Your students can participate in the annual Poetry in your Pocket day. One or two days prior to the day, I give students time to find their favorite poem. On that day, we each reach in our pockets and share our poems. I also suggest that students give meaningful poems to their friends and family members to carry. A colleague told me that one of her former students still carries his poem in his wallet - ten years later!
In this activity, students learn how to write a haiku and tweet one. I share the techniques and structure of a haiku as well as samples: "I kill an ant /and realize my three children/have been watching" (Kato Shuson) or "Over the wintry/forest winds howl in rage/with no leaves to blow" (Natsume Soseki). Students tweet their own haiku to each other. Sample: The blue bird flutters/Past my closed bedroom window/A tear stains my cheek
I have students read this poem, learn about the villanelle form and then imitate it. I start them off with the first line: Do not go gentle into______________. They fill in the blank with “English class” or “your job at Mc Donald’s.”
This is a cute poem that I use when students ask me if they have missed anything when they were absent. Every time I used it, students chuckled. I remind them that the class is not the same without them; however, the learning continues and just like anything in life, if they are not present (literally and figuratively, then they are "missing out."
Freestyle slam clip from the movie has some explicit language; however, it demonstrates how poetry helps release this man’s frustrations. Students love watching Poetry Slams either in person at local poetry venues or on television. At one of my schools, I held a Poetry Slam Competition in which students created impromptu poems on the spot. They recited them in a sparring match and the audience judged them.
I have used this five-part series from 1996 in part or whole for over a decade. It has famous, familiar, and unknown poets from the 20th century including a young boy, an elderly man, Rita Dove, Czeslaw Milosz, Johnny Depp reading Jack Kerouac and even former President Carter. Part I of the video is available here: https://vimeo.com/107367741.
In this clip, Robin Williams is an English teacher at a private boys’ high school. In an attempt to enrich the students’ experiences with poetry, he explains why we read and write it. I have used this clip for over 10 years. It never gets old. Robin Williams's character is based on a real teacher from UCONN. Students like to see a teacher with enthusiasm for the subject. If you have time, show the entire movie. It is worth it.
This video features students talking about the need for poetry in one minute. My students liked hearing their peers talk about poetry's effect on their lives. They get involved in the school's Poetry Out Loud Competition. I videotape them while they recite and then at the end of the year I create a mash-up of their performances and we watch it on the last day of school.
Harvard English Professor Stephen Burt talks about the power of words and the patterns of words that exist in poetry that cross cultural lines and divides. Show it all, or show a little. Your students will learn about the nuances of language. One of Burt's best lines that I talk about in class is: "Poetry puts emotions into words." (1:30 into the talk) I then ask my students how they SHOW anger in words or SHOW fear in words. In other words, how do they bring emotions to life on the page?