National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Genre - Poetry

Additional Resources

"Hey, Mom, I Forgive You": Teaching the Forgiveness Poem

Rethinking Schools, April 2013
Linda Christensen
Linda Christensen, who has taught high school Language Arts for many years, builds a community of writers as her students write poetry about forgiving—or not forgiving. The author starts with her own story. More ›

Why I Write: Jane Hirshfield Writes about Life's Profound Mystery

October 2011
Prize-winning international poet, translator, and essayist Jane Hirshfield's poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence: desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, and the many dimensions of our connection with others. She tells NWP why she writes. More ›

Why I Write: To Awaken the Spirit in the Downtrodden

September 2011
Nnamdi Chukwuocha, Al Mills
Twin brothers Al Mills and Nnamdi Chukwuocha use poetry and social action "to awaken the spirit of awareness buried deep within the souls of the downtrodden." Their poem, "Why I Write," aims to teach children about the importance of self-expression and how it can help them through their struggles and challenges. More ›

A Conversation About Creative Writing Pedagogy: Where Are We Going Next? (Part 2)

Fiction Writers Review, September 2011
Stephanie Vanderslice, director of the Great Bear Writing Project, along with educators Cathy Day and Anna Leahy, discusses creative writing pedagogy and how it fits into the educational landscape. More ›

A Conversation About Creative Writing Pedagogy: Where Are We Going Next?

Fiction Writers Review, July 2011
Stephanie Vanderslice, director of the Great Bear Writing Project, along with educators Cathy Day and Anna Leahy, discusses creative writing pedagogy and how it fits into the educational landscape. More ›

National Poetry Month and the National Writing Project

March 2011
The National Writing Project offers an impressive array of resources to help teachers and students celebrate National Poetry Month, an annual 30-day event that celebrates and promotes the achievement of American poets. More ›

Pennsylvania Site Hosts Poetry Slam

Pocono Record, April 2010
Young poets prepare to battle at Slamfest, a spoken-word performance and competition hosted by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writing Project. More ›

Patricia Smith: “How Do We Lose Our Own Voices?”

April 2010
In recounting her mother's life story, famous poet Patricia Smith discussed how African American children can lose their valuable histories in order to learn to speak "right" in her keynote at the 2010 Urban Sites Network Conference. More ›

The Dream Flag Project Spreads Hope Through Poetry

March 2010
Gavin Tachibana
Students find a way to share their dreams with the world by studying a unique blend of Langston Hughes's poetry and Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags. More ›

Patricia Smith: Exploring Life Through the Poetry of Personas

February 2010
Grant Faulkner
Renowned poet and poetry slam performer Patricia Smith explores urban life and history by getting into people's skins and speaking their words. As the keynote speaker at the NWP's 2010 Urban Sites Network Conference, she'll discuss the intersections of poetry and teaching. More ›

Billy Collins: A ‘Reader’s Poet’ Reads at NWP’s 2009 Annual Meeting

November 2009
Two-time Poet Laureate Billy Collins shared his poetry, insights into writing, and many, many humorous asides at the 2009 NWP Annual Meeting's General Session. More ›

Poet, Educator, Advocate Billy Collins to Address Annual Meeting

August 2009
Two-time Poet Laureate Billy Collins has a mission to bring good contemporary poetry that is accessible and pleasurable to students in schools across the nation. More ›

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan: Poet as Teacher, Teacher as Poet

June 2009
Grant Faulkner
U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan has honed the art of simplicity in both her teaching and her writing. Her writing instruction focused on "the miniature arena of the paragraph," and her poems, which often use cliché in striking, unexpected ways, are both pithy and nuanced. More ›

Poetry Out Loud Makes Noise in NWP Classrooms

May 2009
Art Peterson
Poetry Out Loud, a program that encourages students to learn about poetry through memorization and performance, holds a competition that has inspired NWP teachers and their students. More ›

