My Favorite Poem Project with Robert Pinsky

This is the ninth installment in a series at #TeachLivingPoets. The Poet Laureate Project features a different U.S. Poet Laureate each month during the 2019-2020 school year. Guest author Ann Cox highlights one or two of their poems, suggests activities to use these pieces in the classroom, and touches upon their contributions to the promotion of poetry in America. Ann Cox has over 20 years of experience teaching high school English, including AP Lit, Creative Writing, and Speech. She also spent several years as a teacher consultant for the Illinois State Writing Project.

logoThis month I’m featuring former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who served in the position from 1997-2000. As the nation’s official poet, the Poet Laureate’s task is to increase U.S. citizens’ appreciation for reading and writing poetry. During his term, Robert Pinsky created the Favorite Poem Project, which asked Americans to share their favorite poem with the nation.


His original goal was to record 100 people reading and discussing their favorite poems; 18,000 Americans responded. The project resulted in three published poetry anthologies, a variety of poetry readings and other events, and a vast website that still flourishes today.

Creating a favorite poem project in your own classroom is a great way to end the school year. Students have freedom to choose a poem they enjoy, and the videos are fun both for students to create and for teachers to assess.

I’ve outlined the instructions for students in this ready to use hyperdoc.

Teachers, you will need to set up a Flipgrid before assigning this project to students. 

  • Create an account on Flipgrid if you don’t already have one. If you are new to Flipgrid, the site will walk you through the creation of your first “grid.” A grid is like a message board where teachers can pose questions, called “topics,” and their students can post video responses that appear in a tiled grid display.
  • Once your grid is ready, click “Add a New Topic.” Fill in the blanks for title and prompt, then select a recording time of five minutes. Click “Create Topic.”
  • You will then be given a topic link to share with your students. They will use this link to upload their videos to the grid. You will need to email or otherwise digitally share this link with your students.
  • Once students upload their projects, they can see and respond to each others’ videos.

The developers at Flipgrid recently created a blog post dedicated to remote learning. You can access it here if you want to learn more about using Flipgrid in your classroom.

The favorite poem project is one you can use even after remote learning ends. Students can not only create videos, but also give oral presentations in class or even present to the schoolwide community through a poetry reading. This project is a wonderful opportunity for students to share their favorite poems and spread enthusiasm for poetry as a whole.

More posts to encourage love for poetry in our students:

Thank you for reading! Do you have a story, lesson plan, activity, or something else to share with Be a guest author! Email me at 

If you want to order a #TeachLivingPoets shirt, check out my awesome sister-in-law’s Facebook store Megan’s Makes and support a small business owner! Shirt options are: gray/blue/black/white/red/green/purple unisex crew-neck S-XXXL and white/black women’s v-neck S-XL. All shirts are $20, PayPal accepted.

You can follow me on Twitter at @MelAlterSmith and please tweet all the awesome things you are doing in your class with the #TeachLivingPoets hashtag! 


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