As I prepared to make Poem in Your Pocket Day a kinder through fifth grade celebration I began thinking about what was the take-away that I wanted all of our students to have. The more I thought about it I realized that most of the curriculum maps I have mulled over treat poetry as the “stepchild” to the rest of literature, with a “We can stick it at the end of the year, and if we get to it it’ll be something light and fun to wrap up with” mentality. And as I looked over the poems I intended on sharing with the students I realized they are anything but simple and light. It was with this renewed view and love of poetry that I knew I wanted students to understand that although poetry can break the rules of standard literature it is done with purpose. I wanted students to realize the structure adds to the meaning and can allow people to read the same poem and have very different ideas and thoughts.
So with the collaborative efforts of our incredible art teacher, Mrs. Castrogiovanni, and creative support from our math coach, Mrs. Speck, as well as our librarian, Mrs. Paolucci, we had every student create poetry trading cards! Similar to a baseball or Pokemon card, students would pick or write a poem and design a card to keep in their pockets for Poem in Your Pocket Day! I pushed into the classrooms and shared a couple of poems with each class. We discussed the ideas and thoughts that were provoked by the poetry, as well as the structure and language that the poet used when constructing the poem. Then, students either chose one of the poems we discussed or, because they are published authors themselves, they wrote their own poems and designed their trading cards.
On Thursday, April 21st, we all proudly held our trading cards and shared with our friends during class, in the halls and at recess. It was incredible to see children ranging from ages five through eleven understand, embrace, and reflect on poetry with such excitement and vested interest. I knew that this was one of those lessons that I would surely pull out and treasure doing for many years to come!