This post is by guest author Kristin Runyon, who shares her passion for literature and poetry in the Charleston High School Library as the librarian for her remaining few years before retirement.
March 2020–schools shut down and we all scrambled to figure out how to teach remotely. And we had a #TeachLivingPoets chat scheduled for March 31st. Leila Chatti’s “Tea” had just been published in the Missouri Review and it seemed like the perfect poem to center us in all the unknown and scrambling. Afterwards, Melissa Smith suggested that I choose a few questions and teaching suggestions from the chat and she would create a hyperdoc that teachers could use right then for remote learning.
For the 2020-2021 school year, I transferred from the classroom to the library, so I found myself with time to devote to resources and supporting teachers. And then Poetry Magazine published the March 2021 Young People’s Poetry issue. This issue is an incredible variety of poems for all ages of “young people,” and I decided that I would create mini-lessons for the issue and share them during #NationalPoertyMonth.
The format of the mini-lesson is to open with information about the poet and a link to the poem, so all poems have to be available online. When I could find the poet reading the poem, I included those because I think it’s important to hear the poet’s oral interpretation. But for a couple I included The Slowdown Show and Tracy K. Smith’s introduction and reading. (I also like Tracy K. Smith’s introductions as mentor texts to show students how to connect with a poem.)
Most mini-lessons, since they are mini, include three questions, and the first one is always reading for poetic elements with a few suggestions. The next questions focus on analyzing the poem, looking at the structure of the poem, making connections between the poem and its allusions, and, of course, how all of this makes meaning.
The final section is the choice extensions. Some extensions ask students to create, some ask students to read other poems for comparison, some ask students to make personal connections. I tried to create two dissimilar extensions for each poem to reach students who like to be creative and those who don’t.
Thanks to all the enthusiastic feedback from teachers, I plan to continue making mini-lesson hyperdocs when I come across a poem that speaks to me and that I would want to teach. Those will be saved in a separate collection and shared on Twitter and on the Teach Living Poets Facebook page whenever they are created.
Here’s the link to Kristin’s virtual library of mini-lesson poetry hyperdocs: https://bit.ly/MiniLessons21
Other ways to use the poetry hyperdocs:
- emergency sub plans – just post the link and DONE!
- students choose a poet from the library to showcase and use Jennifer Stuckey’s living poet project
- students pick one of the poets and use Leigh Connole’s Poet of Identity project
- students create a podcast featuring one of the poems
- students create a poetry broadside for one of the poems of their choice