POETRY LESSON TO FAVORITE POEM EVENT

There are many ways to organize Favorite Poem readings in school communities. Holly St. Jean, a teacher from Dudley-Charlton Middle School in Dudley, MA, makes the following suggestions, which combine a student assignment with a community event.

It is important for the students to be aware that people of all ages, professions and walks of life enjoy poetry. Showing some of the Favorite Poem videos as the opener for this assignment may inspire students, who will be asked to go out into the real world of their own communities to find people who love poems.

In pairs, or individually, students will venture out into the community. Working with parents and others in the school, the teacher can prepare ahead of time a list of participating companies, institutions or individuals who are willing to take part. Possible volunteers from the community may include a physician or pharmacist, firefighter, rescue worker, construction worker, librarian, business owner, coach, educator, politician, religious leader, school administrators, teachers and staff (secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, lunch attendants, etc.). Students may have some ideas of their own. The students will arrange for volunteers to come to the school to attend a poetry festival, where they will share a favorite poem and will explain why their personal connection to the poem (one person per pair of students or per student).

On an appointed evening, the school will host a poetry festival, where the volunteers come to share favorite poems. Some of the readers should be students, and the event could be replicated later in the classroom, with every student sharing a favorite poem. An anthology could be created and given to each student and volunteer. The reading could be video-taped, perhaps even broadcast on local access cable.