Ickle Me Pickle Me Tickle Me Too

National Poetry Month is a time to celebrate and appreciate the power of poetry.

Poetry is often an element used in ELA classes, but teachers across the country put their creativity to the test and have seamlessly incorporated poetry in other subject areas.

Here’s a glimpse into the classrooms of three Teacher Champions during their celebration of National Poetry Month:

Arizona Teacher Tara Dale

tara-dale“This is my second year teaching high school and I finally found a way to incorporate poetry into my environmental science class.  I distributed a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout to each of my students.  As the kids listened to Mr. Silverstein reading the poem from my Where the Sidewalk Ends CD, they underlined all of the items in Sarah’s garbage can that could not be recycled.  Then they listened to the poem a second time and circled the items in Sarah’s garbage can that could be recycled.

“The activity was an anticipatory set because none of the items mentioned in the poem can be recycled.  I used it as a launch into the day’s objective, which was to teach my students that their non-recycled garbage is thrown away in landfills and why landfills are bad for the environment.

“It was fun to watch 16 and 17-year-old students giggle at Mr. Silverstein’s silliness.  One student even commented, ‘Can we listen to him every day?’ Absolutely we can!  They are hooked. Tomorrow is Ickle Me Pickle Me Tickle Me Too.”

Arizona Dayna Burke

dayna-burke“Poetry is deeply embedded within my literacy instruction. Each week, my first-grade class learns and practices a poem related to our science or social studies theme. We read it each day, focusing on the vocabulary and phonetic patterns present, reading it with expression and fluency. The following week, that poem is placed in an independent Literacy Station for students to read together and mine for phonetic patterns. This deepens their reading fluency as well as comprehension of our topics as the poems typically are full of facts and other information that supplement our lessons.

“As a child, I loved the Shel Silverstein books. In April, he becomes our “Spotlight Author” and I read some of his poetry to the students. Their favorite Shel poem to learn and practice is “Polar Bear in there.”

“For Poetry Month my first graders learn to write modified versions of Shape Poems, Acrostic Poems, and Cinquains. They create and decorate a “Poetry Notebook” to hold all of their poems and we publish their favorite one of each type at the end of the unit.”

Michigan Teacher Matt McCulloughmatt-mccullough-2

“I was a U.S. history teacher who often was hitting WWI as the calendar flipped to April. During WWI, many troops took to writing to keep grounded and to release the extreme emotions of war.  After studying the era of WWI a bit I created a lesson that would both allow students to experience the moving poetry of soldiers while showing their knowledge of trench warfare and the combatants experience through their own pieces. Click here to see this lesson.  Feel free to adapt if it fits your curriculum!”

Did I mention what exercise I love to use during this month?

I love using “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins. Students really connect with the way he portrays students as trying to torture poems to “beat” a meaning out of it. It’s always a fun way to introduce poetry!

I hope this list of ideas gives you some inspiration to get creative this month with your students.


About the Author

Kari Patrick teaches high school English at STEAM Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. She also serves as Senior Advisor of Teacher Outreach for the Collaborative for Student Success.