern or question that I should address privately with them. Otherwise, most of the questions or concerns are pretty similar to one another and can be addressed to start the following class. A specific instance that is worth note is described in my Poetry Writing Exit Thought video.