Monthly Archives: April 2015

April Is National Poetry Month

by Denise Johnson

National Poetry Month was started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. The following information is from and adapted from their website:

What is National Poetry Month? National Poetry Month, established by the Academy of American Poets, is a month-long, national celebration of poetry. The concept was to increase the attention paid―by individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, and to poetry books and magazines. In the end, we hoped to achieve an increase in the visibility, presence, and accessibility of poetry in our culture. National Poetry Month has been successful beyond all anticipation and has grown over the years into the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives.

The goals of National Poetry Month are to:

• Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
• Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
• Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
• Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
• Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
• Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
• Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry

The Academy of American Poets website offers a variety of resources, many of which can be used by educators in the classroom:

Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 30th: The idea is simple―select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with coworkers, family, and friends on April 14. Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. Ideas for celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day can be found by clicking on the link above. This would definitely be a fun activity for kids!

Dear Poet: A multimedia education project that invites young people in grades 5 through 12 to write letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.

Curriculum Units and Lesson Plans: Lessons emphasize developing perception and imagination skills, and most of them align with Common Core State Standards.

National Poetry Map: Provides information on the history, poets, organizations and centers, journals, conferences, festivals, and popular poems from each state in the U.S. Very neat!

Tips for Teachers: Includes a number of creative and inexpensive suggestions for making poetry a more important part of school life during April and throughout the year.

Posted in Curriculum, Literacy, Teaching | Leave a comment

Reconceptualizing Notetaking

by Elizabeth Dobler

Notetaking may be one of the most challenging skills to teach students. Teachers face this daunting task with their own often limited experience. When my son was in middle school, one of his teachers spent the class time writing his outline for the chapter on the board for the students to copy into their notebooks. While this teacher was definitely knowledgeable about his content area, his students would have made more progress toward becoming independent learners if he had modeled and thought aloud about the processes he used when creating his outlines.

Kathleen Guinee and Maya Eagleton (2006) developed CHoMP, an original strategy for notemaking that is especially useful during the inquiry process, when students must identify key ideas in written text. The term notemaking is used, rather than notetaking, to convey the active process that must occur to synthesize information that we read, hear, and view. CHoMP is a notemaking strategy in which students take a piece of written text and do the following:

  • Cross out small words.
  • Highlight important information in remaining text.
  • o (place holder)
  • Make notes based on the highlighted information.
  • Put the notes in their own words.

Guinee and Eagleton recommend that a teacher model this strategy several times, thinking aloud about the ways he or she makes decisions on how to summarize the information. Then students should practice with a partner and CHoMP a few passages together until they become confident enough to work independently.

Middle-school social studies teacher Mark Engstrom has taken notetaking to a new level in his 8th-grade geography class. In his video “Redefining Note Taking: Collection and Curation,” he and his students create a classroom scene where students take on various tasks as a part of the inquiry project. Each task culls information to be shared with everyone. Then, when it’s time for students to make notes, each has access to the wealth of information collected and organized by classmates. The fascinating view of his instructional activity definitely helped me to rethink my own college class and to discover ways I can encourage my students to be more engaged with notemaking during our class time.

Guinee, K. & Eagleton, M. (2006). Spinning straw into gold: Transforming information into knowledge during Web-based research. English Journal, 95(4), 46–52.

Posted in How-To, Teaching | Leave a comment