Reading for Their Life: Poetic Broadsides

In this chapter from Reading for Their Life, Alfred Tatum shares poems and lessons in support of his argument that we should share "poetry worth reading" with African-American male students. More ›

Oregon Teacher’s Songwriting Program Stirs Student Interest in Words

December 2008
Gavin Tachibana
The Deep Roots program turns students into songwriters: professional musicians set the students’ lyrics to music and then record the songs—and in the process, students stay academically interested and engaged. The founder of the program is now taking it to other teachers. More ›

Viewing a Poem as Argument: Helping Students Understand Contemporary Poetry

September 2008
Sara Bauer
When her high school honors students were put off by contemporary poetry, the author found a way to engage them: have them analyze the poem as an "argument." More ›

Louisiana Teachers and Students Make Poetry Rock with WordPlay

July 2008
Art Peterson
In a cooperative venture, LSU Writing Project and the Baton Rouge nonprofit organization WordPlay engage students in writing by bringing spoken word poets into the schools to model and spread their art. More ›

Celebrating the Rural Poet Laureate and Rural Poetry

July 2007
The Rural Sites Network collaborated with the Rural School and Community Trust to create the Rural Poetry of Place project. Eight sites were awarded grants to support the teaching and celebration of place-based poetry. More ›

Developing Citizen-Teachers Through Performance Arts in the Summer Institute

National Writing Project at Work, 2006
Nancy Mellin McCracken, Anthony Manna, Darla Wagner, Bonnie Molnar
The authors describe their integration of the arts, particularly process drama, into the summer institute as a vehicle for providing equity, supporting educational reform, and promoting the concept of the citizen-teacher. More ›

Creating Empathetic Connections to Literature

The Quarterly, 2005
Lesley Roessing
Taken aback by her eighth grade students' dry-eyed response to The Diary of Anne Frank, Roessing finds a way to help students convert the them they encounter in multicultural literature into us. More ›

Place-Based Poetry, One Step at a Time

The Quarterly, 2005
Ann Gardner
Gardner's student, who had never seen a free-form poem, writes successfully in free-form style when he is exposed to works in this mode and led through a revision one step at a time. More ›

Poetry for Left-Brainers

The Quarterly, 2004
Judy Willis
Self-proclaimed "left-brainer" Judy Willis has always avoided poetry. Then she participates in summer institute for the South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP), in sessions conducted by author Sheridan Blau. He provides a model for interpreting a difficult text, and Willis learns not only to interpret poetry but to appreciate its value in helping us be more present to our experience. "Through poetry, we notice it better." More ›

Uncovering Truths Beneath a Found Poem

The Quarterly, 2004
John Hundley
Hundley explains how he uses what could have been a throwaway day to help his students create "found poems," showing how a collaborative, student-centered learning environment promotes success. More ›

Poetry Doing Hard and Healthy Work: A Poetpourri of Ideas from the Maine Writing Project

The Quarterly, 2003
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
By incorporating music, technology, art, public speaking, and various other mediums of communication into the creation of poetry, the Maine Writing Project has developed novel ways of rekindling the passion for poetry. More ›

Poetry, the World Book, and the Summer Institute

The Voice, May-June 2003
Lee Hudson
Hudson had given up the idea of teaching poetry to her elementary students until she attended a summer institute. Hearing how other teachers taught it inspired her to integrate poetry into her teaching. More ›

The Chain Poem, a Way of Breaking the Ice

The Quarterly, Spring 2003
Ingrid Wendt
Wendt claims poems are boring only when they fail to surprise. "Surprise me," she tells students. In this description of the "chain poem," she shows how teachers can help their students achieve surprise. More ›

Beyond "Pink Is a Rose"

The Quarterly, Fall 2002
Michele Fleer
When poetry writing proves a challenge for her second-graders, Fleer turns to group poetry writing. In a group, Fleer's students are less hesitant to explore language and the ways it can be put together. More ›

