Closer Readings Commentary

National Poetry Month 2014: Poetry for the Classroom

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month (NPM) brings together lovers of poetry from around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Along the way, the Academy has enlisted a variety of government agencies and officials, educational leaders, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations to help.

EDSITEment has been involved in this annual effort since the Project’s inception in 1997. Over the years, EDSITEment has created features with a variety of themes highlighting the best open source resources to teach poetry in the classroom.

New Poetry Resource for the Common Core

This year EDSITEment has created a new feature: National Poetry Month Exemplars: Poetry for the Common Core.

The poetry selections within this new feature represent Common Core State Standards Exemplars (ELA: Appendix B.) You’ll find examples of classic and contemporary poets and poems that can be integrated into your English Language Arts classroom to meet the new grade level standards of elementary, middle, and high school levels of college and career readiness. For each of the twenty-three poems or poetic forms included, there is a link to the poem and a host of open-source multimedia resources to teach it.

These multimedia resources include EDSITEment lessons as well as EDSITEment-reviewed websites that discuss the poem, the poet, and its context. Media incorporated in these resources include audio clips, video, primary source documents, and photographs, along with other useful tools such as student-driven interactives. The resources relate to each poem and offer unique ways to build the content and skills for understanding poetry with English Language Arts classes. It is part of EDSITEment’s continuing commitment to support the success of teachers and students in meeting the Common Core State Standards initiative.

EDSITEment also offers a literary glossary of terms cross-referenced with EDSITEment lessons. It serves as a convenient tool for poetic devices and forms as students work through the close readings of the poems and lesson activities.

New Poet-to-Poet Project

This year, the American Academy of Poets is offering students a new way to engage with memorable poetry. For National Poetry Month, the Academy is introducing their Poet-to-Poet Project, a multimedia educational opportunity that invites young people in grades 3–12 to write poems in response to those shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.

For students to participate in Poet-to-Poet, have them watch the videos linked below, which show the Chancellors reading and discussing one of their poems. Then, have students write an original poem as a response. Email the poem to the American Academy of Poets at by the April 30, 2014 deadline. Please have students include their name and the name of the Chancellor poet who inspired their poem. The Academy will consider all student poems for publication on in May 2014.

Teachers interested in using Poet-to-Poet in the classroom can tap into a series of activities developed by the Academy to align with the Common Core. EDSITEment-reviewed Poetry Foundation also offers Common Core State Standards Text Exemplars: Poems to integrate into your English Language Arts classroom.