During the past few months, since becoming the Children’s Poet Laureate, I have been hard at work on a new project: A brand new website called PoetryMinute.org, and I would like to tell you about it so you can start using it in your classrooms.
Over the years that I have been reading and writing children’s poems, I have noticed that many, possibly most, poems written for children can be read in an average of about one minute. Because of this, I have always encouraged teachers to share a poem with their students every day. It only takes a minute of the entire school day, and yet it gives students a break from their routine in a way that also encourages them to want to read and write, and improves their fluency and literacy.
I call this a “Poetry Minute.” It’s one minute out of your school day for poetry. And now it’s easier than ever.
I created PoetryMinute.org to make sharing poems with students as easy as possible. Now you don’t need to look very hard to find a poem to share in class. Every school day, from the beginning of September until the end of June, a new poem appears on the home page. Simply visit PoetryMinute.org and either read the daily poem on the home page, or select from one of the many categories — Nature, Science, Humor, etc. — to find a suitable poem.
In a way, PoetryMinute is similar to the Poetry 180 project created by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and hosted by the Library of Congress. But the key difference is this: Poetry 180 is for high school students, but PoetryMinute is for elementary school students.
To create PoetryMinute.org, I enlisted the help of many established children’s authors who are writing books of poetry for kids — folks like J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, Jack Prelutsky, Nikki Grimes, and many others. I explained the project and asked them each to contribute a handful of poems that they would be willing to share on the new website. I have to say that I was thrilled by their generosity. So many of them responded enthusiastically, lending their work to make this project a success.
Though Poetry4kids.com focuses primarily on humorous poetry, PoetryMinute.org will include poems of every stripe, from funny, rhyming poems to serious free verse, concrete poems, poetic forms, and so on. In addition to the poems themselves, many of the authors have written information about the poems, and I hope that some will even provide audio and video recordings to help bring their poems to life. Over the coming months, I will continue to add new poems and other features to the website to make it as easy as possible to share poetry in school.
The PoetryMinute project is just getting underway, but you can start using it in your classroom now. Just drop by the website and share a poem with your students. Then come back tomorrow to discover a different poem for them to enjoy. If you make this a new part of your daily classroom routine, I think you’ll find that very soon your students will be looking forward to seeing what’s coming next.
I’ve got the ball rolling. Now it’s your turn. Do it for your students. Take a minute of your school day and make it a Poetry Minute.
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