Channeling Emotion: One Way to Make Poems out of Feelings

The Quarterly, Summer 2002
Kathy Woods
Wordsworth called poetry "the spontaneous overflow of feelings." Inspired by this definition, Woods takes her English class through a step-by-step writing process to help students tap into their feelings and express them in powerful ways. More ›

When a Student Hands Me a Line Like This

The Quarterly, Fall 2000
Georgia Tiffany
Tiffany describes how she fashions an end-of-the-semester poem from lines drawn from her students' work. More ›

Puny Poetry Meets Its Match

The Quarterly, Fall 1999
Jim Horrell, Gerri Ruckel
By presenting a series of scaffolded lessons, the authors demonstrate how they lead student from poems with wordplay and no meaning to works of sophisticated self-expression. More ›

Book Review: Today You Are My Favorite Poet, by Geof Hewitt

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Patricia McGonegal
McGonegal interviews Hewitt, focusing on strategies like the "Chart of Infinite Variables" and "Idea Wheel" that nudge students toward writing poetry. More ›

Cat Watching: Six Easy Steps to Classroom Poetry

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Scott Peterson
Peterson has developed a process for setting students up to write poetry, one that he practices himself and details here. More ›

From Grief, Poetry: Expressive Writings from the Westside Tragedy

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Robert Lamm
In the context of a trauma that followed a massacre at an Arkansas middle school, Lamm makes a case for the power of poetry writing as therapy in times of crisis. More ›

A Love of Words: An Interview with Patrice Vecchione

The Quarterly, Winter 1998
Roger Bunch
Bunch's interview with poet-teacher Vecchione touches on subjects such as the importance for students of learning to write poetry, ways to get students to write poems, and what makes a poem excellent. More ›

I'm Listening to You: A Poetry Writing Lesson

The Quarterly, Winter 1998
Patrice Vecchione
Vecchione uses a poem by Robert Bly to help students find a way, in their own poems, to make sights out of sounds. More ›

Sound and Sense: Grammar, Poetry and Creative Language

The Quarterly, Fall 1997
Ray Skjelbred
Skjelbred finds that by providing his students with "the vocabulary of grammar" they develop an understanding of sentence possibilities that increases their options as poets. More ›

We Are No Stephen Kings: The Reluctant Road from Coal Miner to Classroom

The Quarterly, Summer 1997
Aida Mainella Everhart
Teaching a "transition class" to a group of unemployed coal miners, Everhart finds that reading, writing, and writing poetry in particular prepare and motivate her students for the challenges that lie ahead. More ›

Imaging Experience

The Quarterly, Fall 1994
Lezlie Laws Couch
Laws Couch analyzes her process of creating a poem from a childhood memory, then offers a five-step framework for a classroom writing exercise in reshaping memories into a poem. More ›

The Facts and Nothing but the Facts: Using Objective Writing in the Teaching of Poetry

The Quarterly, Fall 1990
Richard Gillin
Gillin shows how, in requiring them to focus precisely on what is happening in a piece of literature, he is able to guide students to a more grounded analysis of the literature itself. More ›

Imagery: Thinking with the Mind's Eye

The Quarterly, January 1989
Peggy Riley
Riley identifies a crucial element of reading and writing poetry: seeing in the mind's eye, connecting abstract ideas and sensory images. More ›

Writing Poems
"Like Yellowstone National Park"

The Quarterly, November 1983
Barry Spacks
Spacks provides a method to help young poets "shake out of the habit of a sing sing-song, usually rhyming formalism." The great tool for the poet, he says, should not be the metronome. More ›

Louisiana Students’ Award-Winning Poems Form a River of Words

June 2009
Art Peterson
Teacher-consultant Connie McDonald knew the River of Words poetry contest was one that her students—familiar with coulees, bayous, and rivers—should get involved in. Now NWP of Acadiana students regularly win awards. More ›

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